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Paramount CEO to Staff: Prioritize “Managing Costs,” Earnings Growth Amid Deal Chatter

Paramount Global president and CEO Bob Bakish on Thursday encouraged his staff to focus on “execution” amid deal chatter surrounding the company and called earnings growth the key priority for 2024.

The CEO outlined three strategies to get there, including “driving to streaming profitability” and “maximizing content with the biggest impact,” which means fewer local, international originals. Bakish detailed the strategic priorities for the new year in the first “Bob Live” of 2024, a regular internal event akin to a town hall meeting.

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Later in the day, he summarized key takeaways in a staff memo, obtained by The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s no surprise that Paramount remains a topic of speculation. We’re a storied public company in a closely followed industry,” Bakish highlighted in it. “But I have always believed the best thing we can do is concentrate on what we can control — execution.” That means “leaning into what’s working, while continually adjusting to current realities,” he explained. The memo comes amid recent reports of looming further job reductions at Paramount.

For 2024, “our priority is to drive earnings growth,” the Paramount CEO emphasized. “And we’ll get
there by growing our revenue while closely managing costs — a balance that will require every
team, division and brand to be aligned.”

His memo then detailed the three key strategies to achieve that.

First, he listed “maximizing content with the biggest impact,” touting that “when it comes to mass, popular content, we’ve always punched above our weight.” Noting that Paramount’s “Hollywood hits are the biggest draw,” he urged a focus “on the most powerful, resonant franchises, films and series that perform across platforms globally.”

In day-to-day work, “this means we’ll produce fewer local, international originals for our platforms,
apart from our leading free-to-air networks in Australia, Argentina, Chile and the U.K., where we will continue to have a strong pipeline of local content,” Bakish wrote. “And we’ll continue to maximize our global hits across multiple platforms and revenue streams – including streaming, film, TV and licensing – for the biggest return on our investment.”

Strategy 2 is “driving to streaming profitability.” Bakish reminded his staff that on its third-quarter earnings call the management team had said that “we expect that 2022 was our year of peak
investment, so we are a year ahead of schedule on that important metric.”

For 2024, this means “we will lean even further into large markets like the U.S., U.K., Canada, and Australia, where we have a strong multiplatform presence, our U.S. studio content resonates best, and where there is the greatest revenue potential.” In other important markets across Europe, Latin America and Asia, “we will continue our market-by-market strategy and tap into the power of our strong local partnerships, ensuring we’re operating with the best model to drive local scale and viewership, while managing costs,” Bakish added. “Globally, increasing subscriber engagement and retention across our platforms will also be critical priorities on our path to streaming profitability.”

Part of this is also driving revenue across advertising, subscriptions, and licensing, “including through our recently announced Paramount+ branded destinations – while we continue to operate as efficiently as we can and reduce costs,” Bakish wrote.

The final strategy is “further unlocking the power of One Paramount,” the CEO wrote. “We’ve made a lot of progress on this front, but there’s even more we can do to leverage the collective power of our
company. That means continuing to collaborate across teams, time zones and functions on efforts like cross-promotion, innovative partnerships, data and insights and more, to make the most out of our assets and expertise.”

Bakish in his memo also highlighted such industry challenges as a soft ad market, a volatile
macroeconomic environment and two historic strikes just in the last year,” in addition to “navigating
the ongoing evolution of the streaming business, as industry sentiment and metrics for success
continue to shift.”

Bakish concluded by urging continued focus from his staff, writing: “In many ways, 2024 will be the next great step in our transformation and we must evolve how we work to support that.”

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