For CBS, Tentpole Shows and Intense Testing Lead to D2C Success

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Direct-to-consumer streaming service CBS All Access has over 10,000 episodes of classic and new programs, but it’s the tentpole series and events that get people to pay attention. The service first got on people's radar when it debuted with a new Star Trek series available exclusively to customers. Riding that, CBS has a lot more Star Trek planned. A series focused on Jean-Luc Picard debuts in Q1 2020, and another is in the works.

"We really think we're going to be able to delivery something exceptional for fans,  of Star Trek: The Next Generation," said Domenic DiMeglio, executive vice president of distribution, marketing, and operations at CBS, speaking today at the Adobe Summit.

Another major release, Jordan Peele's revamp of The Twilight Zone, kicks off Monday. At that time, CBS All Access will have three original series streaming at once. Going forward, the service will always have at least one high-profile original series streaming new episodes at any time. The service had six original shows last year and will have nine this year.

Live events, including the Super Bowl and the Grammys, have also proven major attractions for the service.

Just as important to the D2C's success has been CBS's backend testing. When the company decided to offer a D2C service, its first hires were performance marketing experts. Performance marketing isn't a native skill for a broadcast network, DiMeglio said, so the company had to staff up.

Noting is too small for CBS to test. The company found that sign-ups were significantly better if it prominently displayed the message that people were free to cancel anytime, for example. Analyzing data has helped it hook customers during their seven-day free trial period by understanding what they like and promoting it to them. It's also been able to identify subscribers at risk for churn, then make efforts to keep them happy.

"We can pull levers to try to re-engage them or engage them further," DiMeglio said. "Early tests have been really encouraging."

Photo: Domenic DiMeglio, executive vice president of distribution, marketing, and operations at CBS, speaking at the Adobe Summit

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