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ViacomCBS CEO Says NFL and Live Sports Play Important Role on Paramount Plus

Jeff Kotuby

During their Paramount+ launch event last week, ViacomCBS made sports a main focus of its new Paramount+ streaming service. Today, the company is again doubling down on just how important sports — namely, football — will be for the platform.

Earlier today during the Morgan Stanley TMT Conference, ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish was asked about the role sports will play on Paramount+, to which he responded that while sports coverage would be, “obviously anchored by the NFL,” the company would reach far beyond that into other sports. “We continue to look at opportunity,” Bakish said, “and see what incremental things we want to do.”

ViacomCBS previously said, that Super Bowl Sunday delivered a record-breaking day on CBS All Access in terms of new subscriber sign-ups, streams and time spent – sign-ups surpassed prior single-day records by +138%, and time spent on All Access, across platforms, surpassed prior single-day records by 92%.

Bakish spoke highly about the company’s recent push for professional soccer, saying, “the biggest incremental thing we’ve done recently is obviously UEFA [Champions League]. We like how it started.” During ViacomCBS’ investor streaming event, the company focused heavily on its expanded soccer coverage, with more focus on both men’s and women’s soccer from around the world, including English-speaking rights to: UEFA Champions League, EuropaLeague, NWSL, CONCACAF, and more.

When asked about a new deal with thr NFL, Bakish had, “no news” but expected to continue ViacomCBS’ relationship with the league going forward, as the product does so well for not just their traditional cable business, but their ventures into streaming. “We love the NFL product,” Bakish said. “We love NFL management. We have a very good relationship and I’m confident we’ll be in business with them for a long time. And that that business will span both our linear business as well as streaming.”

Bakish also spoke briefly about the company’s mixed martial arts investment, saying, “We also own a small mixed martial arts business — but it is the number two mixed martial arts business in Bellator. We’ll look to continue to grow that.” ViacomCBS acquired Bellator back in 2011, when the MMA organization routinely ran shows on ViacomCBS’ Spike TV brand. Spike TV has since rebranded to Paramount Network and Bellator events are now shown on Showtime.

“Sports are important because the American consumer loves sports,” Bakish said. “And so we see that as a way to bring consumers in. Our partners, MVPDs, affiliate stations, and advertisers see value in our sports. You’ll see us continue to play in that space, because it works for us.”

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