Friday, May 07, 2021

Paramount Plus Set to Add 1,000 Movies in June 2021 and One Original Film Per Week Next Year

ViacomCBS has announced plans to release “one-movie-a-week” on Paramount+, making it the latest streamer to plant a flag on the release format as parent ViacomCBS boosts content spending in the wake of a big capital raise earlier this year.

“Frankly, there are not that many movies on Paramount+ today,” said CEO Bob Bakish in a call with analysts Thursday after the company released quarterly earnings. He said the one-a-week model – which echoes similar pushes by Netflix and Disney+ – will include a dozen short-window theatrical releases like Paramount’s PAW Patrol: The Movie and A Quiet Place Part II. Other titles will come from the Paramount Players division or sub-studios like Nickelodeon, Awesomeness and MTV Entertainment. Awesomeness produced for Netflix a model of what ViacomCBS envisions feeding to Paramount+: the inexpensive, wildly popular rom-com franchise To All the Boys I Loved Before.

Backish also said today that Paramount’s Antoine Fuqua-directed sci-fi thriller Infinite, starring Mark Wahlberg, will bypass theatrical release and hit the Paramount+ streaming service in June.

The idea is to consistently “have something on the platform that is fresh,” Bakish said.

The originals will join thousands of library titles – but “not deep library,” Bakish specified. As the company noted at a late February investor day, some 1,000 additional films will go live on the newly launched streamer in early June and more in July for a total of 2,500 titles in deals with Marvel, Epix and others, including The Avengers and Skyfall, as well as Paramount’s Mission Impossible 7 and Rocket Man.

The company is about to kick off a “Mountain of Movies” ad campaign to drive awareness.

Nickelodeon fare was key in driving Paramount+ at launch with originals The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run and spinoff series Kamp Koral: SpongeBob’s Under Years, Bakish said. He added that Nick accounts for “a double-digit share” of Par+ streams. He wouldn’t quantify that, but in response to a question said it’s less than half. “What’s most important is that this an example of our replicating in our streaming” a legacy position built up over decades in linear TV, he said.

ViacomCBS ended the March quarter with $5.5 billion in cash on hand, with $2.7 billion from the sale of equity and convertible preferred securities. CFO Naveen Chopra said the company can now invest more aggressively in streaming. Company-wide, content spending is about $15 billion. He anticipates 2021 streaming spend will more than double from 2020 but noted that the expense is incremental because some is allocated from linear and “doing double duty in both linear and streaming.”

Paramount+ launched March 4, a rebrand and expansion of CBS All Access. Parent ViacomCBS said this morning (May 06) it had 36 global streaming subscribers as of the end of the first quarter, mostly on Paramount+ but also on Showtime’s OTT service and more targeted outlets like BET+.

“Our enthusiasm for the potential of streaming continues to grow,” Chopra said during the call. Streaming presents a “compelling market opportunity” for two reasons, he added. First, it expands the addressable base of users in linear TV, where subscriptions are declining. And second, average revenue per user (ARPU) has a “more compelling long-term trajectory” than linear. The dynamic is especially true outside the U.S., where many territories have lower pay-TV penetration but avid consumption on mobile or connected devices.

“We think that over time the per-subscriber economics of streaming can be accretive to linear, considering the combination of advertising and subscription revenue,” Chopra said.

That economic lens on the financials of ViacomCBS succeeded in shifting the conversation on the earnings call. Where analysts had grilled management for years about cord-cutting and declining ratings, ad revenue and pay-TV homes, this quarterly call was devoted almost entirely to the potential of Paramount+.

Bakish was asked about the new, ad-supported tier of Paramount+ launching in June. At $5 a month, it is a dollar cheaper than the basic tier of CBS All Access. He said the margins for Paramount+ will be superior to CBS All Access. “It also adds another important asset for us in terms of ad inventory,” he said. “We see the product generating higher ARPUs over time than the $9.99” tier, which has no ads.

Paramount+ Plans to Debut One Original Movie a Week Beginning in 2022

Before that, Antoine Fuqua's sci-fi pic 'Infinite' — starring Mark Wahlberg and Chiwetel Ejiofor — will forgo a theatrical release and go straight to the streamer this June.

ViacomCBS has big movie plans for its streaming service Paramount+.

Infinite, a sci-fi thriller starring Mark Wahlberg and Chiwetel Ejiofor and directed by Antoine Fuqua for the conglomerate’s Paramount Pictures, will bypass a theatrical release and debut directly on the streamer in the U.S. in late June, CEO Bob Bakish announced on Thursday’s ViacomCBS first-quarter earnings conference call.

ViacomCBS is following the suit of other major studios that are trying to promote their streaming services by sending new movies straight to streaming, although the company has previously stressed that it continues to support a robust theatrical release for many of its biggest titles, at least for six weeks. Infinite, like many other films, was initially supposed to open on the big screen in 2020 but was waylaid by the pandemic. Bakish said Infinite would “create a lot of noise — I have seen the film, it’s a fun film. People love Mark Wahlberg.”

The company did not immediately detail the international distribution plan for Infinite.

Bakish also touted a planned expansion of Paramount+’s film catalog this summer, along with a planned “Mountain of Movies” advertising campaign.

“Turning to movies where we are poised to dramatically enhance the scale of our offering,” Bakish said. “In fact, we will shortly kick off a ‘Mountain of Movies’ marketing campaign, where we will highlight the thousands of new movies we are adding to Paramount+, including blockbuster hits and exclusive originals.”

The CEO said 1,000 additional movies will go live on the streamer in early June, “with additional titles following through July, bringing the total to over 2,500.” He added: “Hits like The Avengers and Skyfall will be available on the service soon, as well as a bunch of great Paramount films like Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol, Rocketman, Sonic the Hedgehog and more.” Paramount in February unveiled a new deal with Epix that also gives the studio more flexibility in its post-theatrical windowing strategy, allowing for new and library titles to become available on Paramount+.

Bakish reaffirmed John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place Part II will be available on the streamer 45 days after it opens in theaters over Memorial Day. “And we will follow that with the Paw Patrol movie — a treat for families eagerly awaiting a feature-length version of the most popular preschool characters in the world. In addition, new original movies like Paranormal Activity and The In Between will premiere on Paramount+ by the end of ’21.”

In 2022, Paramount hopes to further strengthen its original film offerings, with Bakish saying, “all of this is a preview to a substantial ramping up of original movies next year, when we expect to begin averaging an original movie a week in 2022.”

He didn’t immediately share full details, but responded to a question on the earnings call by saying that these movies would include around a dozen “short-window pay 1” films. “The original movie per week will be an exciting movie per week,” the CEO continued. “It will be a range of different kinds of movies,” including blockbusters, made-for-Paramount+ films from Paramount Players banner and “other studio operations we have, including Nickelodeon” and Awesomeness. Management had in the past signaled it would tap into content and units across ViacomCBS to feed Paramount+.

Wrapping up his comments on the Paramount+ movie push, Bakish concluded: “We will have more on this in the months ahead.” And he emphasized: “People love movies.”

Infinite, based on D. Eric Maikranz’s novel The Reincarnationist Papers, was originally set to be released in August 2020, but was delayed because of the novel coronavirus pandemic. The most recent plan was for a Sept. 24 theatrical release.

Other castmembers include Sophie Cookson, Jason Mantzoukas, Rupert Friend, Toby Jones and Dylan O’Brien.

The screen story is by Todd Stein, the screenplay by Ian Shorr, and the film is produced by Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Mark Vahradian, Mark Huffam, John Zaozirny, Wahlberg and Stephen Levinson. Executive producers are Fuqua, Rafi Crohn, Brian Oliver, Bradley J. Fischer and Valerii An.


From IndieWire:

Paramount+ to Add 1,000 Movies Next Month and One Original Film Per Month Next Year

Coming this summer to the service: the Antoine Fuqua-directed sci-fi thriller "Infinite," starring Mark Wahlberg, and "A Quiet Place Part II."

Paramount+ will add 1,000 new movies to the fledgling streaming service next month, including the Antoine Fuqua-directed sci-fi thriller “Infinite,” starring Mark Wahlberg, which was originally destined for theaters. Additionally, the service will get an average of one original movie per month beginning in 2022, all part of increased investments ViacomCBS is making in streaming, the company’s executives revealed during their Q1 earnings call Thursday morning.

“They’re real movies, they’re not deep library,” CEO Bob Bakish said of the 1,000-movie drop. Those additions, along with some more titles to be added in July, will bring the total number of films available on the platform to 2,500. Other titles coming this summer include “A Quiet Place Part II,” which will appear on the service after a 45-day theatrical release, plus “The Avengers,” “Skyfall,” and “Sonic the Hedgehog.”

Paramount+ launched in the US March 4, representing an upgraded investment in streaming for ViacomCBS, which had long operated streamers CBS All Access, Showtime, and Pluto TV. The launch of Paramount+ saw the company grow its total streaming subscribers by 6 million in the quarter, up from 29.9 million at the end of last year.

It’s unclear exactly how many of those subscribers are Paramount+ users, as the company gives only total numbers for Paramount+, Pluto TV, and Showtime. CFO Naveen Chopra said only that a “significant majority of new subscribers” were for Paramount+, and of those a “significant majority” were in the US.

The service also launched in Latin America, Scandinavia, and Canada. Up next is the Australian launch on August 11. The company plans to be in 45 markets by the end of 2022.

Executives are painting this early performance of Paramount+ as “growth trajectory,” and key to that has been audiences’ embrace of Nickelodeon content.

Bakish said that Nickelodeon movies and shows made up a double-digit percentage of Paramount+ streams — one that was “nowhere near half,” though. In addition to a library of Nickelodeon shows, “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run” and “SpongeBob” spinoff series “Kamp Koral” were all available at launch. He said Nickelodeon serves as a model that will be replicated across the company’s other networks and studios available on the service.

“What’s driving that relative to the other genres and demographics, is really the fact that we were able to at launch, provide not only critical mass of library product — which we can do in other categories — but a volume of exciting originals linked to known franchises,” Bakish said.


Original source: Deadline; Additional sources: CBR/Film.

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