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Why ViacomCBS CEO Bakish Didn’t Want to Use Pluto TV As Rebrand For CBS All Access

Jason Gurwin

When rebranding CBS All Access, ViacomCBS had a lot of options – CBS, Showtime, Pluto TV, but ultimately chose Paramount+ as the next brand for the service. One of the reasons why they didn’t choose to use Pluto TV, their fast growing AVOD service, is that CEO Bob Bakish felt it was important to keep the free Pluto TV service separate from the paid subscription one.

“There’s a big difference between shouting from rooftops that there’s a free service versus this is something you got to pay for,” said Bakish during his Code Media@Home interview. “We don’t think commingling a brand across those is a good idea.”

He continued, “you want to be able to define Pluto as the leading free entertainment service…and simultaneously build a business at scale that people…are willing to pay for. We believe, based on a lot of thinking and a lot of research that having two distinct brands that will work together…is the way to go.”

This is a very different approach from NBCU that has marketed Peacock as “free as a bird”, while separately offering a paid tier called Peacock Premium. The higher tier includes original series and live sports like Premier League.

While Bakish didn’t disclose pricing on the new Paramount+ offering, he said it “certainly will be competitive” when it launches in early 2021.

In an earlier interview, the company said that one of the core drivers of changing the brand to Paramount was its international recognition.

According to a company survey, 99% of people in Spain, 98% of people in the U.K., 96% of people in the U.S., and 90% of people in Mexico are aware of Paramount. In the U.S., Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Spain, the U.K., and Australia, well over 90% of people said they had a positive view of the brand.

That built-in visibility will help promote CBS All Access, now Paramount+, to an international audience. CBS All Access is already in Australia under the 10 All Access brand.

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