ViacomCBS CEO: Monthly Pluto TV Users to Reach 40 Million Globally, 19 Million SVOD Subs by Year’s End

ViacomCBS is ending 2020 with some good news. The company expects 40 million average global monthly users of its ad-supported Pluto TV platform, and 19 million combined SVOD subscribers for CBS All Access and Showtime OTT. The updated numbers were disclosed Dec. 8 by CEO Bob Bakish on the virtual UBS Global Investor event.

“We now see domestic streaming and digital revenue, which does include some ad sales, at an annual run rate in Q4 of $3 billion dollars,” Bakish said, adding that the tally is up from the $2.8 billion projected on the previous fiscal call. “That implies over 50% growth in the [fourth] quarter.”

ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish

Bakish said the revenue projection underscores his positivity around streaming video as a major future for the company. ViacomCBS plans to hold an investor event in early 2021 to discuss the company’s streaming strategy, which includes further details on the rollout of the rebooted CBS All Access service as Paramount+.

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“We’ll give an update on our entire streaming ecosystem, which includes Pluto TV and Showtime OTT, and how we’re using the great assets of the company to pursue a global streaming strategy,” Bakish said.

Notably, Bakish said ViacomCBS would look to differentiate content offerings across ad-supported Pluto TV, Paramount+ and Showtime OTT, underscoring the fact the latter service would remain separate from Paramount+ in 2021. Bakish said Pluto would act as a link toward the company’s SVOD channels.

“I think it’s fair to say the world is quickly embracing free streaming, which is why Pluto TV is key to our strategy,” he said, adding that streaming video — driven by an average of more than three services in the average U.S. home — represents a global opportunity for the media company.

“It’s definitely a growing category,” Bakish said.

Indeed, Paramount+ will look to combine live sports, breaking news and a “deep roster” of exclusive originals and content franchises for “every audience,” according to Bakish.

“This is a cross-demographic product,” he said.

Bakish outlined a few original series, including limited series “The Offer,” about the making of The Godfather; new SpongeBob kids series “Camp Coral,” which drops after the debut of movie SpongeBob: Sponge on the Run on Paramount+; and a  new series from “Yellowstone” creator Taylor Sheridan.

“There’s no question in my mind that our streaming strategy is working,” Bakish said.

Pluto TV Streaming Classic CBS Series for Winter Holidays

Heading into the Thanksgiving holiday, ViacomCBS-owned ad-supported VOD service Pluto TV will begin streaming classic CBS television series as branded channels. They include: “Happy Days,” “Family Ties,” “The Love Boat,” “Wings,” “The Beverly Hillbillies,” “Mission: Impossible,” “Laverne & Shirley” and “Mork & Mindy.”

All of Pluto TV’s new channels will stream for free beginning Nov. 24. Channel line-ups include:

“Happy Days”: Features three classic sitcoms created by the late Garry Marshall. “Happy Days” (11 seasons), “Laverne & Shirley” (8 seasons), and “Mork & Mindy” (4 seasons).

“Wings”: Showcases Tim Daly, Steven Weber, Crystal Bernard, Thomas Haden Church, and Tony Shaloub in eight seasons of the sitcom from the creators of “Cheers.”

“Family Ties”: The Emmy-winning seven-season sitcom launched Michael J. Fox, and also stars Meredith Baxter, Michael Gross, Justine Bateman, and Tina Yothers.

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“The Love Boat”: Finds the crew of the S.S. Pacific Princess and their all-star passengers 24 hours a day for nine seasons.

“Beverly Hillbillies”: The original fish-out-of-water sitcom showcasing characters Jed, Granny, Jethro, and Elly May over nine seasons.

“Mission: Impossible”: The original 1960s spy thriller series starring Peter Graves, Martin Landau, Barbara Bain, Greg Morris, Peter Lupus, and Leonard Nimoy, among others, over seven seasons.

Separately, Pluto TV is making a donation to World Central Kitchen to support of ongoing efforts to use the power of food to heal communities and strengthen economies during times of crisis and beyond.

Throughout the holiday season, to drive even greater awareness to this noteworthy cause and amplify the efforts for World Central Kitchen, Pluto TV’s social media will feature curated holiday recipes inspired these shows and favorite recipes from beloved stars of the series.

Pluto TV has a global audience of over 36 million monthly active users, with over 28.4 million in the U.S. Pluto TV has an international footprint that spans across three continents and 25 countries throughout the U.S., Europe and Latin America.

ViacomCBS CEO: Paramount+ to Stream Live Sports, Breaking News

In the rapidly crowding over-the-top video space, next year’s launch of SVOD platform Paramount+ by ViacomCBS could get lost in the crowd. To help prevent this,  the platform — which will be a rebranding of CBS All Access — aims to differentiate itself from Netflix, Disney+, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video, among others, by streaming live sports and breaking news.

While Netflix refuses to consider live sports programming, Prime Video currently streams NFL Thursday Night Football, and  NBCUniversal’s Peacock service offers Premier League soccer from the United Kingdom.

Bob Bakish

Speaking on the fiscal call, CEO Bob Bakish said Paramount+ would separate itself from other SVOD services, including recently launched HBO Max and NBCUniversal’s Peacock, by streaming the NFL, SEC college football, UEFA soccer, PGA Golf, live national CBS News and local affiliates; and news show “60 Minutes,” among others.

“It’s going to be a truly differentiated and compelling offering that’s unlike anything that’s really out there today,” Bakish said.

ViacomCBS is banking on Paramount+ and ad-supported sister platform Pluto TV to help drive the media giant’s over-the-top video distribution priority. In July, All Access added 3,500 episodes from Viacom brands as well as about 190 Paramount movies. Bakish said test runs of the All Access/Paramount+ service have yielded favorable reviews. All Access and Showtime OTT ended the quarter with nearly 18 million combined subscribers.

“That consumer response was strong and really served as proof-of-concept that’s given us the confidence to lean in,” he said.

More importantly, Bakish said consumer response to OTT distribution included attracting lower-age viewers.

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“The average age of new subs came down by almost 10 years, and was more diverse,” he said. “We saw material increase in time spent streaming. That included more than doubling time spent with [movies], and Viacom content becoming a strong double-digit part of overall consumption.”

ViacomCBS is adding another 10,000 hours of content to All Access leading up to the rebranding.

“The response to us selecting Paramount Plus as a brand has been overwhelmingly positive,” Bakish said. “So, lots to be excited about here around Paramount Plus, and we see substantial incremental growth ahead.”

In separate comments, CFO Naveen Chopra said ViacomCBS’s domestic streaming and digital video revenue is growing 50% on an annual run rate of $2.5 billion — underscoring the need to expand distribution.

“We see that as a really compelling case for investing to continue to support the growth,” Chopra said. “Our content investments have a lot of leverage, meaning that every dollar we spend on content can benefit us across the entire company, from streaming to linear TV to film and adjacent businesses like consumer products.”

Streaming Video Pushes ViacomCBS Fiscal Results as CBS All Access, Showtime OTT Near 18 Million Subs

Streaming video — both subscription and ad-supported — is the current endgame for ViacomCBS heading into 2021. Third-quarter fiscal results suggest that goal is already bearing fruit.

Domestic streaming and digital video revenue increased to $636 in the third quarter (ended Sept. 30), up 56% year-over-year from $408 million, driven by 78% growth in subscription streaming video revenue and strong double-digit digital video (AVOD) advertising growth.

Indeed, domestic streaming subscribers reached 17.9 million, up 72% year-over-year from 10.4 million, driven by CBS All Access and Showtime OTT having significant growths in sign-ups both sequentially and year-over-year.

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ViacomCBS said CBS All Access — which will rebrand to Paramount+ in 2021 — benefited from strong demand for sports content, including UEFA soccer and the NFL, as well as a broad selection of entertainment content, including live TV, reality series, content from in-house cable brands and original programming.

Showtime OTT’s strong quarter was driven by original programming, including the third season of “The Chi,” the continued strength of “Billions” and the final season of “Homeland.” In AVOD, 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. Internationally, Pluto TV monthly average users grew to 7.5 million, bringing its total global user base to nearly 36 million.

“This quarter, we achieved strong user growth across our streaming platforms as we continue to build our linked ecosystem of pay and free services,” CEO Bob Bakish said in a statement. “Our company’s transformation is ahead of schedule and we are incredibly excited by the opportunities ahead.”

Indeed, Pluto TV launched in Spain in October, ahead of upcoming launches in Brazil, France and Italy. The AVOD platform also signed new distribution agreements with LG and Sony PlayStation, extending its reach to an additional 100 million devices worldwide.

In October, ViacomCBS announced Tom Ryan as President and CEO of its new global streaming organization, integrating both its pay and free streaming businesses, while enhancing its ability to leverage its content strength and cross-company franchises.


ViacomCBS Ups Pluto TV CEO Tom Ryan to Head Global Streaming; Marc DeBevoise Stepping Down

In a major management shakeup underscoring the importance of streaming video to its future, ViacomCBS Oct. 20 disclosed a new leadership structure for its global free (ad-supported) and pay streaming services. Tom Ryan, currently CEO of Pluto TV, will assume the role of president/CEO of ViacomCBS Streaming, a new unit overseeing CBS All Access, which will relaunch as Paramount+ in early 2021, and Pluto TV.

The promotion means that Marc DeBevoise, chief digital officer of ViacomCBS, and president/CEO of ViacomCBS Digital, will step down and serve in an advisory capacity for the remainder of 2020. DeBevoise, who previously served as president/COO of CBS Interactive since 2016, was instrumental in the launch of CBS All Access, including original series “Star Trek: Discovery,” among others.

Tom Ryan

Ryan, who helped launch ad-supported VOD platform Pluto TV in 2014, will be tasked with overseeing the transformation of CBS All Access into Paramount+, working closely with the team on programming strategy, platform development and marketing for the enhanced streaming service. Ryan will partner with the ViacomCBS Content Council to accelerate a franchise-driven content strategy across the company’s streaming ecosystem, formalizing the role of ViacomCBS’s studios as multiplatform content providers. This will maximize the deployment of both IP and talent relationships across ViacomCBS’s streaming and other platforms.

Kelly Day, COO of ViacomCBS Networks International, will take on an expanded role as president of streaming of VCNI, overseeing all non-U.S. digital and streaming platforms in addition to her COO responsibilities. She will work with Ryan and David Lynn, president/ CEO of VCNI, on ViacomCBS’s international streaming expansion, including the debut of Paramount+ in Australia, Latin America and the Nordics in 2021, as well as the ongoing international rollout of Pluto TV.

Kelly Day

As a result, Pierluigi Gazzolo will step down from his position as president of streaming and studios at VCNI, to pursue other interests.

“As we plan for the launch of Paramount+, bringing together the leaders of our streaming platforms to create a unified global organization will enable us to execute a holistic strategy across both free and pay,” Bob Bakish, president/CEO of ViacomCBS, said in a statement. Bakish called Ryan a “pioneering streaming executive” who has demonstrated “extraordinary talent” in creating a differentiated, consumer-centric streaming video service.

Bakish credited DeBevoise and Gazzolo for their contributions to ViacomCBS’s success — adding the two had helped set the course for the company’s digital businesses and laid a strong foundation for its next phase of streaming strategy.

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As CEO of Pluto TV, Ryan helped the service reach 33 million monthly active users globally. He guided the service through its $330 million acquisition by Viacom in January 2019. Earlier in his career, Ryan served as CEO of Threadless, an online art community and e-commerce company, from 2008 to 2012. Previously he was SVP of digital strategy and business development at EMI Music and was part of the early team at Virgin Mobile USA. He also co-founded Cductive, a pioneering online music service that merged with eMusic in 1999.

Day has served as COO of VCNI since March 2020. Prior to that, she served as president of Viacom Digital Studios (VDS) since November 2017, overseeing Viacom’s digital strategy, including the expansion of Viacom’s original programming across its online video and social media platforms. She previously served as the chief business officer and chief digital officer of multi-platform media company Awesomeness, where she was responsible for international expansion, global distribution strategies and revenue across television, mobile and OTT providers, also driving the company’s product and technology investments.


Pluto TV, TiVo Upgrade Partnership to Include 72 Channels

Ad-supported VOD distribution continues to make friends. TiVo Oct. 15 announced new channel launches from Pluto TV, bringing an additional 72 featured channels to the TiVo+ content network. TiVo Plus (“TiVo+”), was launched in 2019, offering free access to ad-supported VOD content. The service requires access through TiVo hardware devices such as the TiVo Edge, Bolt or other DVR products.

The launch of these new Pluto TV channels means TiVo+ users have seamless access to even more linear and on-demand content, including movies, news, sports, kids, entertainment and lifestyle programming. Also launching are 13 new Spanish language channels.

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TiVo+ users on TiVo Stream 4K will have access to Pluto TV, with its branded online channel guide, recommendation software to make it easier to navigate all 144 TiVo+ channels, in addition to the thousands of on-demand movies and television shows.

“TiVo really knows how to drive discovery of our linear and on-demand content,” Jeff Shultz, EVP and chief business officer of Pluto TV, said in a statement. “We’re very excited to be advancing our partnership with TiVo in a way that puts Pluto TV content front and center.”

Pluto TV is also available for TiVo Stream 4K users and rolling out now to customers on select TiVo DVR and related devices.

“Pluto TV has been an integral partner helping us make more incredible content available to our customers as part of our fully integrated TiVo+ experience,” said Matt Milne, chief revenue officer of Xperi, parent of TiVo.

Milne said the Pluto TV deal helps TiVo expand the AVOD market, which aims to compete against SVOD services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ and Hulu with ad-supported content that doesn’t require a subscription.

“This [deal] really demonstrates our commitment to offer a range of free, high quality programming for our customers,” he said.

Since launching the TiVo+ content network, 144 channels have been added to the service from a range media partners that offer a wide range of content, including movies, music, sports and kids and family content. Alongside the ongoing partnership with Sling TV, TiVo+ on TiVo Stream 4K offers an alternative for those that have cut the pay-TV cord. In the six-month period between March and September 2020, TiVo+ has seen unique viewership increase 90% and viewer engagement increase 165%.

Pluto TV Gets Netflix Original Series ‘Narcos’

In a significant move, ViacomCBS-owned AVOD platform Pluto TV has secured free streaming rights to Netflix original series “Narcos” beginning on Oct. 20. The deal was ironed out between Gaumont, co-producer of the series, and Pluto TV. This marks the first time the five seasons of the entire “Narcos” series will be available to stream, for free, in the U.S.

T-Mobile joins Pluto TV as the presenting sponsor for “Narcos,” offering limited commercial interruptions for the first two episodes.

The series about law enforcement’s efforts to take down notorious drug lord Pablo Escobar (played by Brazilian actor Wagner Moura) originally streamed on Netflix in August 2015. The program will be streamed across four different Pluto TV channels, with multiple air times and different languages to appeal to and accommodate a wide variety of viewing audiences and preferences.

“Narcos” will be programmed across Pluto TV’s Crime Drama and Narco Novelas channels and its own branded single-series, marathon-style channels — Narcos and Narcos en Español. Spanish-speaking versions of Narcos will stream with English subtitles, and respectively, English-speaking versions of Narcos will stream with Spanish subtitles catering to multi-lingual audiences.

“As the adoption of ad-supported streaming continues to accelerate, we are excited to build on that momentum and align with esteemed creators and producers in search of new ways to introduce audiences to their coveted collection of award-winning content,” Amy Kuessner, SVP of content strategy and global partnerships at Pluto TV, said in a statement.

Kuessner said the deal with Gaumont underscores the evolving AVOD landscape that is rapidly gaining foothold for distributors, content holders and viewers.

Season One of “Narcos” will stream weeknights at 10 p.m. ET, with catch-up episodes the following day beginning at 8 p.m. ET. Bonus weekend marathons will be offered following the series premiere. Pluto TV will debut a new season each month through February 2021.

“Narcos” (season 1-3): From the Colombian government to the DEA agents and the policemen who would risk their lives pursuing drug lord Pablo Escabar, the series takes an unfiltered look into the war that would change the drug trade forever.

Spin-off series,”Narcos: Mexico” (season 4-5) explores the origin of the modern war on drugs, beginning at the time when Mexican traffickers were a loose and disorganized confederation of small-time independent dealers.  As the series progresses, viewers are introduced to DEA Agent Walt Breslin, the man in charge of Operation Leyenda: the DEA’s second attempt to take down the biggest drug lords in Mexico.

Pluto TV Going to Spain

ViacomCBS Networks International announced it would begin offering ad-supported VOD platform Pluto TV in Spain at the end of the month.

The service, which ViacomCBS acquired in 2019 for $340 million, offers 40 curated Spanish-language channels across multiple genres, including movies, TV series, reality, kidvid, lifestyle, crime and comedy.

Telefónica’s SVOD platform Movistar+ will handle Pluto TV’s advertising and marketing.

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“This innovative service perfectly complements our linear and non-linear offering in Spain,” Raffaele Annecchino, president ViacomCBS EMEA and Asia, digital and mobile strategy, said in a statement.

Since being acquired by ViacomCBS, Pluto TV has been heavily marketed worldwide as part of the the media giant’s push toward direct-to-consumer content distribution. Next year, SVOD platform CBS All Access will rebrand as Paramount+, and be marketed globally. Pluto TV aims to have 100 content channels by the end of 2021.

“This launch in Spain marks an important step of our expansion in Europe, where the service is already available in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and the U.K.,” Annecchino said in a statement.

Pluto TV content partners in Spain include All3Media, Endemol Shine, Fremantle and Lionsgate.

Pluto TV Lands on Roku Platform in Latin America

ViacomCBS’s ad-supported VOD platform Pluto TV has inked a distribution deal with Roku for the streaming video device manufacturer’s platform in Latin America.

The agreement is aimed at expanding access to Pluto TV’s planned 70 channels featuring curated Spanish-language content in 17 Latin American countries. Pluto TV, which ViacomCBS acquired in 2019 for $340 million, has more than 33 million users internationally (including the U.S., Europe and Latin America).

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The deal sees Pluto TV available on The Roku Channel Store in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama and Peru.

“The arrival of Pluto TV to Roku … will allow our users to have an excellent experience of streaming content on a bigger screen, easily, comfortably and without restrictions,” Marco Nobili, SVP of emerging business and strategy at Pluto TV, said in a statement. “We believe Pluto TV is a great complement to all of our distribution partners who can offer free fan-favorite content to their subscribers and users on the same platform that they consume content.”

Yulia Poltorak, director of international content distribution at Roku, said the deal expands upon The Roku Channel’s ad-supported free content outside the U.S., which includes content from film studios, TV channels and production companies from around the world.

“Now more than ever, our users are asking for [more] free content,” Poltorak said.

Pluto TV Now Streaming on Web Browsers in the U.K., Germany, Austria and Switzerland

Pluto TV, the ad-supported VOD platform owned by ViacomCBS, is now available to stream on Web browsers in United Kingdom, Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

Pluto TV is also accessible through third-party connected devices, including Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Android TV, Roku, Virgin Media, Now TV and via apps in the App Store and Google Play Store.

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“Pluto TV has grown consistently since it launched outside of the U.S. two years ago. In Europe and the U.K., we’ve increased both our user base and our channel offering on a monthly basis,” Pierluigi Gazzolo, president of studios and streaming at ViacomCBS Networks International, said in a statement.

Gazzolo said browser access to Pluto TV is an important feature for consumers without streaming media devices, including connected televisions. can be accessed on Safari, Chrome and Firefox and other operating systems. The platform recently topped 100 content channels.