Paramount hopes merger with Skydance will bolster its streaming operations

Elizabeth Trovall Jul 8, 2024
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What can Skydance do to make Paramount a competitor in the age of heavyweight streaming services like Netflix? Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

Paramount hopes merger with Skydance will bolster its streaming operations

Elizabeth Trovall Jul 8, 2024
Heard on:
What can Skydance do to make Paramount a competitor in the age of heavyweight streaming services like Netflix? Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images
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Paramount, which owns the likes of CBS and MTV, is turning over a new leaf. It announced a merger with the production company Skydance late Sunday.

The deal comes as Paramount faces a challenging environment for traditional media companies, with its assets in broadcast television and film. And Paramount’s efforts to create its own streaming platform have lost the company gobs of cash.

Even so, streaming is the future. What will Skydance do to make Paramount a competitor in the age of Netflix?

Paramount’s iconic media assets like MTV, SpongeBob and “The Godfather” only get you so far in the entertainment business these days.

“Paramount’s not alone, in the sense that they’re trying to become profitable in the wake of having all of these assets that are not as valuable as they once were,” said media consultant Brad Adgate.

It’s not just the decline of broadcast television. It’s the challenge of creating a streaming platform that’s profitable.

“It really comes down to content. I mean, I think the biggest challenge that subscriber companies have, like a Paramount+, or Disney+, is not getting subscribers, as much as it is keeping subscribers.” 

Whether Skydance CEO David Ellison, whose father founded Oracle, can turn things around for Paramount is a wait and see situation.

University of Minnesota’s Joel Waldfogel is particularly skeptical about the streaming business.

“It’s hard to understand how the bringing tech fairy dust in here fundamentally makes it sufficiently attractive relative to the other streaming services that it’s going to attract a lot of interest,” he said.

Subscribers only really want to subscribe to maybe three different streaming services. Netflix and Amazon Prime Video take the top two spots. That makes it a competition for bronze, said Charles Schreger, a New York University professor and former HBO executive.

“In order to compete and become third place, you need to combine those services,” he said.

Like if HBO’s Max combines with Peacock. Or Paramount+ combines with Disney+. 

“You can really only get gravitas and size, if there is a combination of there’s either a merger, or the streaming services come together,” Schreger said.

He sees this Paramount merger as a step in that direction — platforms merging or bundling to offer more content under one subscription. While that may mean fewer logins, “with all these combinations, there’ll be less original programming for the consumer,” he said.

Less programming, but still be plenty to go around. 

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