TV networks like HBO and Showtime have been starting to offer online subscriptions, and they've been turning to internet providers to help sell them. The latest partnership is between Cablevision and CBS, giving Cablevision the ability to offer Showtime and CBS All Access to subscribers of its Optimum internet service. This is CBS's first internet distribution deal, and it makes it very clear that it'll be following the same path that HBO has taken — selling subscriptions directly to consumers and falling back on internet providers to sell even more. Cablevision was the first internet provider to strike such a partnership with HBO; it has a similar deal with Hulu as well.
How will Cablevision sell these subscriptions?
What isn't clear yet is how Cablevision — or, for that matter, most other internet providers — ultimately intends to sell these subscriptions. There's no pricing or availability info yet for the CBS deal. So far, Cablevision is offering internet subscribers the ability to call a phone number and have an HBO Now subscription added to their bill, but that really doesn't seem like the end goal of these partnerships.
Rather, it seems possible that Cablevision and other internet providers will eventually start packaging these online TV subscriptions with their internet offerings. This could be through promotions, bundles, or simply different pricing tiers, but the result would be a sales method far more familiar to the average consumer: you'd subscribe to a group of networks at once, just like you traditionally do with TV. That may not be the à la carte dream for cord cutters, but it's worth remembering that all of these networks also sell subscriptions on their own.