Viacom to launch its own streaming service this year

Sarah Perez
Is there room in the market for yet another streaming service?

Is there room in the market for yet another streaming service? Viacom thinks so. The company, on its earnings call on Thursday, said it's planning to launch its own ad-supported streaming service by September 2018, the end of its fiscal year. The service will include "tens of thousands of hours of content" from across Viacom's library.

Viacom had hinted about its plans in streaming before, but it shared a few more details on the call about what the service will include. The company, which owns cable TV channels like MTV and Comedy Central, already licenses some of its content to other streaming services like Sling TV and DirecTV Now, as well as newcomer Philo (which it's invested in.)

But it's also withheld a lot from third-parties, which it believes will be a strategic advantage.

"It's going to be rolled out in the U.S., in terms of the amount of content that it's going to have, it's going to have tens of thousands of hours of content that cut across the library we have on a global basis. And it's important to note one of the reasons that we are able to do this is that we've chosen to curtail the amount of content that we license into third-party B2C experiences," said Viacom CFO Wade Davis, on the call.

That's hurt Viacom in the short-term, he noted, because the company hasn't been able to fully take advantage of the licensing revenue it could have otherwise pulled in from other subscription video on-demand services.

The company didn't precisely detail what the new service would include, in terms of programming, but did hint that Viacom will tap into its larger portfolio to differentiate its offering with content that can't necessarily be found elsewhere.

"You should assume that we are really putting all of Viacom's assets against this," Davis added, noting that Viacom's brands span categories like kids and family, music, comedy, African-American, and general entertainment. He also referenced Viacom's entertainment presence via its brands Paramount, Paramount TV and the new Paramount Network, but didn't specifically say how Paramount content would come into play in the new offering.

Additionally, the company stressed that the service is not designed for cord cutters, necessarily. That means, it's not positioned as a way to watch Viacom's programming when you ditch your cable or satellite TV subscription in favor of streaming.

Instead, Viacom says it sees it as an "MVPD [multichannel video programming distributor, like a cable TV provider] complement product."

 

 

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