Paramount+ sets price for ad-free 'premium,' ad-supported 'base' tiersParamount+ sets price for ad-free 'premium,' ad-supported 'base' tiers
Paramount+'s ad-free 'premium' service, to launch March 4, will cost $9.99 per month. Paramount+'s 'base' offering, coming in June, will fetch $4.99 per month.
February 24, 2021
Paramount+, the super-sized streaming service from ViacomCBS, will take a two-pronged approach to pricing with an ad-free "premium" tier along with a cheaper, ad-supported "base" offering.
ViacomCBS said the "premium" form of Paramount+, set to launch March 4, will cost $9.99 per month. The "base" tier of Paramount+, to launch sometime in June, will have advertising and cost $4.99 per month.
By comparison, CBS All Access currently costs $5.99 per month with ads, and $9.99 without ads. So, the only initial price change is for the base version of Paramount+ – $1 less than what the ad-supported version of CBS All Access goes for today.
ViacomCBS is forecasting 65 million to 75 million subs globally for Paramount+ by 2024, expecting total streaming revenues from all OTT services to pull in about $7 billion by then.
As the general content slate goes, the premium version of Paramount+ will include more live sports, access to CBS local stations and the live CBS national feed.
Figure 1: Click here for a larger version of this image.
ViacomCBS reasoned that it will have more flexibility about bundling and distribution deals by keeping local CBS channels out of the base tier.
Paramount+ will debut with 30,000 TV shows and about 2,500 movies, along with plans to introduce 36 original series in 2021 that include a mix of some reboots, prequels and remakes. News and live sports will also factor in heavily alongside general entertainment fare. Following a launch in the US and Canada on March 4, Paramount+ will debut in the Nordics on March 25 and in Australia in mid-2021.
Some examples of the original fare on tap include Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, a series about the maiden voyages of the Starship Enterprise under Captain Christopher Pike, and Star Trek: Prodigy, an animated show for children. Also on slate is a prequel/spinoff series for Yellowstone currently titled 6666 and a revival of Frasier. Halo, a show based on the computer game, is billed as a "defining show" for the new streaming service.
ViacomCBS will also offer a selection of new Paramount movies on the Paramount+ streaming service within 30 to 45 days of their theatrical release. While that does narrow the distribution window, it's not anywhere near the simultaneous home/theatrical window WarnerMedia is using for its 2021 movie slate.
The Paramount+ reveal was part of a multi-hour event that outlined ViacomCBS's broader streaming strategy/vision. While Paramount+ falls into the super pay category, Showtime will continue to represent the premium category, and Pluto TV will continue to focus on free, ad-supported streaming channels that feature dozens of channels and a vehicle to promote fare on Paramount+ and Showtime.
Tom Ryan, president and CEO of streaming at ViacomCBS, said Pluto TV will serve as part of a "super funnel" that leads viewers to ViacomCBS's pay and premium subscription services. Pluto TV recently launched Showtime Selects, a free channel featuring Showtime programming, and it is expected to launch a similar channel for Paramount+.
Despite its amped up streaming play, ViacomCBS expects to stay in the traditional linear TV market for the foreseeable future.
Being all-in on linear or all-in on streaming is a "false choice," Shari Redstone, chair of ViacomCBS, said. "We're about both linear and streaming … We will live in this hybrid environment for a while."
Still, some analysts wonder if the focus on Paramount+, and packing a bunch of new premium content into the streaming service, will create friction when ViacomCBS tries to strike new deals with pay-TV providers. Notably, Comcast has already integrated CBS All Access (and soon, Paramount+) on X1, its pay-TV platform, as well as Flex, Comcast's streaming service for broadband-only customers.
Imagine you're an MVPD (cable/satellite) who pays a lot of money for broadcast/cable network programming or a TV station affiliate group that pays a lot for content on linear TV -- WHAT are you thinking as every single legacy media company puts all their best content on streaming pic.twitter.com/AoCXtasPDe— Rich Greenfield, LightShed (@RichLightShed) February 24, 2021
ViacomCBS announced Q4 results in tandem with the streaming strategy dog and pony show. The company's global streaming sub base ended 2020 with 30 million, up 56% year-over-year, and it saw ad revenues more than double in the quarter.
Pluto TV's base of global monthly active users (MAUs) hit 43 million, up 80% year-over-year, while its domestic MAUs rose 34%, to 30.1 million.
ViacomCBS's global streaming and digital revenues rose 71%, to $888 million, driven by 74% growth in streaming subscription revenues and 69% in streaming ad revenue growth.
— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading
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