Paramount Global CEO Lays Out Strike Strategy of International Production and Sports

Bob Bakish notes CBS shift in fall slate to use “parallel network hits” like “Yellowstone”

Paramount Global CEO Bob Bakish
Bob Bakish, President and CEO of Paramount Global (Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)

Paramount Global CEO Bob Bakish laid out the entertainment giant’s strategy to get through the ongoing SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes to Wall Street analysts Monday, saying the company would rely on its international production capabilities and fall sports slate.

“We’re saddened that as an industry we couldn’t come to an agreement that would have prevented this,” Bakish said of the historic double strike during Monday’s second-quarter earnings call. “Our partnership with the creative community is critical to the health of our industry, so we remain hopeful for a timely resolution, and we are committed to finding a path forward. At the same time, we have a responsibility to minimize disruptions to our audiences and other constituents.”

CBS’s fall slate, Bakish added, would lean on “parallel network hits” like Paramount Network’s hit drama Taylor Sheridan, “Yellowstone,” which will make its broadcast TV debut on Sundays starting from Season 1, “on top of the strong sports lineup.”

In addition to college football, March Madness, the PGA, NFL programming as well as the Super Bowl — which will air a kid-centric telecast on Nickelodeon — the company also boasted its international production capabilities.

“We have more than 85 international scripted and unscripted Paramount+ originals already produced in production or greenlit as well as more than 20 Local versions of global unscripted formats slated to debut through 2024,” Bakish said. “In fact, we just announced a slate of internationally produced originals coming to Paramount+ in the US, including … a Korean crime thriller that’s already generating strong buzz.”

The second pillar of Paramount Global’s strategy is “using multiple platforms and multiple revenue streams to get the most value for our content,” according to Bakish.

“This allows us to monetize our content in more ways, while giving us flexibility as market audiences and economics continue to evolve,” the CEO said. “That means accessing revenue streams across subscriptions and advertising and tapping into the very large global market of third party platforms through our strategic approach to content licensing, and it means distributing our content across linear TV, theatrical and streaming.”

This strategy is not new to Paramount, Bakish emphasized, as the company has “always embraced the combination of streaming, strategic licensing to third party platforms, both the linear television and streaming” as “something that unquestionably produces economic value for us.”

CBS content accounted for nearly half of the total minutes viewed on Paramount+, Bakish noted, but CBS-produced content also accounted for over $600 million of licensing revenue in the second quarter. Additionally, over the past 18 months, the top 20 engagement drivers on Paramount+ also drove hundreds of millions of dollars in incremental third-party licensing revenue.

Despite the company’s best laid plans, Bakish admitted that Paramount “anticipate[s] continued delays in production for the duration of the strike,” leading the company to “estimate free cash flow in the back half of the year will be significantly higher than previously expected.”

Other Hollywood companies have noted expected cost savings from delayed or canceled productions during the strikes.

For all of TheWrap’s WGA strike coverage, click here.