While numbers are up, ViacomCBS is one of the smallest competitors in the streaming market place and that should be concerning.
Yesterday ViacomCBS had an earning call with CEO CEO Bob Bakish, where Bakish spoke to people about the streaming landscape and future of their streaming services. Right now ViacomCBS is building towards the relaunch of their current streaming service, CBS All Access into what will become Paramount+.
"We ended the quarter with 17.9 million domestic subscribers, up 72% year-on-year, which basically puts us just under the year-end [target]… And both, CBS All Access and Showtime [streaming], each had robust consumption growth in signups. Starting with All Access, the service benefited from strong demand for sports, like UEFA and the NFL, originals like Star Trek: Lower Decks, and CBS network content like Big Brother and Love Island, as well as from the 3,500 library episodes added from Nickelodeon, BET, Comedy Central, MTV and Smithsonian. Plus, the almost 200 films from Paramount that we added in late July, as part of our preview launch. CBS All Access is now in the early stages of benefiting from the power of the combined company."
The number of “17.9 million” should be taken with a pinch of salt. The number is for both Showtime and CBS All Access, and not for any specific one series. Also, while the number is where they hoped it would be, it ranks rather low in the overall landscape. According to Fox Business, Netflix leads the way in subscribers (183 mil), followed by Disney+ (50 mil), Apple TV (33 mil), Hulu (30 mil), newcomer HBO Maxx had in its first year than CBS All Access did in four (8 mil as of May), while other sources have Peacock above CBS All Access (15 mil), and YouTube Premium (20 mil) all dwarfing CBS All Access. This doesn’t include Amazon either, who’s numbers are harder to pinpoint.
CBS All Access has been around since 2015.
This is partly and mostly, why the service is getting renamed and reshuffled into Paramount+. Speaking of streaming services, Bakish also spoke on the success of now-ViacomCBS-owned PlutoTV.
"Pluto TV continues to build on its position as the number one FAST, free ad-supported streaming television service in the United States. In the quarter, Pluto TV’s domestic [monthly users] grew 57% to 28.4 million, and globally grew to nearly 36 million… In fact, in the U.S., Pluto now has well over 100,000 hours of compelling content available to consumers. We recently added nine ViacomCBS channels, including Star Trek, Bellator, CBSN, Dallas, and CSI."
Pluto TV has been a valuable asset since it launched several years ago, and ever since ViacomCBS acquired it, has reshaped a majority of it to fit into their image, retaining only a few dozen of the original channels that it launched with.
Later on during the call, Bakish brought up following the trend set by Disney+, whom he did not mention by name, and alluded to their show the Mandalorian as a reason to believe that focusing on the Star Trek series will be an important part of the new Paramount+ service.
"We’re absolutely focused on creating a must-watch service in Paramount+. And we do believe that our positioning of live sports, breaking news and a mountain of entertainment is differentiated and compelling. Now, as part of that, there’s no question that franchises will be key to the success of Paramount+. And related to that, our strategy is to have new original variants of franchises to serve as subscription drivers. Those originals… will be linked to larger library assets that drive subscriber engagement. So, we’re very focused on this strategy. And I’d also note that one of our competitors has clearly demonstrated the value of that approach. So, Star Trek, you mentioned, arguably the original proof-of-concept for CBS All access. There are now multiple variants of it on All Access, it works well for us."
ViacomCBS is seeing its streaming platforms grow, that’s not in dispute, but it’s still not growing fast compared to other industry services. They’ll need to figure something out if they’re going to make headway if they’re going to be around for the long term.