Paramount+: Beverley McGarvey & Jarrod Villani reveal streaming strategy


How the new ViacomCBS streaming platform will compete on price and content

Network 10’s streaming platform journey started in December 2018 when it launched 10 All Access. This week that service transforms into Paramount+, a more robust service that is expected to be a stronger competitor to market leaders like Netflix and Stan.

To note the arrival of Paramount+, Mediaweek is lifting the lid on the new service.

Today we feature interviews with the two leaders of ViacomCBS in Australia – Beverley McGarvey, EVP and chief content officer, ViacomCBS ANZ and Jarrod Villani, EVP and chief operating and commercial officer of ViacomCBS ANZ.


ViacomCBS’ Jarrod Villani and Beverley McGarvey

10 All Access v Paramount+

BM: 10 All Access has been around for a while with lots of great CBS content. Paramount+ is a different beast altogether and when it arrives it will have a lot of original content and lots of movies. All the brands that sit within the ViacomCBS universe – including Showtime, Nickelodeon, MTV – will also be available. 10 All Access was a great product, but Paramount+ is designed to compete at a much more intense level with all the other streaming platforms in the market.

Is there room for one more player?

BM: There are lots of great streaming products in the market, but our entry price is very competitive at $8.99. We feel there is a large group of people who will be interested in our broad entertainment offering together with sport. We are launching now with a full sweet of content as opposed to launching too early with less content. There are lots of Australians with multiple streaming services and we think they will make room for Paramount+.

JV: We think that if you deliver a great product – and we feel we have the broadest content slate in the market – people will choose us. We have a guaranteed supply of content through our overseas content partners which stands us in good stead for the future.

BM: Research we have indicates people will spend at our level on top of the streaming services they already have. Or potentially instead of what they already have. Australians have been early adopters and they really like their streaming services.

JV: Although we have a high level of households with subscriptions, we still lag the US. It’s not just about the number of streaming services, but the total cost of those services per household and what value they get in return.

Listen to the complete unedited Mediaweek podcast with McGarvey and Villani.


Can Paramount+ compete in quantity and quality

BM: With a competitive price point what we always want to do is make sure subscribers have two, three or four series they want to watch. We are obviously dropping a lot of content when we launch. In the months that follow we will have lot of marquee content that constantly rolls out and refreshes the platform. That is in addition to the deep library of CBS, Paramount Pictures, Nickelodeon and MTV content. It is important to also have acquisition content that brings subscribers to the service. Then once they are there, we need a really deep and engaging body of content to keep them.

Target audience for Paramount+

BM: We consider Paramount+ a broad streaming service that appeals to everyone. We can service different age groups in particular ways. For example the movie we have commissioned called 6 Festivals features Australian teenagers going to six music festivals with original Australian music. That is not the sort of thing we can play on 10 at 7.30pm on a Wednesday night and attract a big, broad audience. But it is content that is important for that age group. Paramount+ lets us serve more Australian audiences with bespoke offerings.


Paramount+ point of difference

BM: Movies are a point of difference and Paramount Pictures is a very prolific studio and we will have all those. We have also bought some third-party movies from key partners like Warner Bros.

Global content strategy

BM: Some of the content ViacomCBS acquires is available for Paramount+ platforms around the world. We also do buy content just for Australia. The platform on launch will have originals and library content from our owned and operated brands, third party content from a range of sources and locally commissioned content.

Commercial opportunities for advertisers

JV: Our general entertainment offering will be ad-free and there are no plans to alter that. However live sporting streams will carry a light ad load with opportunities for corporate partners.

Is there an ambition to grow a portfolio of sport?

JV: Our ambition is to be a good partner with the sporting bodies we think are tactically and strategically important to our business. At 10 or Paramount+. We think that sports fans are virtually getting the sporting content for free in addition to the general entertainment package.

Covid impact on launch library

BM: We have most of what we wanted to have on the platform at launch. One or two of our local originals are behind where we would have liked them. Nearly every business in the country has been impacted, but we have been relatively unscathed in terms of our planning. The industry here has been clever in how they have continued to operate with very safe Covid protocols.


Five Bedrooms season two is one of the Paramount+ Australian originals

How long before we can see Last King of the Cross?

BM: They are currently writing it so it is not quite into production yet. It will come through next year and is based on John Ibrahim’s book. We see it as a very Australian story with lots of iconic characters and locations. It will tell his story in a way we haven’t seen it told before. We have other announcements to follow about other Australian originals. We want to be appealing to lots of different types of Australian audiences. We want to commission to complement what we are getting from our international partners.

Importance of marquee movies

BM: You have to have more than a couple…quite a few over the course of a year of marquee series. Having a competitive price point is important. If we are $9 a month, we need to give people content they value at least that much. For example to see a movie like Mark Wahlberg’s Infinite for $9 in your own home is a pretty good deal. As we go into next year we could have major movie releases every month.

Learnings from Paramount+ in the US

JV: We are learning every day. Those in charge of the US business have been learning every single day. We are all sharing experiences in the lead up to launch.

The targets we have set ourselves are to ensure we have great quality content, an interface which customers will enjoy using and that we cross promote our content well. As we receive feedback from subscribers we will respond to it and engage with those users.

Is the platform too focused on US content?

BM: Paramount+ will offer the best of everything. The volume of Australian content will certainly ramp up, but there is some there from the beginning which was important to us. Not all the other services had it at the beginning. We will also have local sport which is incredibly important.

See also: Paramount+ announces Australian made original series

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