ViacomCBS to launch global streaming service amid ad sales slump

ViacomCBS is the latest entertainment conglomerate to throw its hat into the streaming space, with plans to launch its premium streaming service in early 2021. The as-yet unnamed premium platform will ...
August 6, 2020

ViacomCBS is the latest entertainment conglomerate to throw its hat into the streaming space, with plans to launch its premium streaming service in early 2021.

The as-yet unnamed premium platform will be rolled out internationally via ViacomCBS Networks International and combines blockbuster and classic movies, reality and specialist factual content, premium scripted series, kids, comedy and entertainment programming.

At launch, the service will offer exclusive premieres of new Showtime series, CBS All-Access originals, and movies from Paramount Pictures, as well as premieres and boxsets from Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon and Paramount Network.

The streamer, which will be available to on-demand audiences, will also carry originals from ViacomCBS International Studios in “some markets.”

ViacomCBS said it will execute the initial roll-out by using its existing international infrastructure, which spans more than 30 countries, to improve “cost-efficiency and allow investment to be focused on-screen.”

Launch priority in 2021 will be given to OTT markets ViacomCBS has identified as some of the fastest growing, including Australia, Latin America (Argentina, Brazil and Mexico), and the Nordics. Additional international launches will follow shortly thereafter.

The international launch of the new streaming service will progress in parallel to the ongoing roll-out of ViacomCBS’s AVOD service, Pluto TV, following previous launches in the UK, Germany and Spanish-speaking Latin America. The service also plans to expand into Brazil and Spain by the end of this year, and France and Italy by 2021.

“Launching a super-sized premium streaming service will be a game-changer for ViacomCBS and can help us become as powerful a player in international streaming as we are in linear TV,” said David Lynn¬†(pictured), president and CEO of VCNI, in a statement. We will market a world-class content offering at a very competitive price, and we’re convinced it will have significant appeal for audiences everywhere and strong growth potential in every market.”

ViacomCBS’s new streaming service was announced as part of its second quarter earnings call earlier today (Aug. 6), which saw the multinational mass media conglomerate delivering “significant multiplatform distribution wins” and strong revenue growth across its domestic streaming and digital video departments.

The company’s second quarter results also reported a 25% year-over-year rise in domestic streaming and digital video sales of US$489 million. Domestic pay streaming subscribers, meanwhile, ballooned 74% year-over-year to include 16.2 million new viewers.

ViacomCBS also attributed the jump in revenue to a 52% bump in streaming subscription revenues and growth at free streaming service Pluto TV, with its domestic monthly active users (MAUs) growing to 26.5 million, up 61% compared to last year’s figures.

Advertising revenues, however, dipped by 27% year-over-year with ViacomCBS attributing the slump to adverse effects on advertising demands due to the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic and the cancellation or postponement of major sporting tournaments.

Affiliate revenues also sank by 6%, as growth in subscription streaming was more than offset by linear subscriber declines, the company said.

The company stated that theatrical revenue, meanwhile, was “immaterial” in the quarter due to the closure of movie theaters across the globe in response to COVID-19, with filmed entertainment revenues sagging by 26%.

“ViacomCBS delivered another solid quarter, with clear operational momentum and sequential improvement in key earnings and cash flow metrics,” said Bob Bakish, president and CEO of ViacomCBS, in a statement. “Despite the impact of COVID-19 on revenue in the quarter, we’re successfully managing through the effects of the pandemic, reaffirming the strength of our combined operations. Our results underscored our strong progress delivering on our value-creation initiatives, including integration cost synergies, expanded and new distribution agreements, as well as the rapid acceleration of our streaming business, where we achieved record users and revenue in free and pay while building toward the relaunch of our diversified super service.”

About The Author
Jillian Morgan is the Associate Editor at Realscreen with a background in journalism and digital marketing. She joined the publication in 2019 after serving as the assistant editor to trade publications HPAC and On-Site. With a bachelor of journalism from the University of King's College in Halifax, she also works as a freelance writer and fact-checker.