Viacom used its second NewFronts appearance to lock in its content plans for Pluto TV, the free, ad-supported streaming service the company bought last month that will be the cornerstone of its streaming strategy.
On Wednesday, the company will add around 15 curated channels—featuring programming from flagship brands like BET, Nickelodeon, MTV and Comedy Central—to Pluto’s existing lineup of 113 live linear channels.
In addition to its Pluto plans, Viacom announced a new slate of originals for Viacom Digital Studios ahead of the company’s NewFronts event today at New York’s PlayStation Theater.
Because Viacom Digital Studios was so new when it made its NewFronts debut last year, its 2018 presentation “was a lot of, ‘Here’s what we’re going to do,’” Viacom Digital Studios president Kelly Day told Adweek. This year’s event, however, is “more solutions-driven.”
That’s because the company now has data to back up its claims. Since Viacom Digital Studios was created a year and a half ago, Viacom brands have seen year-over-year domestic increases in social video views and watch time by 83% and 119%, respectively, with a global average of 4 billion views and more 6 billion minutes watched each month.
“Last year, we were generating about 1.5 billion impressions a month on our digital platforms. This year, we’re up to 3 billion impressions a month,” doubling its digital video offering reach, said Day. “Next year, we are planning on having that grow to 5 billion impressions a month.”
During the NewFronts events, Sean Moran, head of ad solutions for Viacom, will continue his pitch from the annual upfront Presidents Dinners with agencies that he presided over earlier this month. “When you put together our linear offerings, our OTT offerings and Pluto, we’re able to reach over 50% of all 18-34s in the country,” said Moran, adding that Viacom’s reach extends to 80% when adding in its social capabilities via the Viacom Digital Studios and influencer marketing company WhoSay.
That dominance among the advertiser-coveted 18-34 demo is led by new acquisition Pluto TV, which will triple Viacom’s premium, full episode addressable video supply next year. “This is much bigger than people realized when we did it,” CEO Bob Bakish told Adweek in a cover story about Pluto TV earlier this month. “We think it’s a real game changer, not only for our company, but for the industry.”
Viacom, which first detailed its Pluto content strategy for Adweek in that cover story, said it will roll out its new Pluto channels on May 1. The offerings will fall into three categories: co-branded flagship channels, which will be curated versions of Viacom’s networks (BET, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr. and Spike, the latter of which retired as a linear channel last year to make way for the Paramount Network); signature channels, featuring more specific genre programming from each brand (including CMT Westerns, Comedy Central Stand-Up, MTV Dating, MTV Teen, Paramount Movie Channel and Spike Outdoors); and pop-up channels, featuring marathons airings of shows to binge (starting with The Hills, ahead of MTV’s revival The Hills: New Beginnings, which debuts June 24).
Bakish told Adweek that Viacom’s cable networks “will continue to be the exclusive domain of our freshest products,” and that anything streaming on Pluto will be at least 18 months old, adding: “The freshest SpongeBob will continue to be in pay TV, but we will be using our catalog of great IP to bring in cord-nevers.”
In addition to its Pluto TV plans, Viacom unveiled its new Viacom Digital Studios content slate at the NewFronts event, which includes digital extension of several linear franchises on Facebook Watch, YouTube, Snapchat and Twitter.