Executive departure from Paramount fuels speculation around Showtime

Paramount Global executive David Nevins appears in an undated handout image. (Photo courtesy Paramount Global, Graphic by The Desk)

A Paramount Global executive in charge of the company’s premium movie network Showtime is leaving at the end of the year, fueling speculation that the media conglomerate will soon integrate the streaming version of Showtime into its flagship service Paramount Plus.

On Thursday, Paramount Global affirmed David Nevins will depart the company later this year, a move that will see the company restructuring most of its Showtime business.

As part of the move, Showtime’s multiple cable and satellite networks will be overseen by Christopher McCarthy, a Paramount Global executive in charge of MTV, Comedy Central and other linear channels. Showtime’s streaming services will fall under the purview of Tom Ryan, the former Pluto TV head who is now in charge of Paramount Global’s streaming initiatives.

The departure of Nevins has fueled speculation that Paramount Global is one step closer to shuttering its standalone Showtime streaming service, which is available for $12 a month and does not require a cable or satellite subscription.

In late August, Paramount began offering Showtime content within Paramount Plus for an additional fee; soon afterward, Paramount Global CEO Robert Bakish confirmed the company had discussed internally the possibility of winding down the standalone Showtime app, but said a Wall Street Journal report claiming the company would shut down its cable and satellite network was a mere “rumor.”

“It shouldn’t surprise you that as we look to have optionality in the future and benefit from the learnings that will go forward over time, that we might want to have a conversation about, ‘Yeah, maybe we could combine two things and this is what it would look like,'” Bakish said at the time.

On Thursday, people familiar with the restructuring at Paramount Global said no definitive decisions have been made with respect to Showtime, and that the brand continues to commission original programs and license movies from third-party studios.

“This change has also given us the opportunity to more closely align our studios, networks and streaming operations as we execute on our vision and strategy for the future,” Bakish said in a statement on Thursday.

Paramount Plus replaced CBS All Access in March 2021. It has quickly become Paramount Global’s flagship streaming service, sharing space with the free, ad-supported Pluto TV and the ultra-premium Showtime movie network.

The company says Paramount Plus currently has around 43 million global subscribers and is on track to have 100 million global subscribers within the next two years. Fueling growth at Paramount Plus is a new partnership with retailer Walmart that sees customers of the store’s Walmart Plus membership get free access to the ad-supported version of Paramount Plus, which includes live National Football League games.

Paramount Global is putting most of its bets on Paramount Plus as the future of the company, particularly as its other divisions starts to shed subscribers. The company’s linear channels are often touted as having the most-watched programs on cable television — including “Yellowstone” on Paramount Network, “Paw Patrol” on Nickelodeon and various reality shows on CBS — but fewer people are consuming these shows on traditional cable and satellite as consumers drop expensive pay TV packages in exchange for cheaper, online-only options.

That consumer shift has impacted Showtime more than any other Paramount Global brand, with Bakish revealing earlier this year that the premium movie network lost 500,000 more subscribers than it gained as customers ditched their cable and satellite packages. Incorporating Showtime’s content into Paramount Plus is seen as one way to get Showtime’s premium originals and movies in front of more people, according to people familiar with the move.

Some of Paramount Global’s closest competitors are starting to come around to the same idea. Next year, Warner Bros Discovery will shutter its HBO Max and Discovery Plus streaming services, and will launch an entirely new service that incorporates content from both brands. The Walt Disney Company has offered a bundle package that unites it flagship streamer Disney Plus with general entertainment service Hulu and sports-centric ESPN Plus at a discounted price.

Earlier this week, reports indicated Comcast was looking to include its streaming service Peacock in a similar bundle, though one that would likely include several third-party services that are otherwise unaffiliated with the media company. So far, no one has taken Comcast up on its offer.