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Job and content cuts at PARAMOUNT amid strategic global shifts

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Paramount announces the departure of Maria Kyriacou as it refocuses on Hollywood content and reduces international originals.

Maria Kyriacou, President of Broadcast and Studios for International Markets at Paramount, has confirmed a decision to leave the company.

Kyriacou, who joined the media giant in 2020, had the responsibility of overseeing operations in the U.K., Australia, Canada, and Israel. Her departure is announced amidst significant strategic shifts within Paramount, particularly regarding its international content strategy including in Australia.

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Paramount Global CEO, Bob Bakish, recently made it public that the company is planning a reduction in its global workforce. This initiative is part of Paramount’s broader strategy to operate more efficiently and reduce expenditure.

The downsizing is expected to affect hundreds of employees across various divisions including in Australia.

Kyriacou’s role at Paramount involved multiple visits to the Paramount / Network 10 operations, where she established herself as a staunch supporter of the local Australian management team.

A memo to the staff, penned by Pam Kaufman, President and CEO of International Markets, Global Consumer Products and Experiences, and George Cheeks, President and CEO of CBS and Chief Content Officer for News and Sports at Paramount+, outlined the company’s revised content strategy.

“We are sharpening our international content strategy to focus more heavily on our Hollywood franchises, films and series, which have mass global appeal, are in high demand with our partners and perform strongest with audiences worldwide,”

“As we focus on maximizing our content investment, we will produce fewer international originals, apart from our leading free-to-air networks in the U.K., Australia, Argentina and Chile, which will continue to have a strong pipeline of local content.”

The memo continued,

“We recognize that Maria’s departure, as president of our international broadcast and studios business, will mean redefining how we work together as ‘One Paramount’ across these lines of business.”

Post Kyriacou’s exit, Paramount Television International Studios will come under the purview of David Stapf, President of CBS Studios, who reports to Cheeks. Local leadership will continue to steer free-to-air networks such as Channel 5, Network 10, Chilevisión, and Telefe in their respective markets.

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Kyriacou’s official last day was January 26, although she will continue her association with Paramount through the end of March.

Below is the full memo from Paramount Global CEO, Bob Bakish:

Team, Earlier today, we dedicated the first Bob Live of 2024 to our strategic focus for the year. Importantly, this vision builds on all this remarkable team accomplished in 2023 — and there’s no question we’ve made incredible progress. Last year, Paramount+ continued to be one of the fastest growing paid streaming services, and Pluto TV was the most widely distributed FAST service in the world.

We had the #1 show on television, five #1 box office debuts and the #1 broadcast network for the last season, to name just a few accomplishments. In these ways and more, we’re unleashing the power of our content, which remains our mission no matter what challenges we face.

And we have certainly faced a few. As an industry, we’ve confronted a soft ad market, a volatile macroeconomic environment and two historic strikes just in the last year. All while navigating the ongoing evolution of the streaming business, as industry sentiment and metrics for success continue to shift. And we’ve been on our own journey as a company — to realize the full potential of One Paramount as we transition our business from linear to streaming, and continue fine-tuning how we window and monetize our content.

Amid all this change, it’s no surprise that Paramount remains a topic of speculation. We’re a storied public company in a closely followed industry. But I have always believed the best thing we can do is concentrate on what we can control — execution. Leaning into what’s working, while continually adjusting to current realities.

So what does that mean for us in 2024? Our priority is to drive earnings growth. And we’ll get there by growing our revenue while closely managing costs — a balance that will require every team, division and brand to be aligned. More specifically, we have three key strategies to achieve this:

1. Maximizing CONTENT with the biggest impact. When it comes to mass, popular content, we’ve always punched above our weight. And, for our audiences and partners around the world, it’s become very clear that our Hollywood hits are the biggest draw. So, in 2024, we’re focusing our resources on the most powerful, resonant franchises, films and series that perform across platforms globally.

As we refine our content strategy, this means we’ll produce fewer local, international originals for our platforms, apart from our leading free-to-air networks in Australia, Argentina, Chile and the UK, where we will continue to have a strong pipeline of local content. And we’ll continue to maximize our global hits across multiple platforms and revenue streams – including streaming, film, TV and licensing – for the biggest return on our investment.

2. Driving to STREAMING profitability. We’ve learned a lot since we launched Paramount+ nearly three years ago. As we said last quarter, we expect that 2022 was our year of peak investment, so we are a year ahead of schedule on that important metric. Given our continued push to streaming profitability, this year we will lean even further into large markets like the US, UK, Canada, and Australia, where we have a strong multiplatform presence, our US studio content resonates best, and where there is the greatest revenue potential.

In other important markets across Europe, Latin America and Asia, we will continue our market-by-market strategy and tap into the power of our strong local partnerships, ensuring we’re operating with the best model to drive local scale and viewership, while managing costs. Globally, increasing subscriber engagement and retention across our platforms will also be critical priorities on our path to streaming profitability.

So will driving revenue across advertising, subscriptions, and licensing – including through our recently announced Paramount+ branded destinations – while we continue to operate as efficiently as we can and reduce costs.

3. Further unlocking the power of ONE PARAMOUNT. We’ve made a lot of progress on this front, but there’s even more we can do to leverage the collective power of our company. That means continuing to collaborate across teams, time zones and functions on efforts like cross-promotion, innovative partnerships, data and insights and more, to make the most out of our assets and expertise.

As always, we will continue to work to strengthen our culture – prioritizing inclusion, employee and leader development, and guiding our teams through change. Our One Paramount mentality will not only drive better results – it will also enable us to operate as a leaner company and spend less. Where possible, we’ll look to expand our shared services model as we streamline operations.

As it has over the past few years, this does mean we will continue to reduce our workforce globally. These decisions are never easy, but are essential on our path to earnings growth. We will continue to be as thoughtful as we can be, communicate when there is information to share and support our teams throughout. If you didn’t get a chance to tune into today’s Bob Live, please do so whenever you can on Vimeo.

There’s more information there — and even more to come. Expect to hear updates on our progress against this strategy throughout the year. In many ways, 2024 will be the next great step in our transformation and we must evolve how we work to support that. I can’t emphasize enough how grateful I am for your dedication, and how proud I am of all that this team continues to accomplish. In light of all that we’ve achieved together, I have no doubt we are up to the task.

Best, Bob

SOURCES: DeadlineThe Wrap, Deadline

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Kevin Perry
Kevin Perryhttps://tvblackbox.com.au/author-kevin-perry/
Senior Editor and Co-Owner of the TV Blackbox website, Kevin Perry is an experienced media commentator focused on TV Production, Consumer Tech, SVOD & Sports Broadcasting. Media enquiries please Call or Text 0428-275-111
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