CFO: Paramount+, Showtime Streaming Merger Justifies Pending Subscription Price Increases

Paramount is set to combine its branded Paramount+ and Showtime Anytime streaming services into a single platform, which will include monthly subscription price increases from $1 to $2 (without ads), according to CFO Naveen Chopra.

Speaking Feb. 28 at the 31st Annual Deutsche Bank Media, Internet and Telecom confab in Palm Beach, Fla., Chopra said the merger and price increase would be a benefit to consumers as well as help Paramount reduce content spending and related direct-to-consumer costs (marketing, content, technology, etc.), upwards of $700 million alone this year across Showtime.

Paramount reported a $1.81 billion loss on revenue of $4.9 billion for its direct-to-consumer streaming operations in 2022.

Paramount CFO Noveen Chopra

“With Showtime content [currently] integrated [on the Paramount+ bundle], we know customers are willing to pay [more] for that,” Chopra said, adding that the bundle has also driven subscriber growth.

“A pretty sizable chunk of customer adds today, so clearly that combination helps drive pricing,” he said. “What that says to us is that the risk in [increased] pricing is less about churn [existing subs not renewing] and more about the top of the funnel: engaging new customers.”

Chopra said the current bundle has proven to be “highly accretive” from a customer engagement and retention perspective. He said he believes the merger would also help reinvigorate the Showtime studio by taking historical content and creating new franchises.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Showtime original shows include “Billions,” “Dexter,” “Yellowjackets” and “Your Honor,” among others.

“From the consumer perspective, there’s a lot at play,” he said.

All of this maneuvering is aimed at transitioning Paramount’s streaming video business from topline growth to bottom line profitability driven in part by average-revenue-per-user (ARPU) and other measures that included last year partnering with Comcast-owned Sky Group for a co-branded (SkyShowtime) streaming platform in Europe. Paramount is also debuting original Paramount+ content across alternative channels for incremental license revenue.

“Not everything has to be exclusive to [Paramount+] streaming,” Chopra said regarding the business’ economic fundamentals.

Paramount has said it expects the streaming business to generate $9 billion in revenue and $6 billion in content spend by 2024. The CFO admitted the former is now challenged by existing macro advertising trends across pay-TV and streaming, but offered no changes to the fiscal outlook.

“We’re always doing things to unlock new efficiencies,” Chopra said, alluding to changes in how Paramount markets content, including levering international platforms rather than purchasing third-party media ads.

Restructuring includes the creation of holdings companies rather than individual ad teams for separate distribution platforms, in addition to ongoing efforts to realign international operations, which has meant transitioning away from separately operating companies.

“We clearly were not getting leverage on a global basis,” Chopra said. “There’s a lot of opportunity there that we’re unlocking.”

That opportunity includes offering tiered subscription pricing in Europe for the first time. Chopra said a lower-priced ad-supported option will be rolled out, in addition to higher priced premium tiers depending on the market. The executive said the move from a single pricing tier to multiple options will help broaden the consumer market.

“Our expectations in most of these markets is that ARPU will actually grow,” Chopra said. “We’re very proud of what we’ve accomplished in the first couple of years [since the launch of Paramount+], but we’re also very focused on turning streaming into a business that has profitability characteristics that we like.”

CEO Bob Bakish Confirms Paramount+, Showtime Merger Coming

Scuttlebutt about a possible merger between subscription streaming VOD services Paramount+ and Showtime in the U.S. has been confirmed, according to a reported staff memo from Paramount Global CEO Bob Bakish.

The pending consolidation will combine Showtime’s linear distribution with streaming under the Paramount+ brand umbrella and be called “Paramount+ with Showtime.” Pricing and launch date have not been disclosed. Showtime is currently available to Paramount+ subs as a discounted $14.99 bundle without ads,$11.99 with ads.

Bob Bakish

Paramount+ also currently offers Showtime content in Europe, and the latter is available in a joint offering with Comcast-owned Sky satellite TV platform, branded Sky Showtime.

Notable Showtime original content includes the “Dexter” franchise, “Your Honor,” “Yellowjackets,” “Billions,” “Homeland, “The Chi and “Fellow Travelers,” among others.

Chris McCarthy will continue to head Showtime’s original content production and linear channel, with Tom Ryan, CEO of Streaming at Paramount Global, handling all over-the-top video matters.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

“This new combined offering demonstrates how we can leverage our entire collection of content to drive deeper connections with consumers and greater value for our distribution partners,” Bakish wrote in the memo. “This change will also drive stronger alignment across our domestic and international Paramount+ offerings, as international Paramount+ already includes Showtime content. And, very importantly, this integration will unlock operational efficiencies and financial benefits across our broader portfolio.”

Chris McCarthy

In a separate memo, McCarthy hinted that the consolidation would result in some Showtime shows not being renewed, including programs reportedly generating less than 10% of the streamer’s viewership. Series include “Three Women,” “American Gigolo” and “Let the Right One In.”

McCarthy plans to hold a Town Hall in Los Angeles the week of Feb. 23rd with Showtime employees to delve further into the details of the merger, which could include layoffs.

“Showtime content appeals to metro-minded viewers who are more culturally diverse with a higher concentration living in cities vs. the population at large,” McCarthy wrote. “These audiences and themes are complementary to the Paramount+ brand, which is much broader, appealing to the entire family and general market audiences across the country.”