CW Weighs Launch of Paid Streaming Option (Report)

Owners CBS and Time Warner both have track records with “over-the-top” online subscriptions

A still of characters from CW show "Jane the Virgin"
The CW

Want to stream “Jane the Virgin” live online?

CBS and Time Warner’s Warner Bros. are discussing an online streaming service for their joint venture CW that would include a live feed of shows alongside on-demand episodes, according to a Bloomberg report Tuesday.

As online and mobile video habits have contributed to dwindling television ratings and cable subscriptions over the last year, networks that focus on young viewers, like the CW, are particularly exposed to those changes in viewing behavior.

Although advertising with online video is still a fraction of the amount spent on traditional television, adding an over-the-top subscription to the CW’s business models could insulate the network from losing mobile-first audience and provide leverage when it discusses carriage fees with traditional TV distributors.

Both CW owners have expertise in launching subscription streaming options: CBS rolled out CBS All Access for $6 a month in 2014, and Time Warner unveiled HBO Now to consumers for $15 a month last year.

The CW is nearing expirations of its agreement with station owner Tribune Media and deals with Netflix and Hulu, providing a possible window to launch an online presence, Bloomberg reported, citing unnamed people familiar with the matter. It added that talks are preliminary and a price of $2 to $4 a month is being discussed.

CBS, Warner Bros. and CW declined TheWrap’s requests to comment.