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‘In a very cluttered marketplace, it gives us the ability to stand out’: Paramount aims for younger viewers

Paramount is gearing up to launch its ad-supported tier on streaming service Paramount+, a savvy play in the current economic conditions, and one that executives at the network are hoping will provide a one-stop shop for Australian advertisers.

Lee Sears, president of international markets advertising sales, was in Australia last week, and spoke to Mumbrella about the pending launch of the Paramount+ advertising tier in Australia, among other topics. The ad-supported tier has been live in the US for over a year, and was rolled out in Canada a few weeks back. It’s set to launch in Australia this June. According to Sears, the last twelve months has been spent building a unified ad server with all the FAST and Paramount+ global inventory.

“What I’m doing with the teams is making sure that we’re breaking down silos,” he tells Mumbrella, “so that the teams are able to sell convergently across all of our inventory, whether that’s fast, BVOD, AVOD, SVOD, or free-to-air broadcasters”, a combination he says gives Paramount “a really unique offering in market.”

Sears says he has been working with Paramount Australia chief sales officer Rod Prosser to “make sure that we’ve got the right infrastructure set up, so that we can take to market what we think is a really compelling offering, with that convergent sell.” He says lessons have been learned from the launch in the US, and what’s happened with other SVOD providers in the market.

“We are well-placed to position the [Paramount+] ad-tier, not only in market, but as part of a bigger holistic sell,” he explains.

It’s part of an overall focus on ad-supported content across the Paramount network, from the rise in 10Play viewers, to the launch of 50 FAST channels late last year.

“That’ll continue to grow,” Prosser tells Mumbrella. “The market’s adoption of those FAST channels has been quite rapid, and we’ve seen amazing growth, particularly in the younger audiences, and the viewing time is really strong. So that will continue to evolve and grow. I think this is, for us, a nice complement to what we’ve already got.

“But no other traditional free-to-air, at this point, can offer that.” He echoes Sears’ point: “We are a different proposition.”

“We don’t see our competitor set just to be SVODs and or free-to-air networks,” Prosser continues. “It’s now much bigger, which in turn will give us, hopefully, access to different briefs, different budgets, and a really unique position in market.”

With a paid streamer than also offers an ad-supported tier, a strong FAST network, and a free-to-air channels, Paramount does offer a unique proposition in Australia.

Rod Prosser

“I think the most important thing, and this is something that Rod and I fundamentally believe in, is it’s really important to make that approach to market and to enable the teams to be able to sell convergently,” Sears says of the advertising offering. “And what that basically means, is to be across everything.

“So we’re not selling things individually. It really is a package with Paramount Global. And with all of the things that we have within our real estate, it does give us that unique advantage. But what’s really important is that that’s the go-to-market strategy, is that it is a convergent sale. There is no silo. There’s not teams selling things individually. The team in Oz will be exactly like the team in the U.S, where they sell to the consortiums across the board and to clients directly, because that’s the best way to position our offering.

“And that’s what gives us that advantage competitively. But also, I think fundamentally it makes us easy to do business with. It’s what clients want. And in a very cluttered marketplace, it gives us the ability to cut through and stand out.”

Sears points to “the fragmentation in the marketplace” as the top challenge facing networks such as Paramount.

“But I actually see that as an opportunity for us at Paramount, globally,” he reasons, “because everything that we are talking about with the one Paramount approach is the consolidation of that fragmentation. We have the ability to unify audiences across all of the different parts of our portfolio.

“And what that does is it really does give us that first-mover advantage, that ability to talk about things holistically that others cannot. So as the marketplace becomes full of supply, as it becomes more fragmented with different access points, what we’re doing globally, but also really importantly for this conversation is: we’re consolidating all of that. We’re making it easy to buy.

“We’re providing a holistic converged approach to all of our inventory. We’re removing the friction from being able to tap into audiences across premium content. So, yes, there are challenges across the landscape, but what we’re doing is we’re meeting them head on by providing best in class opportunities for clients and advertisers.”

Lee Sears

Prosser says the price point for the ad tier is “really accessible, which will allow us to build scale and reduce churn from the other two tiers, which — by the way, you talk about those economic conditions — we’re still seeing great growth across both of our existing tiers.

“And we’re quite confident that the new tier, the ad tier, when it comes to market, will scale up really quickly.”

The recent launch of Pluto through 10Play, which features fifty streaming stations — including 24/7 stations dedicated to comedy classics such as Seinfeld and unwitting comedy classics such as 90210 — has pulled in “a brand new audience”, for Ten,  “that are discovering content that was produced back in the 90s and really loving it, watching series from start to finish.”

This means the dwell time on the platform is increasing, “and they’re spending more time within that FAST environment”, according to Prosser.

“We’ve got a younger audience coming into the ecosystem, which is great.”

Paramount has long known the value of playing to the kids. Last year, Network 10 aired nine of the top 15 entertainment shows on free-to-air, in both the under 50s sector, and the all-important 16s to 39s demographic – as well as eight of the top 15 shows for 25s to 54s.

On top of this, Nickelodeon is the country’s fastest-growing free-to-air channel, since launching in August.

“I think we always want to be attracting a young audience,” Sears confirmed. “And if you look at our portfolio, from some of the iconic global brands we have, like MTV and Nickelodeon, they certainly do that.

“But then if you look at some of the big shows that we have, like Yellowstone or the Hollywood library that we have, and the big series from the US, then what we see with Paramount globally is that we’re a four quadrant appeal: Our job is to entertain the universe, is to entertain the planet. And we believe that we have the content to do that. So I wouldn’t say that we are specifically focusing on that [younger] demographic, but of course, it’s very important.”

Prosser points out that “linear [TV] is growing up and the medium age is getting older.

“And that’s why having these complimentary platforms, bringing back a younger cohort or audience is really critical, because if you’re relying just on a linear channel or channel, it is definitely aging. So that’s what’s so lovely about the Paramount offering. It’s really complementary – and really ultimately just broadens out our audience.”

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