Paramount to launch premium plans, ad-supported tier in global streaming expansion

(Reuters) -Paramount Global will roll out its ad-supported streaming service in Canada and Australia and launch the higher priced, premium version across Europe, the company said on Tuesday, doubling down on its international expansion.

The expansion follows the media conglomerate's surprise quarterly profit late in February on the back of streaming gains. Paramount+, the company's flagship streaming offering, added 4.1 million subscribers in the fourth quarter, compared with 2.7 million in the prior quarter.

It also comes as Paramount grapples with the fallout from an exodus of subscribers in its traditional TV business that had long been its cash cow.

The plan will be launched in Canada at C$6.99 ($5.14) in April and at A$6.99 ($4.56) in Australia in June for a month. Rival Netflix's ad-supported streaming tier starts at A$6.99 in Australia and C$5.99 in Canada a month.

The premium plan will be rolled out in Europe this month, starting with France, where it will be priced at 10.99 euros ($11.93) per month, Paramount said.

The premium tier will be launched in UK, Ireland, Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Italy later this year. The service is available in Australia, Brazil, Canada, and Mexico since last year.

Meanwhile, Paramount is restructuring some of its businesses and has invited takeover interest, according to media reports and filings.

India's Reliance Industries agreed to buy Paramount's 13.01% stake in local entertainment network Viacom 18 Media for about $517 million.

Paramount is also set to lay off about 800 employees, or roughly 3% of its workforce, Reuters had reported in February.

($1 = 1.3605 Canadian dollars)

($1 = 1.5344 Australian dollars)

($1 = 0.9213 euros)

(Reporting by Arsheeya Bajwa in Bengaluru; Editing by Shilpi Majumdar and Sriraj Kalluvila)