Paramount Global added global streaming subscribers in the second quarter to reach “nearly 64 million” at the end of June, up from more than 62 million at the end of March. That includes the addition of 5.2 million subscribers, partially offset by the removal of 3.9 million subscribers in Russia.
The entertainment conglomerate released its latest figures on Thursday as part of its quarterly report, in which sales beat Wall Street expectations. It also indicated that its Paramount+ streaming platform grew 4.9 million, minus 1.2 million deleted Russian subscribers, to reach “more than 43 million” subscribers, compared to “nearly 40 million” at the end of March, when the flagship streamer 39 reached .6. million users.
The last quarter included the launch of Paramount+ original Star Trek: Strange New Worlds and most episodes of Halo, which was launched at the end of the first quarter. “Paramount+ achieved the most signups, gross and net subscriptions of any premium domestic streaming service in the quarter.
according to Antenna’s June 2022 report,” noted Paramount in its earnings report. “Paramount+’s subscriber growth was driven in part by successful international market launches, including the UK, Ireland and South Korea.”
The company also praised its streaming content lineup. “Paramount+’s broad content strategy continued to attract audiences in the quarter, including highly anticipated original series, movies and sports,” it said. “Paramount+ saw strong acquisition and engagement of a variety of content, led by Halo, 1883, The Lost City, Sonic the hedgehog 2, Jackass Forever, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds and the UEFA Champions League (football tournament). Both domestic and international hours per household showed strong year-over-year growth.”
By the fourth quarter of 2021, the company, led by President and CEO Bob Bakish, had added 9.4 million global subscribers to its pay streaming offering, which also includes Showtime OTT.
Paramount’s free, ad-supported streaming service Pluto TV also continued to grow its monthly active users, or MAUs, to nearly 70 million at the end of June, after reaching “nearly” 68 million by the end of March. Pluto TV’s total global viewing hours grew double-digit year-over-year for the
second consecutive quarter, Paramount noted and also praised the service’s “extensive international presence.”
Paramount’s Film Unit Released Top Gun: Maverick during the second quarter, with the company praising the success of the Tom Cruise film and other recent releases. Film unit revenues grew 126 percent to $1.36 billion in the second quarter, “led by the strong performance of theatrical releases in the current quarter, with theatrical revenues up $630 million,” driven primarily by the releases of the movie. Top Gun: Maverick and Sonic the hedgehog 2 in the quarter.” Licenses and other revenues in the motion picture division were up 27 percent, “driven primarily by monetization from recent theatrical releases.” Adjusted operating income before depreciation and amortization in the film unit increased $129 million to $181 million, “due to the strong performance of the current year’s releases.”
Meanwhile, Paramount’s TV Media unit posted a decline in ad revenue in the second quarter, after a 13 percent decline in the first quarter. “Ad revenue was down 6 percent year-over-year as pricing only partially offset the impact of lower linear impressions and foreign exchange,” the company said.
In his earnings outlook, Wells Fargo analyst Steven Cahill had forecast a net increase of 4 million Paramount+ subscribers in the second quarter, or 5 million excluding Russia, but only 1.3 million net streaming additions “due to some weakness at Showtime and a (negative) 2 million impact from non-Paramount+ Russia subs.” He suggested that Showtime OTT, Noggin and BET+ together lost about 600,000 subs.
“We think Paramount+ has benefited from Halo, the Sky Cinema deal in the UK and a few hundred thousand net ads from the T-Mobile US deal,” Cahall wrote. “We believe the Sky Cinema deal could add approximately 9 million subscribers in total, with additional Sky market launches expected in the fourth quarter. We estimate non-Paramount+ net additions of -2.7 million, driven by broken low average revenue per distributor of users in Russia, impacting 2 million net additions. Russia’s cumulative impact on direct-to-consumer (DTC) subs is 3 million, including -1 million for Paramount+. Our estimate of total DTC net additions is 1.3 million versus 2.7 million consensus, although our Paramount+ net additions are in line.”