With rival subscription streaming service operators including WarnerMedia pulling their platforms out of wholesale arrangements in Amazon Prime Video Channels, ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish was asked if his company planned to do the same in regard to Paramount Plus and Showtime.
"We continue to believe in broad and ubiquitous distribution as a path to scale, and that includes wholesale relationships, including with the company you mentioned," said Bakish, responding to an Amazon-themed question posed by LightShed Partners' Rich Greenfield during ViacomCBS' Q3 earnings call Thursday.
"Now look, there's obviously trade-offs in terms of a wholesale versus a direct relationship," Bakish added. "Those trade-offs tend to be around requests for certain types of exclusivity, data access, margin. So it's not a black-and-white question. The real question is, do you have deals in place, which makes sense relative to those considerations. And we gave a lot of thought to that. And by the way, that means we passed on some deals and some deals take longer to get done then certain people would like because the deal has to be right."
Both Paramount Plus and Showtime continue to be disaggregated within the Amazon Prime Video app through Amazon Prime Video Channels. This means customers pay Amazon directly for these services, and Amazon keeps around 30% of the proceeds. Since the Paramount Plus and Showtime content are being viewed through the Amazon Prime Video app, Amazon controls the data, as well.
For streaming brands including the erstwhile HBO Now and CBS All Access, Amazon Prime Video Channels was a major source of distribution.
Greenfield also asked Bakish how many of ViacomCBS' 47 million global streaming customers get their services through Prime Video Channels.
Of course, Bakish didn't take that one head-on.
"Net-net, where we are in terms of balance, particularly as we're focused on scaling, we continue to believe in the benefit of these wholesale relationships in terms really of providing access to the largest total addressable market, which we strongly believe offsets some of the other considerations, again, assuming you have the appropriate deal structure," Bakish said. "So we like the balance model."
Of course, things could eventually change, he added.
"It's something we're going to continue to evaluate over time as we scale," Bakish explained. "But we see value to these distribution channels today."
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Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!