ViacomCBS Gung-Ho On Streaming Growth
“Streaming consumption is on a powerful growth trajectory,” ViacomCBS President-CEO Bob Bakish told Wall Street analysts Thursday morning as he discussed first quarter results. Linear TV (broadcast and cable) had a strong quarter, largely driven by CBS having the Super Bowl and NCAA Tournament games, but the company’s conference call was overwhelmingly focused on streaming, particularly on Paramount+.
Excluding streaming, advertising revenue was up 40% in the first quarter to $1.8 billion. Affiliate revenue rose 11% to $693 million.
Looking at the current quarter, CFO Naveen Chopra told analysts to expect streaming subscription revenue and streaming advertising revenue to accelerate from the first quarter. “We expect another quarter of strong double-digit advertising growth as demand continues to improve and scatter pricing remains at an all-time high. We will also benefit from the NCAA Final Four Championship games, which didn’t occur in the prior year,” the CFO said of the company’s linear TV business. Affiliate revenue is expected to modestly accelerate as the company benefits from several new distribution deals with MVPDs and vMVPDs.
Now that ViacomCBS has a new 10-year deal with the NFL, Bakish is looking forward to a multiplatform approach. “The streaming rights are a critical component of that deal. Among other things, Paramount+ will have the flexibility to stream football games on both the premium tier at $9.99 [per month] and a new $4.99 advertising-supported tier.”
That $4.99 tier is set to launch in June, offering news, sports and other content to more budget-conscious consumers. In the long-run, because of the advertising inventory it will add to the ViacomCBS portfolio, Bakish says that lower-priced tier may produce higher revenue per user than the strictly subscription tier.