Audience-first strategy for Paramount+
Beverley McGarvey talks through the decisions behind the new Paramount+ streaming service.
Paramount+ launches today, heralding ViacomCBS’ latest push into the streaming service.
Retailing at $8.999 per month ($89.99 annual sub), it promises a “mountain of entertainment” of more than 20,000 episodes and blockbuster movies from studios Showtime, BET, CBS, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Paramount Pictures, the Smithsonian Channel and Sony Pictures Television.
There are also Australian commissions and later, Sport in the form of A-League, W-League and Socceroos.
The service comes with a free 7 day trial, HD content and is available on iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Google, Android TV, Fetch TV, Sony Bravia, Amazon Fire TV, Telstra TV and of course ParamountPlus.com.au.
Beverley McGarvey, Chief Content Officer & Executive Vice President, ViacomCBS ANZ says when it comes to programming a huge supply of content the proposition is to put the audience first.
Will Paramount+ release all episodes at once or week by week? It depends on the show.
“There are certain shows that we will drop all at once, because we know people will be dying to binge them,” she explains.
“We know here that if one episode drops in the US, we will have to do it straight away. If they’re doing a weekly roll out we may follow that pattern so that our audiences in Australia aren’t being left behind.
“There’s certain types of content, maybe some of the Nickelodeon or MTV content, that might drop in 2×5 if it’s a 10 episode series. I think we will just be pragmatic and practical about that, in terms of thinking what does our audience want, and how can we service them in the best way possible? With things like our local originals roll-out, we would tend to drop whole series. But even within that, there may be certain shows that for editorial reason (are not).”
Launching today are Anne Boleyn, Why Women Kill, Two Weeks to Live, Leonardo, Everyone is Doing Great and kids titles iCarly, Kamp Koral and Rugrats. New big budget Mark Wahlberg film Infinite also drops today.
“Infinite is really exciting because it is a proper theatrical movie, all bells and whistles, massive budget, big stars. I’m a fan of that sort of thing, generally. I like a big blockbuster. To be on the service at $8.99 a month it’s a movie that you cannot see on the big screen -but it is a big screen movie.”
Later this month are Coyote, Nancy Drew, Evil, The Bite, In the Dark, Monsterland and Ziwe.
Season 2 of Aussie hit drama Five Bedrooms also debuts today on with Kat Stewart, Stephen Peacocke, Doris Younane, Roy Joseph, Katie Robertson and Hugh Sheridan.
“We wanted something up there on Launch. We think that Five Bedrooms is such a great Australian series and we wanted something that people knew, that had existing (intellectual property), and known stars. Obviously, that sort of stuff doesn’t grow on trees. You can’t materialise a hit drama series out of thin air,” she continues.
Other local commissions include Spreadsheet (expected later this year), Last King of the Cross (expected in 2022) and movie 6 Festivals.
“Spreadsheet is a local comedy with a female lead, from a very female point of view. It’s relatively unusual to have Australian scripted comedy content that has that voice. It’s not completely unheard of, but it’s relatively unusual. So I’m really excited about that.
“6 Festivals is kind of a bucket list story about three teenagers aged 15-16 who do six festivals. It’s a really interesting thing for us to do -not the sort of thing that you would see on our linear platforms. It targets audiences that go to music festivals. So it’s a coming of age story, but with original Australian music and artists.
“It’s an amazing opportunity for us to be able to serve that audience because we traditionally haven’t really been able to do that.”
McGarvey says Five Bedrooms will not screen on 10 in the short term but notes, “Something like Five Bedrooms that started on 10 will most likely get a run on 10, but most of the local originals will be completely exclusive to Paramount+.”
As yet there’s no concrete plan to target a particular day of the week, such as Fridays, for key premieres but early data will help to understand viewing habits. Customer service will be provided online.
“Australian consumers will be able to tap in to support when they need it, in our time zone.”
There are also big titles coming in the future including The First Lady (Viola Davis, Gillian Anderson, Michelle Pfeiffer, Aaron Eckhart, Dakota Fanning), Dexter (Michael C. Hall), The Gilded Age (Cynthia Nixon, Christine Baranski, Carrie Coon), Yellowjackets (Juliette Lewis, Christina Ricci), American Rust (Jeff Daniels, Maura Tierney), Mayor of Kingstown (Jeremy Renner, Dianne Wiest), Spy City (Dominic Cooper), The Luminaries (Eve Hewson, Erik Thomson, Ewen Leslie), The Harper House (Rhea Seehorn, Jason Lee), Guilty Party (Kate Beckinsale) and The Man Who Fell to Earth (Chiwetel Ejiofor). Also due later are Lioness, Halo, The Offer, Y:1883, Flatbush Misdemeanors, Stephen, Crossing Swords, Help, No Return, Line In The Sand and Ripley, along with documentaries, Who Is Ghislaine Maxwell? and Four Hours at the Capitol.
These come on top of a vast library of classic series and favourite movies. Existing titles already tied up with other players in the market will continue, but there may be second windows through P+.
“There’s so much coming and I think that’s really important for a streaming service, because people come and watch the show, maybe binge over the weekend, but there’s got to be something there for them again next Wednesday, next Friday, and shows that they can continue to engage in,” McGarvey explains.
“We’re really targeting a broad audience and a family audience. There’s an amazing deep library and fresh content around Nickelodeon brands as well.”
P+ also has a 5 year rights deal for A-League / W-League and a 3 year deal for the Matildas and Socceroos.
“The reason we’re really excited about football is that we think it’s such a great brand fit for ViacomCBS. It’s a good fit for 10, a good fit for Paramount+. We think football has an amazing few years ahead of it, with great growth opportunity. Obviously, everybody’s excited about the Matildas and the World Cup here in a couple of years. It’s got massive participation base. It is the biggest participation sport in Australia,” she observes.
“Two years ago if we had done a football deal could we have played six games a week on 10? That would be a bit of a stretch. But now we have this great platform to service that audience. Every football fan who wants to see their team play can do it.
“We talk about a mountain of entertainment, when you look at Sport on Paramount+in the US.
“We do think that Paramount+ can be a full service entertainment offering, and therefore Sport can fit really neatly into that,” she adds.
“We will continue to look at all available local and international sports on a tactical basis.”