Highly rated NFL programming, which is critical to many big TV networks, looks to be a staple of broadcast TV for years to come, says the CEO of the soon-to-be company ViacomCBS.
Speaking on CNBC on Thursday, Bob Bakish said he isn’t worried about some big digital media company -- Google, Facebook, or Amazon -- writing a big, easy check to the league, grabbing all of its programming.
“CBS has a longstanding partnership with the NFL,” he says. “The NFL is a mass-market brand in the United States. It needs mass-market reach. And broadcast television continues to do that. So, that's valuable to them.”
Production costs are a particular issue for NFL programming.
Bakish said the second thing the NFL gets, "and people don't talk about this very much, is high-quality production. CBS doesn’t produce one game a week for the NFL -- they produce multiple games. This is live television, multiple cameras -- a very complicated production.”
Perhaps most important to the league, the key is future growth, says Bakish. And that comes with getting more younger consumers interested.
“Now, enter Viacom, two other real sources of value, and I've spoken with the league about this: one is young audiences. Whether it's our linear networks or on-demand product like Pluto, we bring young audiences to the media.”
Pluto, Viacom’s live, linear, digitally distributed ad-supported service, has now grown to 20 million monthly users -- up from 12 million in January.
In addition, NFL wants a bigger audience globally. “Also, as part of a growth strategy, if people want to develop their businesses outside of the U.S -- you see the NFL doing that -- Viacom has one of the definitive operating footprints x-U.S. in media.”
Early next month, Viacom and CBS are projected to close their deal to merge the two companies.