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ViacomCBS exploring ways to combine media assets into new streaming service

ViacomCBS is exploring ways to combine its vast library of movies and television content into a new streaming service, according to a report.

On Thursday, CNBC said executives within the company are considering a new streaming service that would incorporate several elements of ViacomCBS media properties, including CBS All Access, Showtime and Pluto TV.

The report was based on information learned from interviews with people “familiar with the matter” who asked not to be identified by CNBC because the company’s plans were not yet public. Those sources told CNBC nothing had been finalized, suggesting any service currently being explored may ultimately not launch.

But sources said ViacomCBS is expected to make some kind of announcement about a streaming service — either new or existing — during the company’s upcoming quarterly earnings conference call in February, CNBC reported.

Less than a year old, the newly-formed ViacomCBS combines media assets from CBS Corporation, MTV Networks and Pluto TV under one brand. Before the deal closed, Pluto TV had launched several Viacom-branded streaming channels comprised of the company’s own movies and shows. Pluto TV is supported by ads and is available to view for free.

Industry analysts speculated Pluto TV would be relaunched into a ViacomCBS-branded streaming service shortly after the blockbuster merger between the two media brands closed last year. The company operates two additional streaming services: CBS All Access, which includes shows from the broadcast channel and original content, and a standalone Internet-based version of premium pay TV channel Showtime.

It isn’t clear if Pluto TV would be relaunched as the new streaming service, though people who spoke with CNBC said Pluto TV’s chief executive officer is one of several people expected to be on the February conference call.

Under tentative plans, the new streaming service would incorporate various elements of ViacomCBS’s content library and existing Internet-based products, including Pluto TV, CBS All Access and Showtime, with varying price points based on the type of content users want to access.

Two people familiar with the plan said the service would likely cost less than $10 a month for a basic advertisement-supported version. The company is also considering additional tiers that would eliminate ads and include programs from Showtime.

CBS All Access currently costs between $6 a month and $10 a month; the service includes live video streams for local CBS stations and affiliates, CBSN, CBS Sports HQ and ET Live. Showtime costs $11 a month and includes access to live streams of Showtime’s multiplexed pay TV channels.

It wasn’t clear if ViacomCBS planned to keep CBS All Access and Showtime as separate services, but people familiar with the plans told CNBC two other ViacomCBS-operated streaming services — Noggin and BET Plus — would continue on as separate offerings.

As proposed, the combined service appears similar to plans laid out by AT&T last year for its WarnerMedia division. In April, AT&T will roll out a new streaming service, HBO Max, that incorporates various elements of WarnerMedia’s film and TV library, including original shows from HBO and Cinemax along with programs from Warner Bros. Domestic Television and shows that currently air on TBS, TNT, CNN and the Cartoon Network.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 11 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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