With 36 million paid subscribers, Paramount Plus has gained a solid foothold in the crowded and highly competitive streaming market. Now the popular service is rolling out an ambitious new strategy to grow even more. The two-fold plan will involve a cheaper pricing option for fans willing to sit through ads and an injection of new content in the form of movies.
The first of the new offerings is the cheaper plan with ads. This has become a pretty common option many other streaming services offer including Hulu, Peacock and HBO Max, which just debuted its reduced cost version. The Paramount Plus alternative will be called The Essential Plan. It’ll cost $4.99 per month, which is $5 cheaper than the regular package. It’ll come with much of the same content viewers of the main plan get; that content will just include commercials. According to Next TV, users will also lose the ability to download for offline viewing, and they will not get access to a CBS live feed, though NFL on CBS football games and Champions League soccer games will be available to stream.
As for the new content, it’ll come in the form of over 1,000 movies Paramount is adding to the catalog of available choices. I haven’t seen the full list yet, but from what I have seen, there are a lot of good, recent movies including Skyfall, The Hustle, Sonic The Hedgehog, Rocketman and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. In addition, Paramount Plus will also be the exclusive home to Mark Wahlberg’s new movie Infinite. It’s directed by Antoine Fuqua and looks like a wild ride.
Over the last year or so, Netflix and Disney Plus have separated themselves from the streaming service pack a bit. In the time since, there has been quite a bit of movement as others jostle to compete. HBO Max announced it was merging with Discovery Plus. Amazon bought MGM and its extensive back catalog of famous movies. Peacock signed an agreement with WWE Network, and of course, CBS All Access made some tweaks and relaunched as Paramount Plus.
Exactly how high the ceiling on Paramount Plus is at this point is unclear. The service has a ton of legacy CBS All Access subscribers, and it has done a good job of giving really in-depth content to fans of niche programming including Big Brother and more recently, soccer. Its coverage of the recent US National Team soccer games, complete with Clint Dempsey, have been widely praised, but you’re not going to compete with Netflix and Disney Plus just using niche content. So, there are real fundamental questions about how broad of an appeal the service can have.
How many additional subscribers Paramount Plus is able to net with this cheaper subscription is going to be a huge short-term test. The results will likely have a significant impact on strategy and may even help decide whether the service wants to go it alone or potentially join forces with another player via acquisition.