Speaking on the company’s quarterly earnings call Thursday, Bakish said that including subscriptions and digital video advertising, the company had $1.6 billion in streaming revenue in 2019, up 60%.
Bakish said that accelerating momentum in streaming was one of the company’s key strategic priorities.
The streaming business has gotten crowded as media companies look to compete with the leader, Netflix. Last year Apple launched Apple TV +, The Walt Disney Co., acquired control of Hulu and launched Disney+. This year AT&T is launching its HBO Max and Comcast is coming out with Peacock.
“Make no mistake: ViacomCBS will be very much in this game,” Bakish said.
He forecast that Pluto TV will be increasing its monthly active users from 22 million at the end of 2019 to 30 million by the end of 2020. And he said subscribers to CBS All Access and Showtime OTT will grow from 11 million domestic subscribers to 16 million.
“Our going forward approach to streaming is rooted in the belief that the streaming world will evolve similarly to the linear world,” he said. “That means it will have free, broad pay and premium pay segments. And just like in the linear world, we will have streaming product for each.”
Bakish said that “by having robust offering in each segments, we will also have the ability to migrate consumers across them through promotion and bundling, which creates advantages in subscriber acquisition, retention and lifetime value.”
ViacomCBS’s free offering is Pluto TV and its premium offering is Showtime OTT.
“To complete our portfolio, we will take CBS All Access and expand it to be a robust and compelling offering to serve the broad pay streaming segment, he said.
That pay product will be built on CBS All Access foundation, including its content, subscriber base and technology. To that will be added new assets in film and television, creating what Bakish called a “House of Brands" product.
He said additional content will come from ViacomCBS brands including Comedy Central, MTV, BET, Smithsonian and Nickelodeon. There will also be films from the Paramount library.
“We will do this at scale to the tune of approximately 30,000 episodes of TV and up to 1,000 movies,” he said. “This differentiate offering will provide the powerful combination of live linear via over 200 local CBS stations, plus on-demand content spanning news, sports, films, drama, reality, kids and more.”
Bakish said the product will be designed to work with existing and new distributors. He pointed to a newly signed deal with Comcast, which will integrate CBS All Access into its Xfinity X1 operating system.
“The reason we’re so excited about this is it’s not vaporware. We’re building from a position of strength,” he said. “We have the benefit of lessons learned in subscriber acquisition, in churn management. We understand what gets consumed in free and pay because we’ve been looking at it for a while. We’re not launching something new, to your question on tech. We are working off of proven platforms and models and we know how to work with partners both in traditional and OTT space.”
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