ViacomCBS has confirmed a March 4 launch date for its new Paramount Plus subscription streaming service, but has still not confirmed other key distribution details.
Beyond pricing info, it's still unclear as to whether ViacomCBS will be able to establish support for the Paramount Plus (Paramount+) app on the two biggest device ecosystems, Roku and Amazon Fire TV, from day one.
The conglomerate said it will release key details about the service, a major expansion of the five-year-old CBS All Access platform, at its Feb. 24 Q4 earnings event.
Notably, CBS All Access has been aggressively sold through the respective “channels” wholesale business of both Roku and Amazon. ViacomCBS said in November that it had 17.9 million customers combined across its subscription OTT channels, a grouping led by CBS All Access and the Showtime streaming service.
It's unclear as to how many of those originated from Amazon Prime Video Channels. But it is safe to assume that the figure is a lot.
Extracting HBO from those channels ties was a major hangup for WarnerMedia in its quest to establish HBO Max as a standalone app on Roku and Fire TV. HBO Max launched in late May, but didn't establish support for the No. 2 OTT device ecosystem, Amazon Fire TV, until November. And it didn't launch on No. 1 platform until December.
Both Roku and Fire TV tout more than 50 million active users.
The Walt Disney Company also had difficult negotiations with Amazon in its attempt to make Disney Plus a standalone app on the Fire TV platform, rather than have the service’s content disaggregated and resold through Amazon Prime Video Channels.
It’s uncertain as to whether ViacomCBS will draw the same kind of hard line that other media companies have regarding direct access to consumers for their apps on the major device platforms. Notably, the company struck a deal with Apple in the fall that allowed CBS All Access and Showtime to be resold through Apple TV Channels.
As for what we do know about Paramount Plus right now, ViacomCBS said it will also debut in Latin America on March 4, and that Canada will see CBS All Access rebranded under the Paramount Plus moniker that day, as well. The service will launch in the Nordics on March 25 and in Australia in mid-2021, the conglomerate said.
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