There was a slew of announcements at 10 ViacomCBS’s Upfronts on Wednesday, so B&T sat down with executive vice president and chief content officer Beverley McGarvey, and chief sales officer Rod Prosser to get the lowdown.
The announcements focused heavily on new content across 10, 10Play and Paramount+, as well as new offerings for advertisers.
For McGarvey, the most significant part of the announcement was “the scale that we now bring to the market.”
“Over the last year, we have consolidated all of our assets. So this is the first time that we come to the market as ViacomCBS and included our linear assets, our streaming assets, and our linear pay assets.”
Prosser added, “I think the transformation that the business has gone through here locally over the last few years [has] been pretty epic. The question I’ve had often is, what does ViacomCBS mean to an advertiser or a brand? How do you lean into that? How do you activate it?”
The Upfronts, he said, illustrate “exactly how advertisers and brands can get the best out of the market, and ViacomCBS.”
The most significant news for advertisers is the two new innovations for 10Play: Dynamic e-trade placements and ‘Happy Hour’.
According to 10, “dynamic e-trade placements offer a real-time solution for retail clients to showcase their inventory and products. Advertisers can utilise dynamically changing pricing, images or offers – perfect for multi-product retail executions or creative which move as things change.”
Happy Hour is a way for advertisers to “showcase a brand while linking its message to an ad-free viewing hour coupled with a 60-second branded commercial and adjacent tag.”
Commenting on the new strategies, Prosser said, “we spent a lot of time and energy on really building out that platform. The ad product that sits around it is equally as important.”
“I think the thing that we found with lockdown was brands and advertisers really wanting to lean into e-commerce. So the dynamic e-trade placement product really was off the back of that demand.”
“E-commerce is clearly really important for us as a business, and particularly with our BVOD platform. The exciting thing is, now e-commerce has been around for a long time sitting on digital platforms, and this is really the first year or so that the broadcasters are really activating [it] properly.”
He then described the Happy Hour product as one “that was built to help clients build a brand. It offers clients the ability to own the hour, and wrap it up with their messaging.”
One of the biggest launches for 10ViacomCBS this year has been the SVOD service Paramount+, and the Upfronts presented a host of new shows, both unscripted and scripted.
What differentiates Paramount+ from other SVOD services, McGarvey said, is “a very strong international slate. We have lots of fantastic Showtime product coming through. [Then] we also have lots of great local content.”
“What we will be adding to the service next year is local nonscripted content: Couple’s Therapy and The Bridge, which are super high-end, constructed nonscripted formats.”
Also coming to the network’s linear TV and BVOD channels are two Aussie versions of popular UK programs: comedy panel show Would I Lie To You? and feel-good reality romance First Dates.
Discussing how she thought Australian audiences would respond, McGarvey pointed out that “we do really well with comedy panel shows.”
“I think [we’re in the] moment in time where people really are embracing comedy…The difference is the casting, and the chemistry.”
Chrissie Swan, who McGarvey described as “warm, funny and such a generous performer” will be host, with The Chaser‘s Chris Taylor and Lano and Woodley’s Frank Woodley as team captains.
First Dates, she said, “has that Gogglebox feel to it. It’s authentic Australians having a moment in their life that we get to watch, and again, it’s warm and funny and a bit awkward.”
And, in terms of classic 10 content, both Prosser and McGarvey predict Survivor Australia as the biggest show of 2022.
McGarvey also pointed to MasterChef’s upcoming ‘Favourites vs Foodies’ season, which will feature first-ever winner Julie Goodwin.
“I think MasterChef will be big, not just because it’s physically lots of hours, but because I think [also] that Foodies versus Favourites theme – like, I am down to see Julie Goodwin back on MasterChef!”
“It’s in the middle of the year, it’s winter. I think everybody’s gonna go nuts and go out a lot over these next few months, and by the time MasterChef comes around, we might all realize that it’s [also] nice to sit at home and eat pasta.”
The final major ticket for 10 is their sports offering, with the network consolidating itself as the ‘home of football’ this year.
That will be expanded into 2022, with the announcement of 10’s rights to the FA Cup.
“It’s fantastic in that it’s a great knockout tournament, but it also has incredible players, not just from the UK, but from all over the world,” McGarvey explained.
“So I think that really enhances it and adds some international flavor into our football offering.”
Prosser added that additionally, 10 had “had a terrific run in terms of sponsor and partner conversations” which would be unveiled in the future.
“Every major category that supports sports will be on the football. And the exciting thing for the advertisers is actually the extension that they get onto Paramount+. In a lot of ways it’s just an incremental reach driver for them, and I’d say a very engaged audience as well.”
“There will be some live ad loads, both in ad spots but also in integration. That’s true of all our shows, and across general entertainment as well when they’re played out on 10. But the messaging and the brand alignment is quite rich through the A-League on both Paramount+, but of course across all the services as well.”
When asked about pursuing other sporting rights, McGarvey cited what she described as the “annoying” but “true” answer: that they look at every sport when it comes available.
“I think our prism through which we look at sport has evolved, given that we used to have the capacity only to play it on linear and now we have the capacity to play it across multiple platforms.”
“That is why we ended up doing the football deal, because we have the capacity to take it all. So I think we will continue to look at sport. And we look at it in a slightly broader way now than we would have done. It’s how we look at any investment opportunity.”
Finally, Prosser highlighted the network’s stance on diversity, equality and inclusion, something that has been at the forefront for the network over the last year.
“I think that it’s one thing standing up in the Upfront and saying it’s important, but it’s another thing actually unveiling what you’re actually doing, and we’re well progressed in our journey.”
“It’s exciting to talk to advertisers and our partners around what we’re doing in that space because it’s becoming ever so more important for them, and in fact, more and more we see on briefs [the question] what are we doing in that space?”
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