ViacomCBS' Bakish Touts New Amazon Deal for CBS All Access

Bob Bakish
ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish (Image credit: ViacomCBS)

The soon-to-expand CBS All Access SVOD service has renewed its distribution agreement with Amazon, Bob Bakish, CEO of parent company ViacomCBS, said Wednesday. 

"They continue to be an excellent partner for us, and we for them,” Bakish said, while being interviewed at the Bank of America Virtual Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference by analyst Jessica Reif Ehrlich.

CBS All Access is distributed by Amazon through its Prime Video Channels service, with Amazon disaggregating the streaming service within its Prime Video app and controlling the customer relationship and billing. The SVOD service, along with its paywalled sibling, Showtime, are also supported by the Amazon Fire TV connected TV device ecosystem. 

Related: Analyst Raises ViacomCBS Outlook Based on Streaming Potential

ViacomCBS entered into a similar re-distribution agreement recently with Apple, to package CBS All Access as a channel via the Apple TV app, and support the service’s app on Apple hardware, including Apple TV devices. 

“We have partnerships with Apple, with Amazon, with Comcast, with Verizon, Vizio just to name a few,” said Bakish, who conspicuously paid no reference to the biggest connected TV platform operator of all, Roku. (Bakish's quotes were taken from a Seeking Alpha transcript.)

Could the Roku omission have import for CBS All Access?

AT&T and WarnerMedia were notably unable to come to distribution terms with Roku when they similarly expanded and transitioned legacy SVOD service HBO Now into HBO Max. And Comcast and NBCUniversal have similarly been at odds with Roku over Peacock. 

Updated: A CBS Interactive rep said it was "conjecture" to read anything into Bakish's comments, or lack thereof, in regard to Roku, noting that CBS All Access has had, and continues to have, a distribution partnership through Roku and its "channels" initiative. 

The rep would not confirm, however, that distribution is guaranteed to stay in place once ViacomCBS launches what Bakish referred to as the "super streaming service" version of CBS All Access. 

“We'll rebrand All Access and have a significant marketing campaign,” Bakish said. “We’re also expanding the original slate significantly to cover all of the brands.”

He noted that CBS All Access has already added 190 Paramount movies, as well as 3,500 episodes from Viacom TV series. 

“The end result," he added, will offer consumers “a broad and differentiated product at a compelling price point. It's going to have wide demographic appeal [to] kids, young adults, millennials, older adults. It's going to have a very robust offering of entertainment, plus sports and news. It's going to benefit from franchise IP, and our substantial marketing assets."

Bakish said CBS All Access and Showtime, as well as AVOD platform Pluto TV, will be kept separate in a “link ecosystem.” 

“We believe this approach serves the broadest set of consumers’ needs and therefore the largest consumer base. It enables the most ubiquitous distribution, and we've learned over time ubiquitous distribution is extremely powerful,” he explained. 

Bakish added that CBS All Access and Showtime, which touted a combined 16.2 million subscribers as of the end of the second quarter, will surpass 18 million by the end of 2020. 

He also predicted that free-to-consumer service Pluto TV, which has 26.5 million monthly active users at the end of Q2, will surpass 30 million MAUs. 

Daniel Frankel

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!