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Why ViacomCBS Might Kill Showtime and Noggin

Ben Bowman

As the streaming wars heat up, every media company in the game is being forced to reassess its strategy. Disney has decided to funnel every Pixar movie to Disney+ while Marvel movies get a theatrical-only treatment. WarnerMedia made the big move to boost its numbers by releasing films on HBO Max the same day they appeared in theaters last year. And ViacomCBS has been moving slowly, rebranding CBS All Access as Paramount+ and slowly investing in streaming-first hits like “1883.” If ViacomCBS wants to make an even bigger splash, it could kill off two existing streaming services to make Paramount+ a more compelling value.

The Showtime Strategy

As we reported last year, Showtime bosses are gasping for resources at a time when streaming is taking priority. One source told Insider, “A chronic problem which continues to plague Showtime is a lack of investment. You’ve got Netflix out there outspending everyone, and you’ve got WarnerMedia lining up the entire organization behind HBO Max almost in a brutal way. They’re playing for keeps. … You have to be really really committed to your streaming strategy, and that means spending money and lining up the organization in a way that promises to accomplish the goal.”

The company threw Showtime a lifeline with a bundle announcement in October, but that feels like a stopgap measure. Compare Showtime the channel with HBO the channel - WarnerMedia is creating some programming for HBO, while siphoning other content to HBO Max, but it’s a unified brand.

ViacomCBS has a Paramount Network, but that’s not a premium add-on. It’s just another cable channel that happens to be home to “Yellowstone.” By keeping the Showtime channel and branding separate, it leaves the library lacking. Many viewers may not even know the same company owns Paramount+ and Showtime.

Even the pricing doesn’t make sense. $10.99/month for Showtime, but $9.99/month for ad-free Paramount+ with far more content?

The solution seems clear. ViacomCBS can keep Showtime as a cable channel, but it should shutter the streaming service and add that content to Paramount+, just as it has with Nickelodeon and MTV. It would be a marginal improvement for Paramount+, but possibly enough to serve as a tiebreaker against other services.

ViacomCBS could then use its larger Paramount+ audience to hype new or returning shows to linear Showtime.

Until that happens, Showtime is losing out on some valuable properties, like the upcoming video game adaptation “Halo,” which was destined for the channel before ViacomCBS reeled it back to Paramount+. If ViacomCBS is determined to starve Showtime like this, it doesn’t show a lot of promise for the future.

Noodling with Noggin

Noggin is one of our favorite streaming services for kids. It has a ton of Nickelodeon and Nick Jr. content like “Peppa Pig,” “PAW Patrol,” and “Blue’s Clues.” Do you know where else you can find those shows? Paramount+.

In many ways, this is a worse situation than Showtime. Consider the pricing involved. Ad-free Noggin is $7.99/month, while ad-free Paramount+ is $9.99/month. An extra two dollars for adult content? It’s a no-brainer. So why does Noggin even exist?

We can’t even hazard a guess. Noggin does feature some parental features lacking from Paramount+, but that’s a minor differentiator. If ViacomCBS truly wants to win, it would stop cannibalizing its own subscriber numbers by offering an identical library on another service.

A Mountain of Entertainment

Paramount+ is showing some strong signs of life. It’s our pick for the streaming service poised for the most growth in 2022. With upcoming series from Taylor Sheridan (creator of “Yellowstone”), same-day releases of family films, and upcoming debuts of “Top Gun: Maverick” and “Mission: Impossible 7,” there’s a lot to like here. All that’s missing is for ViacomCBS to take the full leap - make this their one-and-only premium streaming service, and fold in the young audience from Noggin and the more sophisticated Showtime crowd.

Yes, some subscribers could abandon Showtime or Noggin if they were folded in, but the power of the overall unified ViacomCBS platform would be impressive. Bear in mind that ViacomCBS already owns one of the best FAST platforms in Pluto TV, so this would give them a top-to-bottom strategy that can compete with any streaming portfolio in the world.

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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