Paramount’s International CEO on “Global Transformation” for the Streaming Age

Oulet: The Hollywood Reporter

Journalist: Georg Szalai

ViacomCBS’ streaming business-focused investor day on Feb. 15 centered on the company’s all-in streaming push worldwide and the related name change to Paramount Global.

The entertainment giant’s international reach and global streaming ambitions got more than just a brief mention during the event. Led by president and CEO Bob Bakish, the company has long made its presence and relationships around the world a priority and source of pride, even before Viacom’s 2019 merger with CBS Corp. But with streaming services relying on big worldwide user bases to justify big content investments, global is now, more than ever, the focus for the company. “We see a huge global opportunity in streaming, a much larger potential market than can be captured by linear TV and film alone,” Bakish told investors.

No surprise then that the company on Tuesday also unveiled a strategic partnership with Vivendi’s Canal+ to launch the Paramount+ streaming service in France, expanding the reach of Paramount+ and its SkyShowtime streaming joint venture with Comcast’s Sky to more than 60 markets by the end of 2022. The investor day also included news on international scripted original series for Paramount+, including NCIS: Sydney, the first international version of the company’s hit franchise.

As the conglomerate’s head of international, Raffaele Annecchino — whose new title is now president & CEO, international networks, studios and streaming at Paramount Global — has been in charge of managing and optimizing the  rollout of streaming services around the world. He took over as president and CEO, ViacomCBS Networks International in December 2020. A longtime trusted executive for Bakish, Annecchino tells The Hollywood Reporter that he has seen his role as ensuring a “global transformation” of the company to leverage its various businesses for the streaming age.

THR spoke to Annecchino about his first year in charge of the international team, changing to a streaming-centric approach, how the company mixes a global vision with a market-by-market strategy, how partnerships with the likes of Comcast’s Sky “unlock” opportunities and how streaming can become a sustainable business long-term.

You have worked for the company for about 25 years. What has your focus been in your first year and a couple of months as head of the international operations, a role that your boss Bob Bakish also used to hold?

It has been what we call a year of global transformation. If I look at our mindset, we are really a different company now. We used to have strong linear businesses in various countries, now we are a global player with a streaming focus. Today, we are one of the leading streaming players in the world. We have launched Paramount+ in more than 25 markets, including Australia, Latin America, the Nordics and Canada. And we have set the stage now for a strategic expansion, where we will launch, via the SkyShowtime joint venture with Comcast, in 20 European markets. Paramount+ and SkyShowtime will be in more than 60 total markets, including all the major markets in Europe, by the end of 2022. Plus, and as importantly, we have Pluto TV as one of the most important free, ad- supported streaming TV services in the world, which number one in Europe.

Tell me a bit more what you mean by global transformation and how key it is? 

We have to think outside the box, so I like the phrase “global transformation.” It also works, because of the Transformers [a key franchise of the conglomerate’s Paramount Pictures] and the focus on the world. The word “global” is fundamental, because being global is one of the competitive advantages. We are creating global teams now thinking about global content strategy and global marketing strategy.

At the same time, we have a presence and great knowledge of local markets (and relationships there), which allows for a more diversified strategy tailored to markets and their needs, because we know them well and have a long history in them.

So you combine a global and local approach? Is that also why you do not pursue a one-size-fits-all approach worldwide and are launching streaming services with such partners as Sky and Canal+?

The future is global, and we have operated that way for decades. We have always stood behind a glocal strategy – global vision, local execution. Now, we have a strong global strategy, held up by a local legacy. This is a key differentiator. We are a global player with a long-term, sustainable plan that we think will position us as one of the leading streamers.

You want to customize the strategy market by market to unlock the maximum value in each market and build a financial model to be sustainable and successful over the years. This is also a big focus of the (financial) markets. We want to make sure that we create this model that can be successful over the years and bring value to our consumers, but also to our shareholders. I think this strategic approach is unique to the company.

In critical markets in Europe, such as Italy, Germany, the U.K. and now France, we signed strategic partnerships with big distributors, because our strategy is to prioritize high-value markets and get the best out of them. I’ll give you an example: subscribers of Canal+ will, when we launch Paramount+ in France in December, have the benefit of all our content, which gives us an entry with a stronger subscriber base. So we unlock content and value.

How key are original production and content franchises to feeding streaming services?

We have our studio, we have global franchises and local production hubs, such as in Latin America. We basically execute what we call a global vision with local execution, which is a key competitive advantage. Because streaming is global, but at the same time, to be successful, you need a customized go-to-market strategy defined for each market. We tailor the local approach, marketing, distribution and content by leveraging our unique ecosystem market by market.

Some see legacy businesses as a burden. But we are transforming our legacy business as a competitive advantage to boost streaming. Having our teams in local markets and having knowledge of them allows us to leverage all our assets. Think about the Telefe network in Argentina or Network 10 in Australia – these free-to-air channels are boosting streaming and serve as a content engine. Through the local network, you can really grow (intellectual property) IP. Five Bedrooms is a top local show in Australia, for example, that for a few months rated as one of the top acquisition drivers of Paramount+ there. At the same time, [Yellowstone prequel] 1883 is a top title in Latin America. So, we have global tentpoles like Yellowstone, SpongeBob, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Star Trek, Mission: Impossible, Top Gun and CSI. And then we have local tentpoles.

Is it fair to assume you plan to keep more of your company’s big hit franchises for your global streaming portfolio?

We are repatriating South Park to make Paramount+ the exclusive home of South Park. More and more, we want to repatriate our biggest IPs to our platforms now that we have a global opportunity.

How much are you expanding the creation of international originals?

We are producing more than 50 international scripted originals this year, and we are going to have seven new Shores and for the first time ever an international NCIS, NCIS: Sydney. So we have a diversity of content that really, I think, is unbeatable, because content is really where we invest all our efforts. It is all about content. Content is king in our strategy.

You have also acquired companies, such as Chilevision in Chile and a majority stake in Fox TeleColombia & Estudios TeleMexico (from the Walt Disney Co. and the founding family). Why did you feel the need to expand your content creation capabilities, especially in Latin America?

With the deal for Fox TeleColombia & Estudios TeleMexico, our company is now one of the largest Spanish-language content producers worldwide. And we can roll out that content locally and export it globally.

Asia, Africa and the Middle East are regions where you still have to announce a lot of your streaming plans. Will you launch in those parts of the world next year, and do you expect any local partnerships or deals there as well?

2023 is the year when we would like to launch in the Middle East. In Asia, we have already announced a launch in South Korea this summer as part of a strategic partnership with CJ ENM, the company that was behind Parasite. So, we also have a strategic plan to produce Korean content. Again, this is part of our focus on diversity of content beyond global tentpoles, but it is also an acknowledgement that content from international territories can succeed globally.

In 2023, there is more opportunity in Asia and in Africa. Africa is an interesting market. In Africa, I think we will span from AVOD to SVOD with both Pluto TV and Paramount+. I think that by 2023 we will be available in the majority of the countries where we can sell a streaming service.

Click here to read the full interview

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senior partner, content

As Blueocean Media Partners client advisor, Eduard is responsible for supporting and guiding clients editorially from high-potential content opportunities, negotiating favourable licensing agreements with major distribution companies and securing exclusive content for broadcast.

He leads the trends, insights and data analytics of the media, content and entertainment landscape, keeping abreast of the latest genre trends and developments across multi-platforms.

Eduard further works closely with clients in understanding the optimum monetisation through windowing strategies. His expertise in developing business growth on the FAST market stems from his experience in a variety of markets creating a portfolio of competitive channels.

As an accomplished executive in content strategy, multi-platform programming, and rights management on acquisitions in a transforming era, Eduard´s established track record in the entertainment industry includes international companies from Paramount, FOX, and Mediaset across Free to Air, PayTV, FAST channels and SVOD services. This experience and knowledge has built a strong network of client relationships globally.

Eduard completed an MBA in media companies after graduating as a Telecommunications Engineer, between Madrid, Barcelona and Rome.



senior partner, business

Polina Yakovleva leads Blueocean Media Partners Content sales and partnerships business.

As a former Director of Content Acquisitions and Programming at Paramount Global, Polina has established a large network of contacts across major content distribution platforms and has negotiated multi millions contents deals with the major streaming plaftorms, free to air networks and pay tv channels across the international markets

With more than 15 years of experience in the media industry, Polina will provide to Blueocean Media Partners clients a strategic advise to define the most efficient content strategy and and then negotiate and obtain the best content agreement across the main international distributors.



Raffaele Annecchino, Managing Partner and CEO of Blueocean Media Partners is a reputable leader in the media and entertainment industry having led as President and CEO of Paramount International, one the world’s largest media and entertainment companies.

During his career Annecchino has led a unique ecosystem of free to air (as Channel 5 in the UK, Network 10 in Australia, Telefe in Argentina and Chilevision in Chile), Pay TV networks (as Nickelodeon, MTV, Comedy Central) and Streaming platforms amnong others. He has driven the transformation of the company towards streaming positioning Paramount+ and Pluto TV as leading players, introducing innovative and transformative strategies that drove long-term growth and financial sustainability.

Annechino has served on the boards of Viacom 18 India, SBS Media in South Korea, and in the newly created streaming platform SkyShowtime. Annecchino is an MBA graduate from I.E Business School and has completed the Media Executive program at renowned Harvard Business School and INSEAD Fontainebleau.