May 28, 2020
By Nicole Bitette
“We're working hard to deliver the benefits of the merger across the international markets.”
Our In the Office With ... series, gives ViacomCBS executives the opportunity to reveal a little bit about who they are, how they lead, and what drives them in the day-to-day.
"We are not starting from scratch... We have millions of subscribers across ViacomCBS streaming services globally and we have an aggressive plan to continue to grow."
Speaking of streaming—can you describe your strategy for expanding streaming offerings across international markets?
DL: I appointed Pierluigi Gazzolo to head our streaming and studio business about six months ago. I also brought in Kelly Day as our new Chief Operating Officer with a view to drive our digital transformation. We're currently developing our go-to-market strategies, both in the free and pay space. We're working to align our SVOD strategy with the U.S. via a service that aggregates content from all of ViacomCBS' brands—which is an incredibly powerful proposition.
We are not starting from scratch. We launched Paramount+—which is an aggregated on-demand service—in Nordics two years ago and have since rolled it out to 10 different territories internationally. It’s a great example of taking an idea from one place and scaling it. We're now looking at how we build on this success using the combined pipeline of Viacom and CBS and build out more territories internationally. Launching Paramount+ a couple of years ago gave us a head start, as did CBS being one of the first broadcasters to have a streaming service with CBS All Access.
We have millions of subscribers across ViacomCBS streaming services globally and we have an aggressive plan to continue to grow.
We also launched Noggin on Apple TV internationally in March and we're already in 60 territories with that service. Due to the pandemic, we are offering extended free trial periods, 30-day or 60-days of our streaming services, including Paramount+ and Noggin, and that obviously is to meet the huge demand there is from consumers at home.
"I'm fundamentally very optimistic about this business. Once we get through the pandemic we'll return to growth."
With the studio business, how are you navigating production shutdowns?
DL: It'll have an impact on the business this year. But I'm fundamentally very optimistic about this business. Once we get through the pandemic we’ll return to growth.
We're using this time to move the business forward. Our creators and developers are continuing to develop new ideas and they're in active conversations with potential partners. Everyone’s been really creative and adaptive. For example, there’s a new project called Balcony Stories, a short-form series using user-generated content with 27 local versions that’ll air in 100 countries. We also recently launched a storyteller's initiative during the quarantine period to work with local writers on new ideas. And, we've closed some deals as well on the short-form side with Facebook and YouTube. So we're still keeping the machine moving.
Given your role, we’d love to learn more about how you build and manage your team. What do you look for in potential hires?
DL: The thing I look for most is passion and energy. I want people who believe in our vision and have the drive to make that happen.
My most recent hire was Kelly Day, previously the head of Viacom Digital Studios. I've been really impressed with how she effectively launched and built that business over the last three years and grew it incredibly well. Kelly really embodies that passion and energy. She came on board in March and is focused on driving the digital transformation of the business.
Off-hours pursuit: Cycling is my big thing. I usually cycle to and from work every day.
At the moment, it's been safer because the streets of London are pretty empty. We’ve been allowed an hour of exercise in the UK so I’ve gone cycling with my wife and three kids over the last couple of weekends. We’ve been going around Piccadilly Circus, Buckingham Palace, and there's nobody there. I've been telling the kids, "This is the only time in your lives you're going to see London like this."
Where you go to escape: I'm lucky enough to own a little house in a village in Ireland called Glandore. I’m Irish and I love getting back there. This village, it's tiny and very Irish in that it has only one shop and three pubs.
Second career possibility: I'd love to do something in property. Over the years, my wife and I have bought a couple of old houses, renovated them and then either lived in them or sold them. It's something I’m passionate about and it's something that my wife is really skilled in as well. It's something that we did together and something I would love to do again in the future.