ViacomCBS Working on a Branded SVOD Service

ViacomCBS has ad-supported service Pluto TV, preschool-based Noggin, and BET+ with Tyler Perry content, in addition to subscription streaming platforms CBS All Access and Showtime OTT. Now the media giant wants to launch a branded SVOD platform incorporating aspects of each service, in addition to Paramount Pictures movies.

Viacom, which officially completed its merger with CBS on Dec. 31, 2019, will reveal further details about the service on the company’s Feb. 20 fiscal call, according to CNBC, which first reported the story.

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The move comes as All Access and Showtime OTT have a combined 10 million paying subscribers — a relatively modest tally considering each has been existence almost five years longer than Disney+, which has more than 28 million in less than two months of existence.

The service has been at the forefront for chief digital officer Marc Debevoise, Pluto CEO Tom Ryan, and Ray Hopkins, president of U.S. Networks Distribution — all working together with Bob Bakish on the concept.

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Viacom’s $9.99 BET+ Streaming Service Launches

Viacom Sept. 19 launched just its third branded domestic subscription streaming video service BET+, priced at $9.99 per month.

The SVOD service complements BET’s linear network, which launched in 1980 by Robert L. Johnson. Additional access points include BET.com and the BET Now app for TV Everywhere users.

In addition, BET’s recently launched channel on Pluto TV will continue to feature classic films and box office hits from the best of black Hollywood.

The service follows previous launches of preschool-based Noggin and Comedy Central Now. Viacom also owns and operates ad-supported Pluto TV.

Ironically, BET+ will compete directly against AMC Networks’ Urban Movie Channel (UMC), the SVOD created in 2018 for African American and urban audiences — by Robert L. Johnson’s RLJ Entertainment.

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BET+ is also available on the App Store for iPhone and iPad, Android devices, Android TV devices, Amazon Fire TV and Prime Video Channels.

Users can also subscribe directly through Apple TV channels and watch in the Apple TV app, on demand and ad-free, across their devices for online and offline viewing.

The joint venture by BET Networks and Tyler Perry Studios launches with more than 1,000 hours of ad-free premium content, including exclusive new original programming and a broad array of top African-American-focused dramas, sitcoms, films, and specials from BET and sister networks within the Viacom portfolio.

Additionally, BET+ will offer an exclusive collection of Tyler Perry films, television, and stage plays. The service will also provide a host of content from leading African American creators, including Tracy Oliver, Will Packer, along with fresh new voices, on both sides of the camera. New titles will be added to the service regularly.

Initial content includes all nine episodes of BET+ original series, “First Wives Club,from Girls Trip screenwriter Tracy Oliver, and starring Ryan Michelle Bathe, Michelle Buteau and Jill Scott.

New weekly original series,Bigger— a 10-episode comedic series from hitmaker Will Packer (“Ride Along” and “Think Like a Man.”) — gives fans a taste of what’s to come by making the first three episodes of the series available now.

The remaining episodes of will be released every week beginning Sept. 26. In addition to its new original content, BET+ is also now streaming the comedy series, Martin”.

In the coming months, BET+ will stream Tyler Perry’s theatrical films, including the Madeafranchise; new original series; and a selection of Perry’s stage plays —Meet the Browns,” “Daddy’s Little Girls,” “Family That Preys,” and “I Can Do Bad All By Myself,” among others.

BET+ will stream a lineup of African American TV, movie and musical content including BET’s library series, films, documentaries, and specials such as “The Bobby Brown Story,” “The New Edition Story,” “Real Husbands of Hollywood,” “The Quad,” “Being Mary Jane,” “Love & Happiness: An Obama Celebration, ” “College Hill,” “Comic View,” “Hell Date,” “Keyshia Cole: All In,” “Nellyville” “Reed Between The Lines,” “Ali: People’s Champ,” “Katrina: 10 Years Later,” “Killer Curves,” “BET Awards,” “Hip Hop Awards,” “Soul Train Awards,” “Black Girls Rock,” “Boomerang,” “Harlem Nights,” “Coach Carter,” “Losing Isaiah,” and “Tina Turner Live In Holland,” among others.

Viacom library TV shows include VH1’s “Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta,” “Basketball Wives,” “T.I. & Tiny: The Family Hustle,” Comedy Central’s “Why? With Hannibal Buress”, MTV’s “Todrick,” TV Land’s “Soul Man,” Nick @ Night’s “Instant Mom,” and more.

In the coming weeks, BET+ will feature stand-up comedy specials from D.L. Hughley, Eddie Griffin, Nick Cannon, Sasheer Zamata (Saturday Night Live), Lil Rel (Get Out), Gina Yashere (The Daily Show), and Sinbad.

 

Paramount Home Entertainment Ups Q2 Domestic Revenue 3%

Paramount Home Entertainment May 10 reported second-quarter (ended March 31) domestic revenue of $104 million, up 3% from revenue of almost $101 million during the previous-year period. International revenue fell 19% to $50 million from $61.7 million.

Overall, home entertainment revenue dipped 5.6% to $154 million from revenue of $163 million last fiscal year. Revenue through the first-half of the fiscal year is down about 4% to $332 million from $346 million.

The studio’s top-selling disc, Instant Family, has sold almost $4 million in combined DVD/Blu-ray Disc units since its March 5 retail bow.

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Meanwhile, Paramount Pictures reported its ninth straight quarter of improved operating income to $29 million, which was up 222% from operating income of $13 million during the previous-year period.

Theatrical revenue leapfrogged 244% to $172 million from $70.5 million last year and largely driven by Bumblebee. Domestic revenue increased 144% to $66 million while international revenue increased to $106 million.

Separately, Nickelodeon’s child-based subscription streaming video service Noggin topped 2.5 million subscribers globally. Noggin, Nick Hits, Comedy Central Now and MTV Hits will be offered as Apple TV Channels on the new Apple TV app for iPhone, iPad and Apple TV later this month, on Samsung this spring and on Mac this fall.

In April, Paramount+ signed its first Latin American partnership with NET in Brazil and Claro video in the rest of Latin America, including on mobile.

At the end of April, monthly active users grew to approximately 16 million, up 31% from 12 million since December 2018.

Viacom also announced several new distribution and content deals. Comcast is adding Pluto TV in its Xfinity Flex service, and Pluto TV will be coming to Xfinity X1 soon. Grew roster of 150+ content partners with recent additions of CNN, BBC and Major League Soccer.

The company is launching Pluto Latino, its U.S. Hispanic channels, in July. International plans include launches in Latin America and Switzerland, and expansion in the U.K., Germany and Austria.

Nickelodeon Buys ‘Sparkler’ for Noggin SVOD Service

Nickelodeon March 29 announced the acquisition of children’s learning technology platform Sparkler for its branded Noggin subscription streaming video service.

Viacom-owned Nickelodeon named Sparkler co-founder Kristen Kane EVP for the preschool subscription service that features more than 1,500 full-length library episodes, short-form videos, Spanish-language videos and music videos.

Over the next year, Sparkler’s technology will be integrated into Noggin’s platform, enabling parents to guide and support their kids’ growth and development through playable content and experiences on and off screen, with personalized features that track progress over time.

Kane will oversee the integration of Sparkler and drive Noggin’s strategy and next phase of development as an educational digital platform. She will be based in New York and report to Brian Robbins, president of Nickelodeon.

“Pairing Sparkler’s capabilities with our curriculum-driven content will fully transform Noggin into a premier interactive learning destination for preschoolers and their families,” Robbins said in a statement. “Kristen brings extensive experience in the education and technology space, and she will help drive Noggin’s growth with an increased focus on delivering even greater value to our direct-to-consumer service.”

Subject to the terms of the transaction, Sparkler’s work with schools, healthcare providers, and social services providers will continue through a new non-profit organization called Sparkler Learning, and Viacom will support its mission of helping families give their children a strong start in life through partnerships with educators, doctors, and others serving young families.

Previously, Kane was the founding COO of Amplify, an education technology company dedicated to collaborating with educators to create learning experiences for students K-12. Prior to that, she was COO of the New York City Department of Education in the Bloomberg administration, responsible for the implementation of reforms and oversight of daily operations. Kane also served at the Federal Communications Commission, where she led the development of strategies for applying broadband technologies in the education, healthcare, and energy sectors.

Since its launch in 2015, Noggin has ranked among one of the Top 10 Kids Apps on the Free Apps chart on the App Store, in addition to the No. 1 grossing app for music and video in the family category on Google Play. Noggin was also selected by Apple as an Apple TV app of the year.

Since launching in 2015, Noggin subscriptions have grown by triple digits from 2017 to 2018, and the service is currently available for iPad, iPhone, Apple TV, Android, Fire tablet and Roku devices, as well as on Amazon’s Prime Video Channels and The Roku Channel.

 

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