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ViacomCBS reveals more details about 2021 super streamer

ViacomCBS has revealed more details about its expanded international streaming service.

Teased for months by the media giant as a ‘super service’ streamer, the company utilised its quarterly earnings call to shine a light on “broad pay” CBS All Access product which will combine a selection of content from its brands including CBS, MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, its Paramount film studio and current SVODs Showtime and CBS All Access.

CEO Bob Bakish said: “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. 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.”

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 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”.

Bob Bakish

Pluto, Bakish said “is really cranking” with the free-to-view AVOD registering 33 million 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.”

Overall, the company had a solid quarter and has 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 US$2.29 billion, while cable networks actually managed a 2% increase to US$3.23 billion. 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 US$6.28 billion, 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.”