In mid-May, Paramount Global promoted Marco Nobili to the role of executive vp, international general manager of Paramount+, tasked with leading the strategy and execution of the streamer’s global expansion into new markets.
The Italian, based in Miami, had most recently served as senior vp international marketing, data & analytics for Paramount’s streaming division after previously working for Netflix and Amazon.
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Ahead of the Wednesday (June 22) launch of Paramount+ in the U.K. and Ireland, followed by Italy in September, as well as Germany, Switzerland, Austria and France in December, Nobili spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about the potential of Paramount+ in foreign markets and the importance of appealing content. After all, by the end of this year, Paramount says it will have paid streaming services available in more than 60 markets. In 2023, it will expand further in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, with India a key launch market for Paramount+. And after previously announcing a commitment to greenlightling 50 international scripted originals in 2022, the streamer on Monday unveiled a goal of commissioning 150 international originals by 2025.
“What excites me is our global nature and our capability to really bring this mix of the global and the local together,” Nobili told THR about the streamer’s approach to originals and other content in his first interview since starting his new role. “So as we expand into more markets, including South Korea, the U.K. and Ireland now and then more later this year, we not only bring our global hits to those countries, but are also developing a lot of content.”
He explained that this formula has been a key to success in markets entered so far. “We actually have seen great success with both the global hits like Halo, which is by far our number one acquisition driver so far, and we are super excited about it, or 1883 or franchises like Paw Patrol or Dexter: New Blood that did phenomenally well for us, but also international content. We have already agreed to greenlight 50 scripted international titles so far, including such titles as Los Enviados (about the Vatican team in charge of studying and verifying miracles of potential saints that is sent to Mexico to verify alleged miraculous healings) that launched as a Latin American title out of Mexico, which has done phenomenally well in Latin America and then brought that over the border. And it is within the top 10 scripted originals in the U.S. and the number one Spanish-language scripted original in the U.S.”
Having lived in several countries, “I think it is great to see content passing the border.” Take new Italian original Circeo. “It is a title from Italy about a very dramatic story over there. My mother would certainly have a big interest in that. But then I think about some of my friends in some other countries, and I definitely see that that talent and creativity have an interest over there. So net net, it is a very global and diverse story that I think we are uniquely positioned to bring to market.”
Nobili says the rollout of originals will continue in the coming years to keep refreshing the offerings to consumers. “We are planning to launch another 150 titles [from international markets] by 2025,” he emphasized.
He also touted Paramount’s mix of content and stars that he sees as a key benefit for the streaming service. “If there is one thing that we do extremely well, it would be too easy to say we have something for everyone. I think actually we have something great for everyone. Because when you think about scripted drama, Paramount is great about doing scripted drama. We have done that for a very long time, Showtime has done that for a very long time. And we have brought that into Paramount+ with, for example, The First Lady, which we launched internationally and which is now also coming to the U.K. Then you think about how we are good about doing comedies. We have done Comedy Central for a very long time. And we have created reality stars. We are really great about all these verticals, including animation.”
Paramount has also created or struck strong relationships with “some of these stars from Hollywood, and now we are kind of bringing them into a streaming service” with Paramount+, Nobili said. “If you just think about it, it is the only place where you can watch [Sylvester] Stallone, SpongeBob and some of our reality shows all in one place.”
How has he enjoyed the first few weeks in his new role? “Why I get really passionate about this job is because it is at the intersection of entertainment and international,” Nobili told THR. “The third passion I would say is technology. So the fact that this role really sits at the intersection of those three things is particularly exciting for me.”
Asked about the U.K. and Ireland launch this week, he said, “I hope we are going to surprise everybody with the big launch that we are rolling out in the U.K. There are a lot of fun things that we are doing, such as a West End takeover in London.” From Monday, Paramount+ has indeed vowed to bring the district of the capital to life with a series of installations, pop-ups and activities. “Spanning four of the West End’s busiest streets will be the Walk of Stars, the streaming service’s answer to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, which will see 42 illuminated stars hanging above the streets,” the company said. “The giant stars will honor Paramount legends, including Sylvester Stallone, Bryan Cranston, Gillian Anderson, Michelle Pfeiffer and Viola Davis, whilst other stars will be based on hit movies and shows, including Transformers, Star Trek and Scream.”
London’s Leicester Square, the location of many Hollywood premieres, will be transformed into Leicester SquarePants, with SpongeBob setting up his pineapple home and serving up Krabby Patties and other surprises for a limited time. And Piccadilly Circus will boast replica sets from Halo and Star Trek: Discovery and a Mission: Impossible selfie challenge, among others.
Nobili also touted the potential of the U.K. and Ireland markets, with tens of millions of SVOD subscriptions. “It is one of the top three markets from a revenue standpoint in terms of subscription video on demand, so it is definitely a key priority for many different players,” he explained. “It is a massive market and is definitely very appealing. We have done a lot of research about how big the opportunity might be for us, and it shows that still more than 60 percent of the market is really looking for a new streaming service to substitute one of the streaming services that they already subscribe to.”
Providing customers choice and leveraging relationships with distributors is also important for the U.K. rollout, the executive noted. “As an example, we have done this great partnership with Sky where Paramount+ is going to be available for Sky Cinema subscribers at no additional cost. As a customer, it is about your device of choice, and you decide where you want to watch us. A ubiquitous presence is key for us.” Finally, the monthly subscription price of 6.99 pounds a month ($8.55), or 69 pounds ($84.47) a year, is “a huge value for our customers,” Nobili argued.