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Viacom CEO: We will bring a 'different approach' to compete in streaming

Key Points
  • "We're bringing a different approach to the marketplace. One that combines free and paid" in the quest to compete in streaming, soon-to-be ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish tells CNBC's Jim Cramer.
  • "We already have, particularly on a ViacomCBS basis, a nice bouquet of paid products. We'll use those on an integrated basis, and you'll see us prosper in that space, as well," he says in "Mad Money" interview.
  • "We're playing all segments, and I think that's what makes us different. That gives us a better, more predictable path to growth and a better ability to manage risk," he says.
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Viacom CEO: Will compete in streaming with a 'different approach'

Viacom will embark on a unique path in the video streaming market once the merger with CBS is finalized next month, CEO Bob Bakish told CNBC's Jim Cramer on Thursday.

"We're bringing a different approach to the marketplace. One that combines free and paid," said Bakish, who is set to head the ViacomCBS combined entity. "We're the leader today in free. We already have, particularly on a Viacom-CBS basis, a nice bouquet of paid products. We'll use those on an integrated basis, and you'll see us prosper in that space, as well."

In a world where consumers are migrating from traditional cable packages to online streaming platforms, ViacomCBS will take on a multichannel strategy to serve "the widest accessible market," he explained in a "Mad Money" interview.

Viacom's multimedia business encompasses the film and television segments. Nickelodeon, MTV, BET and Comedy Central are among its network assets carried on cable, while the centenarian Paramount Pictures houses its production divisions. The merger will reunite Viacom with broadcast network CBS, after the two split nearly 14 years ago, to enhance its direct-to-consumer offerings.

ViacomCBS will continue to focus its efforts on the legacy networks while expanding its digital presence, which will come through running its own streaming platforms such as free Pluto TV and producing content via partnerships with Netflix, Disney+, Apple TV+ and others. Disney announced 10 million customers signed up for its streaming program just one day into its launch earlier this week.

Still, Bakish is convinced that there is an audience to serve in the bundle category, even as most younger consumers prefer unbundled entertainment. The company will also distribute parts of its own content library, which includes tens of thousands of television and film titles.

Some of CBS' subscription and ad-supported offerings include CBS All Access and Showtime.

"The majority, significant majority, of homes in the U.S. still get television, so of course we're feeding that. At the same time, we're making original product through our studio business for our — for the streaming client," he said. "We're playing all segments, and I think that's what makes us different. That gives us a better, more predictable path to growth and a better ability to manage risk."

Bakish, who heads Viacom, will become CEO once the merger finalizes in December. CBS CEO Joe Ianiello will head the CBS arm of the business. Viacom and CBS will consolidate their domestic advertising, distribution and global product licensing arms, Bakish said.

In its September quarter, Viacom topped profit estimates and domestic advertising revenue from the three-month period the year prior. Domestic advertising revenue grew for the first time in six years, coming in at 6% for the quarter and 1% for the full fiscal year.

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Viacom CEO: We will bring a 'different approach' to compete in streaming

Disclosure: Cramer's charitable trust owns shares of Walt Disney, Viacom and Apple.

Correction: This article has been updated to clarify that Bob Bakish is the CEO of Viacom. 

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