Summer Series: ViacomCBS launches Paramount+ streaming service


• Mediaweek looks back at the most notable stories of 2021

ViacomCBS Australia & New Zealand launched its streaming service, Paramount+, on August 11.

Paramount+ has a library of original series, TV shows and movies across every genre from brands and production studios including Showtime, BET, CBS, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Paramount Pictures, the Smithsonian Channel and Sony Pictures Television, in addition to premier local content.

In the lead up to the launch, Mediaweek spoke to Beverley McGarvey, EVP and chief content officer, ViacomCBS ANZ, Jarrod Villani, EVP and chief operating and commercial officer of ViacomCBS ANZ, and Daniel Monaghan, SVP content & programming 10 ViacomCBS.

Aug 9: Paramount+: Beverley McGarvey & Jarrod Villani reveal streaming strategy

By James Manning

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.

Aug 10: How Paramount+ plans to make a big impression with its content on August 11

By Trent Thomas

Yesterday we featured 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.

Today Mediaweek focuses on the content with Daniel Monaghan, SVP content & programming 10 ViacomCBS.

Despite entering a crowded market of streaming platforms in Australia, Monaghan said that one thing that will set this new product apart will be the content on offer.

“It is Paramount, one of the most recognised entertainment brands in film and television in the world. At ViacomCBS we house some of the biggest brand offerings in the world for everyone in the family, from Showtime which is premium scripted to MTV which is guilty pleasure reality TV viewing, and the Nickelodeon brand which is one of the best kids content providers in the world. We are going to have all the CBS content as well and now the Paramount+ originals and Paramount films.

“If you tie that in with the local originals that we will offer straight away from the service what stands out is the breadth of content that appeals to everyone in the family.”

Daniel Monaghan

Existing Content Deals

When asked about the existing content deals that the ViacomCBS content has with established platforms, Monaghan said that Paramount+ will host any new shows released, and also the complete back catalogue for completed shows, but a show like Billions won’t be on the platform till it finishes its complete series release on Stan.

“The shows that are on other platforms will continue on their current deal, there is not too many of them left, but those that are still running will continue on those platforms but everything new will come straight to P+ in that market.”

What the launch catalogue will look like

On the launch date of Paramount+, the platform will have shows such as Aussie drama Five Bedrooms, feature film Infinite, and revival sitcom iCarly as well as new and exclusive series including, Two Weeks To Live, Leonardo, Anne Boleyn, Coyote, The Bite, Everyone Is Doing Great, Monsterland, Flatbush Misdemeanours, Cinema Toast, Nancy Drew and Evil, In The Dark, as well as premiere kids’ content Kamp Koral: SpongeBob’s Under Years and Rugrats.

Dexter: New Blood will also be coming to Paramount+ in the spring. When asked what the approach will be for content on launch, Monaghan said that while a vast library will be available from the start some items will continue to be added in the coming months.

“We are going to have a huge offering on August 11, but we are also going to drop content every week and all year.”


What will be the main draws to the platform?

Monaghan pointed to shows like Two Weeks to Live, Leonardo, and Everyone Is Doing Great as some of the big-ticket items that will generate word of mouth, with more to follow.

“What will happen at launch I think is that Two Weeks to Live will be really strong. Once we get into that first run Showtime content we have American Rust with Jeff Daniels which looks incredible and then later in the year Dexter which won’t so much be word of mouth, rather people just thirsting for it.

“We have another good one called Yellow Jackets in a couple of months time with Juliette Lewis and Christina Ricci. I’m calling it a cross between Lord of the Flies and Alive. I haven’t seen too much more than the first episode, but it is brilliant.”


Two Weeks to Live

Will 10 properties be moved behind a paywall?

One of the main drawcards to Paramount+ will be the new season of Five Bedrooms which aired its first season on Channel 10. With this popular free-to-air property going behind a paywall, Monaghan said that each show will be assigned to the platform that they think fits best.

“Now that we have got P+, 10, and 10 Play, we want to make sure that we are giving each of our shows the opportunity to best serve everyone. Five Bedrooms is the first case, it is not to say everything will move behind a paywall, I think we will just take it case by case.

“We are certainly commissioning shows specifically for P+ as well as for 10 so there will be a separation there.

“You will find a huge bulk of the content from 10 will end up on Paramount+, it might not happen the other way around but sometimes it will.”


With productions affected around the world, Monaghan said that one reason why Five Bedrooms is on Paramount+ is the desire to give the platform a local flavour right off the bat.

Five Bedrooms is such a loved brand, and it plays on Peacock in the US and does really well and we wanted to make sure we had something really desired right from the get-go in a local form until we drop Spreadsheet, our second local original, in a couple of months time.”

Australian Paramount+ Originals

Paramount+ has already announced several Australian originals such as SpreadsheetLast King of The Cross, and 6 Festivals and Monaghan said that there is more on the way.

“We understand it isn’t just those powerful overseas brands, but that we need to have a real local flavour and to showcase our talent in storytelling.

“I won’t put a number on this year, but we will ramp it up for next year where we are actively in the market. And we have got several shows in development for 2022 as well as the ones we have already commissioned. We should have quite a breadth of content all the way through the year.”


How do you decide between Channel 10 content and Paramount+ content?

Monaghan said that a common question is how will the ViacomCBS ANZ team decide what is a fit for 10 and what is a fit for Paramount+. He said that they are quite different platforms with different needs.

“Until you hear the pitch and until you hear the story you don’t know. But they are quite different platforms. 10 is a very broad commercial platform designed to appeal to a broader audience. We can get quite niche and specific with Paramount+, and maybe a bit narrower in its appeal in age or demographic.

“On 10 you are trying to please a much broader audience, on P+ you have the luxury of targeting different people with different projects.”

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