Cbs Viacom Streaming
Credit: CBS

CBS’ recent official merger with Viacom gives the TV staple big influence as it transitions into a smart, diverse streaming business strategy.

Instead of niche marketing and investing only in one particular area of cord-cutting, CBS came out Thursday with the intent to really stand out. ViacomCBS President & CEO Bob Bakish explained the company would straddle paid subscriptions and ad-supported, free content, per a CNBC interview:

What we’re in the middle of now…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.

CNBC (h/t Cord Cutters News)

It’s all a little confusing to sort through who owns what between Viacom and CBS. Although the corporate strategy seems a little divided at the minute, it might be best for the merger’s long-term health.

Staying active amid rapid change

It’d be easy for decision-makers at Viacom and CBS to sort through their differences before proceeding with a more unified streaming strategy. In this day and age, though, they recognize they don’t have that luxury.

One thing is clear thus far: CBS All Access isn’t going to compete with the likes of Netflix, Amazon or even Disney+ at this juncture. There simply isn’t enough content beyond the back catalog of TV shows to be appealing that way.

But that’s what’s smart about their approach. This leads to the second bit of news from Thursday…

Free streaming for local CBS News

Another big development: CBS News announced that a local CBS News affiliate in Minnesota launched a 24/7 free streaming service, per Cord Cutters News.

What’s more: additional local affiliates will enjoy the same services beginning early this coming year. Those markets include Philadelphia initially, and then later Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Denver, Miami, Pittsburgh and Sacramento.

These services will blend local and national news, so it hits all kinds of different consumer needs.

CBS isn’t resting on laurels and its history of greatness on pay TV. Bakish and Co. appear determined to be a big presence in this new era of home entertainment.

How does Pluto TV figure into the equation?

The free streaming TV service is ad-supported and focuses primarily on broadcast television. It’s a great alternative to pay TV and traditional cable subscription plans. But it’s been under Viacom, which deviates from CBS in that it caters content to younger audiences.

Pluto TV could ultimately become the home for these CBS News local streaming affiliates. As of last month, the service claimed to have 20 million users.

Could this also be where CBS All Access is ultimately housed? Then, of course, CBS has excellent TV deals with the NFL and the Southeastern Conference for major college sports, basketball and football.

Now that everything’s all under one umbrella at ViacomCBS, consolidation is much easier. Even though there’s a lot for corporate leadership to sort through in navigating streaming’s future, Viacom and CBS should become major players due to their embracing both AVOD and SVOD.

This could ultimately be a win for consumers — and where streaming eventually goes. Having a catch-all price point that pales in comparison to pay TV deals is what every cord-cutter wants. This is a compelling, multifaceted strategy of spending on original content that could be groundbreaking in the best way.

The more ViacomCBS moves in this direction and embrace their prior parent companies’ differences, it figures to be in great shape once an “integrated strategy” as Bakish puts it, is in place.