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CBS Sets Digital MVPD Distribution Pact With Affiliates

Variety logo Variety 5/9/2017 Cynthia Littleton
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CBS has set an agreement with its 200-plus affiliate stations that is designed to streamline the process of local stations signing on to emerging digital MVPD platforms.

The deal between the Eye and the CBS Affiliate Board includes an extension and expansion of affiliate participation in the CBS All Access SVOD service, on a revenue-sharing basis. CBS will also drive the carriage negotiations for its affiliates on new skinny bundle offerings from YouTube, Hulu and prospective other entrants.

CBS’ deal follows similar pacts struck by ABC and NBC with its affiliate stations. The goal is to ensure that the Big Four networks maintain their local/national ubiquity as the business of pay TV bundles moves in the OTT realm. Like ABC’s agreement, CBS affiliates retain the right to opt in or opt out on a distributor by distributor basis.

“Expanding distribution on these new platforms together with our affiliates has been a part of CBS’ long-term digital strategy,” said Ray Hopkins, CBS Corp.’s president of television networks distribution. “No broadcaster has made preserving the network-affiliate model a core tenet of their strategy like CBS. We look forward to continuing to work in partnership with our affiliates, and as these new forms of distribution continue to grow, including CBS All Access, so will our revenue together.”

CBS was the first network to rally its affiliates into a collective for a skinny bundle deal in 2015 when the Eye set a deal with Sony’s PlayStation Vue service.

“We are pleased we have reached this agreement in partnership with CBS,” said Chris Cornelius, chairman of the CBS Affiliates Board. “Access to these new and emerging digital distribution platforms gives all CBS affiliates the opportunity to provide viewers with more accessibility to their favorite local programs.”

CBS said live streaming of local stations via CBS All Access at present is available in markets reaching 90% of TV households. The reach is expected to increase under the expanded pact.

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