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Paramount to Pump Up Video

15 Sep, 2005 By: Jessica Wolf

Paramount Home Entertainment's potential has gone largely untapped in the home video market so far, said Tom Freston, co-COO of the recently split Viacom.

“We intend to fully realize our potential in the home video market,” he told attendees at this week's Merrill Lynch Media and Entertainment Conference in Pasadena, Calif. “We've done a good job being aggressive so far, but we haven't been full-force.”

Paramount has more potential than some other large home entertainment suppliers, with “significant flexibility in pricing and a fairly large library of content that has yet to be released,” he said.

The company is looking to acquire and introduce a steady stream of direct-to-video DVDs and capitalize on new technologies and formats as they hit the market, Freston said.

Part of the strategy of the newly formed Viacom — which includes Paramount Pictures, Paramount Home Entertainment, MTV Networks (including MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon, Nick at Nite, Comedy Central, CMT: Country Music Television, Spike TV, TV Land and others), BET and Famous Music — is leveraging activities across the company's divisions.

“MTV networks and BET lead the 12-34 demographic, which also happens to be the audience that drives movies,” Freston said.

The new Viacom plans to use the synergy between its movie and cable businesses “to create more inspired programming, both on the big screen and in the home entertainment market with unique made-for-DVD projects,” he said.

Branded lines such as MTV Films and Nick Movies will have an even greater role to play on the Paramount slate for theatrical and home video releases, Freston said.

“These branded movies are some of the most profitable we've seen in the past few years at Paramount,” he said. “We see huge upsides into building these into new movie labels, along with one for BET.”

The company is committed to kicking off a BET brand, Freston said.

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