Showtime Linear to Rebrand as Paramount+ With Showtime Jan. 8, Include Some of Streamer’s Originals

Showtime linear will be rebranded Paramount+ with Showtime on Jan. 8 and will feature new Showtime titles and select Paramount+ original series.

The move aligns the brand with the Paramount+ with Showtime plan, a cornerstone integration for the streaming service, making this the first of its kind multiplatform brand that integrates streaming and linear content, according to Paramount+.

As part of the rebrand, Showtime subscribers Jan. 8 will have access to new Paramount+ original series “Sexy Beast,”the upcoming second season of “Halo” as well as other Paramount+ content, including season one of “Halo,” seasons one and two of Taylor Sheridan’s “Mayor of Kingstown,” seasons one through four of “Star Trek: Discovery,” and season one of “Wolf Pack.”

Showtime subscribers will also have access to new Showtime original series “A Gentleman in Moscow,” the George Clooney executive-produced “The Department” and “The Woman in the Wall,” as well as the Showtime titles “Fellow Travelers,” “The Chi,” “The Curse,” “Yellowjackets” and “Your Honor,” among others.

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Starting Dec. 11, a launch campaign, announcing the Paramount+ with Showtime rebrand, will air on Showtime owned and operated linear channels.

 

‘Billions’ Final Season Heading to DVD Jan. 16

Paramount Home Entertainment will release the seventh and final season of the Showtime drama “Billions” on DVD Jan. 16. A Blu-ray Disc edition of Billions: The Final Season also will be available on a manufacture-on-demand basis.

In the seventh season, the personal war of U.S. attorney Chuck Rhodes (Paul Giamatti) against venture capitalist Michael Prince (Corey Stoll) heats up when the billionaire decides to run for president. But the greatest threat to Prince’s ambition’s may be the re-emergence of his old rival Bobby Axelrod (Damien Lewis, the show’s star for seasons one through five).

The cast also includes Jeffrey DeMunn, Asia Kate Dillion, Maggie Siff, David Costabile, Dola Rashad, Kelly AuCoin, Daniel Breaker and Toney Goins. Special guest stars playing themselves include Mark Cuban, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Al Roker.

Billions: The Final Season will also offer the featurettes “Billions: Rewind” and “Billions: Notes on a Scene” as extras.

CEO Bakish Eyeing Price Hike for Paramount+ With Showtime

When the hybrid streaming service Paramount+ with Showtime launched on June 27, it included a 20% monthly price hike to $11.99 from $9.99.  Now, that price point is set to increase again, possibly as early as 2024, according to Bob Bakish, CEO of Paramount Global.

Speaking Sept. 6 at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia & Technology Conference Conference in San Francisco, Bakish said the initial price increase saw little subscriber churn, suggesting a consumer market willing to spend more to stream premium Paramount content, including box office hits.

Paid subscribers is the quickest way to achieving operating income in the direct-to-consumer market. Paramount+  added 700,000 subscribers in the most-recent fiscal quarter, to end the period with 61 million. Bakish thinks the platform can add more subs paying a higher fee, helping the company achieve a 20% increase in ARPU (average revenue per user) in 2024.

“We’re early days … about a month of actual data …[but]… our plan is to raise the price again. We have pricing power in the marketplace. This isn’t our only price increase,” Bakish said. “Whether we do that in ’25, or we do that in ’24, we’ll see. We believe we have a lot of room to run there.”

To help grow subscriptions, Bakish said European launches of Paramount+ in the United Kingdoma and France were done in cooperation with existing distributors, which resulted in lower subscriber acquisition costs. In France, Paramount+ worked with Canal+ to help facilitate better consumer awareness and traction.

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Indeed, the rollout of Paramount+ with existing platforms in the United Kingdom and France helped reduce the need for as much local marketing, content spending and platform spending, according to Bakish, who said the strategy also drives a mutually beneficial relationship with a local streaming player.

“We learned that we were right on the value of partnerships, and what we’ve probably also learned is that we have the opportunity to lean more in that direction,” he said. “There’s more road to run there.”

Season Two of ‘Yellowjackets’ Available on Digital July 3 and on DVD Oct. 10

Season two of the 10-time Emmy nominated series “Yellowjackets” arrives on digital July 3 and on DVD Oct. 10 from Paramount Home Entertainment.

The DVD features all nine episodes of the second season, plus exclusive bonus content.
 
In season two, the Yellowjackets barely made it through summer in the woods, but now as winter begins to bite, we’ll see if hunger and desperation turn into full-on psychosis. While there may or may not be a dark and powerful force inhabiting the wilderness, their survival could depend upon what they choose to believe. Meanwhile, 25 years later, each survivor must ask themselves: Is the darkness coming for them, or is it coming from them? 

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Season two stars Emmy Nominee Melanie Lynskey (“Togetherness”), Tawny Cypress (Inez & Doug & Kira), Juliette Lewis (Natural Born Killers), Christina Ricci (“Wednesday”) and guest stars Elijah Wood (“The Lord of the Rings” trilogy).

Special features include “Behind the Buzz: Episodes 1-9”; “No Return” cover by Alanis Morissette; and “Creating Yellowjackets.”

‘Yellowjackets’ Season Two Premiere Most Streamed Showtime Debut

The March 26 debut of season two of Showtime original series “Yellowjackets” generated a record streaming audience of more than 2 million, according to the network, which reportedly cited internal and internal data. That’s about 40% higher than the season one finale that generated around 1.3 million viewers — and more than 100% higher than the 1 million that viewed the first episode in late 2021.

The series is about present-day survivors of a high school soccer team whose plane crashed-landed on a remote island decades before and co-stars an ensemble cast headlined by Melanie Lynskey, Christina Ricci, Juliette Lewis, Elijah Wood and Tawny Cypress, among others.

The first season, which earned seven Primetime Emmy nominations, was among the most-streamed episodic programs throughout its inaugural 10-episode run, averaging 5 million viewers per week.

“‘Yellowjackets’ broke records as the most streamed Showtime debut ever thanks to … our extraordinary ensemble cast who brought season two to even greater heights,” Chris McCarthy, president/CEO of Showtime/MTV Entertainment Studios and Paramount Media Networks, said in a statement.

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McCarthy touted Paramount’s cross-brand marketing strategy for mining incremental viewers and consumer interest in the show.

“We successfully broadened the reach and brought new viewers into this incredible series that deftly combines psychological horror, dark comedy and coming-of-age drama,” McCarthy said.

Paramount+ to Air Ad During Oscars for Showtime Bundle

Paramount+ March 12 during the Academy Awards will launch a 60-second spot highlighting Paramount+ With Showtime’s bundled content slate.

The ad features movies and shows including Top Gun: Maverick, Everything Everywhere All at Once, “Devotion,” “1923,” “George & Tammy,” “Your Honor,” “The Chi,” “Tulsa King,” “Star Trek: Discovery,” “Yellowjackets,” “Billions” and more. 

The spot follows Paramount+’s Super Bowl LVII campaign spot “Stallone Face” and “further showcases the breadth of content featured on the platform, emphasizing its position as a total household service — and how it is poised to reach even wider audiences with the upcoming integration of Paramount+ and Showtime into a single platform,” according to a press release.

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Paramount+, Showtime Continue European Rollouts

The Paramount+ subscription streaming service is set to launch in France on Dec. 1, and in Austria, Germany and Switzerland on Dec. 8. Paramount’s Showtime brand is also continuing its Euro reach in a partnership with Comcast-owned satellite TV operator Sky, doing business as SkyShowtime.

Paramount+ has launched in South Korea, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Italy, with a goal of reaching 45 countries by the end of the year.

Heavily marketed original content includes Sylvester Stallone’s mafia drama “Tulsa King,Star Trek: Strange New Worlds,” and Taylor Sheridan’s “Yellowstone” prequel series “1923.”

Paramount+ will be available to stream on Roku, Apple TV, Google, Samsung and Amazon connected devices, in addition to Sky platforms in Germany and Austria, and Canal+ in France and French-speaking regions of Switzerland.

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“Paramount+ is rapidly expanding its presence globally, bringing audience a unique content offering with the biggest stars and most compelling global and local stories,” Marco Nobili, EVP and international GM of Paramount+, said in a statement at the Mipcom Cannes confab in France. “With these launches, Paramount+ will continue to see major growth across Europe, becoming one of the top players worldwide.”

CEO Bob Bakish Nixes Showtime/Paramount+ Merger Scuttlebutt — For Now

Paramount is not planning to shutter its Showtime brand and meld the pay-TV channel and subscription streaming VOD service into the Paramount+ digital distribution platform.

Speaking Sept. 14 at the Goldman Sachs + Technology confab in San Francisco, Paramount Global CEO Bob Bakish said the rumors circulating within media circles this week about such a merger reflected the business aims of the company, but the reality is that many distribution deals for Showtime average around three years and thus negate any possibility of distribution consolidation in the near term.

The Wall Street Journal this week reported that Paramount executives were discussing absorbing aspects of Showtime into Paramount+, including the network’s coveted “Billions” and “Yellowjackets” original series, in addition to Showtime’s edgier content.

Paramount recently simplified the bundle between Showtime and Paramount+ to a single app experience to make it easier for subscribers to stream content from both platforms.

“It shouldn’t surprise you that as we look at optionality in the future, and benefit from the learnings that will go forward over time, that we might want to have a conversation about [combining Showtime and Paramount+], and this is what it would look like,” Bakish said.

“If we weren’t having that [Showtime/Paramount+ combo] conversation, then you should fire all of us,” Bakish added. “I guarantee you our media will continue to evolve, and I guarantee we will continue to work with distributors and provide that [streaming value] value to them.”

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Separately, Bakish reiterated that 45 days would be the limit for any Paramount Pictures theatrical release to remain at the box office — with the exception of 2022 global theatrical blockbuster Top Gun: Maverick, which continues to sell tickets while being available for sale in the home on transactional VOD — and streaming on Paramount+ in the fourth quarter.

“Everywhere that movie shows up, it crushes it,” Bakish said. “In general, at 45 days, you’ve got your money out of theatrical [with the exception of Maverick], and now you can roll into streaming. You benefit from all the theatrical marketing, and the content is viewed as a ‘real’ movie by consumers, and it’s still fresh.”

The CEO said the opening the 2022-23 NFL season has been a success with ratings for the opening weekend games on CBS up 40%. Simulcasts on Paramount+ were the highest ever for the streaming platform.

“Sports really works for us, and it’s not just the NFL,” Bakish said, alluding to Paramount’s big investment in UEFA Champions League soccer streaming distribution over the next six years.

First Season of ‘Halo’ Series Hitting Retail in November

CBS, Showtime and Paramount Home Entertainment will release Halo: Season One for digital purchase Nov. 7, and on Blu-ray Disc, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Nov. 15.

The big-budget sci-fi series, which was produced by Showtime for the Paramount+ streaming service, is a live-action adaptation of the popular “Halo” video game franchise.

After years of human civil war and growing political unrest, mankind’s very future is threatened when its outermost colonies intrude upon the sacred worlds of an alien threat known as the Covenant. As this fanatical alliance destroys world after human world, only one soldier slows their advance — a cybernetically enhanced “Spartan” supersoldier, the Master Chief (Pablo Schreiber). As the mystery of the Covenant’s true ambitions are revealed, the Master Chief must find a way to save humanity from the alien threat while also coming to terms with the secrets of his own enigmatic past.

In addition to Schreiber, the show also stars Natascha McElhone as Dr. Halsey, the creator of the Spartan super soldiers, and Jen Taylor as Cortana, the most advanced AI in human history and potentially the key to the survival of the human race. The cast also includes Bokeem Woodbine, Shabana Azmi, Natasha Culzac, Olive Gray, Yerin Ha, Bentley Kalu, Kate Kennedy, Charlie Murphy and Danny Sapani.

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The five-disc DVD, Blu-ray and 4K collections include all nine episodes and more than five hours of behind-the-scenes extras, including 75 minutes of exclusive content that takes viewers deeper into the world of “Halo.”

Paramount is releasing the 4K Ultra HD version in both standard packaging and as a limited-edition Steelbook. Both configurations and the regular Blu-ray will include collectible art cards of Kwan Ha, Dr. Halsey, Soren, Master Chief, Vannak, Riz and Kai.

Paramount Reportedly Looking to Combine Showtime Anytime With Paramount+

Paramount Global has a marketing problem not dissimilar to Warner Bros. Discovery: Both media giants have separate branded subscription streaming platforms (HBO Max and Discovery+, and Paramount+ and Showtime Anytime, respectively) that need to be combined.

Now Paramount is reportedly considering melding the $10.99 subscription streaming platform Showtime Anytime with Paramount+ ($9.99 without ads) in an effort to simplify subscription streaming consumer offerings in a market saturated with competing services, including industry pioneers Netflix, Prime Video and Hulu.

Showtime’s high-profile series include “Billions,” “Yellowjackets,” “City on a Hill” and “The Chi,” among others. The streaming service launched in 2014 and currently offers access to select programming on Paramount+ in Europe.

“We are always exploring options to maximize the value of our content investment by giving consumers access to great Paramount content through an array of services and platforms,” a spokesman told The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the possible move, citing sources familiar with the situation.

Paramount+ subscribers grew to more than 43 million in the most-recent fiscal quarter, which reflected the addition of 4.9 million subscribers and the removal of 1.2 million Russia subscribers — the latter due to the Ukraine war.

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Global subscribers, which include Showtime Anytime and Noggin, among others, reached 64 million and reflect the addition of 5.2 million subscribers and the removal of 3.9 million Russia subs.

Paramount recently began bundling Paramount+ and Showtime for $7.99 monthly with advertising, $12.99 without ads. The promotion is slated to end on Oct. 2.