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Paramount+ engaging in Vertical Integration less than its SVOD Rivals


Jack Thomas Manager

The re-branding of Paramount+ from CBS All Access has yet to result in a unified approach across international markets to the SVOD service, in sharp contrast to what Show Tracker reveals about other studio owned SVODs like Disney+

Prior to the merger of Viacom and CBS when the SVOD was instead known as CBS All Access, each of its then three markets (US, Canada, Australia) were informed by local pressures such as CBS’ broadcast channels in Australia operating under Ten Networks or its ongoing output deals in Canada.

High profile titles such as ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ and ‘Star Trek: Picard’ were licensed to Netflix and Amazon respectively in all markets outside the US and Canada, further impacting the prevalence of Originals on the SVOD.

Its later arrival as Paramount+ in markets such as Latin America and Sweden means that several Paramount+ Originals debuted on other third-party services.

Ten All Access will eventually rebrand as Paramount+ on August 11th 2021, almost six months after the rebrand took place everywhere else. With it will come an influx of new TV shows, some from Showtime but many from third-parties as part of the re-launch effort.

All Paramount+ Originals are distributed by ViacomCBS with the exception of ‘Coyote’ which is being sold by Sony Pictures. This removes any guarantee that the show will come to any version of the SVOD outside the US. In Sweden it has been sold to Viaplay, most likely as part of a longstanding deal between Sony and NENT.

The revival TV series of ‘iCarly’, the first scripted Digital Original released since the rebrand to Paramount+, may signal the beginning of a truly unified Original presence. The series on which it is based aired on the ViacomCBS owned Nickelodeon, back when the channel’s global brand presence was arguably at its strongest, making it more likely to succeed under the Paramount+ brand in all the markets the SVOD operates in.

The variance of the SVOD market-to-market does not end with the availability of Paramount+ Originals but other scripted content appearing on the service too. ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish downplayed the possibility of Showtime content appearing on the SVOD, arguing the shows are too “coastal” for the broader brand of Paramount+. Showtime titles however are appearing on both Nordic and Latin American versions of Paramount+, with the latter becoming the home for all new Showtime titles in the region.

There may be plans for Showtime content to appear on the US Paramount+ at some point, but this won’t happen in the near future as Amazon Prime has recently begun airing second windows of some of Showtime’s most prominent shows in the US.

While in some markets Paramount+ is supported by other ViacomCBS content in the first window, such as those commissioned by Showtime, there are a number of titles that come from third-party distributors.

‘Becoming a God in Central Florida’ is one such title from Sony, but it did originally debut in the US on Showtime. Another title that is separate entirely is ‘Two Weeks to Live’ from Banijay, a Sky Original, that has come to the service in both Latin America and the Nordics, with a premiere in Australia to follow in August. In the US however it what acquired by rival HBO Max and branded a Max Original.

While studio streamers like Disney and WarnerMedia are driving up levels of Vertical Integration across multiple markets, ViacomCBS has yet to significantly contribute to the growing trend of studio-led vertical integration in international markets. While we are seeing the beginnings of this sort of activity here, this has mostly been concentrated in Latin America which has a limited number of third party services willing to take the latest US scripted content.

While it may feel imperative that ViacomCBS achieve more synergy with its Paramount+ proposition ahead of expanding further, they are currently in a position that can allow them to take advantage of being a distributor providing huge amounts of new content in markets where the current TV industry trends show existing pipelines from other studios are beginning to be shut. This added value may make them hesitant to divert large amounts of their own pipeline into their own SVOD at this time.

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