ViacomCBS Reaches 19.2 Million U.S. Paid Streaming Subs, Ad Revenue Grows

Bob Bakish

ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish

The entertainment giant, led by CEO Bob Bakish, reports its fourth-quarter and 2020 results.

ViacomCBS reported its fourth-quarter financials on Wednesday, which includes the studio getting to 19.2 million U.S. streaming subscribers, up 71 percent year-over-year.

As of Sept. 30, the company had already reached 17.9 million domestic streaming subscribers. The latest quarterly performance is ahead of the 18 million U.S. streaming customers the studio had forecast this summer after an original forecast of 16 million. ViacomCBS' global streaming subscriber base grew to 30 million, up 56 percent year-over-year.

ViacomCBS also saw a return to advertising revenue growth, up 4 percent to $3.14 billion on higher streaming and political advertising during the latest quarter. That followed a 6 percent decline in the third quarter and a 27 percent decrease in the second quarter amid pandemic challenges.

The company, created in December 2019 via the recombination of Viacom and CBS Corp., reported CBS All-Access and Showtime's streaming service saw their best quarters ever for new customer sign-ups. And Pluto TV grew its global monthly active users to 43 million.

ViacomCBS reported overall revenues up 3 percent to $6.87 billion, in part on higher affiliate revenue. For the three months to Dec. 31, 2020, the studio swung to a profit of $810 million, or $1.27 per-share, compared to a year-earlier loss of $258 million, or a per-share loss of 49 cents. The adjusted per-share earnings was $1.04, compared to a year-earlier 92 cents.

ViacomCBS' TV entertainment revenues was virtually unchanged at $3.11 billion, against a year-earlier $3.12 billion. A decline in theatrical revenue saw the filmed entertainment division post overall revenues down 18 percent to $514 million.

The company's big U.S. subscription streaming services are CBS All Access and Showtime OTT. Advertising-supported streamer Pluto TV's domestic users have also continued to grow, as have the company's streaming and digital revenue.

ViacomCBS, led by CEO Bob Bakish, has been increasing its focus on the streaming business, similar to other Hollywood giants.

It had previously indicated the studio would beef up its CBS All Access subscription streaming service and rebrand it as Paramount+ in the U.S. on March 4.

In Canada, the rebrand will also happen then, with additional content in that country coming later in the year. Paramount+ will also launch in Latin America on March 4,  in Scandinavia on March 25 and in Australia mid-year.