ViacomCBS Plans New Streaming Service

ViacomCBS Inc. Rings Nasdaq Opening Bell - Getty - H 2020
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The product is expected to be an expansion of CBS All Access, which launched in 2014.

After closing an $11.7 billion merger in December, ViacomCBS is expected to unveil a new streaming service in late February that draws from strengths of its recombined companies, a source confirms to The Hollywood Reporter

ViacomCBS, led by CEO Bob Bakish, is planning an expansion of CBS All Access, the streamer that launched in 2014, that would encompass brands like Comedy Central, Paramount Network, BET, MTV and CBS News, among other offerings. All Access has been led by original programming from the Star Trek franchise, including the Discovery and Picard series, as well as scripted dramas like The Good Fight and a reboot of The Twilight Zone

The new streaming product is envisioned as a broad offering that will include news and sports along with scripted and unscripted content. Currently, CBS All Access and Showtime together boast about 10 million subscribers, with All Access priced at $6 and Showtime at $11. 

Meanwhile, Viacom's advertising-supported streaming service Pluto TV, which it acquired for $340 million in January 2019, counts 20 million monthly users, the company said during a Nov. 14 earnings call. The conglomerate's BET direct-to-consumer service BET+, which launched in September, is expected to continue as its own product as is CBSN, the streaming channel powered by CBS News. 

This unnamed ViacomCBS service will compete in a landscape that includes Netflix (167 million global paid subs), Amazon Prime (150 million customers), Hulu (30.7 million subs), Disney+ (28.6 million subs), ESPN+ (7.6 million subs), Starz (6.3 million streaming subs) and YouTube TV (2 million subs). That's not to mention Apple TV+ (which hasn't disclosed subs) or WarnerMedia's forthcoming HBO Max (set to bow in May) and NBCUniversal's Peacock (debuting in April). 

As other conglomerates prioritize creating film and TV projects for in-house services, Viacom has also tried to position itself as a seller to streaming platforms as it develops its own over-the-top strategy. In November, Viacom inked a multiyear output deal with Netflix for a series of Nickelodeon-branded original film and TV projects and licensed Paramount Studios' upcoming Beverly Hills Cop 4 to the streamer. 

Ahead of the merger and in the new year, CBS has remade its executive ranks, notably with the exit of chairman and CEO Joe Ianniello and the hiring of NBCUniversal Content Studios vice chairman George Cheeks as his successor beginning on March 23. 

More details about the forthcoming service are expected to be unveiled on Feb. 20, when ViacomCBS reports its fourth-quarter earnings. CNBC first reported the plans for the ViacomCBS service.