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Paramount CEO Says Disney Plus Ad-Supported Option Is ‘Validation’

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Paramount Global CEO Bob Bakish says Disney Plus’ decision to launch a cheaper, ad-supported version later this year is “validation of the strategy,” which Paramount (recently rebranded from ViacomCBS) itself uses for a tier of its streaming service Paramount Plus.

“They’re 100% right,” Bakish said during Morgan Stanley’s Technology, Media & Telecom Conference Tuesday, when asked about Disney’s announcement last week to roll out an ad-supported subscription plan for Disney Plus, to launch first in the U.S. in late 2022. It hasn’t revealed the cost of Disney Plus with ads, only that it will be less than the regular no-ads version, which in the U.S. costs $7.99 per month.

In announcing the ad-supported version of Disney Plus last week, the company called it a “building block” in the company’s aims of reaching 230 million-260 million Disney Plus subscribers worldwide by the end of its 2024 fiscal year. At the end of 2021, Disney Plus had 129.8 million paying customers worldwide, gaining 11.8 million for the quarter ended Jan. 1, 2022.

Paramount Plus currently offers two plan options: the ad-supported “Essential” version that streams with “limited commercial interruptions” for $4.99 per month or $49.99 a year, and the commercial-free “Premium” tier, which plays with no ads and will cost you $9.99 per month or $99.99 a year. Customers are able to bundle Paramount Plus with Paramount’s streaming platform for Showtime, which will soon be available as an in-app option on Paramount Plus.

At the end of 2021, Disney Plus had 129.8 million paying customers worldwide, gaining 11.8 million for the quarter ended Jan. 1, 2022. In comparison, Paramount’s Paramount Plus and Showtime gained 9.4 million streaming subscribers, topping a combined 56 million subscribers by the end of last year.

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