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ViacomCBS to launch a new streaming service, but will they compete against themselves?

Newly combined ViacomCBS is working on combining media assets for a new streaming service that will build on CBS All Access, according to people familiar with the matter.

While ViacomCBS executives haven’t made any firm decisions, they are considering creating a service with advertisements that will combine CBS All Access with Viacom assets including Pluto TV, Nickelodeon, BET, MTV, Comedy Central and Paramount Pictures, said the people, who asked not to be named because the product discussions are private.

An ad-free version will also be available, and a premium version of the streaming service will include Showtime, the people said. ViacomCBS executives haven’t decided on a name for the service, nor a price, though the base service will probably be less than $10 a month, two of the people said.

ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish has thus far declined to answer questions about the company’s streaming strategy, but ViacomCBS executives will speak about the planned service during the company’s fourth quarter earnings conference call on Feb. 20, said the people. ViacomCBS will also reveal statistics about total paid subscribers for its existing streaming services and give revenue figures for the first time, said the people. Chief Digital Officer Marc Debevoise, Pluto TV CEO Tom Ryan and President of U.S. Networks Distribution Ray Hopkins have spearheaded the effort, along with Bakish, two of the people said.

Source: CNBC

The Take
When the Viacom + CBS merger was announced in August, execs hinted that they’d fold Viacom content into the existing CBS All Access and Showtime properties. Both All Access and Showtime OTT are surpassing growth expectations, which might make you wonder why the newly merged company would launch an entirely separate service.

We’ve always liked the prospect of integrating Nickelodeon into the broader ViacomCBS library, which boasts 3,600 film titles and 140,000 TV episodes. If and when that happens, it might have to be without its biggest star, Spongebob Squarepants who has his own Netflix deal worth $200 million as part of Bob Bakish’s arms-dealer strategy.

And speaking of company’s exhibiting their right to deal arms, Disney’s DTCI (Direct-to-Consumer & International) group just signed a deal with Amazon last week to offer every episode of “Desperate Housewives,” “My So-Called Life,” “White Collar” and “The Glades” on the IMDb TV ad-supported service instead of on its own owned-and-operated Disney+.

But back to ViacomCBS, the company currently operates the following services:

  • CBS All Access
  • Showtime OTT
  • Pluto TV: 20 million monthly active users
  • Noggin: About 2.5 million subs
  • BET+
  • Others, including NickHits, MTV Hits, and Comedy Central Now. These channels can be primarily accessed via affiliate platforms such as Amazon Prime Channels.

Will the launch of the new service (ViacomCBS All Access?) potentially cannibalize the others? We’ll know more when the company announces its Q4 earnings on February 20th.

What’s next now that Disney+ has reached 28.6 million subscribers?

The Walt Disney Company just announced that its streaming service Disney+ has 28.6 million paying subscribers — ahead of the already impressive 25 million predicted by Wall Street analysts.

Disney+ launched on November 12 and is not yet available globally. The day after the launch, the company said the service already had more than 10 million subscribers.

Disney also released subscriber numbers for ESPN+ (6.6 million) and Hulu, where it owns a controlling stake (27.2 million for subscription video on-demand only, 3.2 million for SVOD and live TV, 30.4 million total).

Source: TechCrunch

The Take
These numbers have exceeded growth expectations largely due to the Disney/Hulu/ESPN bundle, which is not surprising and has leverage implications.

Last week, it was reported that the “free year of Disney+ to unlimited Verizon wireless customers” deal helped Verizon hit their highest wireless net additions (790k) in 6 years. Verizon didn’t give out figures on how many customers opted into the promotion, but lucky for us, Bob Iger did.

About 20% of Disney+ subscriptions, or roughly 6 million, came from Verizon. What will be important to begin tracking in November of this year is how many of those free users Disney+ retain because churn is real. It’s worth noting that once free access expires, the Disney+ charge is going to be buried within customers’ Verizon bills, so don’t expect Verizon churn to happen all at once.

In the meantime, Disney+ hits The U.K., Ireland, France Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria and Switzerland on March 24.

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