February 27, 2019
Paramount Pictures is in the midst of a turnaround that pledges fiscal-year 2019 (ending Sept. 30) profitability for the first time since 2015.
While the vaunted studio improved first-quarter (ended Dec. 31, 2018) operating income by $40 million — its eighth consecutive quarter of improvement — due the theatrical performance of Bumblebee and Instant Family, a key profit driver was television content production.
Television revenue in the quarter ballooned 84% year-over-year driven by the release of Netflix’s “The Haunting of Hill House,” “Berlin Station,” on Epix, the recent greenlight for a third season of “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan” on Amazon Prime Video, and production of Netflix series “Maniac” and “13 Reasons Why,”among others.
Studio boss Jim Gianopulos contends the agreement with Netflix and other streaming services replicates past industry practices around “movie-of-the-week” productions for broadcast TV.
“The difference, of course, is that the quality of these films is much higher, making these relationships even more valuable,” Gianopulos said last November when announcing an agreement with Netflix to produce original movies for the streaming service.
To Bob Bakish, CEO of corporate parent Viacom, Paramount’s renewed success underscores a case study driven by new management.
Speaking Feb. 26 at the Morgan Stanley technology, media & telecom confab in San Francisco, the executive’s comments coincided with the promotion of Dan Cohen to president of worldwide home entertainment & television distribution.
Cohen’s priority will be television production, a business Bakish said didn’t exist at Paramount four years ago. The unit generated $400 million in revenue in 2018 — and is expected to grow 50% to $600 million in 2019.
“It’s not about delivering shows, it’s about delivering hits,” Bakish said.