Mar 4, 2021 - Economy

Paramount+ launches amid streaming bonanza

Correction: The chart's legend was fixed to show the darker yellow represents streaming services without ads (not with ads); Data: Axios Research; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Paramount+, the new subscription service from ViacomCBS, launched Thursday, further crowding the competitive streaming battlefield. It's the last remaining service to launch from a big entertainment company for the foreseeable future.

Why it matters: Data shows that most consumers are likely to pay for at most 3-4 services per month. Not every streamer will emerge a winner.

Catch up quick: "Paramount+," "Disney+," "Discovery+," NBCUniversal's "Peacock," AT&T's "HBO Max," and "AppleTV" have all launched in the past year and a half, in an effort to catch up to Netflix's dominance.

  • Disney's "Hulu" got a head start, launching more than a decade ago, and is now hitting its stride. Other specialized services — like Starz and Showtime operate as standalone properties — for now, at least.

Details: Paramount+ launches in the U.S. and Latin America on Thursday for $9.99 monthly without ads. Come this summer, an ad-supported tier will be available for $4.99 per month.

  • The service is essentially a rebranded version of CBS All Access — which includes live sports, news and entertainment — combined with thousands of shows and movies from Viacom's Paramount Pictures and its cable networks, like MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, BET and Paramount Network.
  • Paremount+ will boast 36 new original series, including a few classic reboots and spinoffs, like a refreshed “Frasier” series starring Kelsey Grammer, new "Rutgrats" and "iCarly" shows for kids, and a bunch of planned "Avatar" spinoffs.
  • Some of Paramount's biggest blockbusters, including "Mission: Impossible 7” and “A Quiet Place Part II,” will appear on the service after just 45 days of airing in theaters. Others will hit the service even sooner.

Be smart: The crown jewel of the Paramount+ portfolio is live sports — its strongest differentiator among other entertainment streaming platforms out there.

  • The service will include the NFL, new exclusive international soccer games and more. In a presentation to investors last week, CBS Entertainment Group CEO George Cheeks said football was the top driver of new subscriptions to CBS All Access, followed by European soccer.

Yes, but: Paramount+ launches with a similar challenge to many of its competitors: Some of its best content is licensed to other streamers.

  • This includes one of Paramount Networks' top hits, Yellowstone, which the company has licensed exclusively to NBCUniversal's "Peacock" service.

Be smart: Most streaming executives concede that at this point, the goal is to become a viable third or fourth option next to Netflix and Disney+, which are ahead on the streaming battlefield.

  • In a little over a year, Disney+ has accrued about 95 million subscribers, nearly half the number of subscribers Netflix has accumulated over the past decade.
  • According to the latest Video Entertainment Study from research firm Magid, the average number of services a consumer is willing to subscribe to is 4, and they are willing to pay on average $40 a month.
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