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ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish Says Theatrical Windows Are Bound to Get Shorter Post COVID-19

Stephanie Sengwe

WarnerMedia’s decision to simultaneously debut their entire 2021 film slate on HBO Max and in theaters has had tongues wagging. While their decision is set in stone, industry experts can’t help but wonder if other media giants are leaning in the same direction as well. With ViacomCBS launching Paramount+ in early 2021, the question of whether or not they may put some of their films on the platform naturally came up.

During the UBS Global TMT Virtual Conference, ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish revealed that though the company may not be going the same exact route as WarnerMedia, he believes the current model of releasing films is bound to change anyway. “We have 12 films [for 2021] on docket that are led by four franchise films…Obviously, we’re living under what we call COVID rules, so theaters are not open at scale…As we look at emerging from this COVID world, its pretty clear that the theatrical windows will evolve and get shorter,” he stated.

“I think there is a role for theatrical…but in parallel, some of these new monetization paths that we’re seeing are going to be more common. People are going to use films to drive over-the-top products, people are going to look for alternate monetization and that’s going to be the norm. I think the film category will continue to be strategic and valuable, but is certainly evolving.”

With Paramount+’s launch on the horizon, Bakish also revealed that several of the company’s smaller streaming platforms such as MTV Hits and Comedy Central will be shutting down as all content will be integrated onto the new service. Other platforms such as Noggin, BET+ and Showtime will not be added however, as they serve specific demographics which is more beneficial for the company as a whole.

News that ViacomCBS will be rebranding CBS All Access to Paramount+ next year came out in September. The rebrand is part of a broader effort to make the service a more direct competition for other streaming services, like Netflix, Hulu, Peacock, and HBO Max.

One of the more alluring points of the new service is the fact that it’s getting additional content, when it relaunches in early 2021 expanding to 30,000+ TV episodes and movies from the company’s library. The service is currently $5.99 for the ad-supported version and $9.99 for the ad-free version, but the company hasn’t said if that will change with the relaunch.

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