Raffaele Annecchino Upped to CEO of ViacomCBS Networks International

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 Annecchino

“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.”

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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.

Pluto TV Going to Spain

ViacomCBS Networks International announced it would begin offering ad-supported VOD platform Pluto TV in Spain at the end of the month.

The service, which ViacomCBS acquired in 2019 for $340 million, offers 40 curated Spanish-language channels across multiple genres, including movies, TV series, reality, kidvid, lifestyle, crime and comedy.

Telefónica’s SVOD platform Movistar+ will handle Pluto TV’s advertising and marketing.

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“This innovative service perfectly complements our linear and non-linear offering in Spain,” Raffaele Annecchino, president ViacomCBS EMEA and Asia, digital and mobile strategy, said in a statement.

Since being acquired by ViacomCBS, Pluto TV has been heavily marketed worldwide as part of the the media giant’s push toward direct-to-consumer content distribution. Next year, SVOD platform CBS All Access will rebrand as Paramount+, and be marketed globally. Pluto TV aims to have 100 content channels by the end of 2021.

“This launch in Spain marks an important step of our expansion in Europe, where the service is already available in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and the U.K.,” Annecchino said in a statement.

Pluto TV content partners in Spain include All3Media, Endemol Shine, Fremantle and Lionsgate.

Pluto TV Now Streaming on Web Browsers in the U.K., Germany, Austria and Switzerland

Pluto TV, the ad-supported VOD platform owned by ViacomCBS, is now available to stream on Web browsers in United Kingdom, Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

Pluto TV is also accessible through third-party connected devices, including Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Android TV, Roku, Virgin Media, Now TV and via apps in the App Store and Google Play Store.

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“Pluto TV has grown consistently since it launched outside of the U.S. two years ago. In Europe and the U.K., we’ve increased both our user base and our channel offering on a monthly basis,” Pierluigi Gazzolo, president of studios and streaming at ViacomCBS Networks International, said in a statement.

Gazzolo said browser access to Pluto TV is an important feature for consumers without streaming media devices, including connected televisions. Pluto.tv can be accessed on Safari, Chrome and Firefox and other operating systems. The platform recently topped 100 content channels.

ViacomCBS Networks International Ups Pluto TV Executive Olivier Jollet to SVP of Emerging Business

ViacomCBS Networks International Sept. 2 announced the promotion of Olivier Jollet to SVP of emerging business — a new business unit that includes AVOD, SVOD, mobile services and products as well as advanced advertising and VDSI for Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia (EMEAA).

The move comes as ViacomCBS ramps up its digital presence globally, including the EMEAA, led by Raffaele Annecchino, president, ViacomCBS Networks, EMEAA. The new unit is tasked with  driving digital business and capturing new opportunities in both pay and free streaming video, as well as mobile business, advertising and ViacomCBS Digital Studios International.

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Jollet will be responsible for developing and expanding the digital business across these markets reporting directly to Annecchino.

“Olivier’s digital expertise and entrepreneurial approach are essential to driving growth in these critical areas of the business,” Annecchino said in a statement. “With digital initiatives in the region managed by Jollet, we will be ideally positioned to expand our integrated digital ecosystem while offering audiences the best of our brands, products, content and platforms.”

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Jollet has been managing director Europe for Pluto TV since 2016, where he led strategy and business development for Europe. Prior to to the AVOD platform, Jollet worked at Watchever and Universal Music.

Pluto TV Bowing in Brazil in December

ViacomCBS continues to expand its brand globally through ad-supported Pluto TV, now in Brazil beginning in December.

The service, which bowed service in select Latin America countries earlier this year, is offering Pluto TV Cine Sucessos, Pluto TV Cine Comédia, Pluto TV Cine Drama, Pluto TV Cine Terror, Pluto TV Séries, Pluto TV Retrô, MTV Pluto TV, Pluto TV Anime, Pluto TV Investiga, Pluto TV Natureza, Pluto TV Junior, Nick Jr. Club, Pluto TV Kids and Nick Clássico.

“As ViacomCBS Networks International continues to expand its streaming presence globally, the expansion of Pluto TV furthers this mission and enables audiences in Brazil to enjoy premium streaming content entirely for free,” JC Acosta, president of ViacomCBS Networks Americas, said in a statement.

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Pluto TV already offers 46 live and original channels in Latin America, in addition to on-demand movies from pay-TV operators, movie studios, publishers, and digital media companies, from all genres and for all ages. Pluto TV says it reaches 33 million monthly active users.

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ViacomCBS Expands Content Distribution in France

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.”

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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.

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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.

ViacomCBS, Sky Ink Content Distribution Deal for Germany, Switzerland, Austria

ViacomCBS Networks International and Comcast-owned Sky have signed 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.

“With robust collaborations already in place in the UK and Italy, we truly value our partnership with Sky and are excited to be able to deliver premium kids’ content, both linear and on-demand, to more families in these regions,” Raffaele Annecchino, president, ViacomCBS Networks EMEA and Asia, said in a statement.

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Manuel Kindervater, VP Partner Channels/Strategy at Sky Germany, said the Nickelodeon brand, “perfectly expand” the Sky family portfolio.

“We are pleased that families will be able to enjoy the diverse programs of Nick Jr and Nick Toons with Sky and Sky Ticket from April; anytime linear or on-demand,” Kindervater said.

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ViacomCBS Names Kelly Day COO of International Networks

ViacomCBS’ international networks division March 5 announced the appointment of Kelly Day to chief operating officer, reporting to David Lynn, CEO of ViacomCBS Networks International.

Formerly president of Viacom Digital Studios, Day is credited with upgrading the media giant’s digital content and distribution. Under her leadership, VDS created and distributed thousands of hours of premium digital content across Viacom’s global entertainment brands including MTV, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central.

Viacom in 2019 generated nearly 30 billion video views and 49 billion minutes watched, up 32% and 75%, respectively, from 2018.

Day spearheaded the acquisitions of both Awesomeness TV and VidCon, an annual festival and conference for online video expanded to Singapore, Abu Dhabi, Mexico and London.

“Kelly has an outstanding track record in building digital businesses and her expertise will be crucial in driving forward our transition to becoming a more digitally led operation,” Lynn said in a statement.

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As COO, Day will primarily be tasked with working with key stakeholders on accelerating the digital transformation of VCNI’s business following the ViacomCBS merger, strengthening the company’s digital and streaming operations.

She will have direct responsibility for some lines of business, including Viacom Digital Studios International (VDSi) and the company’s Location-Based Experiences and Events, as well as oversight of many of VCNI’s strategic service functions such as finance and business intelligence, legal affairs, strategy and operations.

As a result of Kay’s appointment, Melody Tan, who has served as COO of VCNI since 2017, will be leaving the company.

“I am extremely grateful to Melody for her many contributions to our ongoing success,” Lynn said. “She has been a key architect of our transformation and a fierce advocate for our brands, our content, and our people throughout her 16-year tenure at ViacomCBS.”

Pluto TV Launching in Latin America in March

ViacomCBS Networks International, a division of ViacomCBS, on Feb. 3 announced that Pluto TV will launch in Latin America at the end of March. The ad-supported, streaming TV service will offer a broad range of genre-based content in Spanish and Portuguese. Pluto TV will be available on cable operator platforms, www.pluto.tv, and in an app to download on iOs and Android devices.

Pluto TV in Latin America will feature a variety of channels, including action, comedy, drama, horror, games, sports, music, kids & family, cooking, travel, mysteries, wildlife and reality. Following the initial launch, Pluto TV will continue to add premium content channels reaching more than 80 channels by the end of the calendar year.

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Pluto TV is a flexible platform that enables a variety of options for both content partners and viewers alike. Pluto TV’s lineup presents a unique offering of curated, thematic and genre-based channels that are programmed with premium long-form content from major media partners.

Some of the types of channels include branded partner channels, Pluto TV original channels (owned & operated) and “pop-up” channels that are designed with limited windows to tap into timely topics, cultural moments, and single series marathons. For example, in advance of the launch of the MTV series, “The Hills: New Beginnings,” Pluto TV offered the original series “The Hills”. Similarly, other channels include series such as, “Baywatch,” and genres including news, sports, comedy, movies & TV, science & tech, pets, lifestyle and more. Pluto TV channels, which can be viewed linearly or on demand, are all unique to the platform.

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“The launch of Pluto TV in Latin America enables our partners to offer their viewers a new value-added service, complementing their premium and linear offerings,” Pierluigi Gazzolo, president of studios and OTT for ViacomCBS Networks International, said in a statement.

The initial channel offering includes; Pluto TV Cine Estelar, Pluto TV Cine Acción, Pluto TV Cine Drama, Pluto TV Cine Comedia, Pluto TV Cine Terror, Pluto TV Series, Telefe Clásico, MTV Vintage, Nick Pluto TV, Nick Jr. Pluto TV, Pluto TV Junior, Pluto TV Kids, Pluto TV Anime, Pluto TV Deportes, Pluto TV Cocina, Pluto TV Viajes, plus more channels to be announced. Following the launch, more channels will be added each month, and Pluto TV will continue to build that content based on demand.

“The launch of Pluto TV across Latin America marks another huge step toward achieving our mission of entertaining the planet,” said Tom Ryan, CEO and co-founder of Pluto TV. “We see massive opportunity and consumer demand for a high quality, free ad-supported streaming TV service throughout Latin America and therefore are excited to introduce viewers in the region to Pluto TV very soon.”

Pluto TV Brazil is slated to launch at the end of 2020.


ViacomCBS Networks International Reorganizes Management Team

ViacomCBS Jan. 14 unveiled a management restructure of its international networks division, which is intended to leverage the company’s expanded operations following the $12 billion re-merger between Viacom and CBS.

The reorganization aims to simplify ViacomCBS Networks International into two brand groups and three pan-regional management hubs, reporting to David Lynn, CEO of ViacomCBS Networks International (VCNI).

ViacomCBS Networks International, a unit of ViacomCBS Inc. (NASDAQ: VIAC), features a portfolio comprised of Network 10, Channel 5, Telefe, Viacom 18, ViacomCBS International Studios, Nickelodeon, MTV, Comedy Central, BET, Paramount Network and Pluto TV among others.

In addition to offering innovative streaming services and digital video products, ViacomCBS Networks International provides production, distribution and advertising for partners on five continents and across more than 180 countries.

David Lynn

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Kerry Taylor, currently EVP of MTV International and chief marketing officer for VCNI U.K. has been promoted to EVP of VCNI entertainment & youth brands, reporting to David Lynn and Chris McCarthy, president of entertainment & youth brands, ViacomCBS Domestic Media Networks.

Taylor’s new remit will include international oversight of MTV, Comedy Central, Paramount Network and BET. Taylor has been with MTV International since 2007 and has been co-head of MTV International since 2012. Taylor is credited with reinventing the MTV international brand positioning, developing a successful global franchise strategy and commissioning content that drove international ratings successes such as “Geordie Shore,” “The Charlotte Show,” “Ex on The Beach” and “Just Tattoo of Us”.

Kerry Taylor

Taylor will continue to work with Bruce Gillmer, EVP, music & talent programming/events, ViacomCBS. Jill Offman, who previously led Comedy Central and Paramount Network internationally will switch to the international studio business, as EVP of ViacomCBS International Studios U.K.

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Jules Borkent has been promoted to EVP, VCNI kids & family, reporting to Lynn and Brian Robbins, president, kids & family entertainment, ViacomCBS Domestic Media Networks. Borkent has been with Nickelodeon since 2001, having led channel operations and content strategy including programming, acquisitions, originals and digital for Nickelodeon International, which has delivered continued growth during his tenure.

Jules Borkent

Working in alignment with Nickelodeon U.S., Borkent established the international programming council and manages a multi-million-dollar content investment across kids & family programming.

“Kerry and Jules are exceptional creative and strategic professionals,” Lynn said in a statement. “Kerry brings equal parts marketing acumen and a genuine connection to the global youth zeitgeist which has driven MTV’s successful international franchise strategy and ratings success. Jules is a respected industry voice, who’s dedicated to bringing unique and diverse content to Nickelodeon audiences around the world.”

Lynn said consolidating international brands into two groups would more closely align the businesess with ViacomCBS’ U.S. brands, affording “maximum value” from the media giant’s content investment and libraries.

Meanwhile, Maria Kyriacou, who most recently was president of International for ITV Studios, will join the newly expanded division on Feb. 3, with a new brief as president, ViacomCBS Networks U.K. & Australia, which includes responsibility for Ireland, New Zealand and Israel.

Maria Kyriacou

With focused oversight of ViacomCBS’s operations in its two most valuable international markets, including its free-to-air broadcast networks, Channel 5 and Network 10, Kyriacou will seek content and commercial synergies between the company’s portfolio of networks and streaming services across these English-language markets.

Paul Anderson, who is CEO of Network 10, additionally becomes EVP, ViacomCBS Networks Australia and New Zealand with immediate effect, reporting to Kyriacou.

At the same time, Raffaele Annecchino, who is currently president of the division’s operations across Southern and Western Europe, the Middle East and Africa, will also take on an expanded role in the new structure, with additional responsibility for the company’s operations in Northern and Eastern Europe and key Asian markets.

Raffaele Annecchino

As President, ViacomCBS Networks Europe, Middle East, Africa & Asia (EMEAA), Annecchino goal will be to deliver additional growth in European markets through the closer alignment of its operations across the continent as part of an EMEA structure. With a track record of driving market-beating growth from both on-screen and off-screen activities in the markets for which he currently has responsibility, Annecchino will focus on developing scale in the company’s operations in EMEAA in addition to continuing to be responsible for VCNI’s mobile strategy.

J.C. Acosta

JC Acosta will be the third of the division’s senior pan-regional leaders, having recently been promoted to president, ViacomCBS Networks Americas. In this role, Acosta is responsible for the company’s operations across Latin America — including the key markets of Argentina, Brazil and Mexico — as well as in Canada and the U.S. Hispanic market.

He is tasked with the ongoing expansion of ViacomCBS’s portfolio of networks, streaming services and associated businesses across the region including: its fast-growing Studios business in the Americas; Argentinian free-to-air broadcast market leader, Telefe; and, digital services including Porta Dos Fundos.

Both Borkent and Acosta succeed Pierluigi Gazzolo, who prior to his recently announced promotion to president of studios and OTT for ViacomCBS Networks International, was president, VCNI Americas and EVP of Nickelodeon International. Gazzolo, who also reports to Lynn, assumed his new dedicated role on the 1st of this year.

Pierluigi Gazzolo

“ViacomCBS is truly a global leader in terms of the quality, volume and range of content we produce and own and we aim to exploit the incredible pipelines at our disposal to deliver exceptional growth across international markets, not just for ourselves but for our partners as well,” Lynn said.

As a result of these regional changes, Mark Whitehead, president & managing director of VCNI Asia Pacific, will be leaving the company, at the end of January.

“I am extremely grateful for Mark’s many contributions to our ongoing success,” Lynn said. “He has played the leading role in transforming our operations across Asia to the point where they have just delivered their highest ever rate of annual growth. Mark leaves us excellently positioned in key markets across the region to continue on an exceptional growth trajectory.”