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Quality Over Quantity: Why We’re So Hot On VCBS

There is a lot about the new TV economy that Wall Streeters don’t seem to quite get, but one piece that’s been somewhat surprising is the tendency to focus on the quantity of programming the various Flixes have rather than the quality.

This is evidenced by the generally sour feeling investors seem to have about ViacomCBS, whose small-ish library is often pointed out as a reason they’re not going to be able to compete with the likes of Disney and Netflix.

The thing is though, people don’t watch lots of shows.

They watch specific shows.

And it is or take that ViacomCBS has many of the shows that people want to watch.

Let’s start with Viacom: there are all the classic MTV shows from the 80s, 90s and 00s, everything from “The Real World” to “Jersey Shore.” And while those shows may not be “Game of Thrones” or “The Sopranos” (though there may be some overlap between “The Sopranos” and “Jersey Shore” lol) they are exactly the sort of lean back comfort food viewing that viewers in their 30s and 40s who grew up with those shows will enjoy for years to come.

And that’s just MTV.

VH1 has all of those “Behind The Music” and “Pop Up Video” shows which are also likely to appeal to the same demographic.

BET has strong audience loyalty and series like 106th and Park that has 14 years worth of episodes for audience to steam.

Comedy Central has everything from “The Daily Show” to “Broad City” to “Chappelle’s Show” and “Key and Peele”—comedy classics that are likely to stand the test of time.

But let’s move on to Nickelodeon which is where the real treasure trove lies.

Nick, which along with the Disney Channel was the first real network aimed at kids and tweens has so, so many shows that viewers will look back on as the comfort food TV of their youth, shows they’ll want to introduce their own children to.

It’s a long list: 

  • “SpongeBob”
  • “RugRats”
  • “Hey Arnold”
  • “iCarly”
  • “Clarissa Explains It All” 
  • “Ren and Stimpy”
  • “Angry Beavers”
  • “Victorious “
  • “Big Time Rush”
  • “Legends of the Hidden Temple”
  • “Dora The Explorer”
  • “Go Diego Go”
  • “Blues Clues” 
  • “Penguins of Madagascar”
  • “Drake and Josh”
  • ”Zoey101”
  • “The Wild Thornberries”
  • “The Amanda Show”
  • “Kenan and Kel”

That’s 19 (!!!) shows just off the top of my head, as the father of kids who watched a lot of Nick growing up. 

I can all but guarantee you that list is reason enough for millions of older Gen Zees and younger Millennials to subscribe to VCBS for the next 40 years.

There’s also CBS, which is addition to a fairly sizable library of its own has a popular original Star Trek series (among other things) on CBS All Access.

And Showtime, which has a range of hits too, everything from “Homeland”, “Patrick Melrose” and “Billions” to “Nurse Jackie”, “Weeds” and “Queer As Folk.” 

So overall quite an impressive line-up of shows people will see and think to themselves, “I’d watch that!” which then causes them to hit the “subscribe” button.

Experience Counts Too

There’s one other thing VCBS has going in its favor: it’s been doing this for a while.

CBS All Access and the Showtime app both launched in 2014. That’s six years of ironing out all the kinks, both content and tech wise, and the latter bit is huge—services that crash frequently are services that lose viewers and TV tech is still far from easy to pull off, everything from seamless ad insertion to look and feel.

But wait, there’s more!

They also have Pluto, the FAST (you didn’t think I was going to write a piece without throwing that one in there, did you?) and Pluto’s been around since 2013 and similarly has ironed out all the tech and content kinks, started running a FAST version of linear channels and has itself embedded into multiple smart TVs and streaming devices. 

So there’s that too, and when you are competing against a range of media companies who are putting up their tech for the first time, six plus years of experience is going to be a massive benefit. 

Not to mention another reason why we think VCBS is so well positioned to be a serious player in the streaming wars. 

Not the winner, mind you, because there will be no winners, a rising tide lifts all boats.

But definitely a serious player and one to watch.

PS: You can watch the TL;DR version in the fourth episode of our epic new “Against The Wall” series.

Alan Wolk explains why we think ViacomCBS is undervalued.