ViacomCBS says streaming customers grew to almost 30 million
ViacomCBS Inc. said its two streaming services, the newly christened Paramount+ and Showtime, grew to almost 30 million subscribers, up by more than half in the past year.
The company reported the year-end sign-ups, along with fourth-quarter financial results, ahead of an investor event Wednesday to tout its growing online ambitions. Excluding some items, profit in the period rose to $1.04 a share, Viacom CBS said, compared with analysts’ estimates of $1.02, while revenue was little changed at $6.87 billion.
Advertising sales grew 4%, reversing recent declines. Like other broadcasters, ViacomCBS has suffered a loss of TV viewers to streaming services. Those troubles were magnified in 2020 by slumping ad sales because of the coronavirus pandemic, which closed stores and restaurants, and forced marketers to pull back on promotions.
The revenue losses have been softened by increased fees from pay-TV providers since the merger of Viacom and CBS gave the company new heft in negotiations. Fees rose 13% in the quarter, and 7% for the year.
Revenue at the Paramount movie studio slumped just 3%, even with many cinemas closed around the world. The company sold off most of the titles slated for 2020, including “Coming 2 America” to Amazon.com Inc. and “The Trial of the Chicago 7” to Netflix Inc. It also cited catalog sales.
The NFL provided a huge boost to Paramount+, previously known as CBS All Access. Sunday games broadcast on CBS were also available on Paramount+. CBS also aired this year’s Super Bowl, although ad revenue from the early February game will be recorded in the current quarter.
ViacomCBS were unchanged at $65.60 in after-hours trading. The shares have gained 76% this year on investor enthusiasm for the company’s streaming plans.