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Viacom CEO: Pluto TV and CBS All Access Together is a ‘Powerful Idea’

Jason Gurwin

Last month, CBS and Viacom officially announced the merger of the two companies — which will bring together CBS and Viacom’s collection of cable networks like MTV, VH1, and Comedy Central. But, one of the questions around the deal is how the company expects to use their streaming assets to compete.

At Goldman Sachs’ Communacopia Investor Conference, ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish said their experience executing with a free and subscription streaming service is an advantage. But, it’s the ability to move customers between the two that might be their biggest asset.

According to Bakish, “Now that we can bring them together, we can bring people in through the free service and some will only stay in free. Others we will have the opportunity to upsell them to the pay product. We can return them to the free eco-system if they decide to pause and re-market to them when their situation changes. We think that is a powerful idea.”

The newly formed ViacomCBS hopes the deal will help continue to accelerate the growth of their direct-to-consumer streaming platforms — including CBS All Access, Showtime, and Pluto TV — and niche services like Noggin, CBSN, ET Live, and the upcoming BET+. In February, CBS disclosed that they had surpassed 8 million direct-to-consumer subscribers of CBS All Access and Showtime. The company originally projected that it would take another two years to reach that number of subscribers. The company has now set a new goal to reach 25 million domestic subscribers of both of their OTT services by 2022.

Last month, CBS All Access announced an expansion into original kid content, which could be supplemented by content from Nickelodeon. Pluto TV, which just reached 18 million monthly active users — launched ad-supported linear channels of library Viacom content, which could now see CBS shows come to the platform.

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