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$8.99 A Month Paramount + Takes On Foxtel, Stan & Netflix

This week is set to be a big week for the streaming industry in Australia with CBS Viacom set to officially launch their new $8.99 a month Paramount + service up against a surging Foxtel, Stan who lost a lot of Paramount content last year, as well as US archrivals Netflix and Disney.

In early marketing the Company who own Channel Ten are claiming the new Paramount+ is “not just another streaming service”, it’s a “a mountain of entertainment” and it has to be if the poor performing Channel Ten content is anything to go by.

Last year Network Ten losing $3.4 million in 2020, according to filings with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission and their content has failed to excite consumers with the network constantly performing poorly when it comes to entertainment shows.

Paramount’s library will include movie franchises such as The Godfather, Mission: Impossible, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, and The Lord of the Rings. For families there is SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer, and PAW Patrol, plus new original Koral: SpongeBob’s Under Years.

On launch, Paramount+ will range exclusive premiers including The First Lady (Viola Davis, Gillian Anderson), the rebooted Dexter shows that last year were on Nine Entertainment Stan streaming service.

In an effort to take on Foxtel in the Sports market ViacomCBS stumped up more $300 million on content including $200M for the rights to A-League and W-League soccer which had failed to attract big audiences to Foxtel who have grown their AFL and NRL coverage during COVID lockdowns.

That rights deal includes broadcast rights to all Socceroos and Matildas internationals, friendlies, Asian Cup qualifiers and World Cup qualifiers.

ViacomCBS chief operating and commercial officer and executive vice-president Jarrod Villani, claim that the “volume of content and the consistency of that content” gives the streaming platform a “unique story”.

“On launch there’ll be 20,000 hours of entertainment immediately available at an incredible value,” he said.

At $8.99 a month the subscription fee is $2.00 more expensive than Amazon Prime Movies at $6.99 and a dollar more expensive than the struggling AppleTV+ at $7.99.

“When you look at that price point, you could quite easily make an argument that there’s something around double that price point would be more than fitting to the volume and the quality of the content that exists,” Mr Villani said.

Mr Villani said the live sport content will be delivered to Paramount+ users with a “very light ad load”.

“We think it’ll be relatively non-intrusive. We’re very considered in the way that we’re looking at the advertising. As I say, only seen from a live sport stream perspective – all other content will be, as you expect, ad-free,” he said.

On how the media company can continue to invest in live sport in Australia, in a very competitive market, while balancing the need to return to profit, Mr Villani said the media company considers its “investment and support in the same way that we can now invest in any other form of content”.

“And we’ll continue to consider our investment in sport on a tactical basis moving forward,” he said.

CBSViacom believe that their relationship with movie studio’s will give them an edge.

“Viewers can be confident that that high-quality content will be available moving forward,” Mr Villani said in a subtle swipe at competitors such as Stan who lost the Paramount content deal last year.

Both HBO and NBCUniversal are also investigating direct-to-consumer streaming offering in Australia though there is speculation that they could cut a deal with Foxtel due to the local market becoming cluttered said one insider.

The launch of Paramount+ in Australia has already seen some Showtime content disappear from the library of Stan, which has had a deal in place with Showtime since it launched in 2015.

Ironically Villani was cautious setting Paramount+ any goals on launch but is confident its global content pipeline gives it a strong position in the local market.

The business has not said how many free subscriptions they will distribute or what deals they have done with TV brands to get their new Paramount + onto Smart TV platforms in Australia.

“If we continue to deliver quality content to people, and they’ll make up their mind as to whether or not they need another service, what to drop the service, when ultimately how many subscribers come to our platform,” he said.

“We’re focused on ensuring the quality of the content is there, the user interface and the quality continues to improve over time. The market will decide where they want to position Paramount+.

“We will control the content, we will focus on visibility and will continue to improve our interface, but ultimately it’s up to the rest of the public to decide whether they like it or not.”

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