Paramount Shares Plummet as Q1 Streaming Loss Grows, Dividend Slashed

Shares of Paramount Global tumbled more than 24% in early trading Thursday after the media conglomerate reported disappointing first-quarter 2023 results and slashed its dividend.

Paramount posted a Q1 net loss of $1.12 billion, as revenue of $7.27 billion was down 1% on shortfalls in its TV media and filmed entertainment units.

The company’s streaming business, which includes Paramount+ and Pluto TV, saw revenue rise 39% in the first quarter to $1.5 billion. However, the direct-to-consumer segment posted a loss of $511 million, growing 12% compared with the year-earlier period. The company said Paramount+ added 4.1 million subscribers in the quarter, coming to a total of 60 million overall.

Paramount CEO Bob Bakish, in prepared remarks, touted Paramount+’s hitting 60 million subs and Pluto TV reaching 80 million monthly active users. He said the company is “focused on continuing to drive market-leading streaming growth while navigating a dynamic macroeconomic environment.”

On the earnings call, Bakish addressed the WGA’s writers strike, telling investors and analysts that “we hope we can come to a resolution that works for everyone fairly quickly” but that “it’s also fair to say there’s a really big gap.” Paramount has “a lot in the can, so to speak, content in the can,” he added. “So with the exception of things like late-night, consumers really won’t notice anything for a while.”

Meanwhile, the company chopped its quarterly cash dividend to shareholders to 5 cents per share. In each of the quarters in 2022, Paramount paid out a dividend of 24 cents per share. According to Bakish, the lower dividend “will further enhance our ability to deliver long-term value for our shareholders as we move toward streaming profitability.”

According to the company, Paramount+ subscriber growth was driven by a strong content slate including originals like “1923,” “Tulsa King” and the returns of “Mayor of Kingstown” and “Star Trek: Picard,” along with films “Top Gun: Maverick” and “Teen Wolf: The Movie,” as well as the NFL playoffs.

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