Paramount+ reveals big plans, but do we need another streaming service?

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Streaming service Paramount+ has announced a huge slate of new shows and films ahead of its expansion to countries including the UK this year.

The platform's plans include a Sonic the Hedgehog series, 14 new South Park movies, four SpongeBob films and a prequel series to 2000 film Sexy Beast.

The service is already home to the Star Trek franchise and the forthcoming Frasier reboot and Halo adaptation.

It launched in the US last year and will arrive in the UK this summer.

It is spending big on programming in an attempt to compete with Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Now and Apple TV+, not to mention traditional broadcasters, for viewers' time and money.

It will have a $6bn (£4.4bn) content budget by 2024, according to Variety.

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The UK launch date and subscription price have not yet been announced. It costs $9.99 (£7.37) a month in the US for ad-free shows, or $4.99 (£3.68) with ads.

The plans include:

Teen Wolf's Crystal Reed and actor Tyler PoseyGetty Images
  • A series following Idris Elba's Sonic the Hedgehog villain Knuckles
  • A feature-length reboot of the 2010s werewolf drama Teen Wolf, starring many of the original cast
  • A live-action Dora the Explorer series, targeted at tween audiences
  • A UK-made drama adapted from Amor Towles' best-selling novel A Gentleman in Moscow
  • Two South Park films per year for seven years, with new and past series also on the platform
  • Halo, the video game adaptation that will reach Paramount+ next month, has been recommissioned for a second series
  • Reality show The Challenge will have series in the US, UK, Australia and Argentina, whose winners will come together for a "War of the Worlds"
  • Paramount films including new A Quiet Place, Star Trek, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Transformers movies will go to the streaming platform after cinemas
  • Other Paramount+ shows to have already been announced include The Offer, about the making of The Godfather, and Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies

Sexy Beast and A Gentleman in Moscow are examples of the "high-quality local content" the platform will create in the UK, according to Ben Frow, chief content officer of the UK arm of parent company ViacomCBS, which has now been rebranded as Paramount.

But there is a question mark over whether will all that programming will be enough in the highly competitive world of streaming.

"Unless it's differentiated, it's going to be a very difficult sell," said Tom Harrington, head of television at Enders Analysis. UK households currently have just under two subscriptions on average, one of which is normally Netflix, he said.

"These services by large are loss making, they are still in a growth phase, and they are being forced to spend ridiculous amounts on content, which isn't necessarily being returned from subscriber fees, which are artificially pushed down by Netflix."

'There will be losers'

Because of the competition, services can't raise their fees much unless they're offering much better content than their rivals – which costs money.

"So there's a sort of a vicious cycle going on, and people are only taking two services, so there are going to be losers," Harrington said.

"How this goes is very important for the future of the company, and that's why they're going all in, although they are very late and it looks like a tough sell. But who knows? It's all very early and in a few years we'll know what the people want."

Paramount's chief financial officer Naveen Chopra said the service had "outperformed all expectations" since launching in the US and had "serious momentum and the credibility to establish ourselves as a scaled streaming player".

Netflix is the most popular subscription video streaming service in the UK, in around 17 million households, followed by Amazon Prime Video in around 13 million, according to the latest figures from ratings body Barb.

Paramount+'s competition in the US also includes services like Hulu, Peacock and HBO Max.

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  • Star Trek fans angry as new season is pulled

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  • Frasier and Rugrats both set to return to TV

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