Raffaele Annecchino, president of Paramount international studios, networks and streaming, has reportedly been put “on leave” from the company. Annecchino, who has been with Paramount Global since joining MTV Networks International in 1997, was in charge of ongoing efforts Paramount+ and ad-supported Pluto TV in Europe.
“Effective today, president, Paramount international studios, networks and streaming, is on leave from the company,” Paramount said in a statement without elaborating.
Filling the void include Juan “JC” Acosta, president of international studios, streaming and networks for Southern Europe, Latin America, Middle East and Africa; Mark Specht, EVP and managing director for Central and Northern Europe and Asia; and Maria Kyriacou, president of Australia, Canada, Israel and the U.K.
Annecchino was named CEO of ViacomCBS Networks International in December 2020, overseeing VCNI’s mobile strategy globally. He helped launch several digital businesses throughout the EMEA region, ad-supported, subscription-based VOD and ViacomCBS Digital Studios International.
Global rollout of the Paramount+ streaming platform continues, with the erstwhile CBS All Access subscription streaming service launching in the U.K. and Ireland on June 22. A separate launch in South Korea is slated for June, with additional rollouts in Germany, Italy, France, Switzerland and Austria set for later this year. The streamer plans to bow in India in 2023.
Paramount+ is bowing in select Western European countries with Comcast-owned satellite TV platform, Sky, as part of an over-the-top video distribution partnership. The app will also be available via Paramount+ app, via Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, Google, Roku and Samsung streaming TV devices.
“This year will be monumental for our streaming strategy as we accelerate our global ambitions,” Raffaele Annecchino, president and CEO of international networks, studios and streaming for Paramount Global, said in a statement. “With an already expansive global footprint and a strong, long-term market-by-market strategy, we are well-poised to continue our positive momentum.”
ViacomCBS has two goals: Expand market penetration and consumer awareness of the Paramount+ subscription streaming service, as well as ad-supported free streaming television platform Pluto TV.
The media giant Oct. 28 rolls out Pluto TV in Italy featuring 40 original channels, including movie channels Pluto TV Romantic Films, Pluto TV Cinema Italiano and Pluto TV Film Action; entertainment-focused Pluto TV Crime and Young and Fabulous; series-led channels like Pluto TV Series, The McLeod Sisters and Teen Series; comedy channels such as Scherzi e Risati, Pluto TV Film Comedy and FailArmy; kids and family collections like Super! Heroes and Super! SpongeBob; and thematic channels like 16 & Pregnant.
The media giant earlier this year partnered with Comcast-owned satellite TV distributor Sky on multiple projects, including Pluto TV. Sky Media will serve as Pluto’s Italian advertising sales partner.
The debut will mark Italy’s first operating FAST service, which precludes the 2022 debut of Paramount+ in the European country. Pluto currently has more than 50 million active monthly users across 25 countries.
“We’ve been able to align our priorities, which are to roll-out Paramount+ and Pluto TV all over the world to secure our leading position in the AVOD and SVOD landscape,” Raffaele Annecchino, CEO of ViacomCBS Networks International, said on a webcast.
The executive believes that the opportunity in streaming is “massive” and absolutely fundamental for ViacomCBS. Annecchino contends it is a priority to secure a winning streaming strategy worldwide over the next year. Ongoing launches of Paramount+ and Pluto TV afford ViacomCBS greater opportunities to distribute content with the potential to become global IP.
“The combination of all these assets will make ViacomCBS a unique offer internationally,” Annecchino said. “Content is becoming more and more global. We are basically creating an organization that will deliver more and more real benefits from the U.S. to the world.”
With major focus on international streaming and sub growth in 2021, ViacomCBS Dec. 10 announced it has promoted longtime executive Raffaele Annecchino to CEO of ViacomCBS Networks International. The 23-year veteran replaces David Lynn, who is departing the company after 24 years following the transition period, and reports to ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish.
Annecchino has held a number of positions across ViacomCBS Networks International, formerly Viacom International Media Networks, most recently as president of ViacomCBS Networks Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia.
“Raffaele is an entrepreneurial, results-oriented leader with a proven ability to transform businesses and drive growth across diverse markets,” Bakish said in a statement. “His experience in expanding ViacomCBS’s international footprint, forging key partnerships and accelerating our push into mobile and digital platforms will be critical to building on our leadership positions across Europe, Latin America and Asia and realizing our global ambitions.”
Annecchino’s achievements include the launch and acquisition of free-to-air channels in the key markets of Italy, Spain and Germany, and the creation of a new business unit in September 2020 to help drive ViacomCBS’s digital businesses across the EMEAA region. He also led the expansion of Pluto TV in Europe, including launches in Spain and the upcoming roll out in France and Italy in 2021.
ViacomCBS continues to expand distribution of its core brands around the world — this time with a new linear and on-demand access to BET, Comedy Central, Paramount Pictures, Nickelodeon and MTV on French telecom/broadband provider Orange.
Nick Junior, Nickelodeon, Nickelodeon +1 and Nickelodeon Teen join Orange on July 9th, with MTV, MTV Hits and J-One coming aboard on Aug. 20.
“This distribution renewal marks an important step for both our partnership with Orange and brand presence in France, as we now distribute the full ViacomCBS channel portfolio throughout the French market,” Raffaele Annecchino, president of ViacomCBS Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia, said in a statement. “We look forward to building on this important relationship and offer all French audiences the best of our content.”
With a track record of driving growth from both on-screen and off-screen activities in the markets for which he currently has responsibility, Annecchino was brought on board ViacomCBS’s international expansion focusing on developing scale in the company’s operations in EMEAA, in addition to continuing to be responsible for VCNI’s mobile strategy.
In March, Annecchino helped ViacomCBS and Comcast-owned Sky ink a distribution deal for select content offered in Germany, Switzerland and Austria. Under terms of the deal, Sky’s satellite customers in the countries now have access to Nickelodeon, Nick Jr. and Nick Toons.