ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish: Pluto TV to Exceed $1 Billion in Revenue by Q4

ViacomCBS has put much of its content distribution future on the Paramount+ subscription streaming service, but the media giant is already dominating the ad-supported streaming market, said ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish.

Speaking at the virtual Evercore ISI Inaugural TMT Conference, Bakish said the global AVOD market, which is exploding as consumers migrate away from pay-TV and toward over-the-top video, is going to be worth about $50 billion in the next four years. Leading the bull run: Pluto TV, which ViacomCBS acquired in 2019 for $340 million. Pluto TV founder Tom Ryan is now CEO of streaming at ViacomCBS.

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“[Pluto TV] is the U.S. market leader, and it’s also undergoing rapid international expansion, making us a global leader as well,” Bakish said. “You look at the U.S., and based on all the data we see, we lead on the [50 million monthly average users] side, we lead on the viewership side and we lead on the revenue side.”

Bakish said that when Pluto was acquired, it had generated about $70 million in revenue in the prior year (2018). On a run-rate basis, in Q4 of 2021 this year, the CEO said Pluto will cross the $1 billion level.

“We expect it to be comfortably above $1 billion for full year 2022,” he said. “That is the power of Pluto TV.”

While the platform is essentially still a U.S. business, it is expanding to 25 foreign markets this year.

“So we see where this thing is going,” Bakish said. “We’ve seen where it’s gone in the U.S., and it’s got a ways to go, and we see where it’s going internationally. I couldn’t be more excited about Pluto. I don’t think we get enough credit, quite frankly, for it.”

Pluto TV, LG Electronics Expand European Content and Distribution Partnership

Pluto TV and LG Electronics June 3 announced the expansion of their partnership to offer Pluto’s ad-supported channels on all 2016-21 LG televisions running webOS in select European markets.

The Pluto TV channels were first launched on LG Channels in 2020 in the U.S. market. ViacomCBS acquired Pluto TV in 2019 for $340 million.

With LG TV owners in Germany and the U.K. being the first to access the Pluto TV app earlier this year, consumers in France and Spain can now access the entire library of original and unique channels on their LG monitors.

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LG Smart TV owners in the regions can access an extensive selection of movies, from international favorites like Star TrekFighting Temptations and The Ring, to local gems like Mientras duermes. A wide variety of series across genres like crime and investigation, cooking, telenovelas and drama will also be available, from “Derrick,” “Ana y los 7” and “Plus Belle La Vie” to “Jamie’s Superfood,” “Midsummer Murders” and “The Hard Times of RJ Berger.”

Pluto TV’s lineup includes selected channels for younger audiences with Nickelodeon shows and animated series such as “SpongeBob SquarePants,” “Dora the Explorer” and “Blue’s Clues,” while audiences will also have a vast range of dedicated lifestyle channels to choose from, spanning gaming, poker, animals, cooking, nature and sports.

U.S. Spanish Channel Service Sony Canal Available on Xumo and Pluto TV

Sony Canal — the free, ad-supported streaming television (FAST) suite of channels from Sony Pictures Television for Spanish-speaking viewers in the United States — is now available on Xumo’s free streaming platform with Sony Canal Competencias, and via Pluto TV in the en Español category with Sony Canal Comedias and Sony Canal Escape Perfecto.

The Sony Canal channels are also available to consumers via Samsung TV Plus, The Roku Channel, Plex and Vizio SmartCast.

Sony Canal Novelas is dedicated to popular classic telenovelas and modern serial dramas, including “Doña Barbara,” “Si Me Miran Tus Ojos,” “Los Caballeros Las Prefieren Brutas​,” “Señorita Pólvora” (“Miss Dynamite”) and “Paraíso Travel.”

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The Sony Canal Comedias channel offers culturally relevant modern remakes, featuring sitcoms and comedy series including “Casados Con Hijos” (“Married With Children”), “Aqui No Hay Quien Viva,” “Quién Manda a Quien?” (“Who’s the Boss”) and “Mi Bella Genio” (“I Dream of Jeannie”).

Sony Canal Competencias is dedicated to reality competition shows from Latin America such as “Escape Perfecto” (“Raid the Cage”) and “Ruleta Rusa” (“Russian Roulette”).

Sony Canal Escape Perfecto, available on Pluto TV, is a channel dedicated entirely to competition series “Escape Perfecto” (“Raid the Cage”), which has been remade all around the world.

Pluto TV Expanding Spanish-Language Programming

Pluto TV May 5 will unveil “Pluto TV en español,” — an expansion to its dedicated category for U.S. Hispanics. The ViacomCBS-owned AVOD platform currently streams to more than 43 million monthly active users across three continents and 25 countries. With this update, Pluto TV’s U.S. Hispanic offerings will double, with nearly 50 Spanish-speaking channels across the platform, totaling more than 20% of Pluto’s overall channel lineup.

Pluto was first to market in 2019 with the launch of its branded Pluto TV Latino category — now renamed to reflect and better appeal to the  domestic Hispanic community. The expansion includes more than 45 channels, a combination of renamed, existing and 20 all-new channels.

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The hand-picked content will feature multiple genres, including movies, reality and scripted series, news, novelas, anime and more with select titles available on-demand. The category will contain both dubbed and Spanish original language content. The “Pluto TV en español” category joins an existing 200 channels on the platform and more than 150,000 hours of free, ad-supported streaming content in English and Spanish.

“We are building on that branded strategy and success by bringing even more programming, channels and genres to meet the increasing demand for streaming throughout the U.S. Hispanic community,” Tom Ryan, CEO, of ViacomCBS Streaming, said in a statement.

Working with Pluto’s existing content partners, Pluto TV en español will feature exclusive series and channels, including “CSI: Miami,” “Criminal Minds,” “Narcos,” “America’s Next Top Model,” “007 en español” and “Nosey casos,” alongside sports and news. For the first time, Spanish-speaking news programming will debut in the category with EuroNews, EstrellaTV, Estrella News and Telefe noticias. New channels to the category also include: Cine XOXO, ¡¡Cine jaja!!, Nashville en español, Viaje a las estrellas, Emergencia 911, Mundo paranormal, Hell’s Kitchen en español, Sony Canal Comedias, Entre nosotras, Sony Canal Escape Perfecto, Nosey escándalos, beIN SPORTS XTRA en español, Naruto en español, Yu-Gi-Oh! en españoland more.

For ease of discovery, Nick Latino, Nick Jr. Latino and Bebecito Bum y sus amigoswill remain in the Pluto TV Kids category and Vevo Latino and Vevo Reggaeton & Trap in the Pluto TV Music category.

The debut of Pluto TV en español will be further amplified with a multichannel marketing campaign that will span digital and social platforms, with audio drive-time pushes in 11 key Hispanic markets, OTT and mobile campaigns and Pluto TV on-platform initiatives that will run throughout Pluto TV’s extensive lineup of over 250 channels. Additionally, there will be social promotions including free TV giveaways and on-platform marketing and support from Pluto TV’s key content and distribution partners.

Report: Pluto TV to Surpass $1 Billion in Ad Revenue by 2022

Pluto TV, the free ad-supported TV streaming service (FAST) owned and operated by ViacomCBS, is set to increase 2021 revenue nearly 78% to $786.7 million, according to new data from eMarketer. The research firm contends the platform will surpass $1 billion in revenue by 2022 — underscoring the rise in popularity of streaming media for marketers.

Citing third-party survey research, the report suggests 42% of ad buyers will use streaming video for the first time this year, with another 56% continuing the practice — which includes online and linear TV distributors. Indeed, the report found that a majority (60%) of AVOD/FAST ad revenue will come from linear TV, followed by digital display (37%) and other sources.

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ViacomCBS Acquires ChileVisión, Paves Way for Paramount+ and Pluto TV in South America

ViacomCBS Networks International April 5 announced it has agreed to acquire Chilevisión from WarnerMedia. Through the transaction, VCNI further expands its footprint in Latin America and bolsters its streaming business with a new premium content library and pipeline to fuel the increasing demand for Spanish language content across platforms, including Paramount+ and FAST platform Pluto TV.

The purchase price will be financed by ViacomCBS’s existing cash balances. The transaction is subject to customary regulatory approvals and closing conditions. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

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The acquisition includes Chilevisión’s free-to-air television network, which generated about 24% share of viewership in the region in 2020. Chilevisión’s library is comprised of content spanning multiple genres, including sports, entertainment and news, and it has vast production capabilities.

“Latin America is one of the world’s fastest-growing streaming markets, and Chilevisión will be a key driver of our accelerated streaming strategy in the region,” Raffaele Annecchino, CEO of ViacomCBS Networks International, said in a statement.

Chilevisión will fall under the leadership of Juan Acosta, president of ViacomCBS International Studios and Networks Americas. The acquisition joins the ViacomCBS Americas portfolio, which includes Paramount+; Pluto TV; Nickelodeon’s interactive learning service for preschoolers, Noggin; ViacomCBS International Studios production hub; FTA broadcaster Telefe; and more than 10 branded pay-TV networks, including MTV, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr. and Comedy Central, among others.

VCNI Americas has offices in Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and Colombia.

NFL Inks New Carriage Deals With NBCUniversal, ViacomCBS; Includes Landmark Streaming on Peacock, Paramount+ and Pluto TV

The National Football League March 18 announced separate 11-year carriage/streaming video distribution deals with NBCUniversal and  ViacomCBS. The pacts include notable live-game streaming rights to games on Peacock, Paramount+, and in a first — Pluto TV — underscoring OTT video’s increased presence in live sports programming in the United States.

With the new agreements, which begin with the 2023 NFL season, NBC and Peacock will present “Sunday Night Football” through 2033 — a span of 28 seasons for NBC as the home of the NFL’s top-rated primetime package (since its 2006 debut). In addition, beginning with the upcoming 2021 season, Peacock will stream all “Sunday Night Football” games and the “Football Night in America” studio show. Peacock will also produce a new expanded postgame show following SNF each week.

“Sunday Night Football’ has been television’s most-watched primetime show for a decade, and we look forward to continuing our presentation of SNF, Super Bowls, and playoff games for many years to come, while also broadening our audience with Peacock becoming the live streaming home for all NBC NFL games,” Pete Bevacqua, chairman of NBC Sports Group, said in a statement.

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NBC Sports, which produced the first-ever NFL broadcast on Oct. 22, 1939 (Philadelphia Eagles-Brooklyn Dodgers from Ebbets Field), will present four of the next 13 Super Bowls, including three Super Bowls as part of the new agreement. Home of the upcoming Super Bowl LVI from SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles in February 2022, NBC and Peacock will broadcast and stream Super Bowls in February 2026, February 2030 and February 2034. NBC Sports’ presentation of Super Bowl XLIX in February 2015 is the most-watched show in U.S. television history (114.4 million viewers on NBC).

Meanwhile, CBS Sports continues as the home of the NFL’s American Football Conference (AFC), with all games broadcast on the CBS Television Network and streamed live on Paramount+. This historic agreement also grants an expansive list of NFL rights across ViacomCBS networks and platforms (i.e. Pluto TV), enabling the company to maximize its content creation, distribution and reach throughout the length of the deal.

The new agreement allows for CBS Sports to broadcast and stream more Sunday afternoon games and includes an expanded schedule of games featuring teams from the National Football Conference (NFC). In addition, the schedule is highlighted by 10 CBS doubleheaders, including Sundays at 4:25 p.m. ET, eight single-headers and the annual Thanksgiving Day game. CBS Sports will broadcast three Super Bowls over the length of the deal, including the first in the new agreement, Super Bowl LVIII in 2024, as well as Super Bowl LXII in 2028 and Super Bowl LXVI in 2032.

The CBS Television Network and Paramount+ will also present a full slate of playoff games, featuring the AFC Championship game, one Divisional game and one Wild Card game. A second Wild Card game will be added to the CBS Sports lineup during the 2024, 2029 and 2033 seasons.

ViacomCBS will retain extensive in-market exclusivity, ensuring that the CBS-affiliated stations and ViacomCBS platforms will continue to have local availability of “The NFL on CBS.” CBS will also gain increased rights to protect games from being flexed to other networks and time slots.

“Today’s groundbreaking deal ensures that more big games will be available on CBS and Paramount+, with greater NFL programming opportunities featured across all ViacomCBS platforms, including Pluto TV, vastly expanding the NFL’s reach among younger audiences in a rapidly evolving media landscape,” said CEO Bob Bakish.

 

News Analysis: AVOD Upping Content Game

As subscription streaming services HBO Max and Paramount+ prep lower-cost, ad-supported consumer options, free ad-supported platforms are entering the original content arena and targeting a growing audience that eschews pay-TV and is not interested in substituting the cable bill with multiplying SVOD fees.

Pluto TV, the AVOD unit owned by Paramount’s corporate parent ViacomCBS, is eyeing a cross-pollination of original content migrating between its 22 million average monthly viewers and SVOD Paramount+. Fox Corp.’s Tubi is eyeing funding lower-budget original movies and TV shows. The platform saw viewership jump 58% in 2020, including 33 million average monthly viewers throughout the fourth quarter. More importantly, viewers consumed 750 million hours of content in the second quarter, which was 70% higher than the previous corresponding period.

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CFO Steve Tomsic told a recent Wall Street investor group Tubi represents the “broadening of the future” for network television, and said he would consider original programing in an attempt to increase ad revenue, which is expected to reach $300 million this year and $1 billion annually in the near term.

“It’s often these really cost-effective titles that a lot of the viewership resides in,” Tomsic said, adding that Fox content assets such as “The Masked Singer” are being co-distributed on Tubi to give the platform an “extra special” edge, and the platform more “breadth” in terms of content.

“Don’t expect us to invest in really meaningful ways in terms of scripted entertainment dramas that come with huge price tags and are really difficult to make work out of the economics of broadcast television,” Tomsic said.

Meanwhile, Roku, which helped co-launch the SVOD market in 2008 with Netflix, is eyeing original content for The Roku Channel, the company’s branded AVOD platform. As of the fourth quarter of 2020, Roku reported 51.2 million monthly active users in the U.S. This figure is the company’s highest-ever active quarterly user total.

To keep those eyeballs returning, Roku is beginning to dip its toes in original programming. The platform March 19 launches “Cypher,” an FBI series featuring seven, one-hour episodes and available free to viewers of The Roku Channel. The AVOD will also become the exclusive destination for more than 75 premium shows and documentaries acquired from short-lived SVOD platform Quibi.

March 18, Roku announced it would kickoff the IAB’s official 2021 NewFronts Lineup on May 3 as the week’s first presenter to media buyers.

“We’ve seen first-hand the role that TV streaming has played in consumers and marketers lives in the last year,” Alison Levin, VP of global ad revenue and marketing solutions at Roku, said in a statement. “Roku is thrilled to kick-off the first presentation at IAB NewFronts once again this year and looks forward to sharing how marketers can buy TV like you watch TV.”

In February, AVOD service Crackle Plus announced that production had begun on season two of its original series “Going From Broke,” the unscripted show spotlighting the financial epidemic of student loan debt executive produced by Ashton Kutcher and hosted by Chegg CEO Dan Rosensweig.

Crackle corporate parent Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment operates several ad-supported streaming services (PopcornFlix, Frightpix, faith-based Truli, Espannolflix), with an eye on streaming original and under-the-radar programming to a growing user base.

Michael Pachter, media analyst with Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles, says the AVOD market offers programmers and advertisers two options: lower-priced subscription plans such as $5.99 Hulu and pending HBO Max and Paramount+. These AVOD editions are typically limited to delivering no more than three to four minutes of ads per hour. By comparison, completely free platforms such as Tubi, Pluto TV, Amazon’s IMDb TV and Crackle can advertise as much as 10 to 12 minutes per hour.

“There’s room for both business models,” Pachter said in an email. “[Crackle buys] produced content for exclusive streaming windows. Really innovative.”

Pluto TV to Bow Major League Baseball Channel March 2

AVOD platform Pluto TV on March 2 will launch a new channel with Major League Baseball featuring classic games and highlights. The deal was announced Feb. 24 during the ViacomCBS streaming investor day. The branded MLB channel will stream more than 200 hours of ad-supported classic content licensed from the MLB Film & Video Archive, with quarterly refreshes.

MLB Spring Training games begin this weekend in Florida and Arizona, respectively, with Opening Day scheduled for April 1, featuring a quadruple header on ESPN. All 30 clubs are scheduled to play their first regular season games that day.

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The MLB Channel will air a variety of curated content intended to capture the excitement and nostalgia of America’s national pastime. Programming includes World Series and All-Star games and milestones, episodes of “Epic Moments,” “Baseball’s Seasons” and “Cathedrals of the Game” in addition to curated clips and playlists featuring top plays from the legendary sport.

Major League Baseball is the latest sports league to join Pluto TV’s growing lineup, which includes NFL ChannelMajor League SoccerPGA TourBellator MMAPac-12 Insider and more, in addition to hundreds of channels spanning a wide range of other genres, and thousands of movies and TV series.

“To be able to add a Major League Baseball channel for the first time is a landmark event both for us and for baseball fans who are always looking to watch more of their favorite sport,” Will Gurman, VP of global content partnerships at Pluto TV, said in a statement.

Viewers can stream the MLB channel on Pluto TV across all major mobile, connected TV and Web-based devices.

ViacomCBS Networks International Promotes Olivier Jollet to SVP of Streaming Strategy & Business Development

ViacomCBS Networks International Feb. 22 announced the promotion of Olivier Jollet to SVP of strategy and business development, streaming and head of mobile. The move was prefaced last September when Jollet was upped to SVP of emerging business — a new business unit that includes AVOD, SVOD and mobile services.

Jollet will be responsible for defining and developing the streaming strategy and business development priorities across VCNI and securing partnerships to drive growth and revenue. He will also continue to expand VCNI’s mobile business, including 5G and the Internet of Things.

Based in Berlin, Jollet reports to Kelly Day, president of streaming and COO of VCNI, and Jeff Shultz, chief strategy officer and chief business development officer of streaming at ViacomCBS.

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“As the company prepares for the upcoming international rollout of Paramount+ in Latin America, the Nordics and the continued expansion of Pluto TV internationally, elevating Olivier to this new role will enable us to further strengthen our strategy and new market development,” Day said in a statement. “Olivier’s digital expertise and business acumen is critical to our senior leadership team as we expand our integrated ecosystem and continue to deliver an exceptional consumer entertainment experience.”

Jollet previously worked as European managing director for Pluto TV, where he helped launch the first free ad-supported streaming television service in the U.K., Germany, Switzerland and Austria.