Paramount Plus gears up to challenge Netflix, Disney Plus and HBO Max

Poster for Sonic the Hedgehog 2
(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

If Netflix and Disney Plus are the big dogs of the streaming world, Paramount Plus is the terrier yapping at their heels. 

As of February 16, the burgeoning streamer’s parent company, ViacomCBS, is re-branding to Paramount Global (or, more simply, Paramount) in an effort to generate more name recognition for the company’s centerpiece entertainment studio.

The announcement comes alongside a commitment to investing more than $6 billion in new streaming content over the next two years, with Paramount hoping its still-young streaming service will have surpassed 100 million subscribers by 2024. 

Those numbers might seem like small change compared to Paramount Plus’ larger (and older) competitors – Netflix splashed $17 billion on programming last year, while Disney is targeting around 250 million subscribers for Disney Plus come the end of 2024 – but they are nonetheless a sign that Paramount has designs on disrupting the streaming market sooner rather than later. 

Its upcoming content slate reflects that ambition. In addition to the first and second seasons of its highly-anticipated Halo TV series, Paramount Plus will benefit from a Knuckles-focused Sonic series and several titles based on hit kids properties (Paw Patrol among them) in the coming years. 

The Mission: Impossible, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and A Quiet Place franchises all belong to the studio, too, so future movies based in those respective universe will also make their way onto Paramount Plus in one guise or another. Incidentally, all three franchises have new entries in the works – and beginning in 2024 in the US, the streamer will get exclusive rights to stock these Paramount-produced films in its library, following their theatrical runs. 

Like HBO Max, Paramount Plus is expanding to more countries across the globe. The streamer will launch in the UK “this summer” (that’s some time between June and September), Paramount announced at its recent Investor Day, meaning those left disgruntled by Star Trek: Discovery’s departure from Netflix will soon have access to the show on its permanent new home.

It’s a safe bet to assume that existing IP won’t form the entirety of Paramount’s entertainment offering moving forward, either. A healthy chunk of that $6 billion will undoubtedly go towards producing original movies and TV shows, especially with equally junior streamers like Apple TV Plus placing more emphasis on risky, big-budget projects in recent years.  

Is it time to seal the deal?

For Paramount Plus to really compete with its more established rivals, though, it’s likely that its parent company will have to approach the deal table. 

Following Amazon’s acquisition of MGM studios and Discovery’s merger with WarnerMedia (owner of HBO Max), Paramount should (and invariably will) look to leverage its significant industry standing in an effort to bag one of the few entertainment giants left up for grabs. 

Deadline reports that Showtime (a subsidiary of Paramount) chief David Nevins is keen on a deal to secure Starz (producer of shows such as Power) and its parent company, Lionsgate (responsible for franchises including The Hunger Games and Twilight). In one fell swoop, such a move would almost certainly make some of the biggest movie franchises in recent history exclusive to Paramount Plus. 

That being said, it’s early days for the new-look Paramount and its proprietary streamer. The immediate focus will be on expansion and consolidation, before the next few years make way for an inevitable slew of acquisitions and content announcements. 

Get ready, then, to add yet another streaming service to your lengthy list of existing entertainment subscriptions. 

Axel Metz
Phones Editor

Axel is TechRadar's UK-based Phones Editor, reporting on everything from the latest Apple developments to newest AI breakthroughs as part of the site's Mobile Computing vertical. Having previously written for publications including Esquire and FourFourTwo, Axel is well-versed in the applications of technology beyond the desktop, and his coverage extends from general reporting and analysis to in-depth interviews and opinion.  Axel studied for a degree in English Literature at the University of Warwick before joining TechRadar in 2020, where he then earned an NCTJ qualification as part of the company’s inaugural digital training scheme.