With ViacomCBS betting you subscribe to five or extra streaming companies

“Jersey Shore” star Snooki in Paramount + ad.


ViacomCBS had a compelling presentation on Wednesday to illustrate why TV lovers should sign up for the new flagship streaming service Paramount +.

However, the main point directed to corporate executives – one that will determine the success of the service – came fairly late on the nearly three and a half hour Investors Day.

ViacomCBS showed a slide showing the increase in the average number of subscription streaming services American families are subscribing to. That number, the company said, has increased from 1 to 2 in 2016 to 2 to 3 in 2019 to 3 to 4 in 2020. ViacomCBS suggested it won’t be long before households subscribe to five or more services.

While that one point seems like a throwaway comment to illustrate the growth of streaming, it is actually at the heart of Paramount + ‘s argument for existence. It is highly unlikely that millions of people will cancel Netflix, Disney +, or Amazon Prime Video to subscribe to Paramount +.

Can Paramount + become the 4th most popular subscription streaming service in the world ahead of Hulu, HBO Max, Peacock and Discovery +? May be. But it’s far more likely to slowly trudge along with all of these other services to pick up subscribers. CBS All Access, the company’s current streaming offering that makes up much of the core of Paramount +, has been around for years and has not proven to be a must-have streaming platform. When combined with Showtime, the two services have approximately 30 million subscribers (19.2 million in the US).

This means that the starting position of Paramount + is in the same package as many others. Last month, NBCUniversal announced that Peacock had 33 million signups. HBO Max announced it had 37.7 million subscribers. Disney’s Hulu has nearly 40 million.

It’s a far cry from Disney + ‘s 95 million subscribers or Netflix’ s 200 million. By 2024, ViacomCBS estimates that 65 to 75 million subscribers will pay for either Showtime or Paramount +.

There is no certainty that US households will actually sign up for five or more streaming services. Former CEO of WarnerMedia and current CEO of AT&T, John Stankey, guessed it was “four or five”. Jeffrey Hirsch, CEO of Starz, said “four to six”. Jason Wong, director of product management at Hulu, said three to five.

ViacomCBS is betting its company that this number will be high. If not, it likely has two options: merging or partnering with another media company, or finding a buyer.

Disclosure: NBCUniversal is the parent company of CNBC.

WATCH: CNBC’s in-depth interview with Bob Bakish, CEO of ViacomCBS

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