ViacomCBS Networks International (VCNI), a unit of ViacomCBS, is developing a premium streaming service that will start launching in key international markets next year, targeting “audiences of all ages with a competitively priced and super-sized selection of ‘must-see’ exclusives, premieres and box sets from ViacomCBS’ much-loved entertainment brands.”
The new SVOD service, whose branding will be revealed later, will start its international rollout early in 2021, with a focus on fast-growing streaming markets where ViacomCBS has identified the opportunity to become a leader in paid-for streaming based on its competitive position. These are Australia, where the firm’s existing 10 All Access service will be rebranded and significantly expanded to create the broader new offering, Latin America, including Argentina, Brazil and Mexico, as well as the Nordic countries. In Latin America and the Nordics, the firm will rebrand and beef up its existing Paramount+ streaming service to introduce the new service.
In terms of content, the service will be offering exclusive premieres of all new Showtime series, including the upcoming Halo and Rust. CBS All Access originals will also premiere exclusively on the new service, such as Guilty Party and The Harper House. The streamer will also feature movies from Paramount Pictures and content from Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon and Paramount Network, as well as originals from ViacomCBS International Studios “in some markets.”
Fan favorite shows that will be available in all three initial focus markets with varying degrees of exclusivity also include The Good Wife, The Affair, Californication, Deadwood, Dexter, House of Lies, Nurse Jackie, Oz and the original Twin Peaks.
Overall, the news unveiled on Thursday is mindful of ViacomCBS’ recent moves to expand and rebrand CBS All Access in the U.S. with programming from former Viacom networks and more. But in the case of the international streamer existing services launched by Viacom will be expanded with CBS All Access and Showtime programming, among other things. The new streamer for markets abroad will utilize the technology and platform that powers CBS All Access in the U.S.
The company didn’t disclose subscriber targets for the international streaming service, but David Lynn, president and CEO of VCNI, calls the new service “a game-changer for ViacomCBS” and tells THR that it has “significant growth potential” amid the broader uptake of SVOD services by consumers, “particularly amid COVID.”
“Streaming does represent a big opportunity for us,” Lynn argues, adding the combined ViacomCBS wants to “become as powerful a player in international streaming as we are in linear TV” and “generate material revenues from OTT services.” The merger enables the new streaming offering in foreign markets as “a big play with a super-sized content offering that really does come from combining the incredible libraries of the two companies,” he adds.
Can the new service compete with the likes of Netflix and Disney+? Lynn lauds it will provide a “world-class content offering at a competitive price, and I am confident that it can compete successfully with any of the paid streaming services.” He notes that consumers are taking up multiple services, saying: “We can build a meaningful international subscriber base for our services.”
The new streamer will “target on-demand audiences of all ages by combining blockbuster and classic movies, premium scripted series, kids, comedy and entertainment, reality and specialist factual content and will eventually aim to match or exceed other streaming services with a selection of thousands of hours of content in every market,” the company said.
But Lynn also has his eyes on original local fare. In Latin America, fore example, ViacomCBS has ViacomCBS International Studios. “We are already starting to develop (projects) specifically for the new service,” Lynn tells THR
ViacomCBS said it would work with existing distribution partners, as well as new distributors, to market the service to their subscribers, as well as “retailing the service direct to consumers.”
Said Pierluigi Gazzolo, president, streaming for VCNI: “With more than 200 million new streaming subscriptions due to come online internationally by 2025, we’re very confident we can build a meaningful subscriber base in the next few years. ViacomCBS is one of a very small handful of elite content companies with broad enough content pipelines and deep enough content libraries to lead in all segments of the video entertainment market.”
The international streaming service’s launch will happen in parallel to the ongoing rollout of the firm’s free streaming service Pluto TV, which recently debuted across Spanish-speaking Latin America countries, following launches in the U.K. and Germany. Pluto TV is planning to expand into Brazil and Spain by the end of 2020 and France and Italy in 2021.
Lynn says the new international service and Pluto TV are part of a “linked ecosystem” with a “twin strategy” of free and subscription streaming offers. ViacomCBS will also keep licensing content to third parties in foreign markets, he says.
“We have more than enough content to be able to license to everybody.”.
What may, however, disappear over time are various niche streaming services that Viacom has offered in international markets. “Our focus in launch markets for the new international streaming service will be on marketing this super service instead of various niche services,” explains Lynn.
Noggin will have a future as a standalone streaming app though, the executive tells THR. “There is a real opportunity for a niche service in the pre-school space that is now available in more than 65 markets through our Amazon and Apple partnerships,” he explains.