Ten execs prep Paramount+ for mass football audiences – both tech and broadcast

With A-league's first season behind us, Mumbrella's Emma Shepherd speaks with Paramount's Nick Bower and Liz Baldwin on how the media giant is preparing the platform for larger audiences in light of the Winter of Football Festival, admitting there's been strong support from sponsors and explains strategies in place for season two next year.

It’s been two months since the Isuzu UTE A-League Grand Final between Melbourne City vs. Western United which saw 22,495 people in attendance, and the sport reach four times the amount of viewers than in its previous season, according to the network. 

Now, Mumbrella speaks with Paramount ANZ’s director of sales – sport, Nick Bower, and Liz Baldwin, SVP head of streaming, on what needs to be done to the SVOD platform to be ready for more faces on screens, from both a tech and broadcast standpoint, in light of the Winter Football Festival this month and A-league’s next season.


“Paramount+ has been hugely successful in Australia, exceeding adoption expectations and rapidly launching a global-first sport offering on the service,” says Baldwin. “We are trailblazers for sport for Paramount+ international territories, and we have continued to evolve that experience to serve our most passionate fans.”

Baldwin said this includes sports discovery features, a sports hub, personalised home page presentation, improved navigation, live schedule carousels, and more. 

“We have a full roadmap of enhanced features and functionality for sport for the second half of 2022 and beyond,” she says. “We are supported by a global live streaming operations team structured to stream global live events 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, including local and in-region support for Australia.”

“We review every element of our game presentation to ensure the best possible experience. We have a great ambition to deliver the most watchable and engaging sporting competition in Australia, and with the support of our partners and our fans we will achieve this.”

Bower weighs in: “One change that you’ll notice on Paramount+ is sports being in the permanent menu bar, and that’s a feature that’s on the platform, now.

“That’s a step forward from where we were even just a few weeks ago. So, our continued focus, to make it more accessible for more Australians to watch more football, is what we’re focused on.”

He adds: “Our Paramount+ platform continues to go from strength to strength and we continue to evolve the user experience to serve our most passionate football fans. I’m excited to take our second season to market shortly and buyers will hopefully find it even more accessible.”

Bower admits the strategy going into next season is to focus on its content slate to drive in a larger audience.

“I think we can start to see the results of just how well we are doing now. The content slate that’s coming down the line for Paramount+ is significant, and already starting to be heroed by programs like The Offer, Star Trek, Halo, and my favourite, Tokyo Vice,” explains Bower.

“These shows are on Paramount+ right now, and what they do is they bring in more audiences, and more football fans to the platform by bringing a strong and stellar content slate, which is going to help us continue to grow Paramount+ in Australia.”

Last year, Network Ten’s parent company ViacomCBS, (Now Paramount ANZ) signed a five-year deal with the Australian Professional Leagues (APL) to broadcast the A-League and W-League across its free-to-air channels and also new streaming service Paramount+.

“Our focus, from a sports point-of-view, has been football-led, and the first season of football across Isuzu A-league, Liberty A-league women, Socceroos, and Matildas, has been fantastic,” says Bower. “Albeit with a few scheduling hurdles and changes, we’ve been able to amass some fantastic results and far exceed our expectations on Paramount +.”

He notes: “A-League is a cornerstone of our football strategy and we have a long-term vested interest in it.  A-League is the most-watched football code on Paramount+, and also delivers the hard-to-get demo of men under 50 to Network 10 and 10 Play.”

Shifting gears to this month, Bower says there’s a lot to get excited about surrounding football after seeing strong support from sponsors for The Winter Festival of Football which begins on 12 July.

The festival will feature some of the very best in the English Premier League clubs playing across Australia, Thailand, Singapore, and America, with a total of 13 matches live across Network 10 and Paramount+.

Fans will be able to watch the likes of Aston Villa and Leeds United as they battle it out for the Queensland Champions Cup alongside Brisbane Roar.

Manchester United will also be coming down under as they prepare to take on Crystal Palace and Melbourne Victory on the hallowed grounds of the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG).

“Football is in a great spot in Australia at the moment, most notably due to the Socceroo’s recently winning their way to the World Cup. For football in Australia, all tides rise with this momentum,” explains Bower.

“The opportunity to present to the market some of the biggest teams in the world of football, all played in Australia and in family-appealing prime time, has been exciting for us at Paramount and enticing for the market also,” he admits. “We’ve had strong support from sponsors, with only one sponsor package still available that we are hoping to close down in the next week or so.”

“We have Isuzu UTE Australia and Harvey Norman on board so far, with two other sponsors yet to announce and one final space available but closing, the market has been very receptive to the Winter Football Festival,” Bower notes.


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