New York (CNN Business)Paramount is one of the most iconic studios in Hollywood, but can the name “Paramount” translate to streaming?
ViacomCBS is banking on it.
Paramount+, the rebranded service from ViacomCBS (VIACA), launches Thursday with a lot of content from the company’s biggest brands, including TV shows and movies from Paramount Pictures, CBS, Nickelodeon, and MTV as well as live sports and news. The service will have two pricing tiers: $4.99 per month with ads, and $9.99 without. The $4.99 tier launches in June.
Tom Ryan, CEO of ViacomCBS streaming, spoke with CNN Business about how the service’s “mountain of entertainment” will help it stand out among the slew of pluses, Peacocks and Maxes.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
I ask this every time a new service comes out, but why should I spend money on Paramount+? I already have so many as it is.
There’s nothing else quite like it. We offer live sports, breaking news and a mountain of entertainment. So that means we’ve got over 1,000 live sporting events per year, we’ve got live breaking news from CBS, CBSN, and we’ve got 30,000 episodes of TV content, over 2,500 movie titles and over 50 originals coming in the next two years.
It’s this unique trifecta of content and the quantity and quality behind it that makes it a special service that I think people are going to flock to. As you may have heard in our investor event a few days ago, people are subscribing to more and more services as the years go on. What used to be one to two services [that people subscribe to] and then became now three to four services is trending toward five services. We think that Paramount+ will absolutely be one of those services for consumers.
ViacomCBS has some of the most well-known names in TV history: MTV, CBS, Nickelodeon. Will those translate well to streaming?
Almost all of those brands have over 90% brand awareness among consumers and stand for something essentially synonymous with those categories of content. So, MTV really epitomizes reality content. It used to be music, now it’s reality. Nickelodeon clearly is a leading brand for kids and Comedy Central stands for comedy in the television space. That combination of awareness, but their being synonymous with the content genres that they represent, we think is a very powerful combination.
CBS All Access was one of the first major streaming services when it launched in 2014. Is it too late for Paramount+ to really get in this game?
I think we have a great foundation with CBS All Access, who we’ve been in market for years in the streaming space. But CBS All Access was very CBS-focused, which of course predated the Viacom and CBS merger that happened a little over a year ago. Now, ViacomCBS is putting the full weight of the company behind turning CBS All Access into a much broader and bigger streaming service…
We’re just getting started and we’re going to be one of the leading players in the category for sure.
You were the former CEO of Pluto TV, which is an ad-supported service that looks just like regular TV. Is that concept the future of streaming?
Streaming is going to look a lot like traditional TV has in certain ways, and that’s that you’re going to have a free lane, a broad pay lane and a premium pay lane.
So we’re the only major media company playing in those categories as an ecosystem. So Pluto TV is our free offering, Paramount+ is our broad pay offering, and then we’ve got premium offerings in Showtime and BET+.
Each of those services stands for something for a particular consumer, but through that ecosystem we’re able to take advantage of the upsell possibilities … I absolutely think that our strategy there does represent the future of streaming.
Shari Redstone, the chairwoman of CBS, said that being all in on either traditional entertainment or streaming is a “false choice,” and that ViacomCBS is going to be both. How is Paramount+ going to be both?
You would not be able to launch a service like Paramount+ without all of the strengths that comes from the stories, the [intellectual property], brands and franchises that have been developed over the decades from all of the different groups within ViacomCBS. Now, we have all of those groups focused on the streaming future through our various streaming services, including Paramount+.
The value of actually having relationships with major sports leagues like the NFL inure benefit not just to our traditional television [offerings], but also now to Paramount+. As a major media company that has been a top player in traditional television for many years, [we] are able to bring to bear historical assets and current assets in a new streaming company in ways that other streaming companies are not able to.
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