ViacomCBS Appears To Be Gearing Up To Launch A New Mega-Streaming Service

Photo: VALERIE MACON/AFP, Getty

A megamerger between Viacom and CBS last year signalled that CBS was beginning to look like a strong competitor among rival streaming services, even as other anticipated products launch this year. Now, ViacomCBS’s top brass is reportedly considering launching another streaming offering that would bring together CBS All Access and a ton of Viacom’s content assets for a diverse, super-stuffed service.

Citing sources familiar with the matter, CNBC reported Thursday that while the plans aren’t final, executives with ViacomCBS are weighing a potential service that would combine CBS All Access with Viacom’s free and live service Pluto TV as well as Paramount Pictures, Comedy Central, MTV, BET, and Nickelodeon. The service would reportedly have both ad-supported and ad-free tiers, with an additional premium option that would include Showtime.

Editor's Note: Given global licensing issues, it's doubtful a service like this would be viable in Australia, at least for the time being.

This is a considerable amount of content. CBS All Access is a pretty strong service all on its own, offering on-demand and live TV as well as high-quality original series. (It’s where Star Trek: Picard lives.) Adding Paramount alone into the mix would be a win for CBS All Access users, not to mention all of the other treats reportedly being considered for inclusion. Showtime is really the cherry on top of a pretty well-rounded streaming dessert here—and the rumoured price ain’t bad either.

Citing two people familiar with the matter, CNBC reported that the base service would probably start at under $US10 ($15) a month, meaning that the premium service likely wouldn’t be too much more expensive. For reference, CBS All Access is $US6 ($9) per month for the ad-supported option and $US10 ($15) per month for the ad-free tier (with the exception being live TV). In order to stay competitive, the price for the premium option would probably need to stay somewhere in the $US15 ($22) range, about the cost of the soon-to-launch HBO Max or a premium Netflix subscription.

According to CNBC, executives are expected to address it during an earnings call on February 20, so we may get more details then. A source familiar with the company’s thinking who spoke with Gizmodo characterised the report as “broadly inaccurate,” and added that Pluto TV would remain a standalone service. The logistics of shuffling Pluto TV into this streaming soup does seem to make the least sense for the rumoured service, and again, CBS All Access already has a live TV feature.

Keep in mind that besides everything that’s already out there—Disney+, Apple TV+, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Sling TV, Philo TV, fuboTV, YouTube TV, etc.—more are on the way. There’s the previously mentioned HBO Max, Peacock, and—depending on how you watch your content and whether you find its gimmick appealing—also Quibi. And folks, that’s not even everything.

So while this rumoured ViacomCBS product sounds nice on paper, it better come in swinging if it plans to make an impact in an already wildly overcrowded—far too crowded, if you ask me—streaming space.

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