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After Iger Distances Disney from General Entertainment, Bakish Says Paramount+ in Best Position to Lead

David Satin

It has been fascinating to observe how the changes in the streaming industry are impacting every service differently. Some companies are finding themselves in a much better position than others as each company determines the best way for their service to become profitable in the coming years.

One service that’s doing pretty well for itself these days is Paramount+. On Thursday, it reported adding 9.9 million subscribers, bringing its total to just shy of 56 million worldwide. During the conference call that followed the release of the earnings report, Paramount Global CEO Bob Bakish was asked if he shared Disney CEO Bob Iger’s thoughts about the perils of undifferentiated general entertainment.

“Look, differentiation matters,” Bakish replied, “and the general entertainment space may not make sense for everyone, but general entertainment clearly makes sense for us when you look at our asset composition and really the nuances of our content engine.”

The question stems from comments Iger made in Disney’s quarterly earnings call earlier in February.

“General entertainment is generally undifferentiated as opposed to our core franchises and our brands which, because of their differentiation and their quality, have delivered higher returns for us over the years,” the Disney CEO said. “So we think we have an opportunity to, through more aggressive curation, reduce some of our costs in the general entertainment side and in general, in volume.”

The next day, Iger confirmed in an interview on CNBC that those reductions in general entertainment could potentially include a sale of Hulu, which Disney owns 66% of. General entertainment is Hulu’s bread and butter, just as it is for Paramount+. But Bakish’s comments make it clear that he doesn’t think his company’s streamer offers “undifferentiated” general entertainment.

“When we went to market with Paramount+,” he said, “we thought a lot about this question because we knew we needed to be differentiated because we weren’t first to market. For us, news, sports, and [the] amount of entertainment was a clear route to differentiated position and one that we knew or at least strongly believed would resonate with consumers and appeal to the whole household.”

The live news and sports offerings on Paramount+ do indeed set it apart from Disney streamers. Offering a live feed of local CBS stations on its Premium tier allows Paramount+ to offer sports like NFL football, UEFA Champions League soccer, and much more, in addition to live news coverage.

Bakish pointed to franchises like “Star Trek” and the “Sheirdan-verse” of connected series brought to life by producer and creator Taylor Sheridan as proof that the company does more than just general entertainment, and that all of Paramount+’s content works in concert to provide the best possible experience.

“Our multi-platform strategy and franchise focus ensure we can build a differentiated content slate and simultaneously create a compelling content ROI,” the CEO said. “So again, general entertainment, it totally works for us in general and streaming, and maybe we’re different because of our asset composition and strategy, but we’re leaning into it.”

Part of Disney’s planned general entertainment pullback includes an increased focus on popular franchises. Paramount also has more franchises it plans to lean into, as well. The company is planning to use popular series from its linear cable network Showtime like “Billions” and “Dexter” to create more shows when it merges SHOWTIME with Paramount+. That suggests that while general entertainment will still be a big part of the overall content plan, Paramount is cognizant of the power of beloved franchises; the one major difference is that while Disney’s major franchises tend to be genre-focused, Paramount’s often fall in the general entertainment category.

The customer base of Paramount+ lends itself to general entertainment a bit better than does that of Disney streamers, as well. Paramount+ viewers tend to be less affluent, and more evenly split across gender lines, suggesting the service needs a wide variety of content to keep users engaged.

That status as a “streamer of the people” also helps explain why Paramount+ was such a good fit with Walmart+. In August 2022, Walmart and Paramount agreed to a deal in which Walmart+ subscribers got a subscription to the base Paramount+ service bundled in at no extra charge. Walmart executives saw the general entertainment offerings on Paramount+ as a good fit with their customer base, which helped smooth the way for the deal.

  • Paramount Plus

    Paramount+ is a subscription video streaming service that includes on-demand access to 40,000+ TV show episodes from BET, CBS, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr. and more. The lineup includes “1883,” “Tulsa King,” “Star Trek: Discovery,” Nickelodeon’s “SpongeBob SquarePants,” and MTV’s “Laguna Beach.” From well-loved franchises to compelling originals, Paramount+ offers a great library worth streaming. Live NFL games are included. The service also offers the option to watch your live CBS affiliate.

    Subscribers can choose between the Essentials Plan (which includes ads) for $4.99/month, or go commercial-free with the Premium Plan for $9.99/month. Subscribers can add Showtime to either plan for an additional fee.

    With their Premium Plan, in addition to not having ads, you will also get access to your local CBS affiliate to stream your local news, prime-time lineup, and late-night. You will also be able to download offline and watch select shows in 4K.

    With the lower cost “Essential” plan, you will still be able to watch live NFL games, Champions League, and national news – but you will no longer get your local CBS affiliate.

    With their new app, enjoy advanced recommendations, curated homepages, and new content categories while still being able to stream major live sports like NFL, College Football, College Basketball. Sports fans will also appreciate the service’s inclusion of NFL on CBS, PGA Tour, along with every match of UEFA Champions League and Serie A.

    The service was previously called CBS All Access.

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  • Disney+

    Disney+ is a video streaming service with over 13,000 series and films from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic, The Muppets, and more. It is available in 61 countries and 21 languages. It is notable for its popular original series like “The Mandalorian,” “Ms. Marvel,” “Loki,” “Obi-Wan Kenobi,” and “Andor.”

    Disney+ has two plans – one with ads and one without ads. Disney+ Basic with Ads costs $7.99 / month. If you don’t want ads, you can choose Disney+ Premium with No Ads which costs $10.99 / month.

    The Premium plan also offers an annual option for $109.99 / year ($9.17/mo.).

    If you want all of Disney streaming services, they have two options for The Disney Bundle. The Disney Bundle Basic includes Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ (with Ads) for $7.99 / month. The Disney Bundle Premium (without Ads) for $19.99 / month.

    The app supports unlimited downloads (on their Premium Plans), four simultaneous streamers, up to 7 profiles, 4K streaming, and includes hundreds of avatars.

    The service includes 25+ original series, 10+ original movies, 7,500 past episodes, 100 recent movies, and 400 library titles including the entire Disney Vault.

    You can see the full list of available Disney, Disney Channel, Star Wars, Pixar, Marvel, Nat Geo shows and movies, or all available Disney+ content by checking out our Disney+ Streaming Movie List.

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    Get Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ for just $12.99 a month ($13 savings).


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