Friday, June 08, 2018

Viacom’s CFO Says They Hope To Be On OTT Services Like Hulu & YouTube TV 'Eventually'

Just over a year ago, Viacom pulled their programming from over-the-top subscription services PlayStation Vue and Hulu. According to Viacom at the time they wanted to focus on cable TV service instead of streaming services. Now it looks like Viacom may be having second thoughts.

Speaking at the Gabelli Annual Movie and Entertainment Conference earlier this week, Viacom CFO Wade Davis acknowledged that he is well aware that Viacom channels like Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and MTV and don’t show up on Hulu with Live TV or YouTube TV, but thinks they will be added eventually.

Davis pointed out that Viacom is present in the virtual multichannel video programming distributor (MVPD) world and got in a slight dig at the vMVPDs that don’t carry Viacom.

“We’re extremely well-represented in the traditional distributor lead virtual MVPDs, that’s Sling TV and DirecTV Now. And those are really the virtual MVPDs that matter,” Davis said. “We’d love to be on [Hulu and YouTube TV], we’re in discussions with those guys all the time and we’re optimistic that we’re going to … make progress with some of the virtual MVPDs that we’re not on.”

But he said that the real growth from a vMVPD standpoint is going to continue to be driven from the traditional distributors. The two most significant parts of the vMVPD business are content cost and subscriber acquisition, and those are areas where the traditional distributors have incredible advantages versus new entrants in the space, he said, while anticipating further growth from other traditional distributors entering the vMVPD market.

While this is good news for many, it is important to mention that Davis did not mention PlayStation Vue.

In terms of traditional distributors launching vMVPDs, Dish Network and DirecTV are really the only ones so far; though it’s worth noting that Comcast is a part-owner of Hulu. Verizon has said that it is no longer interested in launching a streaming TV service, and the U.S. cable operators that offer streaming TV services typically do so only within their footprints.

As of April 2018, DirecTV Now had about 1.5 million subscribers, and in February 2018 Dish revealed that Sling TV has 2.2 million subscribers. YouTube TV has yet to divulge any subscriber numbers, but Hulu said late last month it now has 800,000 subscribers (out of 20 million total) opting for its live TV service.

So what is holding Viacom back from expanding its OTT footprint right now? There is likely to be quite a couple issues holding Viacom back. Firstly, Viacom is pushing for a re-merger with CBS. It is possible they want to finish the merger before they agree to any new deals. Viacom is also likely hoping to hold out for a better deal to get more money from YouTube TV and Hulu.

The news follows Viacom revealing earlier this year that it hopes to launch its own streaming service during Fall 2018.

More Nickelodeon: Nickelodeon USA's June 2018 Premiere Highlights!

Source: FierceCable; H/T: Cord Cutters News.
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