Changes are headed for Paramount Plus, and they'll come at a price: When the company integrates Showtime into a combined service, it'll raise prices (for many -- but not all -- customers).
Paramount Plus' premium plan, which'll include Showtime programming, will increase $2 a month to $12; its basic plan, without Showtime, will rise by $1 a month to $6. The hikes are expected to hit early in the third quarter, which likely means July, and will be effective for both new and existing customers, according to Chief Financial Officer Naveen Chopra, who described the plan during a call Thursday to discuss the company's latest financial results.
"The Paramount Plus offering is far from the industry price leader. We are on the value end of the pricing spectrum," CEO Bob Bakish said Thursday. "And so in 2023, we will raise prices, both for Paramount Plus premium and essential, both in the US and select international markets."
That'll mean people paying for Paramount Plus' ad-supported basic tier will have a $1 price increase. It also means people who subscribe just to Paramount Plus' premium tier will get additional Showtime programming included in their membership by default, but they'll have to pay $2 more.
"We think that makes sense because, effectively, what we're doing is tying a bigger price increase on the premium tier to a significant expansion of content, while keeping an easily accessible entry point on the essential tier," Chopra said. "And we'll continue to take advantage of promotional pricing, annual plans and bundles."
However, people who are already paying for the service's Premium + Showtime bundle may actually be getting a bit of a price cut. Currently, a package of Paramount Plus' premium plan and Showtime together costs $15 a month. By integrating Showtime into Paramount Plus and pricing it at $12, those customers may be on track to save $3 monthly on the combined service.
In the last quarter of 2022, Paramount Plus gained 9.9 million subscribers for a total of "nearly" 56 million. That number puts it ahead of Hulu's 48 million but well behind streaming giants like Disney Plus at 161.8 million and Netflix, the world's biggest subscription streaming service, at 230.8 million.
After years of companies pouring billions of dollars into their streaming services, prices are on the rise across the board. Most of the major streamers raised prices in 2022, and some are finding other ways to make more money. Peacock, which is the rare service that hasn't hiked prices, is eliminating the option to watch free with advertising and is planning to end free promotional subscriptions it had previously offered to some customers. Even Netflix, which raised US prices last year, is embarking on an unpopular password-sharing crackdown.