Paramount Global, formerly ViacomCBS, reported an overall total of 62.4 million global subscribers across its suite of streaming services, with Paramount+ alone adding 6.8 million total subscribers in the first quarter of 2022, to reach 39.6 million in total.
Paramount CEO Bob Bakish has stated previously that the company is aiming to hit 100 million subscribers to Paramount+ by 2024. During this earnings, he also touted during the earnings call that total content consumption had grown to 14 billion hours across its owned and operated platforms.
While Paramount+ is the flagship subscription offering and future of the business, the company currently streams content across subscription services like Showtime, BET+, and Noggin. (Paramount's free ad-supported service Pluto TV is not included in the 62.4 million total subscribers.) The other subscription services didn't do so well, however.
In the earnings report, the company admits that subscribers declined for the other DTC (direct-to-consumer) services under the Paramount umbrella (Showtime, BET+, and Noggin), mainly due to the “timing of new programming,” it said.
Pluto TV, meanwhile, is growing. The service had 68 million active global monthly users in the first quarter, up from 64 million during Q4 2021. This, in part, is due to the distribution deal with T-Mobile via T-Mobile Tuesdays. Paramount also said that total global viewing hours for Pluto rose by double digits year-over-year. The free ad-supported streaming service launched over 102 new channels internationally in the quarter for a total of 1,000+ global channels.
Bakish said in a statement,
“The first quarter once again demonstrated the power and potential of Paramount’s unique assets and the company’s continued momentum. Our differentiated playbook – including a broad content lineup, a streaming business model that spans ad-supported and subscription, and a global portfolio that links streaming with theatrical and television – drove strength across our entire ecosystem, including DTC revenue growth of 82% and 6.8 million Paramount+ subscriber additions. Our strategy is working, and our execution is strong, as we remain focused on delivering a great experience for consumers and a compelling financial model to our shareholders.”
The conglomerate makes it clear that it has been focusing on growing its streaming business. Specifically, with content, Paramount+ will continue to expand its content library, especially with IP franchises. This includes a third "Sonic" film (which will appear in theaters first) and a "Sonic" original series. Paramount also announced that it is working with the "Jackass Forever" creators to continue the partnership with a new series.
Paramount saw popularity rise with titles like "Yellowstone" spinoff "1883," "Star Trek Picard," and "The Envoys," which Bakish considers as the best performing Spanish-language scripted series yet, with the strongest acquisition across all original international titles to debut on Paramount+ so far.
Despite the growth in Q1, the company’s first-quarter total represents a slowdown in growth over their massive Q4 2021. This time around, instead of CBS getting rights to the Super Bowl, the 2022 event was broadcast on NBC, which is owned by rival Comcast. Thus, according to the financial report, total sales fell 1% to $7.33 billion in the first fiscal quarter.
In addition, the company reported that its net profit declined about 52% to $433 million from $911 million last year due to higher operating costs as it ramped up investment in its streaming platform.
Paramount’s stock also fell—decreasing by over 4% in pre-market trading.
The global expansion continues as Paramount+ adds India, the U.K., and South Korea to its plans
The company announced today that the streaming service will become available in India in 2023. This June, Paramount+ will launch in the U.K. and South Korea.
The entry of Paramount+ in South Korea will come under a strategic partnership with Korean entertainment powerhouse CJ ENM that was declared in December. The streamer will debut as an exclusive bundle with TVING, CJ ENM’s streaming service, marking the first market launch for Paramount+ in Asia.
As for India, Paramount+ will launch in partnership with Viacom 18, Bakish said during today’s earnings call.
Paramount+ has already launched in 25 markets across Latin America, Canada, the Nordics, and Australia.
Last August, Paramount Global struck a deal with Sky, Comcast’s European pay-TV and streaming service, to launch Paramount+ on Sky platforms in the U.K., Ireland, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, and Austria this year. Bakish stated that Sky Showtime will bring "a rich offering of IP from Paramount and NBC Universal to territories encompassing 90 million homes, primarily in Eastern Europe, by the end of the year."
Overall, the company's combined SVOD (subscription video-on-demand) services will be available in more than 60 markets with more than 60 partners.
Showtime will remain a minor player in the streaming strategy
Paramount Global boasted about its unique structure as a differentiator amongst other streamers. Not only does it own domestic networks but also TV channels around the world. It believes that this mix of diversified content appeals to consumers looking for a streamer that has something for everyone.
While Paramount+ is the star of the show, Showtime, on the other hand, isn’t doing much for the company. According to Bakish, the company’s other DTC services declined about 500,000 this quarter yet added 5 million subs last year.
Because of this decline, many wonder why it still exists in the first place. Bakish said in today’s call that Showtime is “…not inconsequential to the success and momentum of our streaming business.” He describes the streamer as an “additive” with more specific content.
Paramount+ is considered a broader platform, therefore, the decision to move “Halo” from Showtime over to Paramount+ made more sense, Bakish explained. On the contrary, “The Man Who Fell to Earth” was removed from Paramount+ and put on Showtime because it was a “better place for that show,” he said.
Bakish added,”…serving super fans with a super broad offering but still offering some ala carte options. We think is the right strategy..”
The company announced last quarter that beginning this summer, Showtime programming will be available inside Paramount+ in order for Showtime subscribers to access the premium content via the company’s flagship streamer. However, unlike the merging of HBO Max and discovery+, Paramount is set on keeping its two streamers as separate entities.
It is unknown how this change will impact subscriber totals, but if Paramount follows the lead of many of its rivals and offers a discounted bundle, it could incentivize customers to add one more streamer to their already overflowing list. Currently, the two services can be bundled for $11.99 a month.