As other media companies talk up their plans for yet-to-launch streaming services, CBS chief creative officer David Nevins touted the rapid growth of CBS All Access and promised deeper investments in the coming year.
“They have a ton of content coming next year,” Nevins said in his inaugural appearance today at the UBS Global Media and Communications conference. “The 2019 offering will be much more robust than 2018.”
Nevins said that CBS’ streaming services — CBS All Access and Showtime — are well on their way of reaching their goal of 8 million subscribers by 2020. All Access, in particular, has distinguished itself among the streaming services with its combination of original shows including Star Trek: Discovery and the forthcoming Twilight Zone reboot from Jordan Peele, live sports and local news.
“We’ve mimicked all the great things you get from a broadcast network in a digital space,” Nevins said.
Nevins called CBS’ deal with the NFL, to bring games to its streaming platform, a game-changer. He said there’s huge anticipation for Star Trek: Discovery’s return in January, as well as for the launch of Picard, with Patrick Stewart reprising his Star Trek role of Capt. Jean-Luc Picard, which is due out at the end of the year. He said Twilight Zone, Peele’s update of Rod Serling’s sci-fi anthology series, is attracting top talent.
“I’ve read the scripts now for Twilight Zone,” Nevins said. “They’re really interesting. Jordan Peele is the perfect guy to embody the Rod Serling spirit, but in a new way for the 21st century. The scripts are great.”
Nevins talked about CBS expanding its streaming services into new global markets, beyond Canada, as illustrated by today’s launch of 10 All Access in Australia. That subscription service combines deep library content, new CBS shows and local content from Channel 10 shows, as well as original series.
Showtime is broadening its offerings as well, offering more pay-per-view boxing matches like Saturday’s Deontay Wilder-Tyson Fury heavyweight fight that ended in a draw and is likely to lead to a rematch.
“We’ve changed the economics of pay-per-view business, now selling it directly through the app, and keeping the distributor’s share,” Nevins said.
Nevins was asked about CBS’ content strategy, as it produces some 75 television shows for its own platforms — the broadcast network, Showtime, CBS All Access and The CW — as well as for third parties like Turner. He said the media company would continue to do deals that make the most financial sense, and wouldn’t be restricted to creating shows exclusively for its own platforms.
“We’v all been watching Friends get batted back and forth between WarnerMedia and Netflix,” Nevins said. “Guess what they ended up with? Both. That means Netflix paid Warner enough money, they wanted to keep it … but it wasn’t enough to make it exclusive.”
Nevins was asked about AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner, and whether this would impact Showtime. The executive said AT&T’s satellite distributor, DirecTV, still wants to offer the CBS broadcast network and Showtime’s premium pay TV channel to its subscribers — and “they will continue to get it.”
Nevins was elevated to the newly created role in October, where he has broad oversight of programming across CBS Television Studios, the CBS TV network’s entertainment division, Showtime and programming for CBS All Access. The executive’s programming acumen compliments the financial background of the media company’s acting CEO, Joe Ianniello, who assumed the helm of the company when Les Moonves resigned in September amid sexual misconduct allegations.
Before joining Showtime Networks, Nevins was an Emmy-winning producer and network programming executive. He served as president of Imagine Television from 2002-2010, when he oversaw development and production and was an executive producer on all Imagine Television shows.
Under his leadership, Imagine produced Arrested Development, which won the Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series, and 24, which won for Outstanding Drama Series. He also developed and executive produced Friday Night Lights, which received honors from the American Film Institute for Television Program of the Year and the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award; Nevins received an Emmy nomination for his work as an executive producer on FNL‘s final season.
Before joining Imagine, Nevins served as EVP Programming at Fox. Before that, he served as SVP Primetime Series at NBC, where he was responsible for the development and creative supervision of ER, The West Wing, Will & Grace, Homicide: Life on the Street and Law & Order: SVU.