CBS to launch streaming service internationally, starting in Canada next year

CBS Corp. is expanding its digital streaming service internationally and will be available to Canadians sometime next year.

Service on track for 4 million subscribers by the end of this year, forecast to double by 2020

Launched in 2014, CBS All Access allows subscribers to watch the network's entire catalogue of more than 9,000 episodes. The service is set to launch in a modified form in Canada next year. (CBS Interactive/Associated Press)

CBS Corp. is expanding its digital streaming service internationally and will be available to Canadians sometime next year.

In the U.S., the service known as CBS All Access boasts more 9,000 episodes from the network's daytime, prime time and late-night content, plus selected offerings from specialty channels owned by CBS such as Showtime, without the need for a cable television subscription. 

American subscribers also have access to CBSN, a 24/7 news service.

In Canada the service is likely to look a little different. Some CBS shows are already available on Netflix in Canada, and Canadian broadcasters own the digital rights to many CBS shows in Canada.

Last year, for example, Bell Media announced it had acquired the exclusive rights in Canada to the forthcoming CBS Show Star Trek: Discovery, which will have its debut episode air on CTV later this year before being broadcast on Space and Z. It was also announced the show would later be available to stream on Bell's streaming service, CraveTV.

"This is the beginning of what CBS hopes is a Netflix competitor worldwide," technology analyst Daniel Bader of Mobile Nations told CBC News in an interview, "but the irony here is that CBS is expanding without its hit show."

In the U.S., All Access includes CBS's extensive back catalog of hit shows including The Big Bang TheoryMadam Secretary and NCIS, as well as the daytime soap The Young and the Restless. There's also a selection of classic hit TV series like CheersBeverly Hills 90210 and Taxi, none of which were originally CBS shows.

But in Canada the company has already signed deals for the shows with Bell, Netflix and others for digital streaming rights, so they likely won't be included.

In the U.S., the service costs $5.99 US a month, or $9.99 for a version with no commercials. Pricing details for Canada were not included in CBS's release on Monday, but "if it's any more expensive in Canada than $9.99 subscribers may balk at it," Bader said.

Canada has been identified as the first foreign market, but more will follow. 

The service launched in the U.S. in October 2014, and is on track for four million subscribers by the end of the year. CBS had initially forecast that number would grow to eight million in the U.S. alone by 2020, a figure the network now calls "conservative."

"CBS All Access is growing faster than we anticipated domestically, and now represents a whole new opportunity internationally as well," CBS chair Leslie Moonves said. "By going direct to consumer around the world, we will facilitate new connections between the global audience and our industry-leading premium content."

With files from Meegan Read


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