CBS to Create Channels for Viacom’s Pluto TV

As its merger with Viacom gets closer to completion, CBS is getting ready to launch streaming channels on Viacom’s Pluto TV ad-supported streaming service.

On the company’s earnings call with analysts Tuesday, CBS acting CEO Joe Ianniello said that the merger was on track to close in just a few weeks.

One way the companies are already working together is an agreement CBS has to add an AVOD channel on Pluto TV, Ianniello announced. The programming should start running on Pluto TV tomorrow.

Related: CBS Reports Lower 3rd-Quarter Net Income

“It's a win-win because it's greater distribution [for CBS content] and it's the top of the funnel, as we like to say. So it's really additive,” Ianniello said.

CBS's CBSN news service is already on Pluto TV. Since acquiring Pluto TV, Viacom has added about two dozen channels, many based on Viacom cable channels such as Comedy Central and BET.

Ianniello also confirmed that CBS had made a rights deal with UEFA European soccer league. All of the games will be available on CBS All Access, with some on CBS.

“We are also very excited about a new development for all access. We will now have exclusive live marquee sports for the very first,” he said. He expected the addition of live soccer--the world’s most popular sport--to help reduce churn at the streaming service.

Ianniello noted that streams of NFL and SEC football games are up nearly 60% from last year. Along with the beginning of CBS’s fall premiere programming, CBS All Access had its third best month ever in adding new subscribers during September since the service was launched 60 month ago.

Looking ahead, Ianniello said CBS was expecting its retransmission and reverse compensation revenues to accelerate with the new deal with AT&T in place in the fourth quarter. Next year, about 50% of CBS’s retrans footprint and 30% of its affiliate deals will be up for renewal.

“We will have another strong year of healthy gains from retrans and reverse comp in 2020 as we continue to reset the value of our content to current market rates,” he said.

The company is also looking forward to getting a bump from election year ad spending.

Ianniello reiterated that CBS expects a record-setting year for political ads in 2020.

“While local political ad spending won't really kick in until next year, our Boston stations are already receiving orders for the New Hampshire primary in February. And our TV stations in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento will all benefit in Q1 from the California primary moving from June to Super Tuesday in March,” he said.

“By early next year, we will have our local versions of CBSN in all the major CBS markets where we have local news operations, so we can benefit from a more robust multiplatform approach as we head into the next election cycle,” he added.


Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.