Not so direct. Anyone tuning in to the Viacom-branded network recently? Face it. This new corporate name is not all that consumer-friendly versus, say, Netflix, Amazon or Hulu. They are snappier names.
It probably would have been better to call the company MTV or CBS, Showtime or Nick. This — among bigger financial and streaming business hurdles — is why Todd Juenger of Bernstein Research has given the deal a thumbs down.
The issue comes as ViacomCBS looks to find a way to play with much bigger media companies — Netflix, Walt Disney and WarnerMedia — in the ever-crucial direct-to-consumer (D2C) TV space.
While it’s good that CBS and Viacom are merging together to ramp up scale, that scale needs to keep growing and be made seamless for consumers.
What’s in a name? In today’s fast-moving media world, consumers need a quick handle to get on board. It’s also not bad to give them a lot of TV programming: comedy, drama, reality, live sports, kids programming, and perhaps, new big movies.
(Wait. This sounds like a cable or satellite TV service!)
That said, some believe Viacom has a kernel of this going for it. Its streaming assets now include CBS All Access (broad-based, adult-skewed programming); Showtime (premium TV shows); Nickelodeon (kids programming); as well as BET and Pluto TV, niche/urban programming, and a young-skewing streaming content app.
Together, that would constitute a diverse programming service.
Price is another matter. CBS All Access is currently $5.99/month, while Showtime is $10.99. Then add inPluto TV, perhaps Nickelodeon and BET and others to come.
All this needs to compete with a $12.99-a-month deal at Netflix; a $12.99-a-month package from Disney for its trio of services — Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu — and one from WarnerMedia called HBO Max, priced to be around $16/month to $17/month, according to analysts.
What will consumers be looking for? Some might just say they want “Disney” for streaming. Others might think “Warner Bros.” or “HBO.” Down the road we might hear “NBCU.”
But how does one truly meld CBS All Access-Showtime-Pluto TV-Nickelodeon-BET under one brand name? Think about something snappy, quick to describe, and with some current reference point. Your TV brand is here — somewhere.
A modest proposal, in view of how Amazon uses the name Alexa, how about "Shari"?