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The most important facts about the new streaming service

Paramount launches this Thursday.

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The most important facts about the new streaming service

Paramount launches this Thursday. A new streaming service from the US media group Paramount Global, formerly ViacomCBS, which owns television channels such as CBS, Nickelodeon, MTV, Comedy Central and Showtime. The well-known draft horses include brands such as "Star Trek", "Transformers" and "Halo" as well as many series for children and young people such as "Paw Patrol", "Spotlight" and "Spongebob". In the medium term, cinema films produced by Paramount are to be streamed directly after release in order to guarantee exclusivity. Several thousand hours of program are on offer.

So far the facts. Yes, one could ask: Why the hell do you need another streaming service - in addition to offers like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Apple, Wow (Sky), Magenta (Telekom), Discovery - and not to forget the streamers from national providers like Joyn (ProSiebenSat .1) and RTL ? Who should subscribe to it, pay with it, and above all: who should watch it and when?

These obvious questions show that consumers who are open to streaming offers basically already have one or more subscriptions and a newcomer has to be prepared for considerable cut-throat competition. In the summer, the Vaunet association put the number of people in Germany who use paid streamers at more than twenty million. The household coverage is correspondingly high. Seen in this way, the goals that Paramount has set itself sound modest, despite all the existing ambition, after all they call themselves a “leading global media and entertainment company”.

“Third or fourth place would be good, unlike the Olympic podium, fourth place in the German market wouldn't be bad, no matter for whom. On the contrary," says Sabine Anger, Head of Streaming for Central and Northern Europe. Anger knows the market very well, ten years ago she was CEO of Watchever, Germany, an early streaming portal of the French media group Vivendi.

The top 3 in Germany are Amazon Prime Video, Netflix and Disney, followed by the offers from Sky and Apple. Also due to the large time advantage that the competitors have, there is probably little more to do at first. The goals for Paramount are therefore probably less modest and more realistic.

Paramount has announced a target of 100 million paying subscribers worldwide. For comparison: Netflix now has 223 million users worldwide, estimates for Amazon Prime Video are more than 200 million and Disney has 152 million users. "It's also an advantage if you come late," says media manager Anger in a purposeful optimism. Because: “Then you no longer have to explain what streaming is. You can focus on the content and also cooperate with partners, such as Sky in Germany, Austria, Italy and the UK.”

In fact, there is a combined offer with Sky to start with. For customers of a cinema package, there is Paramount for currently 25 euros per month, if Netflix is ​​also included, the package currently costs 30 euros per month. Such streamer bundles provide users who watch a lot anyway, i.e. the "heavy users", with an additional offer at a good price. As a piggyback, so to speak - and in the hope that these users will stick with it - and maybe spread the word that the subscription is worthwhile. The campaign is advertised with Paramount content such as "Top Gun: Maverick" and the US series "Yellowstone". However, the strategy is probably not a sure-fire success – Sky Germany is also said to be for sale, which does not necessarily mean that things are going like clockwork there.

Of course, Paramount is also available as a single subscription, initially only with a single price point of 7.99 euros (the annual subscription is slightly cheaper) instead of with different price variants – also, unlike in the USA, there is no subscription with advertising, which is then slightly cheaper would be available. Netflix, for example, has been offering a subscription for 4.99 euros since November, in which commercials are then placed before, after and between the videos.

Paramount does not do this in Germany for the time being - it is about making the offer known at all, says Sabine Anger. In addition: Paramount/Viacom has been offering "Pluto TV" for many years, a completely advertising-financed and therefore free streaming, there are popular and well-hung goods from the catalogue, including "Star Trek", "South Park" and "Praxis Bülowbogen" for fans of German retro series.

Sabine Anger speaks of a "fair price point". For comparison: Netflix offers subscriptions between 4.99 and 17.99 euros, Amazon Prime Video comes to 8.99 euros, Disney also to 8.99 euros. So Paramount is slightly below what you want to match in the long term, isn't very expensive, and it's not a bargain. The main task of the management will be to position the content-related piñata as a brand from which one knows what it offers. This positioning is still a bit blurry, at least at the start.

A lot therefore also depends on the "originals", i.e. the content that is exclusive and new - no matter how much German users actually love "evergreen" content, i.e. series and films that they watch again and again. Four series will be used as figureheads at launch, including an imposter story ("The Sheikh" by Dani Levy), a "cyber-crime thriller" called "A Thin Line"), the Simon Beckett film adaptation "The Chemistry of Death" and the Bavarian regional thriller "Kohlrabenschwarz".

"Of course, I'm concerned that we're starting in a time of crisis - and it also had an impact on our pricing," says Paramount manager Sabine Anger. "Definitely, people are struggling with having less in their wallets at the moment, with inflation and rising and above all uncertain spending." But, and this is the positive message: "We don't expect streaming to be one of the first strikes , savings are more likely to be made on restaurant visits, excursions or vacations.”

In Italy and Great Britain, where Paramount has already started, the offer is said to be going well so far; At the start in Italy the server collapsed due to overload. Which therefore perhaps answers the question asked at the beginning of why one is still needed at all: because the demand is still high. In fact, the media groups are also doomed to offer streaming and thus establish direct customer contacts. The success of Netflix forced them to do so. This strategy is irreversible.

"You always have to decide to actually only license content," Sabine Anger points out: "And there are one or two companies on the market that don't yet have their own streaming service."

But: "The Paramount Group has decided to focus heavily on streaming," says Anger. "We acted later, but very resolutely." Determination will also be needed in view of the extremely tough market. Netflix stock has been hit hard this year for falling short of its lofty goals. Despite very successful subscription deals, Disney has replaced its CEO Bob Chapek and reactivated manager legend Bob Iger.

Paramount CEO Bob Bakish just called on his shareholders to be patient - it will take a while for profitability, also because Paramount will invest heavily in streaming again in the coming year. The stock then fell by a few percent, and industry observers even consider Paramount a possible takeover candidate. Patience is a rare trait in the streaming age, it seems.

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