CBS All Access Unveils Ad-Free Option to Compete With Streaming Giants

Jeff Neumann/CBS
'The Good Wife'

For about $10 a month, viewers can now watch 'The Good Wife' reruns or episodes of the upcoming 'Star Trek: Discovery' without ads.

CBS is acknowledging that not all viewers want to watch advertisements alongside their favorite TV shows. 

The broadcaster on Wednesday unveiled a commercial-free plan for its CBS All Access subscription service. The new subscription tier will cost $9.99 a month, $4 more than the tier that continues to show commercials. But CBS believes that people will be willing to pay to remove the ads. 

"The foundation of CBS All Access is not only about giving CBS fans access to more of the content they want, but also giving them more choices in how they watch their favorite CBS programming," said CBS Interactive president and COO Marc DeBevoise. "The addition of a commercial-free plan gives our subscribers even more ways to customize their CBS viewing experience — from which devices to whether they watch in or out of the home, and now with commercials or without."

DeBevoise teased the possibility of an ad-free service during his appearance at the recent Television Critics Association's summer press tour. All Access isn't the first to offer a subscription streaming service that still includes advertisements — that is Hulu's most popular subscription tier. But while CBS' offering runs fewer ads than what a viewer would see on TV — and does away with ads entirely for classics — it has still received some criticism for having a heavy ad load. 

Hulu, which is co-owned by the other three broadcasters as well as Time Warner, also faced criticism for continuing to show ads to people who paid for subscriptions, one of the reasons that last fall the streamer added an ad-free tier for $12 a month. Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins has since said that the option of a higher priced, ad-free subscription has quieted the criticism and actually boosted subscriptions to the lower-priced tier that shows some commercials. 

CBS announced All Access in 2014 as its answer to Hulu, Netflix and other streaming services. The offering, part of a flurry of stand-alone streaming services from other networks including HBO and CBS-owned Showtime, has an on-demand library of 7,500 episodes of television, including current shows like Big Brother and Blue Bloods as well as library content and classics. CBS also is prepping the debut of its first slate of originals for CBS All Access, including Star Trek: Discovery, a Good Wife spinoff and a digital version of Big Brother

CBS All Access also offers live streaming of local CBS TV stations in more than 150 markets. The ad-free tier will continue to feature the same commercials as the linear broadcasts. CBS says some on-demand shows will also have promotional interruptions. 

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