Paramount+ will add Showtime programming to subscribers paying a bundled price of $12 a month (or $15 without ads) starting this summer.
The upgrade option and blending of programming follows an initial bundling effort last fall that was mainly a bid to drive more customer acquisition with discount pricing. Similar to Disney’s bundle, though, the services have remained separate.
In the new iteration, subscribers to Paramount+ will be able to upgrade to a combined subscription and gain access to Showtime programming. Ads, of course, will not be served during Showtime programming, per the premium outlet’s longtime policy. In that respect, the service will resemble HBO Max with Ads, which has ads on a wide range of programming but not on HBO-branded fare.
Showtime will continue to be available as a stand-alone app, and anyone just wanting Paramount+ will be able to continue opting out of the upgrade. Pricing for the independent services, as of now, are unchanged.
The combo news was announced by Streaming CEO Tom Ryan during a ViacomCBS investor day, which was held virtually. He said the bundled offer introduced last fall “has performed very well out of the gate” thanks to its streamlined sign-up process.
Just prior to the investor day, ViacomCBS reported 56 million global subscribers to all of its streaming services. Paramount+ (at 32.8 million) and Showtime make up the bulk of the overall tally, but niche outlets like BET+ and Noggin are also included. For comparison, Netflix is at 222 million global subscribers, Disney+ has reached 130 million and HBO Max is at 73.8 million when combined with linear HBO.
Given that the product is still under construction, Ryan was not able to demonstrate it, but essentially it will consist of home-screen prompts as well as notifications on individual show pages.
Bundling is increasingly the way of the streaming world. Disney’s bundle, rolled out in 2020, proved an immediate hit by grouping together Disney+, Hulu’s basic tier and ESPN+. As WarnerMedia and Discovery get set to merge in a $43 billion deal, both have indicated that their core services, HBO Max and Discovery+, will be bundled. It remains to be seen if they will be merged as ViacomCBS is doing, or whether they will remain separate but be priced more attractively when multiple subscriptions are purchased together.
While Disney execs have insisted Hulu will maintain its independents, many in the industry speculate that its destiny is to be a vertical within Disney+. As with Disney, Paramount+ and Showtime faces a concern about parental controls. Edgy premium content like Yellowjackets will live alongside Paw Patrol and other standout kids fare.
Tech companies have been working bundle strategies for a while now. Amazon’s vastly successful Prime program, which has had streaming video as a free component since 2007, is predicated on bundling. Customers sign up for Prime as an overall value, not necessarily for any of its individual perks. Apple, which launched Apple TV+ in 2019, has also leaned into bundling on a broader scale, aggregating its new video streaming outlet with an array of other services, from cloud storage to music to fitness.
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