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ViacomCBS is shuffling its top leadership ranks as it prepares to relaunch its streaming service CBS All Access next year.
The company is combining its streaming efforts under a new group, dubbed ViacomCBS Streaming, that will have oversight of both subscription product CBS All Access — which is being rebranded as Paramount+ in 2021 — and free, ad-supported streamer Pluto TV. Tom Ryan, the CEO of Pluto TV who sold his business to Viacom in 2019, will lead the group as president and CEO.
Marc DeBevoise, president and CEO of ViacomCBS Digital and chief digital officer for the company, is stepping down as part of the reshuffle. He will remain in an advisory capacity to the end of the year “to support a seamless transition and the ongoing transformation of the digital organization,” ViacomCBS said Tuesday.
ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish said in a statement that the restructuring is about “bringing together the leaders of our streaming platforms to create a unified global organization will enable us to execute a holistic strategy across both free and pay.” He called Ryan a “pioneering streaming executive” and said he was “grateful to Marc for his many contributions to ViacomCBS’s success.”
The changes essentially dissolve the CBS Digital group (formerly CBS Interactive), which oversaw a large portfolio of streaming, digital and technology assets. Already, ViacomCBS had been shrinking the size of that division, selling CNET Media Group to Red Ventures for $500 million in September.
ViacomCBS is also shaking up the international side of its business with the streaming reorganization. Kelly Day, COO of ViacomCBS Networks International, takes on the additional role of president of streaming at the group, working closely with Ryan and David Lynn, president and CEO of VCNI, on the international rollout of Paramount+, which includes launches in Australia, Latin America and the Nordic regions in 2021, as well as the continuing international growth of Pluto TV. Day’s promotion comes as Pierluigi Gazzolo is set to depart as president, streaming and studios at VCNI at the end of October “to focus on other interests,” the studio said.
Both Ryan and Day are part of the digital-focused team that Bakish brought with him in the merger of Viacom and CBS. Ryan co-founded Pluto in 2013 and has stayed with the business through its sale to Viacom. The free, ad-supported streaming TV service, now expanding into international markets, reaches 33 million monthly active users globally. Day also led Pluto TV through its acquisition by Viacom in January 2019.
In his new role, Ryan will look to accelerate growth for ViacomCBS’s free and pay streaming services after running PlutoTV. “He will bring this same digital expertise, entrepreneurial spirit and strategic, collaborative mindset as we deliver the very best of ViacomCBS to Paramount+ and our portfolio of streaming platforms,” Bakish said.
ViacomCBS will be transforming CBS All Access into Paramount+ in 2021 with a focus on showcasing brands across the portfolio, including Nickelodeon, BET, MTV, Smithsonian and Comedy Central. The goal is to offer a wall of streaming content to rival Amazon, Netflix and Hulu, on top of its live sports and news programming. Paramount+ will be more entertainment-focused as it rolls out internationally in 2021, as ViacomCBS doesn’t have the same rights to live sports outside the U.S.
DeBevoise, who has been with the company since 2011, had been leading the plans for the rebranded service. He was part of the executive team that launched CBS All Access in 2014, and, after the merger between Viacom and CBS, he spearheaded the integration of the two company’s digital and technology businesses. He was promoted to chief digital officer in December 2019 after longtime CBS executive Jim Lanzone departed the company.
Customer growth for CBS All Access and ViacomCBS’ other streaming platforms has been helped by consumers cocooning in front of video screens during the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The increasing focus on streaming at ViacomCBS comes as rivals like Walt Disney, HBO and Comcast continue to roll out direct-to-consumer streaming services in the U.S. and internationally to target cord-cutters in a fast-changing media landscape.
Natalie Jarvey contributed to this report.
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