Paramount Streaming Chief Tom Ryan Talks Global Expansion, New Content

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As Paramount+ is preparing for this Paramount’s launches the sparkling, star-studded UK and Ireland in London on Monday Streaming President and CEO Tom Ryan spoke diversity on the rebranded company’s global streaming business expansion, which not only excels in original content but also excels in its diversified model.

This model involves a mix of platforms and partnerships that combine direct-to-consumer and a la carte offerings with a market-by-market approach. The two main pillars that define Paramount’s streaming offering are the combination of its fast-growing premium offering, Paramount+, and its free, ad-supported streaming service, which Ryan founded, Pluto TV.

The global rollout envisages Paramount+ Launching in India in 2023 in partnership with Viacom18, which recently acquired streaming rights to the Indian Premier League cricket tournament previously hosted by Disney+. For its first launch in Asia, Paramount+ made its debut in last week South Korea as a free addition to the TV platform controlled by CJ ENM.

Elsewhere in Europe, Paramount+ has set firm dates for the launch of its standalone streaming offering Italy in September in partnership with Sky; and in Germany, Switzerland, Austria and France in December, the latter in partnership with Canal+.

Content-wise, at the London launch, Paramount announces plans to commission 150 international originals by 2025 and announces its latest commissions from around the world, including:

  • “Sinaloa’s First Lady” (working title). A series about Emma Coronel, the beauty queen’s bride Mexican drug lord and escape artist Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. John Leguizamo sTars and is co-producing with well-known Mexican producer Frida Torresblanco (“Pans Labyrinth”).
  • “Murder of God’s banker.” A 4-part docuseries about the murder of Italian fugitive banker Roberto Calvi, known as “God’s banker” due to his close ties to the Vatican, whose body was found hanging from London’s Blackfriars Bridge in 1982. The case interweaves the mafia, the Roman Catholic Church and the international financial world. Produced by CreativeChaos vmg from New York.
  • “The Sheik”: Inspired by true events, this show tells the story of a con man named Ringo, played by Björn Meyer (“Tatort”), who reinvents himself as the heir to an Arab fortune. It was created by Swiss Dani Levy (“Go For Zucker”), who is co-directing with Johannes Naber. Levy’s X Films Creative Pool produces.
  • “Marie Antoinette Serial Killer” (“MASK”): This YA fantasy horror thriller series was created and developed by Executive Producers Beth Tapper, Mitch Watson and Leila Smith (“Find Me in Paris”). Based on the novel “Marie Antoinette Serial Killer” by US author Katie Alender, the 8-part show follows four young American girls on spring break in Paris as they become involved in a mysterious murder spree that soon becomes very personal. The series is currently in advanced development and is being produced by Frances’s Cottonwood Media.
  • “A fine line”: This show is about two young “hacktivist” twin sisters trying to uncover environmental crimes by any means necessary. Produced by Germany’s Weydemann Bros.
  • “Circeo”: This series, directed by Italy’s Andrea Molaioli and produced by Rome’s Cattleya, which is part of ITV Studios, is recreated the aftermath of the crime that became known as “The Circeo Massacre” that rocked Italy in the 1970s after two teenage girls were found in the trunk of a car in Rome, naked, wrapped in blankets and soaked in blood.

In an in-depth interview with Diversity, Ryan outlined his global expansion plan.

In the UK, in addition to launching Paramount+ as a standalone, you are also a partner of Sky. Paramount has similar partnerships in many areas. This seems to be a key aspect of your strategy.

Yes. We’re taking a similar approach in the free space, where we started with partnerships that really propelled Pluto’s launch into other markets as well. Last month we launched Pluto in the Nordic region with Viaplay Group, formerly known as NENT. And then we just announced that we’re launching Corus in Canada. This type of approach to working with great local partners includes both free and paid offerings.

Give me a snapshot of your rollout plan.

As I mentioned, we have an international presence in 30 markets around the world, which has allowed us to scale very quickly. We grew both Pluto and Paramount+ very quickly. I mean, Paramount+ has just started [in March 2021]and we will be present in 45 markets by the end of the following year [2022]. We will offer the service in India in 2023. And then we look elsewhere in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Pluto TV has expanded to dozens of markets in just a few years. And that’s in large part because we have talented teams on the ground that have been able to make that possible for us.

The stated goal is 100 million subscribers by 2024. What gives Paramount the edge that allows you to set this goal?

We have a differentiated streaming strategy. We’re the only player that really focuses on the combination of free and paid streaming strategy and we think that’s very powerful. I believe that “one plus one of free and paid equals three” and we are already successfully bringing free users from Pluto TV to Paramount+. If sSome are leaving Paramount+ of course, we try to keep and reactivate them. But we then also promote Pluto TV to keep them in our streaming ecosystem. In the US, our description of Paramount+ is: live sports, breaking news and a mountain of entertainment. [News is not part of Paramount’s international offer]. And we really want to be that service for the whole household, because when there is more than one person in the household on the service, the lifetime value increases, churn decreases. People stay with you longer once you have a second and ideally a third person in the family who uses Paramount+ as one of their favorite entertainment apps.

What are your current numbers?

We reached more than 62 million at the end of the last quarter, powered by Paramount+, which added 6.8 million subscribers in the first quarter alone. We have local teams in more than 30 countries. By the end of the year, it should be present with more than 60 partners in almost 60 markets.

Talk to me about your content strategy.

By being a global media company with content that truly spans all genres, we are able to deliver content ranging from sports, news and kids to movies, reality, scripts and originals. We feel well positioned. We feel us very well positioned competitively because we are able to leverage these different content engines that we have and create content for multiple platforms. Instead of using content that we create just for streaming, we can monetize that content through various distribution channels. For example, we can take our films, show them in theaters, and then put them on Paramount+. And we have had great success with that.

Let’s talk about windows.

I think about a year ago there was a lot of discussion about what is the right model for streaming movies, aAnd we were one of the first, if not the first, to come out with 45 Days Post Cinema, which places a lot of value in content merchandising and allows you to give it a great theatrical exclusive window, but then bring it it fast for streaming. And we’ve had great success with a number of films we’ve made that way, most recently Sonic the Hedgehog 2. But on a broader level, we are able to monetize the content we create across a variety of distribution channels, from cinema and film to broadcast, cable, television and streaming.

I doubt Tom Cruise’s Top Gun: Maverick has a 45-day window.

No it does not. We haven’t decided on that yet [the theatrical window for ‘Top Gun: Maverick’] still.

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