ViacomCBS revenues fall 9% as U.S. streaming subscribers reach 17.9M

ViacomCBS revenues fell 9% in the third quarter to $6.12 billion while domestic streaming and digital video revenues surged 56% ahead of the launch of Paramount+ early next year. In September, ...
November 6, 2020

ViacomCBS revenues fell 9% in the third quarter to $6.12 billion while domestic streaming and digital video revenues surged 56% ahead of the launch of Paramount+ early next year.

In September, the media giant announced it would be rebranding CBS All Access as Paramount+ in early 2021.

Most recently, Tom Ryan, CEO of Pluto TV, stepped into the role of president and CEO of ViacomCBS Streaming as Marc Debevoise, ViacomCBS chief digital officer and president and CEO of ViacomCBS Digital, exited the company.

The global streaming service will feature content from ViacomCBS’s portfolio of brands — a combination of live sports, breaking news and entertainment content, including an “expansive” slate of originals from such brands as BET, CBS and MTV.

Already announced non-scripted content headed to the platform include true crime series The Real Criminal Minds and a Behind the Music spinoff from MTV.

In addition the U.S., ViacomCBS plans to launch the service in Australia, Latin America and the Nordics next year.

Gains in the company’s domestic streaming and digital video revenues were driven by a 78% growth in subscription streaming revenue and digital video advertising growth.

Domestic streaming subscribers reached 17.9 million, up 72% year-over-year.

Pluto TV grew its domestic monthly active users to 28.4 million, up 57% year-over-year, and more than doubled its advertising revenue in the quarter.

Overall, ViacomCBS affiliate revenue increased 10% in Q3, fueled partially by strong subscription streaming revenue.

Advertising revenue slid 6%, which ViacomCBS attributed to a lower demand in advertising resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Content licensing revenue decreased 33%, largely due to a lower volume of licensing driven by the pandemic and the timing of program availabilities.

Across ViacomCBS’s TV Entertainment segment, revenue declined 4% year-over-year to $2.35 billion, primarily due to lower content licensing revenue, partially offset by a 25% increase in affiliate revenue.

Advertising revenue decreased a marginal 1%.

The company touted CBS as the most-watched network across primetime, daytime and late night during the 2019-2020 broadcast year.

Revenue for ViacomCBS’s cable networks, meanwhile, dipped 7% to $3.06 billion due to lower advertising and content licensing revenue. Those losses were partially offset by a 4% growth in affiliate revenue.

Advertising revenue for the segment decreased 11%, again largely resulting from weakness in the advertising market as a result of COVID-19. Content licensing revenue declined 26%.

The Q3 results beat Wall Street estimates and showed improvement over those posted in Q2.

“As we near the first anniversary of the ViacomCBS merger, I’m thrilled about the way our organization has come together to realize the power of the combination and seize our unique global opportunity in streaming. This quarter, we achieved strong user growth across our streaming platforms as we continue to build our linked ecosystem of pay and free services – with big steps taken, including the preview and brand reveal of Paramount+ ahead of its launch in early 2021, and more recently, the unification of our global streaming organization. Our company’s transformation is ahead of schedule and we are incredibly excited by the opportunities ahead,” Bob Bakish, ViacomCBS president and CEO, said in a statement.

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.