×

CBS Interactive Chief Jim Lanzone: ‘We Have a Tiger by the Tail’ With Streaming Growth

MENLO PARK, Calif. — CBS All Access can’t serve up addressable advertising inventory fast enough for marketers hungry to reach consumers watching premium video online. That was the upbeat outlook shared by CBS Interactive CEO Jim Lanzone during his keynote address on Tuesday at Variety’s Silicon Valleywood presented by PwC.

“There’s not a form of advertising hotter than OTT video,” Lanzone said in a Q&A that kicked off the daylong gathering at Rosewood Sand Hill resort. “It’s premium, it’s addressable. We are sold out basically at all times.”

Lanzone noted that much of the bulk growth in digital advertising is driven by direct response marketers, or what he described as “the bottom of the funnel.” The premium-content approach that CBS Interactive has focused on — from CBS All Access to the ad-supported free services CBSN, CBS Sports HQ and ET Live — is designed to deliver the most valuable inventory from a CPM basis rather than tonnage a la Google and Facebook.

“That’s why building SVOD and AVOD platforms has been such a priority for us,” Lanzone said, noting that some two-thirds of CBS All Access’ estimated 4 million subscribers still take the lower-priced service that has advertising in original series such as “Star Trek: Discovery” and “The Good Fight.” The ad-supported services have become a vital tool in a short time.

“Advertisers want more premium video from us and this is the way to bring it to them,” he said. CBS All Access and the AVODs “work together in a nesting-doll approach.”

Lanzone said the news, sports and entertainment services were launched in response to consumer demand that CBS Interactive was able to glean from analyzing user behavior across all of CBS’ digital footprint. He emphasized that CBS Corp. is well positioned as Disney, WarnerMedia and Apple also move into the streaming arena.

“We’re about to see the space get a lot more crowded,” Lanzone said. “We’ve been able to consistently understand user behavior. And we know we have a tiger by the tail. The consumer wants more content from us.”

Lanzone also stressed CBS Corp.’s bona fides as “pure content company with purity of mission to understand why we’re in this space and how we compete.” He acknowledged that there are likely to be challenging decisions ahead as more outlets move into the streaming aggregation market such as Pluto TV, which was just acquired by Viacom.

“There are a certain number of seats on this rocket ship that is about to take off. There’s a seat on that rocket ship for us,” he said.

Lanzone was sanguine about the state of the digital-native content market, suggesting that CBS Corp. was smart to sit out the investment and acquisition rush of the past few years for such firms as Vice, Buzzfeed, Vox Media and Machinima, which attracted big dollars from Disney, NBCUniversal and others.

“We weathered the new media gold rush that happened in the past five years,” Lanzone said. “Coming from the internet side, we had a different way to view those companies and what they might be worth. As the prices went up, we stayed very conservative on them from an acquisition standpoint. In hindsight those were the right moves for us.”

Variety co-editor-in-chief Andrew Wallenstein pressed Lanzone on the big-picture M&A question hanging over all of CBS Corp. at present, as expectations grow for a reunion of CBS and Viacom in the not-so-distant future. Lanzone would not comment on the prospect for a deal, but he said the streaming platforms CBS Interactive has built are sturdy, wholly owned and have plenty of room to grow.

“It’s easy to plug and play with us,” Lanzone said. “I like that there are a lot of different opportunities out there that will be additive to what we want to do.”

More Digital

  • FaceApp is displayed on an iPhone,

    SAG-AFTRA Warns Members About FaceApp Terms of Use

    SAG-AFTRA is warning its 160,000 members about the “overreaching and invasive” terms of use for the FaceApp mobile application. FaceApp, developed by Russian company Wireless Lab, uses neural network technology to automatically generate transformations of faces in photographs. The app can be used to make users appear older, younger, or change gender. The terms include [...]

  • J. Cole

    Apple Music Launches 'Rap Life' Playlist

    Apple Music announced the launch of “Rap Life,” a new global playlist focusing on contemporary rap artists and culture. It replaces the former “The A-List: Hip-Hop” playlist. Said Ebro Darden, Apple Music’s Global Editorial Head of Hip-Hop and R&B: “We flipped it to dig deeper into into the lifestyle [and to] keep pushing the culture [...]

  • Billie Eilish

    ARRI, Mobile TV Group Back New Venture Revitalizing Streamed Concerts

    A new venture looking to bring a fresh approach to live-streaming concerts has gotten the backing of hardware heavyweights ARRI and Mobile TV Group. Wide+Close is launching with the mandate of shooting music performances with film cameras and cinematographers in order to give the content a more cinematic feel. “We want to take concert filming [...]

  • Fortnite Battle Royale

    How 'Fortnite' Fans Can Earn Loot by Watching YouTube Videos

    Epic Games and YouTube have teamed up with a special offer for “Fortnite” players — giving players of the popular battle-royale game rewards when they watch “Fortnite”-premiered content on the video platform. The catch: You have to watch at least 20 minutes of “Fortnite” special content or live esports broadcasts to receive the loot. Under [...]

  • Roku headquarters

    Roku Plans to Expand to Brazil, Other Countries (EXCLUSIVE)

    Roku plans to expand to multiple new territories in the coming months, Variety has learned. One of the first new markets for the company will likely be Brazil. An international expansion could help Roku grow its customer base, which in turn should lead to growing advertising revenues. Roku executives have been hinting at plans to [...]

  • Google Stadia Pro to Include 1

    Google’s Stadia Game Streaming Service to Include Free Monthly Game

    Google has been busy sharing additional details about its upcoming game streaming service Stadia, clearing up some confusion in the process. Stadia’s pro subscription tier, which will cost $10 per month, won’t be a Netflix-type subscription service. However, subscribers will get free games at the rate of about a title per month. That’s according to [...]

  • Crypt-TV-Facebook

    Facebook Signs Deal With Crypt TV for Slate of Five Horror Series

    Crypt TV, the digital studio founded by Eli Roth and Jack Davis and backed by Jason Blum, expanded its deal with Facebook, inking a content partnership to create a slate of five horror and monster-themed series exclusively for Facebook Watch. For Facebook Watch, it’s one of the first deals for a full slate of content [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content