Business

Paramount strikes deal with Netflix

Plan is major shift for parent company

Los Angeles Times/TNS

The priority of Paramount Pictures “is to expand our role as a global content provider,” chairman Jim Gianopulos says.
Los Angeles Times/TNS The priority of Paramount Pictures “is to expand our role as a global content provider,” chairman Jim Gianopulos says.

Paramount Pictures has signed a multi-picture deal with streaming giant Netflix, Jim Gianopulos, chairman of the Melrose Avenue film and television studio, announced Friday.

Gianopulos offered few details about the initiative during parent company Viacom’s fiscal fourth quarter earnings call with analysts.

But the move represents a significant departure for Viacom, which was burned before by selling Netflix the streaming rights to its most popular Nickelodeon shows several years ago.

Wall Street analysts largely blamed Viacom’s previous management for accelerating the rapid migration of children’s viewership to streaming platforms and away from traditional TV networks. Ratings for Nickelodeon and Viacom’s other television channels faltered — and have never fully recovered.

But Paramount is coming off a prolonged dry spell and heavy financial losses. Gianopulos noted that Netflix, Amazon.com and Apple are collectively spending $20 billion a year on content at a time when other major studios, such as Walt Disney and Warner Bros., have been pulling back on partnerships with Netflix and Amazon.

The larger studios are motivated to steer their content to their own planned streaming services.

“Our priority is to expand our role as a global content provider,” Gianopulos said. “We are exploring various new revenue streams in addition to our traditional theatrical releases as a producer of first-run films and television for other media platforms.

“Our first such partnership is a multi-picture deal with Netflix, which we are very excited about.”

Viacom CEO Bob Bakish said the current Netflix deal is markedly different from past arrangements.

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About eight years ago, Viacom sold Netflix the right to stream its TV tent poles such as Nickelodeon’s “SpongeBob SquarePants,” which encouraged the audience flight.

Now it plans to create separate titles for the Los Gatos, Calif., streaming service while also ramping up the content pipeline for its traditional TV channels and movie theaters.

“We will sell to them when and where it makes sense,” Gianopulos said of the Netflix deal.

“They are looking for great properties and we have great intellectual property. We are looking at properties that are suitable for them.”

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