Monday, August 08, 2022

Paramount+ UK & Ireland Acquires New Drama and Comedy Exclusives

Paramount+ has unveiled a slate of exclusive acquisitions for the U.K. and Ireland including Keshet’s La Brea from NBCUniversal Global Distribution and Minx, starring Jake Johnson and Ophelia Lovibond.


La Brea (pictured) is a survival thriller in which citizens battle for survival after they’re pulled into a mysterious land via a Los Angeles sinkhole while Minx tells the story of a young feminist and low-rent publisher who set out to create an erotic magazine for women in the 1970s.

Minx was acquired from Lionsgate alongside Topher Grace’s Home Economics, about the relationship between three adult siblings, and Son of a Critch, which is based on the memoir from This Hour Has Twenty-Two Minutes host Mark Critch.

The shows will debut on the streamer in August.

The Thing About Pam, also acquired from NBCUniversal Global Distribution and starring Renée Zellweger, Josh Duhamel and Judy Greer, dropped on Paramount+ last month. The story is based on the murder of Betsy Faria in 2011.

Meanwhile the streamer has also acquired Chapelwaite, which stars Adrien Brody and is based on the Stephen King short story Jerusalem’s Lot, from Sony Pictures Television, and the series Savage River (starring 13 Reasons Why lead Katherine Langford) from Dynamic Television. Langford plays a young woman who is determined to prove her innocence after her small rural town is rocked by a shocking murder.

“We are working hard to make Paramount+ the exclusive home of premium content from around the world,” Anna-Belen Dunlop, senior director of acquisitions, at Paramount U.K. said in a statement. “Paramount+ already brings together entertainment’s biggest names but we’ll keep building our offering to make the service completely irresistible to audiences.”

From C21 Media:

Paramount+ – International

Paramount Global is planning to commission 150 international originals by 2025 for Paramount+ outside North America. Nico Franks reports.

Along with the US, Paramount+ is now available as a streaming service in Canada, Australia, Latin America, South Korea, the Nordics, Ireland and the UK. It has created an especially big splash in the latter, commissioning 13 originals so far in 2022.

This means the UK has received the highest number of Paramount+ original commissions outside of the US, with an Ampere Analysis study finding that the streamer now holds the second largest slate of SVoD titles commissioned in the UK in 2022, behind Netflix.

In the first quarter of 2022, Paramount+ expanded into Western Europe with most of its new commissions – seven of 12 – produced in the UK. A second slate of original titles in Q2 consisted of a further eight originals, six of which come from the UK.

Seven of the 13 commissions announced by the streamer in the UK so far in 2022 have either been crime- or thriller-related, highlighting demand for this kind of programming in Britain, as well as its popularity internationally.

The commissions include three scripted series, including an adaptation of Jess Ryder’s 2018 psychological thriller The Ex-Wife, and four unscripted titles, one of which is The Box, a documentary about serial killers presented by detective Chris Loudon.

Trying to muscle in on any SVoD market in Western Europe these days is a tough ask but the UK is particularly tricky, given the dominance of Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, alongside the offerings from broadcasters such as the BBC, ITV and Channel 4.

Paramount Global, formerly known as ViacomCBS, owns UK broadcaster Channel 5 as well as a host of US channel brands (Showtime, Comedy Central, MTV, BET, Nickelodeon, Smithsonian), meaning that the streaming offer on Paramount+ covers plenty of bases, from scripted drama and comedy to reality, kids and features.

Notable is the group’s ‘no diversity, no commission’ policy, introduced at ViacomCBS Networks UK in mid-2020, which extends across all Paramount’s UK productions, genres, platforms and channels, a representative confirmed to C21.

The streamer held a glitzy launch event in London last month to celebrate the debut of Paramount+ in the UK, hosted by presenter Graham Norton, who fronts Paramount+ original Queen of the Universe, a drag singing competition television series produced by World of Wonder, the prodco behind RuPaul’s Drag Race.

Stars in attendance and their projects included Gillian Anderson, Viola Davis and Michelle Pfeiffer (The First Lady); Jessica Chastain and Michael Shannon (George & Tammy); and Kevin Costner and Kelly Reilly (Yellowstone); Chiwetel Ejiofor, Naomie Harris and Bill Nighy (The Man Who Fell To Earth); David Oyelowo (Bass Reeves); and Sylvester Stallone (Tulsa King).

Unlike its fellow streamers, Paramount+ could be at a disadvantage launching during a cost-of-living crisis, but executive VP and international general manager Marco Nobili is bullish about its chances.

The former Netflix exec says Paramount Global isn’t fazed by the fact households have begun cancelling certain subscription streaming services in the face of mounting monthly bills. Nor that they may not add a new one, despite the promise of “blockbuster movies, new originals and exclusive series, plus a huge variety of iconic shows.”

Economic analysts have predicted markets such as the UK could be heading for a recession, as households feel the squeeze, with inflation rising to its highest level in 30 years and warnings of an economic downturn. In the UK, Paramount+ will be available for £6.99 (US$8.56) per month or £69.90 per year after a free seven-day trial.

“The UK and Ireland as an SVoD market is top three across the globe,” states Nobili. “There are big opportunities there, with probably 55 million subscriptions overall by the end of 2025. Based on our very recent research, 63% of the sample population wants to either add a new service or replace a streaming service they have today.

“So when we look at it from that perspective we definitely believe there is still a willingness in the market to get into a new streaming service, as long as it is worth it. We are bringing a great offering to the market, a mountain of entertainment at a terrific value for the customers. It’s a very compelling offering and we have great leverage in the market.”

Indeed, many British households now subscribe to two or more streaming services, with the average streaming household having access to 2.7, which is below the US level of four, according to Ampere Analysis.

Ampere analyst Zuzana Henkova says: “Paramount+ is conscious of how crowded the UK streaming market is becoming, and their decision to distribute with Sky+ will help tackle this challenge by providing instant subscriber reach. One important differentiator for Paramount+ is its UK-made content and this will also be key to engaging Sky’s customer base who are heavier-than-average viewers of UK content.”

Current programming, original production, drama, factual

Paramount+’s UK launch came shortly after it announced plans to commission 150 international originals by 2025, as its looks to compete with fellow SVoD services such as Netflix, Prime Video, HBO Max, Peacock and Apple TV+, plus a host of local players, around the world.

Previously announced original UK dramas heading to Paramount+ include Sexy Beast, A Gentleman in Moscow, Flatshare, The Burning Girls, The Ex-Wife and The Blue. Scripted originals from elsewhere include Mexican series Los Enviados (The Envoys) and Cecilia, both of which have been renewed for second seasons.

The streamer’s latest commissions from Italy, where it is due to launch in September, and France and Germany, where it arrives in December, include Murder of God’s Banker, The Sheikh (Der Scheich), A Thin Line, MASK: Marie Antoinette Serial Killer and Circeo. These have joined existing commissions such as The Chemistry of Death, a psychological crime series based on Simon Beckett’s bestselling novels and starring Harry Treadaway.

The streamer’s originals will be produced in partnership with VIS, Paramount’s international studio, which is a division of the company’s worldwide studio footprint, spanning more than 20 countries.

“We are leveraging the entire company for sourcing projects and stories,” says Nobili, who points to Paramount’s legacy as one of the oldest surviving movie studios and its connections to talent. The idea is to build immersive stories that really resonate with our audience.”

Aiming to be a broad church for diverse projects, Paramount+ is seeking “something great for everyone,” which Nobili believes “gives flexibility to writers and creators to create the best stories.”

Nicole Clemens, the US-based president of original scripted series at Paramount+, who also heads Paramount Television Studios (PTVS), recently told C21 the US arm of the streamer is in “very close touch” with international colleagues in all territories, meeting weekly and talking constantly about original content.

Overlap between the content needs of the US, Canada, UK and Australia is inevitable, but Paramount+ isn’t ruling out any markets as potential sources of a global hit.

“We’re looking for the shows that can do well, that can grow, that can break through on a big, global level. It’s not separate anymore. If you make a show specific, authentic and good, it can start local and grow global,” says Clemens.

Nobili agrees, saying: “It’s very interesting to see how people watch content from another country. There’s a willingness to watch content from around the globe. That’s something we can bring to the table and it’s great for talent and customers. We’ve seen it with The Envoys, which quickly became one of the top titles watched in the US and the most watched original Spanish scripted show in the US.”

Paramount+ generally retains 100% global rights to all its original series, but coproductions and different deals are on the table. For example, Paramount+ is working with the BBC on The Gold, with the UK pubcaster taking the first window in the UK before Paramount+ offers it in the UK six months later, having already launched it worldwide.

PTVS’s recently forged coproduction deal with South Korea’s CJ ENM/Studio Dragon is another example of Paramount developing content with one eye on local and another on global potential.

The deal involves PTVS and CJ ENM/Studio Dragon co-developing and coproducing English-language scripted series based on CJ ENM’s titles to run on Paramount+. The first scripted project under the partnership is sci-fi drama Yonder, which is expected later this year.

Nobili says Paramount+ is looking at almost all countries the streamer is currently present in for originals, while it is also growing a crop of local originals ahead of its launches in Italy, France and Germany. Latin America is also a particular focus, with Paramount+ commissions coming out of Mexico, including Sinaloa’s First Lady and One Must Die, a suspense thriller that centres on seven people who are kidnapped and suddenly find themselves part of a deadly game.

Nobili was promoted to his current role in May by a team including Raffaele Annecchino, the then president and CEO of international networks, studios and streaming at Paramount, who a few weeks later was sent on leave by the US media giant. Nobili declines to comment on Annecchino’s exit.

Nobili’s role sees him lead the strategy and execution for Paramount+’s continued expansion in markets worldwide. While the roll-out of Paramount+ continues, Nobili says its parent company isn’t looking to mirror the actions of rival The Walt Disney Company which has been axing its linear channels in certain markets to centre attention on Disney+.

“The power of the ecosystem is key. We have a hybrid model that really works for us. We like the idea of people consuming our content in different ways. We want to let the customer decide where they want to be,” says Nobili.


Paramount+ UK & Ireland is HERE! Stream a Mountain of Entertainment, including your Nickelodeon favourites! Try it FREE at!

Source: Variety; H/T: Rapid TV News.

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