Paramount+ Adds Branded Hubs Via Distribution Partners In India And The Philippines; Content Licensing Deals Aim To Boost Cash Flow And Reach

With its streaming operations facing scrutiny as 2024 gets under way, Paramount Global continues to pursue a diversified approach to distributing its flagship, Paramount+.

Pam Kaufman, President and CEO, International Markets, Global Consumer Products & Experiences, and Lisa Kramer, President, International TV Licensing, elaborated on the strategy during an appearance Wednesday at NATPE Global in Miami.

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Paramount CEO Bob Bakish, who rose through the ranks at the company as an international exec, has evinced the potential of “hard bundles” in many territories. In addition to those deals with Canal Plus and other operators, the company is selling Paramount+ direct to consumers and also looking to create “brand hubs” via licensing deals in places where P+ is not otherwise available.

During the session, Kramer announced two new branded hub partners: Tap Digital Media Ventures in the Philippines and JioCinema in India. Tap DMV will create a Paramount+ brand extension for licensed Paramount content on its SVOD service, Blast TV, which is scheduled to launch in June. The setup follows similar ones via Cosmote in Greece and Streamz in Belgium, with more in the works.

Kramer called the branded hub model “our exciting new approach to licensing,” with a focus on making Paramount+ available in markets where it is not otherwise accessible. The service is “fully embedded” in partner companies’ traditional user interfaces.

Content licensing, Kramer added, provides “instant profitability and cash flow” at a time when all streamers are scrutinizing their expenses. Since rolling out the first hubs last June, Paramount has had “great conversations” with other potential partners, she added.

Kaufman added that “content ubiquity, putting our content all over the world, is critical for us.” To that end, the hubs are “such an important part of our model” for rolling out Paramount+ globally. Because she also oversees consumer products, Kaufman said there is additional upside when new markets come online.

While Paramount+ ended the third quarter of 2023 with more than 63 million subscribers, it continues to give some Wall Streeters pause, given the company’s debt obligations and the operational cost of streaming. Paramount Global has not set a target date when it expects to reach profitability in streaming, a milestone eagerly anticipated by investors, though Bakish said last November the company is “advancing in the path” to that point.

Streaming is one ingredient in recent reports concerning Paramount’s non-executive chairwoman, Shari Redstone, who leads National Amusements, the owner of nearly 80% of Paramount’s voting shares. Deadline and other media outlets have reported that Redstone has talked with Skydance Media chief David Ellison and others potentially interested in acquiring the company or some of its assets.

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