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ViacomCBS touts 'Paramount+' to investors after mixed earnings

Stock Markets Feb 24, 2021 08:40PM ET
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2/2 © Reuters. ViacomCBS headquarters in New York, New York 2/2

By Helen Coster and Eva Mathews

(Reuters) - ViacomCBS (NASDAQ:VIAC) Inc said on Wednesday it expects to reach as many as 75 million global streaming subscribers by the end of 2024, with global streaming revenue to rise to more than $7 billion by that time.

"This is a ViacomCBS that is being reimagined for a new kind of marketplace and a new kind of consumer," said Chair Shari Redstone.

In a presentation to investors after releasing fourth-quarter results, the company laid out plans for its Paramount+ streaming service.

The home to MTV, Nickelodeon and Showtime is launching the service - an expanded version of its existing CBS All Access streamer - on March 4 with a $9.99 per month ad-free version and in June with a $4.99 ad-supported version.

In its fourth-quarter results, ViacomCBS said it had amassed 30 million global paid subscribers to All Access and other streaming properties, including 19.2 million U.S. subscribers.

Paramount+ will be competing in a crowded streaming landscape dominated by Netflix Inc (NASDAQ:NFLX), which has 200 million subscribers, and Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) Co's Disney+, with 94.9 million subscribers.

CBS launched All Access in 2014. The company's 2019 merger with Viacom, a sister company also controlled by the Redstone family, allowed for more content on the service, including films from Paramount Pictures. Paramount+ will have more than 2500 movies.

ViacomCBS hopes to distinguish Paramount+ from other streaming services through an emphasis on live sports and news. It will launch Paramount+ in the United States, Canada and Latin America on March 4; in the Nordics on March 25, and in Australia in mid-2021.

On Wednesday Chief Executive Bob Bakish said that in 2021, Paramount+ will debut 36 original series across different genres.

The company will be bringing back the music documentary series "Behind the Music" to Paramount+, as well as "Frasier," the final season of "Younger" and a new weekly show hosted by Trevor Noah, among other programming.

Some new Paramount films will go exclusively to Paramount+ 30 to 45 days after theatrical release, Bakish said. All other new Paramount movies will appear on Paramount+ after their theatrical release, some as early as 90 days.

"Mission: Impossible 7" will debut in theaters on Nov. 19 and debut on Paramount+ 45 days later. "A Quiet Place II" will also come to Paramount+ 45 days after its theatrical release. The rest of Paramount's 2021 film slate will be coming to Paramount+ in 2022.

The company posted lower-than-expected quarterly revenue, as the COVID-19 pandemic delayed content production and cut film revenue, despite steady demand for its streaming services.

Revenue rose 3% to $6.87 billion in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31. Wall Street's consensus was $6.89 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

The company said not all analysts factored in the pending sale of its publishing division Simon & Schuster, which was agreed in the fourth quarter and was treated as a discontinued operation.

Net earnings attributable to ViacomCBS were $783 million, or $1.26 per share, compared with a loss of $302 million, or 49 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, ViacomCBS earned $1.04 per share, slightly above estimates of $1.02.

ViacomCBS touts 'Paramount+' to investors after mixed earnings

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