Today the CBS Corporation reported its 4th quarter results, which was followed by the usual call with CEO Leslie Moonves and investment analysts. One of the high notes he pointed to for the company was the continued growth of their direct-to-consumer streaming services. Showtime and CBS All Access were reported to have a combined base of close to 5 million subscribers, which Moonves clarified was split “about 50/50” between the two, or around 2.5 million for All Access.
Speaking specifically about All Access, Moonves talked about how the growth was driven by Star Trek, saying:
2017 was a breakout year for CBS All Access. We doubled our subs year over year and we kicked off our best month ever in January. We are driving this growth first and foremost with our content. This includes our big events like the NFL and the Grammys, more than 10,000 episodes of current and library programming, and our original series programming, lead by Star Trek: Discovery, which was obviously a runaway success.
The CEO said he had “great confidence” CBS will “more than exceed” their previously stated goal of reaching a combined 8 million subscribers for All Access and Showtime by 2020. The company is so bullish on streaming services, they are launching two more this year: CBS Sports HQ and an Entertainment Tonight branded service.
Speaking about what is next for All Access, Moonves confirmed Discovery is going into production in for its second season in April, and highlighted the March second season debut of The Good Fight which will be followed by two new series: Strange Angel and $1. He also said the new Twilight Zone series being developed by Jordan Peele is currently in pre-production. While not discussed in the call, earlier this week CBS also announced they renewed the comedy No Activity for a second season on All Access.
While discussing international licensing deals, Moonves again brought up Discovery as an example of how they decide when to license something:
Let’s go back to Star Trek, which was as expensive a production as we have ever done. We were just launching All Access. We got a huge amount of money from Netflix for the international rights and it made it very viable for All Access and we continue to do that.
CBS Viacom re-merger discussions continue
Last month we reported a possible re-merger between Viacom and CBS was being considered. Such a deal would bring Paramount Pictures and CBS back under one roof, allowing for possible better synergy with the Star Trek franchise. Since that first report, there has been additional movement with both corporations announcing they have created special committees to assess the potential merger. And CNBC has reported that last Friday CBS CEO Les Moonves met with Viacom CEO Bob Baksih to talk about the potential deal.
There has also been reporting that an acquisition of Lionsgate could also be involved, creating a possible 3-way merger. It seems with all the media consolidation going on, Viacom and CBS may feel compelled to increase scale, even if it is, as Variety puts it a “shotgun wedding.”