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ViacomCBS bets big on streaming--Paramount+ set to launch on March 4

Video Transcript

BRIAN SOZZI: Look, the market likes what you guys had to say on your investor day/earnings call yesterday. Stocks up about 2%. So Paramount Plus, how many subscribers do you think you can sign up this year?

NAVEEN CHOPRA: Hey, Brian, it's great to be here. Thanks for having us. We're really excited about what we got to share yesterday in terms of Paramount Plus and the great content portfolio that will be a part of it, including some of our well-known franchises, tons of new originals, and a phenomenal movie slate to go along with it.

We also talked about some of our long-term ambitions. The fact that we set a goal of getting between 65 and 75 million subscribers by 2024. We finished 2020 with 30 million subscribers around the world. So we're off to a great start and obviously a lot of growth ahead of us for it.

MYLES UDLAND: Hey, Naveen, it's Myles here. We have the graphic here on the screen of all the competitors in the space. And you guys mentioned that the average household now, I think, has four or five maybe streaming services. So certainly the momentum is heading that way.

I'm curious as a management team, how you guys thought about the challenge of communicating this to the street, given that it's a new, I guess, a complementary direction we might say for the business. And there's been some company-- some of your peers have had a lot of success outlining to investors how they're going to plot through this course. I'm just curious your guy's thought process ahead of yesterday's big announcement.

NAVEEN CHOPRA: Well, at the end of the day, we're very conscious of one truism, which is that it's all about the content. And we knew that if we could give people a sense of the breadth, the diversity, the quality of the content that we could put on a streaming service, that they would take notice of it.

And I think the feedback today since the event has been overwhelmingly positive-- whatever speculation was out there about whether we'd be able to come to market with something big and significant, I think, has been put to rest.

And so that was really our focus for investors. And then also, giving them a sense of where we thought this would all go in the long term. And, you know, as I said, we're very bullish about what we think we can achieve both on the subscriber side of the business. I mentioned the 65 to 75.

But also, on the advertising supported parts of what we do, we think that's an incredibly exciting opportunity. It's one we've got a ton of momentum. And it's going to be a big part of our story going forward as well.

JULIE HYMAN: It's Julie here. It's good to see you. So when you talk about the momentum and the advertising mix, as well, you guys are fairly unique in that you have an ad supported model and a nonad supported model, advertising still accounts for the bulk of your revenue bigger than the streaming revenue.

How are you thinking about that going forward? What's the mix going to look like? We're sort of encouraged to think about media companies like yours as an ecosystem where everything feeds on itself. But you still have to think about the mix. What's going to come from streaming. What's going to come from advertising. So how are you thinking about that going out?

NAVEEN CHOPRA: Well, what most excites us about the opportunity is the fact that we have a dual revenue stream. So one of the things that is key to our strategy-- and Paramount Plus as an example-- is the fact there's two tiers of the service.

People can pay $4.99. And they can get an ad-supported version of Paramount Plus. Or they can buy a premium version. And that allows us to generate both subscription fees and advertising revenue, which we think is a very powerful model.

Exactly what that mix ends up looking like over time I think will vary a bit from market to market. Obviously there are some markets that are more robust from an advertising perspective and others less so. So it will vary, but it's really that combination that we're excited about because over time, we think that the advertising piece of this on a per subscriber basis can be very material.

BRIAN SOZZI: I mean, that sure sounds like a lot of growth. 65 million to 75 million DTCD direct to consumer subs potentially by 2024. Should you hit that, what happens to the core linear TV business? Do you think that type of growth spurs more cord cutting?

NAVEEN CHOPRA: Well, there's no doubt that consumer behavior is changing, Brian. Obviously that's not news to anyone who's followed the media industry. But there are two things that we think are very important to note.

Number one, the scale of what we can achieve in the streaming universe goes well beyond what we've been able to do in the traditional world when you think about the number of consumers you can address, the kinds of limitless distribution that you can achieve-- the ability to have a truly global presence. Those are all things that we think are very attractive about streaming.

Also, we believe that over time, the transition from traditional to streaming can be accretive for us because, again, that combination of subscription fees and advertising-- while it existed in the linear world, as well, the value of the advertising real estate on a digital platform goes well beyond what anyone has been able to do in the linear world. So as we grow our subscriber base and our ad-supported users in digital, we think the per sub economics are very attractive.

MYLES UDLAND: And Naveen, as you guys undergo this transformation of where you're reaching your customers, I'm curious. Have you've thought about sports rights deals? And obviously a big one with the NFL coming up next year and just where that fits in to the equation. You know, obviously, locked up the PGA Tour last year, I think, for seven or eight years. So that brand is certainly solid there. But just curious how that fits into what's a very robust sports portfolio.

NAVEEN CHOPRA: Yeah, well, we described Paramount Plus-- excuse me-- Paramount Plus as live sports, breaking news, an amount of entertainment. So clearly, sports is a key part of our strategy. We've seen based on what we've done historically with all access.

The sports can be very powerful in both streaming services and obviously at our traditional linear business. We've seen it with the NFL. We've seen it with other sports like UEFA which we added to all access last year. So we're big fans. We think it's one of the things that makes Paramount Plus distinctive because sports have not been a big part of a lot of existing streaming services.

So we think that'll be additive to consumers. And when we build our long-term model for the business, we do incorporate the fact that we know we're going to have to invest in sports. But we think the ROI on that is very compelling.

BRIAN SOZZI: Naveen, you guys have now set the gold standard for earnings calls. I've never heard one like the one you had last night. James Corden, Stephen Colbert-- really, I think a lot of other companies in corporate America need to take a page off of that and start bringing on sports-- sports people and stars onto their earnings calls, because otherwise, they're really boring.

NAVEEN CHOPRA: Well, a very smart person once said content is king. And that applies to everything we do. So we're always happy to embrace it.