Viacom CEO Pulls Back Curtain On Upcoming OTT Service

Viacom CEO Bob Bakish revealed some new details about the company’s upcoming over-the-top streaming video service, which is expected to launch this year.

Speaking at a conference hosted by Morgan Stanley, Bakish said the upcoming OTT service will launch with more than 10,000 hours of library content, and will “complement what we are doing in the MVPD space.”

In other words, the company is betting that this product will not disrupt its existing linear TV business.

Notably, Bakish also suggested that the new service will be fully ad-supported, differentiating it from commercial-free competitors like Netflix and Amazon.

The service “will leverage not only our library assets, but also our ad sales capability,” Bakish said, acknowledging that he was being “cryptic” about all the details.



Bakish said that two years ago the company began pulling back on licensing its shows to streaming services like Netflix. At first, the rationale was to improve the value for traditional cable and satellite companies, but it had the added effect of building a library that could eventually go DTC, or as Bakish said: “To set those assets up for something we can exploit ourselves.”

Viacom, which does not have any major sports rights, has also been aggressive about getting its channels onto streaming video bundles. The company is available on the two largest streaming bundles, Sling TV and DirecTV Now, and Bakish cited those bundles as a reason for the improvement in the company’s overall channel distribution figures.

Bakish said that the company was having conversations with other streaming providers, which would drive revenue this year, and is also having discussions with new mobile offers.

“We are also in a very interesting conversation in the U.S. about bringing our brands to mobile,” Bakish said, adding that he expected that deal to “happen in fiscal 2018.”

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