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Two days before ViacomCBS launches its Paramount+ streaming service in the U.S., Canada and Latin America, CEO Bob Bakish on Tuesday touted the successful merger that created the entertainment giant, as well as the outlook for its streaming business.
Speaking during the virtual Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecom Conference, he addressed the shortened theatrical windows that many ViacomCBS titles, including A Quiet Place Part II and Mission: Impossible 7, will get, with Paramount+ starting to feature them 45 days after their debut in theaters, or about half the normal time it would take for a film to become available after leaves theaters. Smaller releases will move to the streamer as early as 30 days after their theatrical start.
“I believe this is a sustainable offer,” Bakish said on Tuesday, calling it the “right model for the future.” He said he has talked about it a lot with Paramount boss Jim Gianopulos, talent and other constituents.
He also compared it to other entertainment giants’ windowing and streaming-only release strategies, saying: “Some of these other film moves that have been made, it is not clear to me they are sustainable. But this move … puts the titles in the theaters, so if people want to go and get a big-screen experience, they can do that.”
Asked why Paramount+ isn’t folding in Showtime OTT, Bakish said Showtime “had a fantastic year in 2020,” both financially and in terms of subscribers, plus a “great” January and February. Its edgier content is also “more coastal” than the broader-based Paramount+, he said, explaining that was why his team felt it “makes sense,” at least for now, to keep the services separate.
The launch of Paramount+ will be “the biggest marketing campaign in our company’s history,” and six times the size of anything done for CBS All Access, the CEO also shared during the investor conference session. all units.
Bakish also argued that the Viacom-CBS merger has “significantly exceeded our cost-savings targets” and started “unlocking value,” with the market recognizing “our potential as a streaming powerhouse.” The CEO acknowledged: “There were a lot of skeptics,” concluding: “We have proven the skeptics wrong.”
ViacomCBS last week held an investor day with a focus on Paramount+ and its broader streaming strategy. At that event, Bakish said the company was a major content player and had nearly 900 shows in production right now. And he said the company has produced “monster hits” for various streaming services, including 13 Reasons Why, Emily in Paris and Dead to Me. Management singled it would keep more of its big franchises and new bets for its own streaming services in the future.
Bakish also highlighted during the investor day that sports and news were two key areas of distinction for ViacomCBS.
ViacomCBS will roll out the beefed-up streamer in international markets in phases, with the Nordics debut set for March 25, and Australia following later in 2021.
One of the big announcements during last week’s investor event, which saw top executives make the case for why Paramount and its mountain logo will be what will allow the entertainment conglomerate to be successful in the streaming era, was a revival of Frasier that has been greenlit for the streaming service.
Wall Street analysts gave the streaming strategy and event mixed reviews though.
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