ViacomCBS Bowing New CBS Dramas on Pluto TV; Expanding Streaming Video Biz in U.K.

ViacomCBS is set to bow free access to two new CBS dramas on AVOD platform Pluto TV, including initial episodes of “The Equalizer,” starring Queen Latifah, after the Super Bowl on Feb. 7; and “Clarice,” starring Rebecca Breeds as the FBI agent from The Silence of the Lambs, on Feb. 11. Pluto TV is projected to reach 30 million active monthly users through 2020.

The new series episodes will also be made available on Amazon Prime Channels and CBS YouTube  channel. ViacomCBS is set to launch Paramount+ (formerly CBS All Access) streaming platform, beginning next month in the U.S., followed by Canada, Latin America, Scandinavia and Australia.

Dan Fahy

Separately, ViacomCBS Networks U.K. announced the creation of a new business unit tasked with expanding video streaming business and partnerships, including AVOD subsidiary Pluto TV, SVOD app MTV Play and Nick Jr.’s Noggin platform.

The unit will be led by Dan Fahy, who was promoted to SVP, head of emerging business. Fahy reports to Sarah Rose, who saw her duties expanded to include Chief Operating and Commercial Officer, VCN U.K. Fahy will oversee all U.K. streaming business, including AVOD service, My5 and Pluto TV U.K. — the latter previously run by ViacomCBS’s EMEA management.

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“By uniting all of our critical growth functions under one new and dedicated team, we’re ensuring that our platforms have the capabilities and resource needed to reach their full potential,” Fahy said in a statement.

In addition, Ashley Sennik was named VP of growth for U.K. Streaming, while Akhila Khanna was promoted to VP of partner engagement and business development. Sennik, who most-recently worked at Sky’s Now TV, will spearhead acquisition, engagement and monetization, with Khanna tasked with streaming partnerships and business development.

Sennik jointly reports to Fahy and Marco Nobili, SVP of international marketing and growth for streaming at VCN Americas. Khanna jointly reports to Fahy and Angela Heckman, SVP of streaming revenue and operations at VCN International.

Viacom Interested in Joining BritBox SVOD Concept

With the BBC and ITV looking to expand subscription streaming service BritBox from the United States to the United Kingdom, Viacom reportedly wants in on the action.

Launched in 2017 in the United States, BritBox features more than 2,000 hours of British-themed original TV series and movies for $7 monthly fee.

Dan Fahy

Speaking at the Connected TV World Summit 2019 in London, Dan Fahy, VP, commercial and content distribution, Viacom International Media Networks, said the worldwide distribution arm of Viacom was keen on participating the BritBox rollout through its Channel 5 subsidiary.

 

Channel 5 is a British linear broadcast network launched in 1997 by VIMN featuring original and third-party content.

“We’re talking to ITV about it,” Fahy told a panel as reported by Advanced-Television.com. “I know there are different views about the need for it, but fundamentally, in the U.K. there’s a huge appetite for British programming … and Channel 5 produces a lot of this great programming.”

Indeed, with Netflix and Amazon Prime Video producing and streaming prodigious quantities of British-centric programming, the globl appetite for the content – notably Prime Video’s “Tin Star,” starring Tim Roth, is not abating.

In the U.S., AMC Network’s Acorn TV has been streaming British-themed content since 2011. The platform surpassed 800,000 subscribers last summer when combined with AMC’s Urban Movie Channel.

“There is a segment for some of the great British programming to come together in a frictionless, on-demand environment,” Fahy said.