On March 8, Paramount Global announced a new trade campaign with “Popular Is Paramount.” Expect to see it in media ads and on billboards in New York and Los Angeles through the summer. It’s meant to work on two levels: Paramount makes content from popular intellectual property and the more natural-sounding “Paramount is popular” embeds the notion that Paramount’s content is, well, popular. (Don’t celebrate the end of “A Mountain of Entertainment” just yet — that remains the company’s streaming slogan, IndieWire is assured.)
Point 1: Duly noted. Paramount is franchising everything, especially from its Showtime brand. “You could think about the slate as smaller, which will be less expensive, but also really giving the people what they want,” said Paramount Global President and CEO Bob Bakish at Wednesday’s Morgan Stanley Technology, Media, and Telecom Conference. “Maybe more ‘Dexter,’ maybe more ‘Ray Donovan,’ and really leaning into that. And we have some exciting plans there.”
As previously reported by IndieWire and others, Showtime wants an origin series for the titular “Dexter” as well as spinoffs to explore the backstories of other characters, including the Trinity Killer. The “Ray Donovan” name-drop is new. And they’re developing a billion “Billions” spinoffs: One set in Miami, another in London, one with the working titles of “Millions” and “Trillions.”
Bakish also wants to franchise Taylor Sheridan’s “Tulsa King,” a Paramount+ original, much as it franchised the hell out of Sheridan’s “Yellowstone,” including spinoffs “1883” and “1923.”
“Watch what we do with ‘Tulsa King,’” Bakish said at the conference, teasing: “Hmm, maybe there might be some other kings…”
Brian Douglas / Paramount+
So, “Popular Is Paramount,” clearly. But how popular is Paramount? As Zuma the water pup from Paramount’s (Nickelodeon’s) “Paw Patrol” would say, let’s dive in!
The company’s broadcast network, CBS, currently ranks third (out of four) for the season in ratings from both the adults 18-49 and 25-54 demographics. That’s a bit skewed, since Fox is disproportionately buoyed by the Super Bowl. Without sports, CBS would move up to No. 2 and No. 1, respectively.
Regardless, CBS is again tops among viewers of all ages, as it has been for the past 14 seasons (and 19 out of the last 20). How does it pull that off? CBS attracts the oldest audience of any broadcast network, and the 55-and-over crowd doesn’t flip around as much as young adults.
The Viacom side of the Paramount Global business carries a massive cable TV presence, but its performance is a mixed bag. Paramount Global’s most-watched cable channel in primetime in 2022 was TV Land, coming in at 18th out of 126 when including a week’s worth of delayed (mostly DVR) viewing. Carried almost solely by “Yellowstone,” Paramount Network was 21st; BET, which is now up for sale, was 25th.
No other Paramount-owned, ad-supported, basic-cable channels made the Top 25: MTV was 33rd, Nick-at-Nite was 35th, Comedy Central was 36th, VH1 (also for sale) was 41st, CMT was 49th, Nick Jr. was 61st, Pop TV was 65th, Smithsonian was 69th, NickToons was 82nd, MTV2 was 89th, BET Her was 97th, TeenNick was 98th, and Logo ranked 101st.
James Minchin III/Paramount+
Paramount Global’s streaming footprint has been expanding, even exploding, since CBS All Access was retooled as Paramount+. No streamer has added as many subscribers in the past two years.
Nearly 10 million subscribers signed on in the final quarter of 2022, bringing the Paramount+ total up to nearly 56 million. Overall, including Showtime OTT and some niche streaming services, Paramount Global finished the year with more than 77 million subs. That Showtime OTT service goes away in September, but existing subscribers will be pushed toward the top Paramount+ plan rebranded as “Paramount+ with Showtime.” The Showtime linear channel will take on the same name.
This year, Paramount+ amassed 28 appearances on research firm Whip Media’s weekly rankings of the Top 10 most-streamed shows in the U.S., trouncing Disney+ (17) and doubling Netflix (14). Sheridan’s “1923” led the way, with his “Mayor of Kingstown” and “Tulsa King” also making multiple appearances. In the non-Sheridan category, “Star Trek: Picard,” has also been a big performer in 2023. (Whip Media’s rankings are based on data from TV Time, its TV- and movie-tracking app with more than 25 million global registered users.)
Who knows? Next year Paramount+ might even turn a profit. The company could use the financial help right now.
Pluto TV, Paramount’s industry-leading FAST (free, ad-supported streaming television) service, added 6.5 million global monthly active users (MAUs) in Q4, reaching nearly 79 million in Q4.
Courtesy of Paramount Global
Paramount Pictures had a nice year — six releases opened No. 1 at the U.S. box office — with one very clear highlight. Led by “Top Gun: Maverick,” the top movie at the 2022 domestic box office, the studio ranked third overall for the year behind Universal and Disney, in that order. Paramount Pics was sixth in 2021, fifth in 2020, and sixth in 2019.
Though Paramount Pictures has “Mission: Impossible 7,” “Scream VI,” and a new “Transformers” slated for 2023, none will be confused with “Top Gun 2.” Movies also drive viewers to Paramount+, with the service accounting for the second-most appearances in Whip Media’s weekly movie rankings in Q4, trailing only Netflix.
“‘Popular is Paramount’ is a celebration of our company, content and creative excellence,” Bakish said in a prepared statement shared with the press. “It simply captures what we do best — giving audiences what they want, with smart strategies that maximize the reach and power of our unified portfolio to successfully market and distribute IP all around the world at scale. Our content engine is driving huge and undeniable momentum, underscoring our ability to produce big, mass market hits across genres, demographics, formats and platforms.”