ViacomCBS Adds 6M Streaming Subs In Q1, Streaming Ad Revenue Up 62% YoY

ViacomCBS added 6 million streaming subscribers across its new Paramount+ and other paid services during this year’s first quarter, to reach 36 million subscribers globally, the company reported in its Q1 earnings results on Thursday.

The company also saw the number of monthly active users (MAUs) for Pluto TV, its free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) service, rise 15% versus Q4 2020, to 49.5 million, during the quarter.

Pluto TV continues to be the largest FAST in the U.S. across all metrics, including MAUs, total viewing hours and revenue, based on publicly disclosed information, ViacomCBS said.

A 62% year-over-year increase in streaming advertising revenue, led by Pluto TV, combined with a 69% increase in subscription revenue, led by Paramount+, resulted in an overall YoY streaming revenue gain of 65%, to $816 million.



Monthly watch time per active subscriber increased 17% year over year in March, when Paramount+ replaced CBS All Access, according to the company. 

On Paramount+, the biggest drivers of sign-ups were live sports and specials, including the Super Bowl, NCAA Tournament, UEFA Champions League, “Oprah With Meghan and Harry” and The Grammy Awards, kids’ content (SpongeBob and “iCarly”) and originals including “Star Trek: Discovery” and “The Stand.” Original programming, content from cable brands and Paramount movies drove nearly half of Paramount+’s subscriber engagement. Globally, Nickelodeon programming was a significant sign-up driver for Paramount+.

On the premium or TV on-demand front, the company’s Showtime OTT saw its best quarter ever in terms of sign-ups, streams and hours watched. 

ViacomCBS advertising revenues, excluding streaming, grew 21% year-over-year in the quarter, to $2.68 billion. The gain was driven by CBS’ Super Bowl and NCAA Tournament broadcasts, partially offset by lower linear impressions. 

Advertising revenue (excluding streaming) rose 40% year over year in the TV entertainment/broadcast segment, but cable network ad revenue dipped 7% due to a decline in domestic advertising, partially offset by higher international advertising. 

CBS was Q1’s most-watched network in prime time, daytime and late night, and had the top broadcast program, top three dramas, top five comedies and top news magazine, the company reported.

Affiliate revenue, also excluding streaming, increased 5% year over year to $2.1 billion. That reflected higher reverse compensation and retransmission fees, as well as expanded distribution, partially offset by a decline in cable subscribers, according to the company. 

Licensing and other revenue rose 11%, to $1.8 billion. 

Filmed entertainment revenue rose 23% due to an 11% rise in licensing revenue, and despite the pandemic’s cinema closures and seating limitations, resulting in that business realizing just $1 million in revenue in the period (down 99% year over year). 

In total, the company’s revenues rose 14%, to $7.4 billion, in the quarter.

Operating income rose 69%, to $1.5 billion, net earnings rose 79% to $899 million, and diluted EPS rose 75% to $1.42.

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