ViacomCBS Inc.

is launching a 13-week marketing campaign for its upcoming Paramount+ streaming service, with ads during the AFC National Football League championship game on Sunday, followed by ads during the Super Bowl, Grammy Awards, Masters and March Madness.

But the media giant, formed in 2019 by the merger of Viacom and CBS, faces a challenge as a consumer brand in an increasingly competitive and punishing television market.

The streaming wars have resulted in a rush of new film and television productions and billions of dollars in content. Marketing budgets are also increasing as media competitors try to increase consumer awareness of new services in a landscape dominated by

Netflix Inc,

Amazon.com Inc. and

Walt Disney Co.

Disney+ is growing fast.

Paramount+, named after ViacomCBS’s famous movie studio, launches in the United States on the 4th. Mars. It will be an expanded and renamed version of the existing CBS All Access streaming service, start-up services starting from scratch. ViacomCBS seeks to differentiate Paramount+ by promoting content including live sports, news, movies and TV shows.

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ViacomCBS will also benefit from a key advantage that media giants have over their technology rivals: Television and digital empires have advertising inventory, celebrity talent and intellectual property at their fingertips.

For example, the AFC Championship and Super Bowl will be broadcast on CBS, ViacomCBS’s flagship network. A number of announcements and bookings in the game will feature talents and characters from the ViacomCBS portfolio, such as the host of Late Night on CBS.

James Corden

and Dora the Nickelodeon Explorer, on a trip to Paramount Mountain.

The expanded campaign will air more than 6,000 spots on the company’s television networks, including MTV, BET, CMT and Comedy Central. The campaign will use advertising inventory set aside for so-called domestic advertising, rather than commercial advertising time sold to other advertisers, said

Josh Lyne,

Executive Vice President and General Manager of the ViacomCBS brand.

The significant television efforts will be complemented by advertising on ViacomCBS’ digital platforms, such as the free streaming service Pluto TV and social channels.

One of ViacomCBS’s top priorities after the merger was to create a company-wide marketing system that leveraged a comprehensive asset portfolio, Lyne said. This included creating a team of 17 senior marketing executives who oversee a committee of 65, including media planners and social media staff, who meet regularly.

We are in the process of developing our business model and refining how we can do this, Line said.

Operating proprietary assets is a familiar model for streaming services from media conglomerates trying to take on companies like Netflix, which just passed the 200 million subscriber mark.

Comcast company

NBCUniversal, for example, plans to spend more than twice as much to promote its Peacock service on its own channels and platforms as it did last year outside its properties. Disney+ ads and promotional graphics are regularly shown on ABC and ESPN television channels.

All television networks do, and they have that option that Netflix doesn’t, he said.

Ross Benes,

Senior analyst at the market research firm eMarketer. They will always spend money elsewhere, but they have so much IP (intellectual property) between Viacom and CBS that they can get better marketing support from it than if they spent $200 million on the other channels.

ViacomCBS stated that it will also advertise properties it does not own, including print, digital, streaming and out-of-home media.

ViacomCBS officials declined to say how much the company plans to spend on marketing Paramount+ this year, but stated that the cost will be on par with its competitors. Media giants, including Comcast and

AT&T Inc.

have budgeted hundreds of millions of dollars to promote their streaming services by 2020. Netflix, on the other hand, spent more than $2.2 billion on marketing last year.

According to the company, ViacomCBS had 17.9 million national subscribers to its pay streaming services, including CBS All Access and Showtime, at the end of the third quarter of last year, up 72% from the previous year. Subscribers were about evenly split between CBS All Access and Showtime, according to a knowledgeable person.

By December 2020, Disney+’s subscriber base had grown to 86.8 million after launching in November 2019, but several new streaming services, including WarnerMedia’s Peacock, HBO Max and Discovery Inc.’s Discovery+ have since entered the fray for consumers’ time and money.

ViacomCBS debuted on Peacock and Discovery+, Benes said. I don’t see them taking off as fast as Disney+, but even the fourth most successful streaming service would still represent a lot of viewers and subscribers.

ViacomCBS’ experience in creating CBS All Access, Showtime and other subscription services underscores the company’s expertise in attracting new subscribers and retaining existing ones, said Domenic DiMeglio, Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Marketing Officer of Paramount+.

They are selling and acquiring subscribers day by day, he said.

Email Sahil Patel at [email protected]

Copyright ©2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All rights reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

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