Bob Bakish Defends Paramount+ Shortened Theatrical Window

Notable to the Feb. 24 Paramount+ media presentation was the fact the platform would stream first-run Paramount Pictures theatrical releases as early as 30 days after their box office debut. The move mirrors similar efforts at other studios, notably by Universal Pictures, to release its movies into consumer homes as early as 17 days after their theatrical bow depending on ticket sales.

Speaking March 2 on the virtual Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecommunications Conference, ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish supported the decision to make movies available early on the Paramount+ streaming service.

He said the fact CBS All Access is assuming the Paramount+ moniker on March 4 underscores the importance of feature films and the studio brand in the streaming platform market. To drive that home, Paramount+ will have access to select tentpole titles 30 days to 45 days after their box office debut — beginning with The Quiet Place Part II. Other movies streaming early on the SVOD platform include Mission: Impossible 7 and Paw Patrol.

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Paramount+ is launching priced at $9.99 monthly with no ads except on CBS TV live programming. An ad-supported $5.99 option will reduce to $4.99 in June. Expansion of the platform internationally will include Showtime OTT, but not CBS News or live sports.

“I believe that is a sustainable offering,” Bakish said, alluding to exhibitor concerns an abbreviated theatrical window would undermine the industry. “Some of these other film moves that have been made, it’s not clear that they’re sustainable.”

Bakish said industry data suggests most movies’ box office withers after 30 days, if not sooner. He said Paramount boss Jim Gianopulos held discussions with theater operators and talent before making the decision to shorten the window.

“This move puts the titles in the theaters so people that want to get a big-screen experience can do that … with moving 45 days later to an in-house streaming service works for constituents and certainly for us,” he said. “We believe it’s the right model for the future, and as we implement it, the facts will prove that out.”

In addition, the SVOD platform’s new distribution agreement with MGM-owned Epix, affords Paramount+ access to 2,500 third-party movies Bakish characterized as very high quality, beginning June 4. The SVOD service will also have access to Epix pay-one product and originals.

“It’s a killer offering for film lovers,” he said. “We believe streaming is a global opportunity. [Paramount+] is a differentiated product. It’s not a replica of anything else out there. It is a tremendous offering.”

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