ViacomCBS is here, the merged entity of Viacom and CBS, and as a result a new streaming giant is entering the arena with an impressively merged content portfolio to be spread across paid subscription and free ad-supported platforms.
On an investor call to discuss the merger late Tuesday, CEO Bob Bakish and CBS head Joe Ianniello went into some further details about what the merger will mean for the consumer and for the company’s revenue with plans for a “powerful DTC (direct-to-consumer) ecosystem, which will allow us to serve consumers at different price points”.
As reported yesterday, the merged library encompasses 140,000 episodes of television and over 3,600 movie titles. Ianniello offered a hint of how they’ll be divided up:
“Just think about adding content from Nickelodeon, BET, MTV, Comedy Central to CBS All Access, and Paramount movies to Showtime. And also imagine our [ad-supported video on demand] properties like CBS Sports HQ and ET Live being added to Pluto [TV]. Plus, all of this will increasingly be done on a global basis.”
CBS All Access and Showtime together have 8 million paying subscribers combined, a number they hope to raise to 25 million by 2022. Viacom owns the ad-supported Pluto TV which has 18 million users and around 150 content suppliers offering viewing free of charge. CBS’ ad-supported sports, news and entertainment services will also bolster numbers. Affiliate fees and advertising are set to offer two additional income drivers.
Bulking up CBS All Access is important and Bakish indicates that, unlike with Disney’s more cautious approach to utilising Fox’s properties, CBS and Viacom aren’t hesitating to exploit each other’s IP as soon as possible:
“There is nothing at all preventing us from moving forward in terms of unlocking that opportunity in the very near future. [There’s] low hanging fruit there that we will seek to pick quite soon.”
More cautious is how they’ll re-price everything. Asked if they will re-consider the price of CBS All Access, which currently ranges from $6-10 a month, Ianniello only says they will take a ‘slow and steady’ approach as they grow subscriptions.
Also with the likes of CBS Television Studios, Paramount TV, Nickelodeon’s animation arm, Viacom International Studios and Paramount Pictures in their pocket, the new entity will also produce third party content for broadcasters, cablers and streamers ranging from Comcast to Netflix to Facebook.
Bakish, like Shari Redstone earlier this week, also indicated the company may make more acquisitions with speculation rife that Discovery, Lionsgate/Starz or AMC will be snatched up.