Comcast, ViacomCBS discuss forging international streaming pact: report

Comcast and ViacomCBS have reportedly held discussions about combining forces on streaming launches in international markets.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts met with ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish and Chairman Shari Redstone in June about global streaming plans that could involve Paramount+, Peacock and Sky, Comcast’s European pay TV operator.

Both companies have global aspirations for their respective streaming platforms. In May, Bakish said that by the end of 2021, Paramount+ will have launched subscription streaming services led by Paramount+ in 25 markets, with that number expected to reach 45 markets by the end of 2022. At the same time, Pluto TV, the company’s free, ad-supported streaming service, has continued expanding outside the U.S.

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Peacock Premium is free to Comcast Xfinity X1 and Flex subscribers in the U.S. and Roberts suggested his company could employ a similar strategy abroad. During an earnings call in April, Comcast said it’s looking to take advantage of the brand and scale of Sky across its European markets, and potentially strike partnerships with local programmers and distributors in markets where it makes sense.

Reports of a streaming team-up arrive not long after Comcast and ViacomCBS were tied to reports about a potential merger as rivals like Amazon, WarnerMedia and Discovery look to bulk up through acquisitions.

ViacomCBS said it ended the first quarter with 36 million global streaming subscribers after Paramount+ helped drive 6 million additions during the first quarter of 2021.

Comcast said Peacock totaled 42 million as of April and NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said roughly one-third of Peacock’s sign-ups are monthly active users, meaning that about 14 million accounts are either using Peacock regularly or paying for it. But reports have suggested that Peacock still has fewer than 10 million subscribers as of May.