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Paramount to consolidate Showtime into Paramount Plus

Showtime content appears within the Paramount Plus app on August 31, 2022. (Graphic by The Desk)

Executives at Paramount Global are moving forward with a plan to fold the premium cable and streaming network Showtime into cornerstone streaming service Paramount Plus.

The plan calls for the standalone Showtime streaming app to wind down, with content moving exclusively to a new tier of Paramount Plus in the near future. The linear cable and satellite multiplex movie network will rebrand to “Paramount Plus with Showtime,” company executives affirmed in two memos on Monday.

“This new combined offering demonstrates how we can leverage our entire collection of content to drive deeper connections with consumers and greater value for our distribution partners,” Robert Bakish, the chief executive of Paramount Global, wrote on Monday.

Outside the United States, Paramount Plus already offers access to original programs, movies and series from Showtime. The reorganization around Paramount Plus will bring parity to the service in the United States after Paramount began offering Showtime as an add-on through Paramount Plus several months ago.

Paramount executives said they will release new pricing for the combined Paramount Plus with Showtime at a later date, suggesting the move will bring an increase in fees subscribers will have to pay for the service. Currently, Paramount Plus costs $5 a month for an ad-supported tier of service; a $10 a month tier removes commercials from on-demand content and unlocks a live feed of a user’s local CBS station or affiliate. Showtime content has been available to subscribers of each tier for a nominal, separate fee.

The combined Paramount Plus with Showtime is expected to result in some job cuts, though it wasn’t clear who will be affected. The Desk reported last week that Paramount Global has already issued pink slips at its Nickelodeon division.

Some executive shuffles have already occurred as a result of Paramount Plus merging with Showtime: Chris McCarthy will oversee Showtime’s linear channels on cable — which will soon include select programming from Paramount Plus — while Paramount Global’s streaming head Tom Ryan will orchestrate the merger of the two brands on the Paramount Global streaming service.

In his own memo on Monday, McCarthy said Paramount Plus with Showtime will offer “complementary and differentiated brands” — in other words, Paramount Plus with Showtime will be the same brand on paper, but Paramount Plus and Showtime will still exist as two unique brands in and of themselves.

While that may sound confusing, McCarthy clarified that the Showtime brand will still continue to serve audiences who look for “content that has more edge and mature themes,” particularly among urban television viewers, while Paramount Plus will continue to focus on content that is “broader, appealing to the entire family, and general market audiences across the country.”

To that end, Paramount Plus with Showtime will start to realign its investment opportunities to focus on franchises that are hits or have the potential to gain popular attraction.

“We have already begun conversations with our production partners about what content makes sense moving forward and which shows have franchise potential,” McCarthy said.

Reports indicate that a handful of Showtime series have already been cut as part of the restructuring, including “American Gigolo” and “Let the Right One In.” Another show, “Three Women,” won’t air on Showtime even though it has already ended production; the show’s production company is already having conversations with other platforms and networks now that Showtime has passed on the series.

Other popular Showtime franchises, including “Yellowjackets,” “Dexter” and “Your Honor” will continue on, while Paramount Plus is expected to move “Billions” and “Homeland” from the Showtime add-on tier to the general Paramount Plus subscription in the United States.

On cable and satellite, Showtime subscribers will soon get access to Paramount Plus and its content once the multiplex adopts the “Paramount Plus with Showtime” brand name. Cable and satellite subscribers with Showtime will also get access to the Paramount Plus streaming service as part of their plan, according to a company source who spoke with The Desk on background.

Paramount Global will continue supporting the standalone Showtime streaming app to allow customers who locked in an annual rate to use the service, but they will be asked to switch to Paramount Plus with Showtime when their subscription comes up for renewal.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 11 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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