Raffaele Annecchino Outlines VCNI Growth Opportunities


Raffaele Annecchino, president and CEO of ViacomCBS Networks International (VCNI), discussed the company’s global footprint and opportunities across studios, streaming and networks at APOS.

The session began with Annecchino highlighting the newly announced deal for the SVOD service Nick+ to roll out on Rakuten TV’s on-demand platform in Japan. “Nick+ will be interconnected with the first-ever e-commerce store in Japan. The Rakuten platform has more than 100 million users every day. The partnership is also the perfect example of our go-to-market strategy. To succeed in this region, we have to offer a compelling solution to cater to the specific needs of each market. For the first time, we are connecting the world of streaming with the world of consumer products. Nick+ and the Nickelodeon store will be integrated with Rakuten ecosystem. I think this reflects the ViacomCBS capability to develop innovative partnerships with the key players in the market. This is exactly what the future of the entertainment industry looks like.”

On the opportunities for VCNI today, Annecchino noted, “The combination of a booming streaming market, in a time when content is being consumed more than ever before, and developments like 5G, puts ViacomCBS in a unique position in the future of the entertainment industry. We have an exclusive proposition with a connected ecosystem of free and pay services. Our portfolio includes a compelling offering of pay and free streaming services, an industry-leading linear bundle, great partnerships with a broad range of distribution partners over the world and a unique combination of global brands. We’re now also a global content studio powerhouse with ViacomCBS International Studios. And finally mobile and digital solutions with a focus on 5G expansion. While our strategic focus is studios, streaming and networks, we also see, particularly in Asia, a significant potential for real-world partnerships, including consumer products, events and location-based entertainment.”

Discussing AsiaPac expansion plans, Annecchino said there are three key opportunities. One is streaming, such as the deal in Japan and other developments in Australia, Japan and 5G. “I see great opportunity for Pluto TV and Paramount+. Pluto TV is growing rapidly internationally. We have more than 25 markets, such as Latin America, Germany, Switzerland, the U.K., France and Spain. We’ll be launching in Italy in two months and will expand to Asia in 2022. On the pay side, we launched Paramount+ in March and it’s already a success. Internationally it has launched across more than 60 regional and global platforms. Our plan is to accelerate our streaming efforts.”

On the studios side, there continue to be expansion opportunities for VIS. The Asian studio launched last year, Annecchino noted. “We already have a good number of success stories,” including Deer Squad, a Chinese original with iQIYI; and a partnership with Something Special in South Korea. In addition, Annecchino said, “We are establishing a 5G production hub in Asia to develop all kinds of innovative products and content focusing on music and kids’ entertainment.”

On Paramount+’s ambitions in Australia, Annecchino said tapping into the strengths of ViacomCBS’s networks portfolio, which includes Network 10, will be key. “Network 10 has been the only commercial network to grow its prime-time audience [in 2020]. In 2021, Network 10’s share has continued to grow. We have 10 Play, which has also seen great results. We are excited that Paramount+ will launch soon in Australia. I believe we will lead the market. It enables us to offer an SVOD premium service to complete our ecosystem from AVOD to SVOD to free to air. All these platforms and the advanced windowing strategy will allow us to bring new subscribers to Paramount+ from BVOD and the unique support of big free-to-air channels.”

A mix of global and local will be central to Paramount+’s content strategy, Annecchino added. “The key element of our success is our strong local content strategy across all platforms. We could start a show in free to air, move it to the premium SVOD, and back to free to air and BVOD.”

On plans for ViacomCBS’s branded streaming services in other AsiaPac markets, Annecchino said 2022 will be the year the company completes its international rollout. “We will launch Paramount+ and Pluto TV in most and then all the key markets worldwide. We’re looking at different business models for each market. The uniqueness of ViacomCBS is that we are really flexible, from the B2B to B2C partnerships. The networks have given us years of relationships with the biggest MVPD and mobile players all over the world. This will allow us a bigger ramp of streaming in these markets.”

The networks business remains key, Annecchino continued. “Today, most of the revenues are coming from the networks. We want to continue to foster the relationships with the MVPDs. And even if we see from a consumer perspective the acceleration in a shift from linear, we know the process takes time, especially in some regions across international.”

The company’s vast library will allow it to power multiple kinds of services, Annecchino said, with varied windowing strategies in place. “The brands remain one of our key strategic assets. Our globally loved brands will help us to stay top of mind with consumers, which is important now that there is so much content.”