While carriage agreements between cable operators and network broadcasters have become more contentious, CBS and Comcast were able to come to terms on a 10-year deal that was announced this morning.
The retransmission deal, which was described as a "long-term, wide-ranging pact," included carriage of the full slate of Showtime Networks offerings, Comcast's launch of the Smithsonian Channel and expanded distribution of CBS College Sports. Financial terms weren't available.
Comcast and CBS also agreed to a forward-thinking accord that includes more VOD offerings and online streaming options for the cable operator. Starting today, Showtime Networks and The Movie Channel are now available for online streaming to Comcast customers via its Fancast Xfinity Web portal.
Comcast subscribers could previously authenticate themselves to watch content from HBO and Starz, but until today, Showtime wasn't part of the online lineup. Now that it is, Comcast customers that already subscribe to a cable tier that includes Showtime can now access shows such as "Weeds," "Nurse Jackie," "Dexter" and "Californication," as well as full-length movies, on their computers.
In addition to the online streaming, Comcast also has access to more Showtime content in its video-on-demand service, as well as more CBS content online and on-demand, all of which is part of its Project Xfinity initiative that was launched several years ago.
While Disney and Time Warner Cable are still trying to settle on the terms of their carriage agreement, CBS President and CEO Les Moonves went out of his way to compliment Comcast Chairman and CEO Brian Roberts on the new retransmission agreement.
"This agreement demonstrates the enduring value of CBS' content across our company," Moonves said in a prepared statement. "Beyond securing another key retransmission consent agreement for CBS entertainment, news and sports programming, it also provides for the long-term future of Showtime Networks' original programming and movies on Comcast's platform and expands the reach of our growing college sports and Smithsonian franchises.
"This deal could not have happened without the vision of Brian Roberts and [Comcast COO] Steve Burke. We are very pleased that Comcast has confidence in our ability to deliver premium content to its large and loyal subscriber base. I look forward to all that we will do together – across multiple platforms – to offer the audience we share the viewing experiences they've come to expect from our two companies."
Roberts returned the compliment to Moonves in his statement.
"We are very pleased to have reached a long-term agreement with CBS to distribute its valuable programming across our multiple platforms. Les Moonves has been a real leader as the media industry experiments and moves toward delivering content to customers whenever and wherever they want to watch it. We are proud to partner with CBS as we give our customers the content they love on TV, video-on-demand and online," Roberts said. "In this time of rapidly changing technology and viewership interest, we were able to structure a deal that gives customers the content they want without any threat of disrupting their service."