Comcast, ViacomCBS join forces for streaming service in Europe

(Logo courtesy Comcast and ViacomCBS/Graphic by The Desk)

Comcast Corporation and ViacomCBS are partnering on a new streaming service that will potentially reach more than 90 million television viewers in Europe.

Sky Showtime will offer movies and television shows from the content libraries of both companies, with Comcast and ViacomCBS owning equal shares of the joint venture.

“With the launch of Sky Showtime, we are well positioned to utilize our global content engine to create a compelling streaming offering, quickly and at scale, with a smart strategic phased investment,” Raffaele Annecchino, the executive in charge of ViacomCBS’ international networks, said in a statement.

Earlier this month, Comcast and ViacomCBS announced a partnership that will see the distribution of the streaming service Paramount Plus on set-top boxes used by Sky satellite, the pay television company that Comcast acquired several years ago. As part of that partnership, some Sky customers will get free access to Paramount Plus, and all Sky customers in the United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Italy will get first dibs at the streaming service before it launches on other platforms later this year. (Sky customers in the United Kingdom will also get a regional variant of Comcast’s streaming service Peacock later this year.)

That partnership deepened rumors in some trade publications that Comcast and ViacomCBS were exploring a potential merger, which some analysts said would likely draw intense regulatory scrutiny in the United States and other countries where both companies operate.

Instead, the outcome of those discussions appears to be Sky Showtime, which will launch sometime next year in countries where Comcast and ViacomCBS have traditionally not offered television service or channels.

Those countries include Albania, Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Hungary, Kosovo, Montenegro, the Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden, according to a release issued by both companies on Wednesday.

At launch, Sky Showtime will offer more than 10,000 hours of movies and television shows from NBC Universal, Sky television, Paramount Pictures, Paramount Plus, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon and Peacock, among other brands owned by Comcast and ViacomCBS. The new service will be built using technology franchised from the Peacock streaming service, company executives said.

“On the heels of Peacock coming to Sky, this partnership provides an innovative approach to quickly scale internationally and monetize content across Europe,” Dana Strong, an executive at Sky, said in a statement. “Drawing on the strength of the incredible programming from NBC Universal, Sky, and ViacomCBS, and powered by Peacock’s platform technology, Sky Showtime will provide a truly compelling lineup for the whole family and strong brand recognition across these regions.”

Executives said more details about the streaming service, including its cost, will be released at a later time.

Thanks for reading and supporting The Desk. If you have a question, comment or news tip, send a message by email or text, or connect on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Also, check out our new membership service The Desk: Pro Access for exclusive reporting, news scoops and in-depth analysis.