Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Comcast, ViacomCBS Name Monty Sarhan as CEO of SkyShowtime Streaming Joint-Venture in Europe

The executive, who will be based in London, will lead the new subscription video-on-demand service in more than 20 European territories.

SkyShowtime CEO Monty Sarhan COURTESY OF COMCAST

Comcast and ViacomCBS have named Monty Sarhan the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of their pan-European streaming joint venture SkyShowtime.

The executive, who joined Comcast Cable in late 2019 as Senior Vice President (SVP) content acquisition after working at Epix and also has experience at Viacom, will assume his role later in January, following regulatory approval of the SkyShowtime venture, which is expected soon. He will be based in London, reporting to the board of SkyShowtime, which is using the brand names of Comcast’s European pay TV giant Sky and ViacomCBS’ Showtime. Sarhan will work alongside the company’s leadership team, 

The two companies struck a deal in August 2021 to launch a new subscription video-on-demand service in more than 20 European territories, including Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland, this year. The territories encompass 90 million homes.

“Monty is ideally suited to take the reins of SkyShowtime, drawing upon his extensive experience spanning the entertainment industry, having worked in programming, strategy and distribution at subscription services and across multichannel video programming distribution, video-on-demand and direct-to-consumer platforms,” Andrea Zappia, Sky’s Executive Vice President (EVP) and CEO, new markets & businesses, said in a memo obtained by The Hollywood Reporter.

“Monty’s career at the forefront of both content and technology, his ability to scale businesses and his knowledge of both joint venture partners make him the perfect leader for the business as we bring the very best entertainment, movies and original series from the ViacomCBS, Sky and NBCUniversal portfolio of brands to SkyShowtime,” highlighted Raffaele Annecchino, president and CEO of ViacomCBS Networks International, in another memo.

The executives noted that Sarhan in his most recent role has overseen the finance, operations, compliance and strategy teams and was “negotiating many of Comcast Cable’s content partnerships.” Before that, he worked at MGM’s premium television service Epix as executive vp and General Manager (GM), “leading the service to record subscriber growth and launching its direct-to-consumer service,” the memos noted. “Prior to that, Monty worked at ViacomCBS and was part of the original launch team at Epix, which began as a ViacomCBS joint venture, joining as its head of business affairs.” Before Epix, Sarhan served as Vice President (VP) in Viacom’s Media Networks division.

Other leadership team members for SkyShowtime will be announced “in due course,” according to the memos.

Annecchino in his memo highlighted how the joint venture fits into his team’s planned global rollout of streaming services across the world. “This year, ViacomCBS will continue the acceleration of our global streaming expansion as we embrace a truly differentiated strategy across every segment of the streaming universe and capitalize on our robust global content pipeline,” he wrote. “As we continue to prioritize the global rollout of Paramount+ and the expansion of Pluto TV, we are also preparing to launch the premium streaming service SkyShowtime, a joint venture with Comcast, which will be available in more than 20 European markets beginning in 2022.”

Sky Group CEO Dana Strong in 2021 touted SkyShowtime, saying it would “combine the best of the U.S. and Europe with iconic brands and world-class entertainment for millions of consumers,” providing 10,000-plus hours of entertainment.

SkyShowtime will bring together entertainment, movies and original series from the NBCUniversal, Sky and ViacomCBS portfolio of brands, including titles from Nickelodeon, Showtime, Paramount+ Originals, Sky Studios, Universal Pictures, and Peacock.

The line-up will encompass scripted dramas, kids and family, key franchises, premiere movies, local programming and documentaries and factual content.

SkyShowtime will be launched in markets outside Sky’s existing pay TV and OTT footprint. According to the pair, it will ultimately be available to consumers in Albania, Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Hungary, Kosovo, Montenegro, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.

The partnership will be structured as a joint venture, with equal investment and joint control by ViacomCBS and Comcast. Further detail on the SkyShowtime service offering, including subscription price, will be announced at a later date.

Sky Showtime’s unveiling in mid-2021 followed growing speculation that Comcast and ViacomCBS were exploring a global streaming partnership, with the former’s CEO Brian Roberts and the latter’s chairman Shari Redstone and CEO Bob Bakish reportedly meeting in New York to discuss a potential alliance.

It also came just a few weeks after news that Comcast was expanding its US streamer Peacock into Europe for the first time as part of Sky. ViacomCBS-owned streamer Paramount+, meanwhile, is being rolled out via Sky in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Italy.

Execs have previously said that SkyShowtime and Paramount+ will not be available in the same territories, although content will be shared between the two.

Speaking at Mipcom recently, ViacomCBS SVP Programming and Acquisitions Douglas Craig sought to “calm confusion” surrounding Showtime’s overlap with Paramount+, stating that, while content-crossover will be plentiful, neither streamer will be available in the same territory.

Originally published: Jan. 11, 2022.

Additional sources: TBI VisionDeadline; H/T: Special thanks to @RegularCapital!

Follow NickALive! on Twitter, RedditInstagramFacebookGoogle NewsTumblrvia RSS and more for the latest Nickelodeon International News and Highlights!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Have your say by leaving a comment below! NickALive! welcomes friendly and respectful comments. Please familiarize with the blog's Comment Policy before commenting. All new comments are moderated and won't appear straight away.