CBS All Access Re-Ups Amazon Prime Channels Distribution

ViacomCBS Sept. 9 disclosed that its branded subscription streaming video-on-demand service, CBS All Access, has renewed distribution through Amazon Channels. The latter is a platform for Prime members enabling access to third-party over-the-top video services for a separate or reduced fee. Amazon keeps a percentage of revenue and user intel from each service while delivering them millions subscribers.

ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish, speaking Sept. 9 on the Bank of America Virtual Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference, said the distribution deal with Amazon contributed to All Access and Showtime OTT generating 16 million combined subscribers through the end of the most-recent fiscal period. 

Bob Bakish

“[Amazon] continue[s] to be an excellent partner for us, and we for them,” Bakish said.

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With Disney generating incremental Disney+ subs by bundling the SVOD with Hulu and ESPN+, Bakish was asked if All Access, Showtime and Pluto TV would be bundled. The executive said the platforms would continue to be marketed separately and in select bundles.

The media giant currently offers a $9.99 monthly bundle of All Access and Showtime on Apple TV Channels — a branded platform affording iOS users access to third-party OTT video services for a separate fee. ViacomCBS has separate deals with with Comcast, Verizon and Viveo, among others.

Bakish said the agreements help maximize the value of ViacomCBS content across all platforms, and allows the company to benefit from an ecosystem that is becoming more integrated over time. The executive said ViacomCBS would explore other bundling opportunities as well as more generally increased distribution through other streaming partnerships.

“We believe this approach serves the broadest set of consumers’ needs and therefore the largest consumer base,” Bakish said. “It enables the most ubiquitous distribution, and we’ve learned overtime ubiquitous distribution is extremely powerful.”

Apple TV+ Bundling With CBS All Access, Showtime OTT

Borrowing a page from Disney’s OTT bundle featuring Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu, Apple TV+ plans to partner with CBS All Access and Showtime OTT for a discounted bundle priced at $9.99 monthly.

Bloomberg, citing sources familiar with the situation, reported the bundle could launch as early as Aug. 17 and would be the first of its kind promotion for Apple TV+, which costs $4.99, followed by Showtime and All Access at $10.99 and $9.99, respectively. All Access is available with ads for $5.99 monthly.

VIacomCBS earlier this month disclosed that All Access and Showtime OTT reached 16.2 million combined subscribers through the second quarter ended June 30. That was up 74% from 9.3 million subs during the previous-year period.

The new marketing campaign could help jumpstart Apple TV+, which has lagged behind other recent start-ups (Disney+, HBO Max and Peacock) in subscriptions and content. Apple gives a free 12-month subscription with all Apple hardware purchases.

Original content includes award-winning “The Morning Show” with Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carell, and Tom Hanks’s naval wartime drama Greyhound. Apple is also using the platform to broaden appeal for Apple TV Channels, which mimics Amazon Prime Channels offering third-party OTT services to subscribers in exchange for revenue and/or data sharing.

CBS All Access and Showtime OTT Top 16.2 Million Combined Subs

ViacomCBS — which is planning to rebrand CBS All Access into a “super service” on par with HBO Max, Peacock and Disney+ — Aug. 6 reported its SVOD services CBS All Access and Showtime OTT reached 16.2 million combined subscribers through the second quarter ended June 30.

That’s up 74% from 9.3 million subs during the previous-year period.

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The company announced All Access continued to break undisclosed records, with paid subs, streams and minutes watched reaching all-time highs in the quarter — driven by original programming, Paramount movies and children’s content from Nickelodeon. Showtime OTT also delivered its “best quarter ever” in subscriber sign-ups, streams and minutes watched, the company announced, driven by original programming, including “Homeland,” “Billions” and “The Chi.”

Separately, ViacomCBS-owned AVOD platform Pluto TV grew its domestic monthly active users 61% to 26.5 million, from 16.5 million during the previous-year period. In April, Pluto TV entered 17 Latin American markets, and in addition to its presence in Europe, this expansion brought Pluto TV’s total international monthly users to 6.5 million — or 33 million worldwide. Pluto TV increased its platform distribution through deals with Verizon, TiVo and LG.

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ViacomCBS said domestic streaming and digital video revenue in the quarter rose to $489 million, up 25% year-over-year, driven by 52% growth in streaming subscription revenue.

“Our results underscored … rapid acceleration of our streaming business, where we achieved record users and revenue in free and pay while building toward the relaunch of our diversified super service,” CEO Bob Bakish said in a statement.

Indeed, last month ViacomCBS unveiled the first major step in transforming All Access in early 2021. The company added more than 3,500 episodes from the ViacomCBS portfolio, spanning series from BET, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Smithsonian and more. The All Access library now has more than 20,000 episodes and movies. The platform will be home to a slate of new original and exclusive movies and series, including “Big Brother Live Feeds,” “The Stand,”  animated series “Star Trek: Lower Decks,” feature film The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run, and “Kamp Koral,” a new original kids’ series premiering in 2021 and the first spinoff derived from “SpongeBob SquarePants.”

The new All Access will also feature live programming, including news, tentpole events, sports, local CBS stations nationwide and CBSN, CBS News, The Super Bowl, The Grammy Awards, The Academy of Country Music Awards and The Tony Awards. It will also feature major sporting events from golf to football to basketball and UEFA club soccer competitions as the exclusive streaming home to the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League and UEFA Europa Conference League in the United States.

CEO: ViacomCBS Looking to Supersize CBS All Access as Streaming Focus Skyrockets

In just a few years ViacomCBS has gone from owning a kidvid-centric subscription streaming video service (Noggin) to operating AVOD juggernaut Pluto TV, CBS All Access and Showtime OTT, among others.

Speaking from home on the Credit Suisse Virtual Communications Confab, CEO Bob Bakish said the media giant, which owns Paramount Pictures, would launch a reboot of All Access in 2021 with 15,000 hours of additional programming — featuring 200 local CBS TV stations, ad-supported “CBSN,” “Sports HQ” and “ET Live.”

All Access will soon stream the National Women’s Soccer League, which could be the first U.S. professional team sport to return from the COVID-19 break.

“We have a good position in the older segment with the current All Access product, but this really brings a lot of young audience to the table,” Bakish said. “We view streaming as a significant growth opportunity.”

CBS All Access and Showtime OTT topped 13.5 million combined subscribers through the most-recent fiscal period (March 31) — with significant signups since during the virus pandemic.

“We view that as a clear indicator of the growth potential of these products,” Bakish said.

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Despite the coronavirus pandemic, Bakish said the company has seen “robust consumption across all our platforms,” including linear TV news stations and “record” streaming on CBSN.

Separately, the executive said PGA Tour’s return to CBS Sports the weekend of June 11-14 at the Charles Schwab Challenge in Dallas/Ft. Worth generated a 50% uptick in TV viewership from the previous-year period. Bakish said the ratings were the highest for a golf event in 15 years.

Comedy Central has also extended “The Daily Show With Trevor Noah” to one hour from the previous 30 minutes.

CBS All Access, Showtime OTT Top 13.5 Million Combined Subs as ViacomCBS Ups Streaming Plans

ViacomCBS’s foray into over-the-top video distribution continues to gain consumer traction, with standalone subscription services CBS All Access and Showtime OTT topping 13.5 million combined subscribers through March 31. That’s up 50% from the previous-year period. ViacomCBS attributed the record sign-ups to original programming, including “Star Trek: Picard” and “Homeland.”

Domestic streaming and digital video revenue — which includes streaming subscription and digital video advertising revenue — grew to $471 million, up 51% year-over-year.

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In ad-supported VOD distribution, Pluto TV’s domestic monthly active users grew to a record of more than 24 million, an increase of 55% year-over-year. In March, Pluto TV rolled out its most significant product upgrade, introducing a new interface, updated features and improved search capabilities for an enhanced user experience.

Acquired in 2019 for $340 million, Pluto TV expanded distribution in the U.S. and internationally, including with Xbox, Roku, Verizon in April and TiVo in May. In the quarter, Pluto TV also launched in 17 countries in Latin America, with more than 12,000 hours of Spanish language programming.

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With more consumers at home, ViacomCBS streaming platforms had their best month in April, with accelerated subscriber growth and consumption, reinforcing consumer demand for content. CBS All Access and Showtime OTT sign-ups, daily average streams and minutes watched all rose substantially, versus the prior month.

Live TV and original programming, such as “Star Trek: Discovery,” “The Good Fight” and “Survivor,” drove consumption records in April on CBS All Access, with total streams and minutes watched up significantly.

Showtime OTT delivered its best month ever in time watched and total streams — driven by original series such as “Penny Dreadful: City of Angels,” and movies growing 50% and 110% year-over-year, respectively.  ViacomCBS said CBS All Access and Showtime OTT are seeing strong account activation, as well as consistent paid subscription conversion rates.

“We are full speed ahead on streaming,” CEO Bob Bakish said on the May 7 fiscal call.

Indeed, All Access added more than 30,000 program episodes from Viacom networks, including Nickelodeon, BET, MTV, Comedy Central and Smithsonian Channel. Paramount will add more than 100 movies, including the “Mission: Impossible” franchise starring Tom Cruise.

Bakish said the platform would include programing from more than 200 local affiliates, in addition to any live sports CBS has rights to.  He said Viacom plans to launch a branded international SVOD service within the next 12 months.

“Audiences want entertainment on demand,” Bakish said. “This will be a compelling foundational service for some, and differentiated complement for others.”

ViacomCBS: Pluto TV Expected to Generate 30 Million Monthly Viewers by December

ViacomCBS has high hopes for ad-supported Pluto TV. Acquired in January 2019 for $340 million, the San Francisco-based service now features 80 content channels, 22 million monthly viewers and has become a cornerstone of the media giant’s digital strategy.

The company’s other two high-profile subscription streaming video-on-demand platforms — CBS All Access and Showtime OTT — have a combined 11 million subscribers. That tally is expected to reach 16 million by the end of the year, according to CEO Bob Bakish.

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The sub disclosure is interesting since previous acting CEO Joe Ianniello stated late last year that both services already had reached 16 million subscribers. All Access and Showtime actually ended 2019 with 10 million subs, up from 8 million in 2018.

“The [streaming] growth we’ve achieved so far is overwhelmingly in the U.S., but we’re making early strides to expand internationally,” Bakish said on the Feb. 20 fiscal call.

Pluto TV is available in the U.K., Germany, Austria and Switzerland, with roll out planned in Latin America next month. CBS All Access is available in Canada and Australia and Paramount Plus and Noggin streaming platforms are also available in territories outside the U.S.

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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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ViacomCBS Dealing With OTT Video Largesse

Until this year, Viacom had scant over-the-top video product — Noggin, a $7.99 monthly service targeting young children with Nickelodeon-type fare.

Viacom in March acquired ad-supported VOD service Pluto TV for $340 million. This summer the media giant launched BET Plus — a $9.99 service targeting African-American streamers.

Following the re-merger with CBS Corp., Viacom inherited CBS All Access ($5.99), Showtime OTT ($10.99) and Smithsonian Channel Plus ($4.99) SVOD. In the process, Viacom has myriad OTT distribution while at the same time giving mixed signals about a unified ViacomCBS vision digital leadership going forward.

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Speaking Dec. 9 with CNBC’s David Farber, Bob Bakish, CEO of ViacomCBS, was asked about the fact that Marc DeBevoise, CEO of CBS Interactive, reports to him for the all digital assets. And  to Joe Ianniello, CEO of CBS, for CBS Interactive.

“That doesn’t sound like an efficient way to go about trying to extract synergies and the growth,” Faber asked Bakish.

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The CEO claimed Viacom’s digital properties operated successfully under separate silos before the merger, a reality the merged companies could rejigger going forward.

Bakish agreed that working together on paper is different than in practice. He alluded to Viacom International originally operating independently and now as a multinational unit. Bakish added that when he became CEO in 2016 (replacing Philippe Dauman), Paramount Pictures operated independently, as did the company’s media networks.

“We took the last three years and really aligned that,” Bakish said.

He said ViacomCBS is putting forward an integrated company with one strategy. He said the revised blueprint would include paid and ad-supported content — with the widest access based on paid content.

“Today, in pay, [we’ve] got 10 million subs in SVOD in the U.S.,” Bakish said. “In free, [we’ve] got 20 million [monthly average users] at Pluto. We’ve got almost 200 million digital users. And we reached well over a billion through our broader business.”

He disagreed with the assertion that a high percentage of Viacom’s digital subs are promotional, rather than paying.

“That’s flat out wrong,” said the CEO, while declining to disclose actual digital revenue. Backish said the data would be revealed in 2020.

“You should expect some additional transparency in the streaming space,” he said. Viacom has heretofore just released Pluto viewership.

“You should expect that to broaden,” Bakish said. “We absolutely are going to operate as one ViacomCBS.”




CBS All Access, Showtime OTT Top 16 Million Combined Subs

When CBS launched subscription streaming services CBS All Access ($5.99) and Showtime OTT ($10.99), it projected 16 million standalone subscribers by 2022.

Now that tally has been reached through the third quarter of the current fiscal year, ended Sept. 30 — via some creative accounting.

Speaking on the Nov. 12 fiscal call, acting CEO Joe Ianniello was asked about the the 4% uptick in combined services’ subscriber counts and how that related to company SVOD projections.

Ianniello, who is reportedly set to receive a $100 million severance following consummation of the Viacom/CBS merger while reporting to new corporate CEO Bob Bakish as CEO of CBS, said he calculated the 4% increase by combining traditional pay-TV subs accessing Showtime and All Access as well as standalone direct-to-consumer and online TV subs streaming programming through third-party platforms such as Sling TV and AT&T TV Now.

“We think [the overal sub count] is important because there is a lot of headwind in the traditional [pay-TV] business and our point is, when you factor all of that in, we are [actually] growing subs,” he said. “And so, because obviously, the direct-to-consumer will be growing, but if you are losing [subs] in a traditional business, it’s offsetting.

“So, that’s why we thought that [16 million] statistic was meaningful …  that consumers are seeking out our content on other platforms, which bodes well for our future.”

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In addtion to live sports programming through local affiliates, All Access will begin streaming UEFA Champions League soccer, including UEFA Europa League and newly created UEFA European Conference League, which begins annual play in 2021 featuring eligible European football clubs.

“Soccer fans know these rights represent some of the most prestigious and popular soccer tournaments in the world that we couldn’t be more pleased that we won this hotly contested process,” Ianniello said. “We are currently finalizing contracts for this multi-year deal and we will be releasing more details in the coming weeks.”

CBS Ups All Access, Showtime OTT Revenue 39%

Over-the-top video distribution is beginning to generate real money for CBS. The media company now re-merged with former corporate parent Viacom, Nov. 12 said third-quarter (ended Sept. 30) revenue from OTT ventures CBS All Access and Showtime OTT increased 39% compared to the previous-year period.

Indeed, retransmission compensation, reverse comp and virtual MVPD revenue grew 18%, and total affiliate and subscription fees grew 12%, representing more than a third of CBS’ overall revenue in Q3.

Entertainment revenue increased 4% to $2.29 billion from $2.19 billion last year. The growth was led by affiliate and subscription fee revenue, which were up 22%, driven by increases in station affiliation fees and revenue from online TV, as well as subscriber growth at CBS All Access.

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Content licensing and distribution revenue increased 7%, mainly from higher sales of series produced for third parties. Advertising revenue decreased 5% from the third quarter of 2018, primarily as a result of the timing of the broadcast of sporting events and lower revenue during the CBS’ 19-day carriage dispute with AT&T/DirecTV.

Entertainment operating income declined nearly 22% to $302 million compared with $384 million in the prior-year period. The decrease was driven by an increased investment in content, including a higher number of series produced for multiple platforms, as well as the company’s direct-to-consumer streaming services.

“We are building great momentum as we near our merger with Viacom and head into 2020,” Joe Ianniello, acting CEO, said in a statement.

Viacom reports fiscal results on Nov. 14.