The company is readying a promotional push for its newly launched “All Access” subscription-video-on-demand service, which asks consumers to pay $5.99 a month in order to gain the ability to watch more of the programming for which CBS is known, as well as older series – think “Star Trek” and “Cheers” – that CBS owns. Starting the week after Thanksgiving, CBS will start running TV promos that push viewers to sign up for the new video resource.
“December is a key month for our push,” said Marc DeBevoise, executive vice president, entertainment, sports and news, at CBS Interactive, in an interview. “It’s the time when the network has ended the first half of the season and goes into repeats and Christmas specials for a few weeks, then comes back in early January. It’s a unique time period and we are going to present something that’s very timely around catching up on the first half of the season.”
In doing so, CBS will become the latest media outlet to use TV to spur viewers to watch TV on a device that is not TV, at least not in the traditional sense. In recent months, many of the popular streaming-video players, ranging from Hulu to Amazon to Netflix, have taken to traditional TV to get the word out about their wares: “TV shows,” for lack of a better term, that are consumed via streaming video.
Amazon, for instance, has run commercials for the new season of its political comedy “Alpha House” during ABC’s “Modern Family” and its dramedy “Transparent” on NBCUniversal’s E! cable network. Google’s YouTube has run ads that call attention to its “SciShow” during AMC’s “The Walking Dead.” Hulu ads touting shows like NBC’s “The Voice,” Fox’s “Gotham” and ABC’s “Scandal” have run on all three of those networks – even if the programs in question don’t appear on a specific network’s air. More is likely on the way.
CBS will start its TV push with tailored “promos” on the company’s flagship network. Viewers of “The Good Wife,” for example, could see video snippets running before and after the show that tell them about the “All Access” service and how it might allow them to see more of the program they’ve already tuned in to see. Phrases like “Watch live. Watch later” and “Binge away” are among the ideas that will be communicated, said DeBevoise.
The company isn’t relying on TV alone. CBS is crafting a multitude of advertisements that will run across its many digital properties. These enticements can appeal to a potential customer’s love of a specific program – say, “Star Trek” – or a particular media behavior, like streaming video on a mobile device. The pitches are likely to appear on properties owned by CBS Interactive as well as those that are part of CBS News and CBS Sports, as well as affiliated sites, said DeBevoise.
CBS is also likely to use perks and rewards to get certain “influencers” to push friends and followers to subscribe, said DeBevoise. People who run “hyper fan” sites are among those who might be offered “a bounty, or some fee” that could include a longer-than-usual free trial period for “All Access” or some sort of revenue based on new subscribers to the service.
“It’s a broad campaign with very specific targeting inside of it,” the executive said. “You pick the right way to convert users to what we think is a product for ‘super-fans,’ or a premium product for people who really want CBS.”
CBS hasn’t released statistics on the number of people who have signed up for “All Access” since the service launched October 16th. The goal for the subscription-based venture is to help the company reach a subset of TV viewers known as “cord shavers” or “cord nevers” – people who do not subscribe to a traditional video service, such as Comcast, DirecTV or Verizon’s Fios. When “All Access” launched, CBS executives suggested it would likely attract a “subset” of the 280 million people who visit CBS Interactive sits each month. Time Warner’s HBO, slated to launch a broadband-distributed product next year, recently cited a potential audience of 10 million people who do not subscribe to video.
Expect to see more such advertising come to the fore. “It is a unique moment in time,” DeBevoise said, thanks to “all of the device shifts and changes in consumption.” Like so many others, CBS executives “want to make sure we are there for our audience on all of the places” to which they might journey in rapidly changing terrain.