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CBS Interactive’s Marc DeBevoise on Streaming Boom, Content Strategy and Apple

Not everyone wants or needs to be Netflix to succeed in the streaming space. And not everyone sees Apple’s enigmatic new service as a threat.

Even as rival streaming services offer gobs of content, CBS Interactive’s president and COO Marc DeBevoise sees the company’s targeted original programming strategy continuing to attract viewers to its All Access and Showtime streaming platforms without hurting the linear network.

“The majority of All Access subscribers are not cord cutters,” said Debevoise. “It hasn’t come at the expense of some of these other revenue streams for the company, and so that’s the hope we have that that maintains over the next few years as we grow into the numbers that we’ve set out there.”

All Access and the streaming Showtime service now have eight million subscribers between the both of them, nearly two years ahead of schedule, and CBS chief Joseph Ianniello said on Thursday’s earnings call that he now expects that number to ramp up to 25 million by 2022, up from prior targets for 16 million subs.

The platforms are picking up steam as some of their over-the-top competitors are just getting started. Those eight million subscribers are split fairly evenly between All Access and Showtime, said DeBevoise, and they’ve been tracking that way for years now.

He attributes that growth to CBS’ mix of original content and live programming, among other things.

While Netflix has been pouring money into creating and acquiring original shows and movies, CBS has taken a different approach. It will feature 11 original scripted shows on All Access this year, up from seven last year and three in 2017. That’s major year-over-year growth, but pales in comparison to its streaming peers. WarnerMedia and Disney Plus are preparing their own platforms for launch; both have enormous libraries to tap, and Disney has already laid out a high-profile plan for original development.

DeBevoise said to expect that pace to continue, but isn’t worried about creating high volumes of content, choosing spinoffs like “The Good Fight” alongside tent pole shows like its new “Star Trek” series and “The Twilight Zone.”

“And some of the other shows, we’re taking a bit more risk, in that they’re not known properties, they’re not coming off these other things, but we feel like they are the right type of premium programming that people would pay for but also associate with the brand that we know we are a part of,” he said.

Apple is said to be launching its own streaming TV platform in April, according to Reuters, a service that is expected to include subscription offerings from the likes of CBS, Viacom and Starz, alongside Apple’s own original content.

DeBevoise would not comment specifically on the Apple report, but indicated that CBS is ready to embrace different distribution methods “as long as the deals are right and can service our unique offering.”

“We’ve been really successful at launching our apps across a number of devices and we’ve launched with Amazon Channels,” he said. “I would anticipate on us doing more of those deals certainly in the future. How many and with whom? TBD. But we like that opportunity. Getting our service to more people, as easily accessible as possible for many different devices, we think is a good thing.”

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