Paramount+ brings traditional TV to streaming
The Future. Paramount+ launched a suite of “live” channels of films and shows from its library. The hope is that it gives audiences a decision-free way to use the platform, mimicking the near choiceless-ness of classic cable. But the addition of live capabilities may also give Paramount+ a way to eventize programming by engineering FOMO in its user-base… again, just like the good ‘ole days of cable.
The new channels
The streaming wars have come full circle — live film and TV is coming to on-demand.
- Last week, Paramount+ added 18 “live” channels of movies and shows.
- The programming will come from Paramount’s existing library of content.
- Each channel either has a certain theme (old shows, kid’s shows) or is geared to a specific “fandom” (Star Trek, PAW Patrol).
The offering allows people to avoid the endless scroll of looking for something to watch, and instead just dive into whatever’s playing. You know, just like cable TV. But unlike cable, Paramount+’s channels will be ad-free… even for subscribers of the ad-supported version of the streamer.
The churn concern
Tom Ryan, ViacomCBS’s president and CEO of streaming, says that they brought the live-channel model to Paramount+ after the success they saw with the feature on Viacom’s smaller, only ad-supported streamer, PlutoTV. Ryan hopes that the live channels will “reduce churn and drive longer lifetime value for customers” — i.e. stop someone from canceling because they “can’t find anything to watch.”
Ultimately, it may show that — sometimes, people don’t have the energy to flip through all the options available. Instead, they want to just turn on the TV and see what’s on… a concept that seemed, until now, to be going extinct.