Paramount Lost $490 Million from Streaming in Final 2023 Quarter

Paramount Global lost $490 million from streaming in the final quarter of 2023, when Paramount+ added 4.1 million subscribers. The service now has 67.5 million subs; it is now expected to turn a profit in the U.S. in 2025.

Paramount+ revenue jumped 69 percent from the same quarter last year thanks to price hikes and that sub growth. The overall company fell a bit shy of Wall Street’s revenue and earnings (well, losses) targets. Though Q4 advertising revenue rose at Paramount’s streaming segment, the growth was nowhere near the line-item’s decline at linear TV.

Losses from (mostly) Paramount+ are nothing new. Paramount lost $238 million from its streaming business in the prior quarter (and $424 million in Q2 and a $511 million in Q1), when it gained 2.7 million Paramount+ subs. Now that 2023 is over and 2025 is expected to be profitable, we know that 2022 was the peak year for Paramount streaming losses. Paramount Global’s streaming business also includes FAST leader Pluto TV and BET+. Showtime has been folded into the top Paramount+ tier.

All but the first two days of “Paw Patrol: The Mighty Movie” (September 29, 2023) were recorded in Q4; a new season of “Paw Patrol” followed on Nick Jr. and Paramount+. The “Paw Patrol” sequel made more than $200 million at the box office, a nice return on a relatively cheap production and more than the original. Paramount released Oscar contender “Killers of the Flower Moon” in October, but it’s an Apple movie.

One Paramount+ highlight early in the quarter was the return of “Frasier” (October 12); “Lawman: Bass Reeves” also launched in the quarter. Straight-to-streaming movie “Good Burger 2” debuted on Paramount+ in November.

“Paw Patrol: The Mighty Movie”©Paramount/Courtesy Everett Collection

Paramount Global as we know it may not be around for very long. Skydance has been (sky-)dancing around a merger — or a buyout of Paramount’s parent company — for months. Comcast is reportedly out of the game, though the two companies continue to discuss bundling or even merging Peacock and Paramount+, as first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

Byron Allen’s $30 billion bid for all of Paramount Global appears to have not been taken very seriously, probably due to a cloudiness (at best) about his financing. And on Tuesday, Warner Bros. Discovery bowed out of the Paramount sweepstakes, CNBC reported. That leaves just David Ellison’s Skydance — the version that has always been the most probable one.

The most likely scenario within that version sees Ellison buying National Amusements, Inc., the movie-theater chain owned by Shari Redstone that holds 77 percent of Paramount Global’s voting shares. He’d be buying control of Paramount Global rather than the assets itself. IndieWire reported Skydance and NAI were “kicking the tires” on such an acquisition back in December.

Should Paramount be bought out and Bakish fired, he’ll get a golden parachute worth $50 million. Earlier this month, Paramount laid off 800 employees, a cost-cutting move made in the hopes of returning the company to earnings growth for 2024. Wonder what their parachutes were…

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