Overall second-quarter revenue was off 12% to $6.275 billion for ViacomCBS, with the conglomerate reporting on Thursday the common refrain of a pandemic-ravaged advertising market.
But ViacomCBS struck a bullish tone in its Q2 report in regard to subscription streaming, touting a 52% year-over-year increase in paid OTT revenue, and a 75% uptick in SVOD subscribers, reaching 16.2 million, as it finally shed some of the details tied to the reboot of its five-year-old CBS All Access SVOD platform.
Re-launching in “early 2021,” the expanded CBS All Access will add 3,500 episodes from the broader ViacomCBS portfolio, spanning series from BET, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Smithsonian and other networks. The infusion will up the CBS All Access search engine to more than 20,000 TV show episodes and movies. Showtime content will also be featured on the expanded service.
CBS All Access, which was launched in a more nascent and tranquil market for video streaming, by what was then a single-parent CBS Corp., pre its re-marriage to Viacom, is now competing in an SVOD realm that not only includes Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu, but Disney Plus, HBO Max and Peacock, just to name a few recently launched streaming services.
As such, ViacomCBS will be pouring in a far greater amount of original series resource to the service. Mentioned in Thursday’s earnings release were Big Brother Live Feeds, The Stand and the animated series Star Trek: Lower Decks, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run and Kamp Koral, a new original kid’s series premiering in 2021 and the first spinoff derived from SpongeBob SquarePants.
In addition to the expanded original series lineup, CBS All Access will feature live programming, spanning news, events and sports. News programming will include live streams of local CBS stations nationwide and CBSN, CBS News’ rapidly growing 24/7 digital news service. Event live streams will feature The Super Bowl, The Grammy Awards, The Academy of Country Music Awards, The Tony Awards and more Major sporting events from golf to football to basketball, and UEFA club competitions.
Beyond the U.S., where CBS All Access is currently base priced, with commercials, for $5.99 a month, the expanded were will deploy next year in Australia, Latin America and the Nordics.
The relaunched CBS All Access platform will remain on the same technology backbone, the company said.
Notably, there will be no rollup with Pluto TV, the ad-supported video on demand platform Viacom paid $340 million for in January 2019, before it re-merged with CBS.
Pluto TV active users were up 61% in the second quarter to 26.5 million.
“We want to be big in AVOD, and we want to be big in SVOD. Those two services I see as completely complementary to each other,” said David Lynn, president and CEO of ViacomCBS Networks International, told Variety.