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ViacomCBS Will Keep Pluto TV Free According to CEO Bob Bakish

Now that Viacom and CBS have merged, there have been questions about what will change with the streaming services owned by the company. Today, ViacomCBS President and CEO Bob Bakish was interviewed by CNBC’s David Faber on CNBC’s “The Exchange” to talk about the company’s position in the growing world of streaming.

Two questions we’ve gotten lately is whether the services owned by ViacomCBS will be combined and how pricing will be affected by new leadership. Bakish addressed both of those questions early in the interview, starting by noting that Viacom has been focused on free content with Pluto while CBS has been focused on paid subscriptions.

“What we’re in the middle of now, just like everything else ViacomCBS, is putting together one integrated company with one integrated strategy. We will do that in the streaming space, as well. What I can tell you is the strategy will be differentiated. How will it do it? It’ll span free and pay. If you want the widest accessible consumer base, you have to do that.”

Bakish went on to share some subscription numbers that ViacomCBS will be working with as they plan their new strategy for 2020.

“Today, in pay, you’ve got 10 million subs in SVOD in the U.S. In free, you’ve got 20 million MAUs at Pluto. High growth, by the way. That’s part of, we’ve got almost 200 million digital users,” he said.

As far as exact numbers, the company isn’t ready to give out too much information just yet, but it will be coming. When asked whether those signed up with promotional pricing were inflating the numbers and giving an unrealistic glimpse at how much revenue the services might be bringing in, Bakish was quick to deny the claim, calling it “flat out wrong.”

“We don’t disclose revenue yet. As we get into 2020 and we give our guidance for 2020, we’re, of course, going to give annual guidance, revenues, OI, cash flow, et cetera. We’re also going to guide additional metrics. You should expect some additional transparency in the streaming space…”

As the two companies work toward combining their streaming strategies, we’ll be watching to see how Bakish and his team find the balance for offering quality content, providing viewers with the best value for their money, and meeting revenue expectations.

You can watch the full interview from “The Exchange” here.

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