The global streaming business is set to grow at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20.4% through 2027. With cable companies struggling to combat cord-cutting, streaming giants like Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) -- with its 195 million subscribers worldwide -- are clear beneficiaries of this trend. There will, however, be more than one winner.
Interestingly, ViacomCBS (NASDAQ:VIAC.A) (NASDAQ:VIAC) also looks to be carving out its own success story in the consumer shift to streaming. This legacy cable company is uniquely positioned to effectively compete with Netflix and others in the space; here's why.
A broad range of entertainment assets
ViacomCBS' content rights are immensely broad. The media company owns Nickelodeon, BET, Comedy Central, CBS, MTV, Paramount, SHOWTIME and much more. With Netflix and so many other strong competitors in the streaming space, access to all of these networks will be instrumental in ViacomCBS attracting new subscribers.
Perhaps more interestingly however, is how ViacomCBS' sports broadcasting rights can help differentiate its streaming products in a crowded space. The company holds rights to the National Football League, Professional Golf Association, Champions League, college basketball, and more.
It's one thing to compete with Netflix and other streamers based on how good your shows are compared to theirs, but producing consistently good content is no sure thing. It's more attractive to compete based on access to immensely popular sports leagues that the competition does not have access to.
Early next year, ViacomCBS plans to leverage this edge by relaunching its paid streaming service -- CBS All Access -- under the new name "Paramount+". This service will feature the company's plethora of sports content along with its entertainment assets to most effectively win over eyeballs.
Sporting events dominate the list of most-watched TV events annually. Viacom, not Netflix, will be able to shift that interest to streaming when its Paramount+ service debuts.
Signs of success
In Viacom's most recent quarter, it was its streaming business that stood out. Revenues for the segment grew to $636 million year over year, representing 56% growth. Its domestic subscribers jumped to 17.9 million, which prompted CEO Bob Bakish to raise his company's year-end subscriber target for the second straight quarter.
Furthermore, its free streaming service -- called PlutoTV -- is also rapidly gaining steam. Domestic monthly active users for Pluto jumped to 28.4 million, powered by 57% year-over-year growth. The product launched in Spain, and ViacomCBS signed distribution agreements with both LG and Sony (PlayStation) to bolster its reach.
PlutoTV does not generate subscriber revenue for ViacomCBS, but it is important to its business because Viacom makes considerable advertising revenue from the service.
While PlutoTV reached $1 million in daily advertising sales in 2019, it has already achieved its first $3 million day this year. Furthermore, ViacomCBS markets its paid products -- CBS All Access and SHOWTIME -- to Pluto customers. Based on rapid subscriber growth on the paid side, that seems to be working well.
Where ViacomCBS can be over the long term
ViacomCBS and all other streamers will struggle to reach the massive scale Netflix enjoys. Regardless, the opportunity in the space is immense, and ViacomCBS has the assets in place to effectively carve out its piece of the quickly growing pie.
Bakish and his team do not need to replace Netflix to enjoy meaningful success, as there is plenty of room for more than one winner -- and ViacomCBS is well positioned to be one of them.