ViacomCBS braces for COVID-19 fiscal impact

The immediate fiscal future looks shaky for the conglom, despite increased viewership. To reach kids, Nickelodeon is prepping a special hosted by Kristen Bell.
March 27, 2020

ViacomCBS has updated its fiscal outlook for the year in a filing to the US Securities and Exchange Commission on March 26, stating it expects the impacts of COVID-19from the postponement of theatrical releases to production delaysto be “material” to the newly merged company’s financial standing.

The “magnitude” of the impacts will depend on the duration and extent of the pandemic, ViacomCBS reported in its filing, in addition to the “impact of federal, state, local and foreign governmental actions and consumer behavior.”

“Due to the evolving and uncertain nature of this situation, we are not able to estimate the full extent of the negative impact on ViacomCBS’ operating results, cash flow and financial position — including advertising and filmed entertainment revenues– particularly over the near to medium term,” the company stated.

As of March 26, it has not drawn from its US$3.5 billion revolving credit facility.

ViacomCBS reports increased viewership across its broadcast and cable properties, and is “utilizing its deep library of content to mitigate in part the impact of those delays.”

The media conglomerate is also working proactively to offset a portion of anticipated revenue losses through “cost-saving initiatives,” though it did not elaborate on what form those measures may take.

It still expects to achieve US$750 million of “full run-rate merger related cost synergies” over the next three years, in addition to garnering around 16 million domestic streaming subscribers in pay and approximately 30 million monthly active users on Pluto TV in 2020.

This statement comes as Nickelodeon tries to capture on an increased linear viewership audience. The kidcaster launched its preschool SVOD on Apple TV in more than 25 territories with a free seven-day trial.

It also launched the new “#KidsTogether” campaign to help children stay healthy and active while they are out of school. As part of the campaign, Nickelodeon is rolling out shot-form digital and linear content featuring the network’s brands teaching kids about social distancing and hand washing.

Taking that initiative even further, today Nickelodeon announced it’s premiering a new hour-long special on March 30 dubbed #KidsTogether: The Nickelodeon Town Hall. Hosted by Kristen Bell (pictured), the TV event will include a performance by Alicia Keys and appearances by Charli D’Amelio, Josh Gad, Kel Mitchell, Kenan Thompson and Ciara Wilson. The special will address kids’ questions and concerns with tips from medical experts including Dr. Nadine Burke Harris (California Surgeon General) and Dr. Vivek H. Murthy (former US Surgeon General).

It will be simulcast across Nickelodeon, TeenNick and Nicktoons, as well as be made available on Nick On Demand, Nickelodeon YouTube, the Nick App and the Nick Pluto TV channel following the on-air premiere. It will also premiere on Nick’s international channels.

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