November 7, 2020
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.
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.
“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.”