CNBC Tries To Up Video Subs, Seeks EU Syndication

Financial news channel CNBC is to target countries including Russia in a new effort to drive subscriptions for its premium CNBC Plus web video offering. The 15-month-old package offers streams of CNBC US, Europe and Asia TV channels plus archived video interviews for $9.99 per month or $99 per year, but so far has only a modest 15,000 subscribers.

“Countries that don’t have fantastic digital distribution, like Russia, that would be a good place to promote CNBC Plus as an online television subscription product,” CNBC Europe business development director Martin Kay told me. Promotion outlets could include Russian portals and investment magazines, though target countries have not yet been settled on.

Launched as part of a 2006 revamp, CNBC Plus isn’t pulling big numbers but will resist the urge to go free and ad-supported “for now” – “but it’s something we will keep an eye on”. “There’s certainly more growth in this product than the 15,000 that we have. Ten dollars a month is more than you would typically pay for online video so it’s not going to have the level of subscribers that free services have … but it is a very valuable product and it costs quite a bit of money to stream video.”

CNBC is also looking at adding to its recent video syndication deals with Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) Finance and New York Times (NYSE: NYT) by striking its first specifically European publisher partnerships: “There are discussions we’re having with all of the usual suspects.” The channel is also in the process of trying to get carriage for its text news on European mobile operator portals.