Can Paramount+ survive the streaming wars?

Paramount’s strategy has led to early success, but experts believe an acquisition is inevitable.

So many players have entered the streaming wars that cable looks good again.

Conventional wisdom says only a few streamers will make it out alive — while it’s generally accepted that Netflix and Disney+ are safe, the jury is still out on smaller players.

One is Paramount+, which launched in March 2021 and has established itself as a streamer that’s doing things its own way, per The New York Times.

Paramount Global…

… was created through the merger of CBS and Viacom in 2019, and encompasses a massive mix of media assets, including:

  • Paramount Pictures, the company’s movie production and distribution arm
  • Paramount Media Networks, which houses cable channels like Nickelodeon, MTV, BET, Showtime, and Comedy Central
  • CBS Entertainment Group, which includes the CBS network and CBS Sports

This medley gives the company an extensive catalog of content, but also forces it to make strategic decisions about how it should all fit into a streaming service.

For starters…

… Paramount+ offers two plans, a cheaper ad-supported option and a more expensive ad-free tier. The service also delivers premium TV and movies:

  • Showtime, the company’s prestige TV channel, is available in a bundle with Paramount+
  • Movies are typically added to Paramount+ within 45 days of their theatrical release (Top Gun: Maverick is a recent exception)

One thing Paramount hasn’t done is make a splashy deal for more content. Just this year, Amazon closed its acquisition of MGM for ~$8.5B, and Discovery and WarnerMedia merged in a $43B deal.

Paramount has held out — and the numbers suggest it’s working. In Q1 2022, Paramount+ gained 6.8m subscribers. This month, Warren Buffett revealed Berkshire Hathaway has built a $2.6B stake in the company, sending its stock soaring.

But not everyone is buying in

Rich Greenfield, a media analyst and co-founder of LightShed Partners, believes it’s only a matter of time before Paramount either buys more content or is acquired by a larger player.

There’s speculation that Warren Buffett’s investment is built on a similar assessment.

That said, if Paramount can keep churning out cross-medium hits like “Yellowstone” and Top Gun: Maverick, it may prove it can hold its own in the streaming wars indefinitely.

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