ViacomCBS International has partnered with the Rakuten Group to launch the Nick Plus streaming service on RakutenTV in Japan. The deal is explained as an example of the U.S. media giant’s flexibility and willingness to engage in partnerships that are tailored to different market needs.
The kids’ streaming service will be available on Rakuten’s video-on-demand platform from April 28. The agreement covers consumer access via mobile, set-top-box/dongle, web and smart TV devices. The partnership also includes the creation of a dedicated Nickelodeon zone on Rakuten Ichiba, Japan’s leading e-commerce platform.
“This long-term agreement with Rakuten connects the world of streaming to the world of consumer products for the first time. The integration of Nick Plus and the Nickelodeon digital storefront into the Rakuten ecosystem will enable us to create an interconnected Nickelodeon experience for consumers and leverage strategic cross-platform promotional opportunities,” said Raffaele Annecchino, president and CEO of ViacomCBS Networks International. He announced the deal on Tuesday, on the first day of the APOS conference, which is being held virtually this year.
“This innovative deal is testament to ViacomCBS’s expertise in developing unique and versatile partnerships and it will allow us to explore additional collaboration opportunities outside of Asia,” Annecchino said.
Nick Plus will carry shows including “SpongeBob SquarePants,” “PAW Patrol,” “Blaze and the Monster Machines,” “Bubble Guppies,” “Dora the Explorer,” “Blue’s Clues & You!,” “Deer Squad,” “The Loud House,” “Game Shakers” and “The Thundermans.”
“Through these new initiatives, families across the country will have even more reasons to engage with our services and enjoy the rich customer experience of the Rakuten ecosystem,” said Koji Ando, Rakuten Group managing executive officer and senior VP of Rakuten’s communications and energy company. The virtual store will allow Japanese audiences to easily purchase products including fashion, stationery and collectibles, featuring characters from Nick franchises.
Following a 2019 merger of CBS Corp. and Viacom, ViacomCBS is the second incarnation of the U.S. media corporation that stretches from the Paramount Pictures movie studio to network television. Its Simon & Schuster book publishing unit is to be sold, pending regulatory approval.
Annecchino said that the reorganized group enjoys strength from: including both free and pay services; from operating globally-known brands such as Paramount, Showtime, CBS, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon; and from having a large production operation in Viacom Studios.
He said that corporate development will focus on streaming, studios and networks, with the addition of real-world partnerships in Asia.
The Pluto TV ad-supported VOD service is currently available in 25 markets and will be rolled out further. Premium SVOD service, Paramount Plus will be launched in Australia later this year, Annecchino said.
The corporation already owns free-to-air channel Network 10 in Australia, which it acquired in 2017. Annecchino said that owning a direct-to-consumer service and a linear channel in the same country enables shows to be optimized and moved between platforms.