Feb 20, 2019

Two new deals represent Viacom’s latest strategic moves to put its content on next-generation platforms.

Viacom content will be newly available to millions of potential viewers on two streaming platforms, according to a pair of separate partnerships with Charter Communications and fuboTV announced earlier today. Together, these deals illustrate Viacom’s continued, strategic focus on making its content available on next-generation platforms to meet the needs of today’s—and tomorrow’s—consumers, as well as position itself as a key partner to an expanding network of industry leaders and innovators.

As announced this afternoon, Viacom will be one of Charter’s programming partners for “Spectrum TV Essentials,” a new streaming service set to launch by the end of March. As well, in a separate deal announced earlier today with fuboTV, content from across Viacom’s portfolio will be available across the fuboTV’s suite of packages.

The Deals in Brief

The big idea: Viacom is moving beyond its linear network legacy to increase the availability of its programming—including hits like Comedy Central’s The Daily Show and MTV’s Jersey Shore: Family Vacation—for live and on-demand streaming platforms. This means its content is available for those who choose to pay for a subscription service in addition to, or as an alternative to, a traditional cable subscription.

Industry context: The move signals that Viacom’s a valuable partner in the fragmented video distribution landscape—dubbed “OTT Overload” by AdWeek . The ecosystem is slated to become even more competitive in the next year with the debut of The Walt Disney Company’s Disney+ platform, AT&T’s yet-to-be-named direct-to-consumer platform, and an ever-increasing number of a la carte OTT offerings from cable companies and wireless providers.

Good to know: Viacom’s also invested in a streaming model that’s supported by advertising rather than subscription fees (in other words, free for consumers). Viacom agreed to acquire the ad-supported streaming service Pluto TV earlier this month. The deal, which is expected to close at the end of March, will put its programming in front of more than 12 million subscribers and position it as a leading content provider in the free-streaming ecosystem.

On-the-record: “I think one of the things we've done as a company in the last couple of years is to make acquisitions that are really, really transformative of our business,” said Shari Redstone, the non-executive vice chair of Viacom’s board of directors, recently in a conversation with Bob Bakish during a Viacom town hall event.

A Launch Partner for Charter’s Spectrum TV Essentials

Priced at $14.99 plus tax per month, the over-the-top (OTT) Spectrum TV Essentials video service will offer more than 60 live lifestyle, entertainment, and news channels to the Spectrum internet customers who don’t subscribe to the cabler’s video services.

“We’re thrilled to expand and deepen our relationship with Charter. They share both our commitment to the evolution of the Pay TV ecosystem as well as our understanding of the changing needs of consumers,” said Viacom President and CEO Bob Bakish in the release.  “As the video marketplace continues to segment across price points and offerings, we believe a high quality, lower priced option for internet-only subscribers is very important.”

“Spectrum TV Essentials is an OTT offering designed to provide Spectrum Internet-only customers a new low-price, high-value video option,” said Tom Rutledge, CEO and chairman of Charter in the announcement.  “As we began to assemble the rights for this new video service, we received great enthusiasm and encouragement from these key programming partners, who share our view and embrace creating an innovative video offering we believe will resonate with our internet customers. Notably, Viacom shared its strong belief and research that suggests there is a large untapped opportunity for a low-priced, entertainment-only bundle unencumbered by the high cost of broadcast retransmission consent fees and expensive sports programming.”

Expanding fuboTV’s Content Offerings

The fuboTV partnership will make content from Viacom’s core networks (which include MTV, Comedy Central, BET, and VH1) available to stream on fuboTV’s base package, while an expanded portfolio of channels (which include BET Her, MTV2 and Logo) will be available across fuboTV’s premiere packages. Plus, Viacom’s Telefe and MTV Tr3 networks will expand fuboTV’s Spanish-language base package, “fubo Latino.”

“fuboTV is quickly evolving as a major force in the streaming television space, and the addition of Viacom’s media networks as a cornerstone of fuboTV’s entertainment offering demonstrates the power and popularity of our global brands and programming,” said Tom Gorke, EVP, head of distribution and business development at Viacom in the announcement . “This is a great opportunity to continue to grow our reach and audiences across the OTT landscape and connect with our fans wherever they consume content.”

fuboTV is a rapidly growing, ad-supported live streaming service. Since launching in 2015 as the “Netflix of soccer,” it’s attracted a quarter of a million subscribers and expanded beyond sports programming. It was the first MVPD to offer live 4K HDR video, and introduced addressable advertising in January 2018 —months before its competitors in the live-streaming space.

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