Parrot Analytics measured a strong demand for the conglomerate’s overall catalog, rising demand for both original and on-platform content for Paramount+, but also missed opportunities to leverage its most beloved content for streaming dominance. With the company’s streaming ambitions in mind, here we look at where the company currently stands and what it will take to level up its streaming game.
In the U.S. in 2021, Paramount series had 13.4% of the total demand for its original series, second only to Disney with 20.1%. This also puts it ahead of fellow legacy media brands WarnerMedia (11.9%) and NBCUniversal (10.8%) for the year.
That also puts Paramount well ahead of Netflix, which is nowhere near the top of the ranking when considering the entire universe of owned content. (Notably, ViacomCBS licenses out some of its longest running series, including “Criminal Minds,” “NCIS,” and “Supernatural”to Netflix on a non-exclusive basis.)
This strength has not translated to streaming success… yet
While ViacomCBS has a massive arsenal of content at its disposal, the company’s flagship streaming service, Paramount+, lags behind its rivals. When considering demand for all content available on-platform, Paramount+ comes in slightly ahead of Peacock and just behind Amazon Prime Video. It’s also well behind the leaders in this measure — Hulu and Netflix.
Looking at the 10 most in-demand shows on Paramount+ in January, what stands out is what is missing. In particular, “South Park” and “Yellowstone” would all have been among the 10 most in-demand shows on Paramount+ if ViacomCBS had made them available there instead of licensing them out. Paramount+ has tried to capture a slice of these shows’ demand despite them not actually being available.
“South Park” special episodes and the “Yellowstone” spinoff, “1883,” are available to stream on Paramount+, but these only amount to a fraction of the attention of the original series. While selling this content to competitors has immediate financial benefits, bolstering the catalogs of rivals isn’t moving Paramount+ any closer to the front of the streaming pack.
Paramount+ originals: Quality over quantity or too little too late?
Paramount+ (and CBS All Access in its earlier incarnation) has been battling it out in the streaming wars for longer than most at this point. However in terms of demand for its original content, it’s still one of the smallest players. In Q4, only 4.4% of demand in the U.S. for digital original series was for a Paramount+ series.
In fairness to Paramount+, the quality of its shows is not to blame. Looking at the average demand for these platforms’ original series, Paramount+ comes out on top, ahead of even Disney+ which has been churning out mega-hits all year. The average demand for Paramount+ originals is boosted by a variety of high-quality programming from perennially popular “Star Trek” series to popular new originals like “Mayor of Kingstown.”
To enter the next stage of growth, more original content is needed to draw subscribers. While upping the number of original productions will likely lower the average demand for its originals, new shows that target different audiences will give more people a reason to sign up to Paramount+. And part of Paramount’s focus on streaming includes ramping up its content spend from $2.2 billion last year to $6 billion in 2024, with the expectation they’ll take a loss in the short term that will pay off in the long run.
ViacomCBS (now Paramount) has all the ingredients to become a heavyweight in the streaming wars. It has proven that it can make highly in-demand original content for Paramount+ that has the power to draw subscribers in. It’s also sitting on extensive content reserves. The next steps to streaming dominance for the company are twofold — scale the production of Paramount+ originals to drive subscriptions and reclaim the rights to its most in-demand licensed content to make the platform essential for subscribers and thereby attract and retain them.
Parrot Analytics is the industry leader in global audience demand measurement. The company measures global supply and demand for entertainment, capturing over 2 billion audiences expressing demand for content and talent in over 100 languages, across all platforms, in 200+ countries. Parrot Analytics' partners use this knowledge to help better understand global supply and demand across all platforms to value content and talent, drive better production, distribution, acquisition and marketing decisions, as well as increase D2C growth and retention. For more information, see www.parrotanalytics.com.