Charter, ViacomCBS teaming on streaming

In yet another sign of video streaming's rising prominence, Charter Communications and ViacomCBS have struck a wide-ranging content carriage deal that will allow Charter to offer ViacomCBS' streaming services to its cable subscribers.

Under the multi-year deal announced Thursday morning, Charter will gain the license to sell the full suite of ViacomCBS-owned OTT video services to the MSO's 30 million Spectrum broadband and pay-TV customers. Specifically, that means Charter will be able to offer such steaming services as Paramount+, Pluto TV, BET and Noggin to Spectrum subs at some future date.

As usual, financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. But, in addition to the new streaming component, the pact will extend Charter's license to offer the ViacomCBS broadcast TV stations and cable networks to Spectrum pay-TV subs.

"We are pleased to have reached a new deal to deliver ViacomCBS’ expansive portfolio of popular brands and premium programming for Spectrum audiences to enjoy, plus greater choice in how they consume our content," said Ray Hopkins, president of US networks distribution for ViacomCBS, in a written statement. "Charter is a valued partner, and we look forward to deepening our long-standing relationship."

The agreement also calls for ViacomCBS and Charter to expand their existing collaboration on addressable media and advanced advertising. "These comprehensive agreements with ViacomCBS recognize the fast-changing pace of the subscription video business and provide us the flexibilities to adapt for the benefit of our customers while also furthering our strategic interests in the advanced advertising realm and aggregated video store concept with the addition of the streaming apps," said Tom Montemagno, executive VP of programming acquisition for Charter, in another written statement.

The Charter-ViacomCBS deal comes about six months after Charter struck a deal with Comcast's NBCUniversal unit to offer a premium version of NBCU's new Peacock service to Spectrum video and broadband subscribers at no extra charge to subs, at least temporarily. It also comes about 15 months after Charter became the first major US cable operator to strike a deal to distribute WarnerMedia's HBO Max service to its customers. And it comes nearly two years after Charter signed a wide-ranging carriage agreement with The Walt Disney Co. that enables the MSO to sell Disney's Hulu, ESPN+ and Disney+ streaming services to its cable subs.

Why this matters

For Charter, the latest carriage pact guarantees that it can continue to carry key programming from ViacomCBS no matter how that programming is initially distributed. It also gives Charter a richer pay-TV package to market to broadband-only customers or those cutting the traditional pay-TV cord.

For ViacomCBS, the pact seals a renewal deal with the second biggest US pay-TV provider while adding an important new distribution layer for its growing suite of streaming services. While ViacomCBS may make less money on any OTT subscriptions sold through Charter, the agreement paves the way to pitch those streaming services to Charter's 16 million video subscribers.

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— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading

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