CBS All Access and Pluto TV to Be ‘Complementary’ in New ViacomCBS Alignment

SVOD and AVOD services to play nice post-merger, analysts predict
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Although they’ve flirted with remarriage for at least three years, Viacom and CBS Corp. embarked on very different streaming strategies.

CBS Corp. launched its very own subscription streaming services from scratch, hoisting CBS All Access and the direct-to-consumer OTT version of Showtime back in 2014. Today those services serve a combined 8 million subscribers.

In January, Viacom paid $340 million for an ad-supported streaming service that has a user interface that looks like a familiar linear TV programming guide. Seven months later Viacom’s ample investment, Pluto TV has grown from 12 million to 18 million regular users, and it’s in the process of expanding to 19 countries.

Viacom CEO Bob Bakish.

Viacom CEO Bob Bakish.

Notably, Pluto TV is the flagship offering of Viacom’s thriving Advanced Marketing Solutions (AMS) unit, an advanced-advertising-focused division within the conglomerate that saw an 84% year-over-year spike in revenue in the second quarter. AMS now generates 20% of Viacom’s domestic ad revenue.

CBS All Access and the DTC version of Showtime were founded and gestated under the watch of former CBS Corp. chief executive Les Moonves, who was chased out of the conglomerate back in December amid a sexual harassment scandal.

How do these platforms fit in within a new conglomerate headed by Viacom CEO Bob Bakish?

Probably in a “perfectly complementary” way,” Needham analyst Laura Martin told Variety.

Speaking during Viacom’s second quarter earnings call last week, Bakish himself said SVOD and AVOD have important roles in the overall quest for video market segmentation.

“Our view continues to be that the consumer market is segmenting by price points, from big basic to skinny bundles to SVOD to free, and there will be movement across those segments both up and down,” he said.

“Our strategy is to play in all the segments from big bundle to free and our evolving product lines allowing to do just that and look Nickelodeon has incredible traction in the marketplace very important to distributors, what they are seeing in terms of where it's going. So, we feel good about that in the shifting landscape,” Bakish added. 

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