Ten’s gamechanging streaming plans
If Channel 10 boss Beverley McGarvey has her way, we'll be watching Tom Cruise leap across rooftops in Mission Impossible 7 only 45 days after his death-defying stunts wow audiences in cinemas.
McGarvey is relaunching Channel 10's subscription streaming service 10 All Access, which will now be rebranded as Paramount+ from August 11.
The service will cost $8.99 a month and will feature a wide selection of TV and movies to appeal to a broad demographic, from children's series Paw Patrol to NCIS, in addition to four Australian original exclusives including comedy Spreadsheet and a second season of local drama Five Bedrooms.
The relaunch is in line with Channel 10's American parent company ViacomCBS's global subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) strategy which saw the US SVOD service CBS All Access become Paramount+ earlier this year.
One of the big draws of Paramount+ in the US is a commitment to release some of the studios' big screen blockbusters on its streaming platform only weeks after the cinema premiere.
It was confirmed in February that Mission Impossible 7 (cinema release, May 2022), A Quiet Place Part 2 (cinema release May 27) and Top Gun: Maverick (cinema release November 18) will hit the US streamer 45 days after its cinema release. McGarvey told news.com.au that it would be "reasonable" to say talks are in train to replicate that model in Australia.
"Obviously that's something we would love," she said. "We're just working through all the technical details of what the content piece looks like. But I think it's a great ambition and [the Americans have] set a delightful precedent that we'd like to be able to take advantage of."
If McGarvey and her team can pull it off, it will be a streaming gamechanger in Australia.
Traditionally in Australia, there's a 90-day window between when a movie is released in a cinema and when it can be made available for at-home entertainment.
Rule book for streaming out the window
The rise of streaming services and the COVID pandemic has up-ended this rule in various ways, but any contraction of that 90-day window has translated to relatively expensive one-off rental fees.
For example, recent cinema releases such as two-time Oscar winner Judas And The Black Messiah, Godzilla vs Kong and Chaos Walking were made available to rent or buy through digital platforms after 30 days - but they came at a premium cost, starting at $29.99.
Similarly, Disney has made select cinema releases simultaneously available on its streaming service Disney+, but Raya And The Last Dragon and the upcoming Cruella and Black Widow will attract a $34.99 charge on top of the monthly subscription fee.
There's no indication Paramount+ would slug an extra cost on subscribers.
Netflix's film release model, especially for filmmaker-driven critical favourites and award contenders such as Martin Scorsese's The Irishman or David Fincher's Mank, means some movies have had a short cinema run two or three weeks before its streaming release (which doesn't cost extra).
But Australia's larger cinema chains including Event, Hoyts and Palace refuse to exhibit those films because they break the 90-day window. Amazon Prime Video's original films, including double Oscar winner Sound Of Metal, have faced a similar rejection from the chains, left to play in a small number of independent cinemas.
However, with the toothpaste now out of the tube, what was once a strict adherence to the window appears to be increasingly flexible. In the US, Warner Bros is releasing its entire 2021 cinema slate simultaneously on its streaming service HBO Max.
Australian cinema chains may not like the proposed changes in the theatrical vs home entertainment power struggle but it's hard to imagine a world where Event and Hoyts might refuse to play Mission Impossible 7, the kind of tentpole franchise movie that attracts large audiences.
Enticing audience to streaming platform
Until those potential plans come to fruition, Channel 10 is hoping the launch offerings of Paramount+ will be enough to entice Australians to check out its offering in an already crowded streaming market.
It will have a challenge on its hands - 10 All Access launched more than two years earlier and has failed to cut through with audiences dazzled by Netflix, Binge*, Amazon Prime, Disney+ and Stan.
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"What 10 All Access was, was really a soft launch," McGarvey said. "We were in the fortunate position that we had the technology through our ownership, and we had the content. It was a good thing to be able to put the product into the market, and it's had a really solid audience that watch a lot of content on there.
"That was a very different proposition, and Paramount+ is a full-service streaming platform."
McGarvey emphasised the volume of content on Paramount+ will be significantly higher than 10 All Access, with 20,000 episodes of TV shows. "I think that's probably something in the realm of four times what we have currently."
It's also expected that the majority of Paramount+ originals out of the US will land on Paramount+ in Australia as well. 10 All Access didn't have the first-run rights to the glitziest of CBS All Access originals such as The Good Wife, Star Trek: Discovery and Star Trek: Picard because the rights were tied into either existing or global deals.
While McGarvey said there may still be exceptions down the line, "it's fair to assume that Paramount+ will be the main recipient of the amazing content that is created".
Paramount+ will also be $1 cheaper than 10 All Access, a move designed to make it more attractive to potential subscribers. The library will include TV shows and movies from Showtime, BET, CBS, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Paramount Pictures, Smithsonian Channel, Sony Pictures Television and Channel 10.
Marketing campaign reveals upcoming titles
To raise awareness among consumers, a marketing campaign will focus on both introducing the Paramount+ brand as well as individual titles including the upcoming Dexter revival, The First Lady with Viola Davis, Gillian Anderson and Michelle Pfeiffer and Anne Boleyn with Jodie Turner-Smith.
The four Australian originals - Five Bedrooms S2, Spreadsheet, John Ibrahim crime drama Last King Of The Cross and coming-of-age movie 6 Festivals - outnumber Channel 10's scripted commissions for its broadcast channels.
One of the "victims" of the audience shift to streaming has been commercial TV - local scripted series and films. Broadcasters have for some years favoured cheaper reality TV programming to fill its prime time slots.
With Paramount+, Channel 10 is reinvesting in something many audiences want and who feel underserved by commercial broadcasters. It's also something of an acknowledgment that linear TV is no longer the natural home for that content.
"The beauty of streaming services is that you can make incredibly high-quality content and let it appeal to a slightly narrower audience, but it can work in more markets," McGarvey explained.
"You can make things that are slightly more bespoke and therefore really serve your audience very well to their particular taste. And I think that's great for the audience.
"[Our Australian commissions] appeal to different groups of people because Paramount+ is genuinely targeting all ages, all people.
"Spreadsheet will appeal to younger women - it's edgy, fun and in-your-face. Last King Of The Cross is a gritty, authentic story and likely the appeal is slightly more male."
McGarvey said that even though the four series could find broader success internationally across the Paramount and ViacomCBS network, she hoped that Australian audiences will embrace them. But the success of the shows won't be measured by "ratings", not that such metrics exist on streaming.
"The measure of success on SVOD is very different to the measure of success on linear, because the content is there to do different things.
"Sometimes things need time to grow, they need time to breathe, they need time to establish an audience and SVOD is a little bit more generous and forgiving than linear in letting that happen.
"The originals create noise, but what makes Paramount+ stand out is the diversity of content."
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*Binge is majority owned by News Corp, publisher of news.com.au
Originally published as Ten's gamechanging streaming plans