Media

Oprah interview with Meghan, Prince Harry grew subscriptions for Paramount+

Oprah Winfrey's interview with Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, drove millions of new subscriptions for Paramount+, the streaming service of ViacomCBS, the company said while reporting first quarter earnings on Thursday morning.

Along with live events like the Super Bowl, the NCAA basketball tournaments and the Grammy Awards, the interview helped attract 6 million new subscribers to Paramount+ and Viacom's other streaming services in the first quarter of 2021.

The interview was one of the first live events for the service, which launched on March 4 just before the Oprah interview aired on CBS on March 7. Prior to its launch, Paramount+  was known as CBS All Access.

At the end of the fiscal quarter, ViacomCBS said it had 36 million subscribers for Paramount+ and its other streaming services like Showtime and Pluto TV. 

Streaming revenue, both subscriber fees and advertising, grew 65 percent compared to the same quarter last year, to $816 million, the company reported.

Paramount+ sits in the middle of the streaming services market, according to Parrot Analytics. 

From January through March the platform won 9 percent of the demand for streaming content in the U.S., slightly more than NBCUniversal's Peacock and slightly less than HBO Max. By comparison, 20 percent of the demand was for Netflix and 23 percent was for Hulu.

Steaming services were the third-largest source of revenue for ViacomCBS. The next largest was affiliate fees (which cable providers pay to carry the company's content), which grew by 5 percent to just over $2 billion, and then advertising, which grew by 21 percent, to just under $2.7 billion. 

For ViacomCBS's over-the-air broadcast network CBS, the company touted "60 Minutes" as the number one-rated news magazine and "The Equalizer" as the number one broadcast series in its earnings statement. 

However, it also reported that the 19 percent increase in revenue for CBS came largely from sporting events like the Super Bowl and the NCAA tournament. 

For ViacomCBS overall, revenues grew 14 percent, to just over $7.4 billion, compared to the same period last year. 

Operating income grew 69 percent to a little more than $1.5 billion in the first quarter, the company reported.

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