Paramount+ to launch in India in 2023 by bundling with Viacom18: Robert Bakish
Paramount Global-owned streaming platform Paramount+ will be launched in India by next year by bundling it with Viacom18’s super service, said Paramount Global CEO Robert Bakish during the Credit Suisse Communications Conference.
He announced that the streamer will be launched in India with its JV with Viacom18. “We’re also going to launch in India. We’re very excited about that. We’re doing it with our JV, Viacom18, which as you know as a partner in Reliance. Reliance is the most powerful company in India and now has Bodhi Tree involved too. They just got the exclusive streaming rights for cricket. Now the cricket won’t be on Paramount+, but Paramount+ will be bundled with their super service. So again, we don’t have to invest in local content. We don’t have to invest in local marketing. We ride alongside the super service and benefit for the market, very excited about this model,” Bakish added.
Regarding subscriber growth, he said, “We have said annual subscriber growth will be in excess of 75 million total global D2C subs by the end of the year, and we’re still on that with the removal of Russia subs. We also guided that we’re going to take out 2 million – a little over 3 million subs in the second quarter related to Russia. It’s important to note that roughly two thirds of those were related to a non-Paramount+ product that was specific to the Russia market. So, those subs are coming out. We also had a delay in a hard bundle, which will affect Q2, but we’re launching in South Korea this week, we’re launching in the UK next week.”
The Paramount CEO stressed on the importance of growing the streaming business internationally. “International is near and dear to my heart. I spent a decade running our international business prior to becoming the Viacom CEO. We are extremely well positioned to grow streaming internationally by leveraging our international operating footprint. And I would suggest to you, I mean, you mentioned Pluto, we’re over 67.5 million MAUs, when you include Latin America, you include Europe, and we recently entered some game changing partnerships for the next leg of growth,” he said.
Bakish informed that the company just picked up another set of sports rights for Brazil, one of the leading soccer leagues there, which, according to him, will be “very additive to our efforts – our Paramount+ efforts in that market”.
“So, we’re excited about that. And then the other thing, of course, we got going on again, going back to relationships is our SkyShowtime joint venture that will be launching this year. That’s mostly an Eastern European play. But it’s really compelling and capital-efficient way to play those markets. So, we’re bringing a lot to bear as a truly global operating company to the streaming game and I’m tremendously excited about where it’s going to take us,” he added.
Regarding the profitability of Paramount Global in a few years, Bakish said, “As we said in our Investor Day, our D2C business is in an investment mode today. We believe that is an important part to invest, given all the realities of today’s landscape. We continue to fundamentally believe it’s a good business and will be accretive over time. We’re encouraged by our success thus far, which is why we raised expectations for growth and believe why we can generate attractive margins over time. It’s worth noting that we continue to operate the non-D2C business, the traditional business in ways that generate significant earnings and free cash flow, which together helps obviously fund our streaming plan and in combination creates value for shareholders. So, we feel good about what we’re generating cash flow, how we’re deploying that cash and we’ll continue to execute in the future.”