7 FEB 2020

VIACOMCBS PREPARES TO LAUNCH A NEW STREAMING SERVICE

The company’s idea is to create a platform with advertisements that will combine CBS All Access with Viacom assets including Pluto TV, Nickelodeon, BET, MTV, Comedy Central and Paramount Pictures.

Share

ViacomCBS is working on combining media assets for a new streaming service that will build on CBS All Access, people familiar with the matter told CNBC. The idea is to create a platform with advertisements that will combine CBS All Access with Viacom assets including Pluto TV, Nickelodeon, BET, MTV, Comedy Central and Paramount Pictures.

An ad-free version will also be available, and a premium version of the streaming service will include Showtime, the people said. ViacomCBS executives haven’t decided on a name for the service, nor a price, though the base service will probably be less than $10 a month. ViacomCBS executives might speak about the planned service during the company’s fourth quarter earnings conference call on February 20. The company may also reveal statistics about total paid subscribers for its existing streaming services and give revenue figures for the first time.

The new product could be the final significant streaming offering that hits the market as traditional media companies all prepare for a post-cable TV future. ViacomCBS hopes consumers will see the value in the combination of live sports and news with movies, strong kids programming from Nickelodeon and Noggin, and both scripted and unscripted programming, the people said.

CBS All Access, currently priced at $5.99 with ads and $9.99 without them, allows subscribers to watch all of CBS’s programming, including live sports such as the National Football League, on any device. Like other OTT, CBS has also made original programming for the service, including “Star Trek: Picard” and a reboot of “The Twilight Zone”.

Viacom’s streaming strategy prior to combining with CBS has been to sell a number of small niche products, such as $7.99-per-month Noggin, a preschool-focused service with popular kids shows such as “Dora The Explorer” and “Paw Patrol"; and BET+, a $9.99-per-month service that includes original programming from Tyler Perry.

ViacomCBS’s plan is to keep these streaming services in existence while marketing the new service to current subscribers. Similar to how AT&T’s WarnerMedia valued HBO Max at the same price as HBO, ViacomCBS executives imagine many current subscribers will upgrade to the larger umbrella subscription product when they realize how much more programming they’ll get for little extra money.

The new service will also be the home for old Paramount Pictures films, which have been previously licensed to existing streaming services such as Netfilx and Amazon Prime Video. There are about 3,600 Paramount movies, including “The Godfather” and the “Star Trek” movies. ViacomCBS will also have exclusive access to another 700 movies through a 49% ownership stake in Miramax.