The finally completed CBS-Viacom remerger, creating ViacomCBS, listed direct-to-consumer streaming video as a top priority for future growth. This means CBS All Access, Showtime OTT and Pluto TV will have to step up.
These three services are not the only DTC video services within the combined company’s portfolio; there’s also niche products such as CBSN, ET Live, Noggin and the upcoming BET Plus. But they are key pieces within ViacomCBS’s streaming strategy.
When it reported earnings last week, CBS didn’t update subscriber totals for All Access and Showtime OTT but did say the services are still on track to have a combined 25 million subscribers by 2022, and that they helped deliver a 13% increase in affiliate and subscription fee revenue. Viacom, which also reported last week, said that Pluto TV grew to 18 million monthly active users at the end of July, up from 12 million at the start of the year.
During a conference call Tuesday with investors, ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish said the combined company’s mix of subscription and ad-supported services will enable portfolio cross-selling while providing a free consumer entry point that the company can upsell subscriptions from and a place to catch consumers who take churn out of subscription services.
Specifically, Bakish and CBS CEO Joe Ianniello addressed how Viacom and CBS content will begin to flow between the company’s subscription and ad-based services.
“There is nothing at all preventing us from moving forward in terms of beginning to unlock that opportunity in the very near future,” said Bakish. “Obviously it’s something that we will build on over time, but there’s some low-hanging fruit there we will seek to pick quite soon.”
Given CBS’s recent announcement that it’s adding kids programming to All Access, it would make a lot of sense to further monetize Viacom’s deep library of Nickelodeon and Nick Jr. programming on that platform. Ianniello said that the influx of Viacom kids programming to All Access won’t result in a price increase since the company wants to continue to drive subscriber growth by maintaining competitive pricing.
In terms of synergies presented by the merger for CBS’s and Viacom’s existing DTC businesses, Bakish said that synergies are not the focus. He instead said the combination of ViacomCBS’s SVOD and AVOD services (and the co-marketing opportunities that presents) are a growth opportunity for topline revenues and subscriber totals.