Paramount Purges Access To Decades Of Shows Across Multiple Networks

Paramount has made a sweeping move to redirect users from its cable network websites to Paramount+. Comedy Central, CMT, Paramount Network, TV Land, and MTV sites now point visitors to the streaming platform, effectively removing vast archives of content from public access. This follows the unexpected shutdown of the MTV News website earlier this week, which erased two decades of content.

In a statement, Paramount explained, “As part of broader website changes across Paramount, we have introduced more streamlined versions of our sites, driving fans to Paramount+ to watch their favorite shows.”

The content purge notably impacts archival material from shows like The Daily Show, South Park, Key & Peele, and Workaholics. While some of this content is available on YouTube, it is not as easily searchable as it was on the network’s original pages. Paramount+ offers only the two most recent seasons of The Daily Show and several South Park specials. (The full series of Key & Peele and Workaholics are available on the platform.) As of now, websites for BET, Nickelodeon, and VH1 remain active, and still provides some episodes and clips.

To help pay down debt and strengthen the company’s balance sheet, co-CEOs George Cheeks, Chris McCarthy, and Brian Robbins have announced a mission to cut costs by $500 million, which includes layoffs, potential asset sales, and shuttering websites.

It’s this last bit that gave me pause. Clearly, Paramount is in serious financial trouble, and legacy websites (especially rich content sites that stream video) are expensive to run… but does the data support shutting these sites down? (I’m sure they modeled it out.)

That said, MTV News was probably enjoying a million uniques monthly. Let’s call the combined traffic for all the shuttered sites 5-10 million uniques monthly. As a media play, there’s not a lot of ad revenue to be had, but these are self-assembled communities of passion. Surely, there is a share of wallet in excess of an ad unit sale to be had; you just need the staff to service the communities.

I’m also curious why no one modeled out how various AI point solutions could have reduced the cost of operations. I understand that a legacy digital media model may not generate enough revenue to justify keeping the sites online, but I also know how much time, effort, and money it would take to find 5-10 million monthly uniques in 2024.

On the other hand, maybe this is a brilliant move. It is very likely that generative AI will completely upend link-based SEO and take SEM along with it. If this is the case, getting out now will seem both prescient and highly responsible.

To argue with myself, I’m a big believer in the value of communities of interest, practice, and passion. Historically, these are the easiest audiences to monetize. So… is this a business breakthrough or a boardroom blunder? Time will tell.

Author’s note: This is not a sponsored post. I am the author of this article and it expresses my own opinions. I am not, nor is my company, receiving compensation for it. This work was created with the assistance of various generative AI models.

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