Today, ViacomCBS—which controls the Star Trek franchise on film and television—reported their earnings for the first quarter of 2020, with $6.7 billion in revenue. While the COVID-19 pandemic had a negative impact on theatrical release revenue and sports advertising, the overall financial results were ahead of Wall Street expectations and the stock jumped up 15% in early morning trading.
Star Trek helps drive record growth for All Access
ViacomCBS touted their streaming offerings as a highlight for the quarter, with their free Pluto service growing to 24 million active users, which makes it the #1 ad-supported streaming service. ViacomCBS also reported CBS All Access and Showtime OTT paid subscriptions were up 50% from the previous year, to a total of 13.5 million.
Star Trek was mentioned multiple times in the official earnings release related to the company’s streaming performance:
CBS All Access and Showtime OTT delivered record subscribers, sign-ups and consumption, reflecting original programming, including Star Trek: Picard and Homeland… Live TV and original programming, such as Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Picard, The Good Fight and Survivor, drove consumption records in April on CBS All Access, with total streams and minutes watched up significantly.
Plan to expand All Access accelerating, with franchises key part of strategy
CBS All Access has been the home for the new Star Trek series, and even though All Access was an early entry to the streaming world, it is facing growing competition with the launches of Disney+, NBC Universal’s Peacock, and WarnerMedia’s HBO Max. Today, ViacomCBS announced they are accelerating their plans to build a new streaming service based on the All Access platform. This expanded service will take advantage of content from the newly combined ViacomCBS, offering entertainment, news, and sports. Today’s release promised this service will include “on-demand content from across the portfolio, including brands and extensions of iconic IP.”
During an investor call this morning, ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish outlined the streaming strategy:
Building off our CBS All Access platform, with major changes coming this summer, as we track towards a rebrand and relaunch of a transformed product. We believe audiences want their product on demand and their news, sports and events live. Through our expanded offering, we will be the service that gives them what they want, how they want it, all in one place, at a great value.
He also got into detail on the content this expanded streaming service will offer:
We start with what All Access has today: CBS Network programming, a very deep CBS on-demand library, and an expanding slate of originals. Add to that content from Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, Smithsonian, MTV, BET, and Paramount. This starts with over 100 films launched this week on the platform, along with thousands of hours of TV and film arriving in coming months. And we will build on this incredible base of content with a catalog multiple times greater than many of the new [subscription streaming services], by expanding our original slate across the portfolio…Our biggest franchises will be key to this strategy, as will our broad programming strength across genres. From animation to sci-fi, comedy, reality, kids, crime procedurals, and more…Our originals strategy is designed to leverage our massive library of IP, fueling growth through a consistent and growing cadence of tentpole series.
There were no specifics given on the call regarding how this new service will leverage ViacomCBS’ franchises and brands, but it is already known that they are developing multiple original Star Trek television series, both live-action and animation. We may learn more later in May, when CBS holds their upfront presentations, including one for All Access.
No specific dates were given, but Bakish did reveal how All Access is going to see an upgrade this summer:
You will see a major move this summer, where we will introduce a fundamentally new [user interface] and add substantial content assets. As we do that we are prioritizing franchises and importantly, critical mass in genres, whether it is animation and kids, or crime, etc. for [ViacomCBS owned properties].
Bakish also talked about taking the streaming service global:
Internationally we will launch a broad pay streaming product in multiple markets over the next twelve months. This service will harness the full power of the ViacomCBS portfolio, including a meaningful brand presence in streaming video in key markets around the world.
No news on new Star Trek movie, but more Trek films added to CBS All Access
Today’s earning report and investor call did not discuss much with regards to Paramount Pictures, so there was no news regarding the Star Trek feature film currently in development by Noah Hawley. Theatrical revenue is down 3% from the previous year due to the COVID-19 quarantine, however, overall revenue was up due to increased home entertainment and licensing revenue. Paramount films planned for release this spring and summer have been moved to later dates in 2020 and 2021. ViacomCBS is hoping to return to production on both the film and television side starting in mid-summer.
Today, ViacomCBS also took a step towards leveraging the combined company’s assets by adding over 100 Paramount films to CBS All Access. The service now includes four Star Trek feature films: Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Star Trek: Generations, Star Trek: First Contact and Star Trek: Nemesis. Other Paramount library films now available include the Godfather trilogy, Airplane!, Terms of Endearment, Patriot Games, and multiple entries in the Friday the 13th franchise.
Keep up with all the ViaomCBS news at TrekMovie.com.