Nickelodeon Boss Details Paramount+ International Young Adult Strategy, Content Plans
Nickelodeon president and CEO Brian Robbins has formal oversight of kids and family content for Paramount+, and he has some big ideas in the works to push streaming globally. He sat down recently with The Hollywood Reporter to discuss the brand’s upcoming content and global strategy for both Paramount+ and for Nickelodeon.
“At the beginning of the pandemic, Bob Bakish, myself, George Cheeks, David Nevins, Chris McCarthy, and Jim Gianopulos dove in as the Paramount+ launch was looming. We’ve been working on the streaming strategy for well over a year now,” Robbins said. “But now with a global eye, it does change the eye that we had when we were only thinking linear first.”
Robbins said he plans to use young adult shows and movies to push streaming internationally. Young adult content, including the iCarly reboot, has been a hit.
“Adjacent to the kids programming, YA is a sweet spot for me in my career — obviously in my previous life, founding Awesomeness and making things like To All the Boys franchise and PEN15 and a bunch of stuff for streaming — or shows like Smallville and One Tree Hill and movies like Varsity Blues,” he said.
Paramount+ is a subscription video streaming service that includes on-demand access to 12,000+ TV show episodes including originals Star Trek: Discovery, Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob SquarePants, and MTV’s Laguna Beach. Meet captivating characters, catch up on your favorite sport, explore new worlds in the growing collection of Paramount+.
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“Another film that we’re making for Paramount+ this year is called Hush, Hush, which was based on a New York Times best-seller,” Robbins said, continuing. “We’re going to lean heavily into YA to really propel streaming, not only domestically, but globally.”
As additional young adult content is created for linear and streaming, Robbins is keeping diversity and inclusion in mind.
“Half the audience is diverse. If you’re not serving the whole audience that just doesn’t make great business sense. And it’s the right thing to do, internally and externally,” he said. “We’re very focused on it, on the live-action side, whether it’s our relationship with Tyler Perry, who makes the show Young Dylan for us, or our new show that’s going to launch in September called That Girl Lay Lay starring a young girl who’s a rapper and social media star named Lay Lay and that’s being produced by Will Packer.”
Robbins continued, “It’s important to us that diversity is everywhere. And even on the animation side, whether that’s the The Casagrandes or other shows that we have and the casting that we have throughout all of our shows. Representation is really important now more than ever. I have three biracial children in my house so it’s extremely important to me that they see themselves in everything we make.”
During the interview, Robbins detailed some of the many projects in the works. In honor of the 25th anniversary of Blue’s Clues, the company will begin production on a movie titled Blue’s Clues & You! Right now, there are still decisions to be made about the movie’s home, whether that’s on Nickelodeon or Paramount+.
The Nickelodeon boss shared details about a new film coming to Paramount+, “Fantasy Football, which is a partnership between Nickelodeon and LeBron James and Maverick Carter’s SpringHill and Genius Entertainment.” Also in the works is a live-action Fairly OddParents project, and a Loud House Christmas movie. He also said that Seth Rogen is working on a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie to be released in theaters in 2023.
“We’re really excited about our movie strategy. The theatrical landscape has changed dramatically and what that looks like a year or three years from now isn’t clear,” Robbins said. “But the feature-length movie will exist forever and whether audiences will consume those in theaters or theaters and streaming at the same time or only streaming, I’m less concerned with than making sure our content is ubiquitous. Audiences want more of the things they love and that’s how you build brand loyalty.”
When asked about the (Paramount+) rebrand in March and what it has meant for the company, Robbins described the franchise strategy in place. Creating reboots and movies based on original shows is working well.
“Our content has really risen to the top,” he said. “We have a lot of the top-performing shows on the service from a stream, minutes-watched, and consumption point of view. Our shows have been a top acquisition driver.”
He continued, “The franchise strategy is working. You launch iCarly and then the iCarly library also rises to the top, creating this one-two punch of new and old. The same with the SpongeBob universe. SpongeBob is probably the biggest franchise on the service. You launch the Sponge on the Run movie, Kamp Koral and then you have 12 seasons of SpongeBob library all being consumed graciously by the audience. The sneak peek of Kamp Koral on linear was the highest-rated show of the year for us on linear.”
There are more plans ahead for the franchise strategy since it’s running smoothly so far.
“This ‘pitch-and-catch’ is working by using the franchises with the library to get a ton of consumption happening,” Robbins said. “Same with Rugrats and the new Rugrats we launched. And we expect the same thing with Paw Patrol next month. It’s the No. 1 preschool show on linear, a big driver on Paramount+ and now we’ll have a theatrical feature in August that should light up both linear and streaming on a global basis.”