ViacomCBS Content Strategy Becomes Clearer For Future Streaming Wars

Published on November 14, 2019

With so many major companies pursuing the standalone streaming service path (Disney, NBCUniversal, and Warner Bros.), how other major entertainment companies fit into the new terrain is an essential topic to explore to understand the new terrain.

It has recently become clearer what ViacomCBS’s plan will be in the forthcoming streaming wars, as clarified by CEO Bob Bakish on Viacom’s last investor call. Bakish described a “multi-pronged” approach moving forward, striking a balance between content deals with third parties alongside original and exclusive in-house content.

On the call, Bakish was asked whether the company intended to ‘pick a lane’ in terms of either keeping content in-house or striking licensing deals with third party competitors. He responded that, for the immediate future, ViacomCBS will balance both approaches:

“Demand for content from third parties is incredible. The combination of our assets and capabilities, makes this sector an enormous opportunity for CBS. We have a deep library and extensive production capabilities. We have 750 series ordered to or in production, not to mention a library of over 140,000 television episodes and 3600 films. I strongly believe this level of volume is sufficient to supply our needs and third parties, so why not access the revenue, income and cash flow in deals. The upcoming merger with CBS… will only enhance our ability to extract value from that sector of the market.”

In short, Bakish expressed confidence in ViacomCBS having enough strong material and a deep enough library to be able to afford both strategies:

“At Viacom and soon to be ViacomCBS, we have a tremendous library of IP and very significant production capacity across genres and formats on a global basis. That means we have the ability to support our own platforms with compelling original content and supply third parties. We can do both at scale.”

While recent Paramount properties Gemini Man and Terminator: Dark Fate were met with disappointing results, Bakish explained the companies’ exposure was “limited”, and touted a slew of forthcoming releases that he had strong confidence in. Near future releases include A Quiet Place 2 (March), a Spongebob Squarepants film (May), and the Top Gun sequel (June).

The ‘multi-pronged’ strategy is exemplified by recent events. Recently it was announced that Paramount licensed the rights to Netflix for a Beverly Hills Cop sequel, as well as a multi-year content deal with Nickelodeon for content including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Recently HBO had licensed the streaming rights for South Park.

Bakish’s comments come after Viacom reported forecast-beating profits of 79 cents a share, while Paramount returned to full-year profitability despite recent setbacks.

Jeff Ewing is a staff writer at Grit Daily. Based in Los Angeles, he covers entertainment news.

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