ViacomCBS Networks International is poised to potentially change the streaming game in an astonishingly complex way, thanks to plans for a brand-encompassing, all-demographics-aimed streamer by the corporate giant.
VCNI has announced that it will launch a yet-to-be named international “super-sized” premium streaming platform in the first quarter of 2021. Said platform will feature a surreal variety of content culled from its subsidiary platforms, most notably premium cable channel Showtime and subscription streamer CBS All Access, adding to the library of the latter, which is already set to feature content from Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon and Paramount Network, along with movies from Paramount Pictures. However, for now, the emphasis on this streamer must be placed on “international,” since the initial launch will only see it arrive in Australia, Latin America (Argentina, Brazil and Mexico) and the Nordics. As David Lynn, President and CEO of VCNI, expresses in a statement:
“Launching a super-sized premium streaming service will be a game-changer for ViacomCBS and can help us become as powerful a player in international streaming as we are in linear TV. We will market a world-class content offering at a very competitive price, and we’re convinced it will have significant appeal for audiences everywhere and strong growth potential in every market.”
It seems that the service’s initial launch might be designed to test the wider global waters for more ambitious designs. Indeed, Variety reports that the new service is already being planned to as an outright replacement for the still-young CBS All Access in Australia. Tellingly, the report also indicates that more international markets are planned to receive this monolithic upgrade of sorts to their existing VCNI streaming uses, and that could eventually affect the United States, in which CBS All Access (which recently announced an international brand expansion,) continues to thrive as a one-stop hub for all things Star Trek, and a modest lineup of other originals such as Jordan Peele’s reboot series of The Twilight Zone. Yet, the States have already started to see some of this corporate-umbrella streaming consolidation with the recent move of the SpongeBob SquarePants franchise to CBS All Access, with spinoff series Kamp Koral and the originally-theater-aimed third feature film both set for 2021 premieres on the platform, joined by the entire back catalogue.
However, the addition of content from Showtime makes the new streamer quite the embarrassment of riches, even if it’s a rather confusing one. While we shouldn’t expect the premium cable channel to give up all of its exclusives and become wholly absorbed—akin to what seems destined for CBS All Access—by the supersized streamer, the announcement points to the surprising acquisition of some of the cable channel’s most auspicious exclusives—firstly the television series adaptation of global video game franchise phenomenon Halo and the Jeff Daniels-headlined prestige crime drama, American Rust. Plus, in a bit of randomness, the aforementioned report also cites HBO shows Deadwood and Oz as being in the streamer’s lineup. Yet, on the CBS All Access front, the statement cites shared exclusive access for originals in Guilty Party and The Harper House while conspicuously failing to mention anything from the ever-growing lineup of Star Trek content such as Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Picard or even animated show Star Trek: Lower Decks; a move possibly attributed to Amazon Prime Video’s attainment of that franchise’s global rights.
Regardless, ViacomCBS is making major moves with this supersized streamer, which, in a clever bit of strategy will be built upon an already-vast existing global infrastructure and existing distribution partners, which could lead to an exponential international expansion. Consequently, while this news won’t affect American markets just yet, it’s a clear sign of things to come.