Paramount considers folding Showtime into Paramount+

The news: There’s another streaming brand merger entering the mix. Paramount is considering shutting down Showtime’s standalone service and moving its content into Paramount+, per The Wall Street Journal.

A next step: Ever since its landmark merger with ViacomCBS, Paramount has slowly been moving to combine its streaming offerings under one umbrella.

  • Just last month, Paramount began streaming Showtime content on the Paramount+ app, and offered a bundle subscription with access to both services.
  • Its namesake streaming service was also at the heart of a recent deal with Walmart; in Walmart’s press release announcing the partnership, Showtime wasn’t mentioned once. Paramount+ will also become the home for all of Paramount’s theatrical releases beginning in 2024.
  • While Paramount doesn’t divulge subscriber numbers for Showtime, the Journal reports that subscriptions have tripled over the last three years. Paramount+, in the meantime, grew healthily to 63.7 million subscribers in Q2.

A solidified brand? The complicated sea of streaming competitors makes consolidating different streaming services a smart move, but Paramount runs the risk of diluting its own brand power.

  • On the one hand, consumers want fewer streaming services. Nearly two in three US consumers have or are likely to cancel streaming subscriptions over the next year, and over half of consumers want streaming service bundles.
  • But on the other hand, Showtime is a much stronger brand than Paramount+. In a January CivicScience survey on which streamer had the best catalog, Showtime ranked seventh with 2% of the vote. That may not be too impressive, but Paramount+ (which was relaunched in March 2021) didn’t land at all.
  • Paramount+ has few streaming originals driving viewership; its most notable are the teen sitcom reboot “iCarly” and an adaptation of the landmark video game series “Halo.” Showtime, meanwhile, has shows like the Emmy-nominated “Yellowjackets,” “Billions,” and several other hit shows.

The big takeaway: Paramount consolidating its streaming offerings can help it stand out in the crowd and make a strong value proposition to consumers, but shuttering the Showtime brand entirely could hurt more than it helps.

  • Paramount should also be careful not to stumble into the same pitfalls as Warner Bros. Discovery. The media giant’s recent removals of content from HBO Max and plans to merge the streaming service with Discovery Plus has users worried about irreparable changes to HBO’s reputation for highly curated, scripted content.

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