Paramount’s Global Sales Boss: ‘Australia’s Converged Model Is A Blueprint For How I’d Like All Of Our Markets To Be’

Paramount’s Global Sales Boss: ‘Australia’s Converged Model Is A Blueprint For How I’d Like All Of Our Markets To Be’

In spite of a challenging TV market, Paramount’s international sales boss Lee Sears is eagerly awaiting the roll out of an ad-tier for Paramount+. He says Australia is the ideal test market for how he’d like Paramount to operate around the world, which is a “frictionless” buy across linear TV, BVOD, AVOD and SVOD.

Lead image: Paramount’s global sales boss Lee Sears and Australian sales leader Rod Prosser.

When you stitch up all of Paramount ANZ assets and offer them to the market in a single buy, the ad sales proposition is compelling. It is this bundled total TV buy that Paramount ANZ is banking on to future proof the business in the face of a structural decline for linear TV.

And, with the launch of an ad-tier of Paramount+ in June, Paramount’s international sales boss Lee Sears says advertisers are “leaning in” to a sales proposition that allows brands to advertise across linear, BVOD, SVOD and its AVOD fast channels.

“Australia is a blueprint for how I’d like all of our markets to be in terms of the fact that we do all of our own sales, we’ve got a fantastic footprint,” he said.

“We are free to air, have a great BVOD (10 Play) and AVOD with the fast channels (Pluto TV) and now have Paramount+ coming. I think we’re uniquely positioned to be able to bring a premium SVOD ad proposition into the market, but do it in a way which means that it’s part of our whole suite.” 

Sears said that due to the fact Paramount owns all its own tech and already has an established sales team led by local sales boss Rod Prosser, it is is able to “super serve our clients and agency partners” unlike some SVOD rivals that work in partnership with external ad tech and sales companies.

“I think that puts us in a different place to some of the other SVOD competitors that are selling advertising; we have a scaled offering across our entire portfolio,” Sears said. “What it means is it’s not just SVOD, it’s a converged go to market sale, which means we are the sum of all our parts.”

Sears spoke to B&T as part of a week-long whistle stop tour of its Australian operations ahead of the Paramount ad-tier roll out in around six weeks time. In March, Paramount Global promoted Sears for the second time in less than a year to  president of international market ad sales, an effort to align its US and international broadcast, cable and streaming assets into a global content powerhouse.

The Queens Park Rangers fan said that Australia is an international litmus test for the ‘One Paramount’ approach, which converges all of its assets’ audiences to provide advertisers a single trading point to a unified audience; in other words “consolidating fragmentation” that has occurred in the TV and digital video market in recent years.

A few weeks ago, Paramount+ rolled out an ad-tier in Canada (the second market after the US), which allows advertisers to reach audiences of Paramount+ and Pluto TV in a single transaction. It’s too early to assess how that roll-out has gone, but Sears said the Australian launch in June has advantages because it will be the only non-US market where Paramount controls all of the content, tech and sales across linear TV, BVOD, SVOD and AVOD.

“We are about that converged sale and we look at our audience holistically and sell that audience holistically to clients. We are able to make sure that we sell ads in a brand safe, premium content environment and are able to super serve our agency and advertising partners at scale, rather than via individual channels. I believe this is our unique selling proposition,” he said.

“What we don’t want is to operate in silos, we don’t want somebody going and selling just one part of the business and then somebody else going in and selling another. We want to be able to sell the breadth of our offering, because that’s when we win. We want to be easy to work with, removing all of the friction and having a really clear combined proposition.”

Transaction without friction

Paramount ANZ’s local sales boss Rod Prosser says the converged proposition will roll out when the Paramount+ ad tier is launched in June, but not all of the ad tech pipes have yet been connected. The plan is to have the whole Paramount ecosystem, including Channel 10, fully connected by early 2025.

“Initially there’s going to be a finite amount of inventory as we launch the ad-tier on Paramount+, and it’s a different audience to our other channels,” Prosser. “We want to have an aggregated CPM, and price ourselves across our whole platform (rather than just via channel). Of course it depends how the buyer chooses to buy, but our approach initially is going to be One Paramount. So it’s going to be across all of our platforms and that will be blended CPM.”

Aside from selling inventory across the whole a suite of  Paramount ANZ’s TV and video assets, the main benefit to advertisers and agency partners is a “transaction without friction”.

“Advertisers are excited by the fact that they will be able to come through the front door and have access to all of those platforms without a heavy lift. So part of that is going to be delivered by tech, but it also comes down to the structure that we’ve got in a sales team that will represent all of those assets. So there is one touch point and it’s a light touch,” he said.

“The other interesting aspect is there are a lot of discussions around sponsorships and partnerships, and how they will now be amplified in a meaningful way across multiple platforms, not just on our linear screen. 

“A lot of brands we speak to are thinking about how they talk to that audience across Paramount+ and, equally, on our tentpole shows on linear. We are having conversations around much broader partnerships then just programme sponsorship.”

Prosser said that audiences will be measured using multiple sources, including OzTam and Paramount’s streaming data (which is not made public), but will presented in a unified way to remove duplication of eyeballs. He said that further details about measurement will be made public closer to the roll-out of the Paramount+ ad tier.

According to media analysts Telestye, Paramount+ had around 1.5 million Australian subscribers in June 2023, and is the fastest growing SVOD in this market with a 41 per cent growth in subscribers from the year prior. This places it level-pegging with Foxtel’s Binge, and behind market leaders Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+.

When the ad-tier launches, Paramount+ will be sold at $6.99 per month, making it the cheapest entry level SVOD in the market. This could help it grow numbers substantially, but also risks cannibalising some current subscribers who are willing to downgrade for a cheaper price point.

Sears and Prosser are not concerned about that, and are adamant the roll out of an ad-tier will keep average revenue per user (ARPU) stable. The real benefit to the move is the broader sales impact it could have across the whole Paramount ANZ ecosystem. 

“We’ve got premium brand side content, we’ve now got it across lots of different channels, and we’re going to make it easy to access,” Sears said.

“We are that one stop shop that takes a lot of the heavy lifting out for our agency partners and advertisers. I think it’s good for us, and it’s good for them.”




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