ViacomCBS reveals territories & content plans for global streamer, ahead of 2021 launch

Bob Bakish

ViacomCBS has revealed more details about its expanded international streaming service, which is set to launch early next year.

Teased for months by the media giant as a ‘super service’ streamer, the company used its quarterly earnings call to shine a light on a “broad pay” CBS All Access product, which will offer content from CBS, MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, its Paramount film studio, Showtime and existing SVOD CBS All Access.

“We’re targeting early 2021 for the launch of our international streaming service, a super-sized offering of truly compelling content with first-run originals and libraries from all ViacomCBS brands, including Showtime,” ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish said.

“We will focus next year’s initial rollout on a set of high-value territories where we see an opportunity to become the market leader. These territories include Australia, Latin America and the Nordics.”

Opening up All Access

ViacomCBS is already established as an SVOD brand in a small number of markets with CBS All Access and Paramount Plus. In those countries, it is understood that CBS All Access will relaunch with a bolstered library and new user experience.

It is unclear what will happen in Australia where CBS All Access is branded as 10 All Access and operated as a joint venture with Network 10.

In its presentation, ViacomCBS said that the platform will have “distribution across all platforms”, which seems to indicate that it will not have the same issues that WarnerMedia and NBCUniversal have had with Amazon and Roku.

The company also said that this new CBS All Access product will be designed to complement its AVOD service Pluto TV and that they will “move in parallel”.

Pluto, Bakish said “is really cranking” with the free-to-view AVOD registering 33 monthly active users by the end of the quarter, with 26.5 million of those coming from the US.

As far as its current SVOD businesses go, the CEO said that CBS All Access “had a great quarter”, and that Showtime “had its best quarter ever in subscriber growth,” adding more subscribers in the past six months than the previous two and a half years combined. It expects to hit 18 million domestic SVOD subscribers by the end of the 2020 financial year.

Bakish said: “Our streaming strategy is working, and it’s really just getting going. As you can see, it’s about value creation on a global scale for the short and long term. And I look forward to updating you as we pass key milestones in the coming quarters.”

Covid-19 impact

Overall, the company had a solid quarter and managed to withstand many of the pressures of Covid-19. That said, ViacomCBS did take a 27% hit to ad revenue as a result of the pandemic and its theatrical business dropped by 98% year-over-year with no major releases.

TV entertainment took a similar dive of 22% to $2.29bn, while cable networks actually managed a 2% increase to $3.23bn. ViacomCBS channels are available in 190 million broadcast homes around the world and 2.7 billion cumulative TV homes. Its international linear share of viewing has increased by 11%, Bakish said.

Total revenue for the company was $6.28bn, down 12% year-over-year. Christina Spade, the company’s EVP and CFO, outlined the company’s response to the pandemic, surmising that “in light of the ongoing Covid pandemic, we achieved solid results in Q2 2020.”

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