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ViacomCBS wants to compete with itself in the streaming wars

Its new streaming platform will build on the existing CBS All Access

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Image: CBS

The parent company of the $10-per-month CBS All Access streaming platform is reportedly about to launch... another $10-per-month streaming platform. For some reason, the newly merged ViacomCBS is planning a separate service that will “build on” CBS All Access by adding content from Paramount Pictures, Nickelodeon, BET, MTV, Comedy Central, and streaming service PlutoTV — as well as Showtime for those willing to pay extra, CNBC reports.

The question remains: why launch a new channel when the company has an existing service that’s just starting to gain some traction?

The merger that created ViacomCBS was announced in August. Originally, execs suggested they’d bring the new Viacom content to the existing CBS All Access and Showtime platforms: “Just think about adding content from Nickelodeon, BET, MTV, Comedy Central to CBS All Access, and Paramount movies to Showtime,” said Joe Ianniello, now-chairman of ViacomCBS’s entertainment arm.

CBS All Access had some modest early success with The Good Fight, and said its new show Star Trek: Picard helped it set a new record for subscriber sign-ups in January. But it’s also lagged its streaming competitors, if its self-reported 10 million subscriber figure (which also includes Showtime) is accurate. Netflix reported 61 million US subscribers in its fourth quarter of 2019; Hulu had 29 million US subscribers in its fourth quarter, and even the newer Disney Plus already has more than 28 million subscribers.

If the $10 monthly price point is correct, that would put the still-unnamed service (ViacomCBS All Access, maybe?) on the higher end among streaming competitors, closer to Netflix ($8.99 to $15.99) and HBO Now ($14.99) than Hulu ($5.99 with ads) or Disney Plus ($6.99).

Nickelodeon’s biggest star might be unavailable for the new platform’s launch: Nick has a multi-year deal with Netflix believed to be worth around $200 million, including a new SpongeBob SquarePants project, and we’ve recently seen similar pre-existing content deals keep shows off new platforms (like Disney Plus) at least temporarily.

ViacomCBS executives are expected to discuss the new streaming platform when the company announces fourth-quarter earnings on February 20th, CNBC reports. And during that earnings report, the company is expected to reveal subscriber numbers and revenue figures for its existing streaming platforms for the first time.