Paramount using streaming data to green-light movies, studio exec says

Paramount Pictures is leveraging data from its parent company's flagship streaming service Paramount+ to determine which movies the studio should green-light in the future, an executive affirmed at an investor conference on Wednesday.

Speaking at the BofA Securities 2022 Media, Communications and Entertainment Conference, Paramount Pictures Chief Executive Officer Brian Robbins said viewership data from Paramount+ helps the studio decide the types of movies Paramount's customers want to see, both in theaters and on the company's various streaming platforms.

"The beauty of the service, of having something like Paramount Plus, is now we have all of this data that we get in real-time," Robbins said. "And we're able to look at that data and go, hey, this genre is working...and we want to give the audience what they want."

Paramount+ launched in March 2021 as a refreshed version of CBS All Access, the streaming service that came under Paramount Global's control when its Viacom subsidiary merged with CBS two years earlier. Since the relaunch, Paramount+ has incorporated TV shows and movies from popular franchises from both brands, including "Star Trek," "Sonic the Hedgehog" "SpongeBob SquarePants" and "Paw Patrol."

Robbins said franchises — especially those popular with children — are helping to grow Paramount+ at a fast rate.

"Franchises sort of create the strongest emotional bond anyone can have: love," Robbins said. "And with love comes loyalty."

Paramount is not alone in tapping into the power of franchises: The Walt Disney Company has done the same thing, leveraging its Star Wars, Marvel and Pixar content to help drive growth to its flagship streaming service, Disney Plus.

Robbins said Paramount Global has strong, kid-focused franchises that are almost unrivaled in the space — and that is keeping wallets open.

"Parents will go without eating before disconnecting something that entertains their kids," Robbins said. "So kids content is an amazing retention tool for us."

Those franchises are also helping to spur interest in Paramount Global's legacy products, including its cable networks and theatrical film releases. While Paramount Pictures' summer blockbuster "Top Gun: Maverick" grabbed a lot of headlines, Robbins said several other franchises, including "Scream" and "Sonic the Hedgehog" proved popular with movie goers throughout this year. Meanwhile, its "Paw Patrol" and "SpongeBob SquarePants" shows helped Nickelodeon become the number one cable channel for children.

"From an IP perspective, we're in really great shape," Robbins said. "I think what differentiates us from the rest is all of our distribution platforms, right? To be able to have the number one broadcast network, the number one kids network, the fastest-growing streaming service, the biggest studio by share for the year — we're working together and leveraging all of these assets to grow."

The company's content is also helping its distribution partners grow as well. Last month, Paramount announced it was partnering with retail giant Walmart by allowing subscribers of the store's membership program Walmart Plus free access to the ad-supported version of Paramount Plus, which normally costs $5 a month.

"We're very aligned with the Walmart brand," Robbins said, adding that franchises like Yellowstone and programming like National Football League telecasts resonate with Walmart customers.

"I think you're going to see growth for Walmart Plus in a big way...and we're going to benefit from it," Robbins proclaimed, adding that he hopes Paramount Plus will be "their last streaming partner."