ViacomCBS plans to launch a streaming service with CBS All Access content plus thousands of film and TV assets from other Viacom networks.
What's happening to CBS All Access?
CBS and Viacom merged in December, and the newly combined company clearly has its sights set on revamping CBS All Access.
CBS All Access is a streaming service that offers live TV (including news and local broadcast stations), sports, and on-demand video. It also has original series (including two new Star Trek series). The service's library is about to expand, however, to include more TV and films from additional ViacomCB brands, such as Nickelodeon, MTV, BET, Comedy Central, Smithsonian, and Paramount.
Overall, it's adding 30,000 TV episodes and up to 1,000 films to the service.
To be clear, the company is prepping a new streaming service built upon CBS All Access, which has been around since 2014 and costs $6 per month with ads (or $10 without ads) in the US. It's supposed to do this by evolving beyond CBS All Access and by offering Viacom content.
“Built on the foundation of @CBSAllAccess – including the technology, content, and subscriber base. Adding substantial content assets in film and TV. Plus, the power of world-renowned brands, to create, in effect, a combined “House of Brands” product.” - BB $VIAC— ViacomCBS (@ViacomCBS) February 20, 2020
When will the new service launch?
CEO Bob Bakish didn’t provide many details, but he said the aim is to soft launch ViacomCBS' new streaming service sometime later this year. It's worth noting that, in its Q4 earnings call, Viacom CBS also estimated CBS All Access will reach 16 million subscribers in 2020, and it plans to further expand this service internationally. It’s already live in the US, Canada, and Australia.
Why is ViacomCBS doing this?
ViacomCBS ended 2019 with 11.2 million streaming subscribers across CBS All Access and Showtime. Meanwhile, it also offers a free streaming service, Pluto TV, which has about 22.4 million monthly active users in the US, UK, and other markets. For comparison, Netflix has 167 million paid subscribers worldwide, including 61 million in the US. And Disney+ has about 26.5 million subscribers.
Add it all up, and ViacomCBS likely wants to better compete with these rival streaming services plus all the others that offer on-demand video, original content, live TV, or sports. That list includes Amazon Prime Video, Hulu (with Live TV), Apple TV+, Sling TV, YouTube TV, FuboTV, WarnerMedia’s upcoming HBO Max, NBCU’s upcoming Peacock, etc. (See our streaming services guide.)
How much will the new service cost?
Pricing is not yet known. But, from what we can tell, ViacomCBS plans to offer three tiers of streaming services: Free, broad pay, and premium.
Broad pay is being used to describe the new streaming service that will be "built on the foundation of CBS All Access". It will include a broad range of ViacomCBS assets in film and TV, including entertainment, news, and sports, as well as on-demand and live experiences.
Broad play will complement "free" services from Viacom CBS (such as Pluto TV) and "premium" services (such as Showtime). That said, ViacomCBS' new streaming service will also give subscribers direct access to Pluto TV.