Paramount+ seeking to attract more of the gaming audience as it doubles down on Sonic, Halo

Paramount (recently rebranded from ViacomCBS) is diving deep into video game adaptations to drive more viewers to its digital streaming service, Paramount+. The company has announced a live-action Sonic spinoff series featuring Knuckles, a third entry in the Sonic film franchise before the second has premiered, and that the upcoming Halo series has been renewed for a second season (even before its debut).

Paramount likely has been emboldened by the success of Sonic at the box office. The first entry in the franchise debuted in 2020 and generated the best opening weekend revenues ($57 million) of any video game movie in the US. Its total haul was an estimated $300 million, likely considerably higher than the cost of making the film. A sequel is headed to theaters on April 8th. At the same time, Microsoft’s 343 Industries has reinvigorated the Halo IP with the launch of last year’s Halo Infinite, which has seen over 20 million players as of January.

Video game adaptations are not unique to Paramount these days. Sony’s Uncharted movie, released exclusively in theaters over the President’s Day weekend, debuted as the #1 movie in the United States, raking in $51 million in box office gross during its opening weekend. Live-action adaptations have been announced for popular game franchises such as The Last of Us (HBO Max), BioShock (Netflix), Fallout (Amazon Prime Video), and Assassin’s Creed (Netflix). Netflix has also been delving into animated adaptations, with series based on League of Legends, Cuphead, Tomb Raider,and Cyberpunk 2077 either recently released or in development.

As a growth strategy for Paramount+, targeting gamers makes sense. Interpret’s VideoWatch shows that PC or console gamers are more likely to subscribe to a streaming service (90% of gamers subscribe to at least one digital streaming service compared to 76% of non-gamers) and subscribe to more services on average than non-gamers (3.5 for gamers versus 2.0 for non-gamers). Gamers have also shown an interest in consuming video game related content, with 43% of PC or console gamers watching video game related content. This includes 27% of gamers that watch non-esports video game content.

Paramount+ trails the other major digital streaming services (Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+) in attracting gamers. It is currently only attracting 16% of gamers, while its competitors have captured at least 36% of gamers. Doubling the number of gamers that subscribe to Paramount+ could be possible if they select the right game publishers to partner with and the right franchises to license for the streaming platform.