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Paramount Streaming Exec Domenic DiMeglio Explains How Paramount+ Capitalized on New Subs After Super Bowl

The Super Bowl is the most-watched television event of the year, every year, but in the streaming age the rights to stream the big game come with intense responsibility – and intense opportunity. Domenic DiMeglio, the Chief Marketing Officer and head of data for Paramount Streaming, told TheWrap that Paramount began planning their approach to streaming the 2024 Super Bowl on Paramount+ the day after the last Super Bowl.

“It really is taking the time to get everything ready to roll, and it’s a year-long effort,” he explained in this week’s installment of TheWrap’s Office With a View. The result was streaming viewership that was 50% larger than 2023’s game (which was streamed for free by Fox) and the most single-day signups ever recorded according to Antenna.

But how did Paramount+ seek to maintain that audience and keep them engaged with the platform after the game? The attack plan involved directing Super Bowl viewers to two specific shows: the action-packed video game adaptation “Halo” (a Paramount+ original) and the new procedural series “Tracker” (a CBS original that streams on Paramount+ the next day).

DiMeglio said that the team had its own internal metrics for success when it came to retention of those who signed up for Paramount+ just to watch the Super Bowl, and while he declined to give specific numbers he said they “eked out a few points better than we were expecting and shooting for, so that that felt really good.”

The exec walked TheWrap through the preparation and execution process for streaming the Super Bowl, how they approached converting free trial users to longtime subscribers and talked about the importance of sports to Paramount+ — including how he feels about that joint sports venture from Fox, Disney and Warner Bros.

How do you prepare to stream the Super Bowl, and how do you make sure people know it’s on Paramount+?

It really starts the day after the prior Super Bowl, especially for our tech, data, ad ops and video ops teams. Thankfully, we’ve now done a number of these over the years – three with Paramount+/CBS All Access and then for free with CBS Sports, and it’s really all the same core CBS interactive team that has evolved into Paramount streaming. So we had that playbook, but it really is taking the time to get everything ready to roll, and it’s a year-long effort.

Then from a promotion perspective, establishing that Super Bowl 58 was going to be available live on CBS and streaming on Paramount+ was something we also started pretty much right after the previous Super Bowl. Everything we did and everything CBS did we all promoting not only the NFL season but also that we were going to be the home of the Super Bowl, and then going into the season, the NFL is a huge driver of new signups for us every single year. It’s a great driver of viewership as well and engagement, so we saw an opportunity this year. That started with let’s make this the biggest regular season ever, and then get ourselves in the playoffs and then really cap it off with a huge Super Bowl, and that strategy worked. It was our most-streamed regular season ever, the playoffs were incredible for us and then the Super Bowl itself just shattered records. It was 50% larger than last year’s Super Bowl and that was available for free, and then it was a huge day for new signups. Antenna said it was the largest single day of new signups the app had ever recorded, which was pretty cool.

How do you protect against the service going down during the game?

I watch on the Slack thread with our tech and ops teams when we have big live events and it’s kind of incredible the metrics that they’re monitoring, the redundancies that they build in. But we get DDoS attacks all the time during these types of big events. There are people that are trying to take you down, but these guys have gotten really good — knock on wood — at really trying to keep the service stable. Then the redundancies that are in place make sure that you don’t go down. So I think it’s around preparation, redundancy, and then a lot of all hands on deck and really quick action when anything’s needed on day of. We’ve got a real world-class team that knows what they’re doing.

How do you convert those who use a free trial to longtime subscribers? What’s the strategy there?

Well it first starts when you’re signing up. We don’t know anything about you, so we have what we call our show picker and people can let us know what shows they like, what genres, and we’ve seen huge success in terms of the number of subs that have come in and actually done that. At this point we’re up somewhere around 300 million title selections that we’ve like captured as people have come into the service over the last few years. So that helps a lot. As soon as you come in, even though you haven’t streamed anything, we can start to personalize your experience.

The other thing on the day of the Super Bowl is we accelerated a lot of our lifecycle CRM efforts to really try to capture people that day with recommendations, in terms of email and push as well as what we were doing in the product. Then we did a great job of funneling people after the game into another title — series was our main goal. So the two top priorities on the day were “Halo” and “Tracker,” so we were able to get millions of subs who streamed the game into those two shows. Then say you came in and we knew you’ve been with us for a while, and we know what you like, we might have put you into something else. But by and large we put most people into those two shows and it paid off because they’re the number one and number two shows that we have on the service here in March. They had a huge sampling and they sustained millions of viewers watching that show episode to episode.

What’s the retention rate for people who came in for the Super Bowl?

Without sharing specific numbers, obviously you’re gonna have a bunch of people that come in for the free trial that are gonna cancel. But I feel like, for us, we had some benchmarks, we had some goals, and we exceeded our expectations on the trial-to-pay conversion. So we eked out a few points better than we were expecting and shooting for, so that that felt really good. Then from there, we’re now seeing monthlong retention and also feeling good about how we’re holding on to that cohort. Live sports is like this great moment of urgency, right? None better than the Super Bowl where people are like, I have to sign up right now because I want to watch this game. But when people come in for sports, they actually spend around 90% of their time with us streaming non-sports content. So all those levers I talked about, we’ve been honing that lifecycle, that customer journey, to really get people into a series or a movie after they come in for a live event. That has worked really well for us and I think it’s something that’s critically important because obviously, if you come into the game and we get you to watching a series that first week, it’s going to have a dramatic improvement in terms of your retention.

As the streaming wars intensify, it seems like live sports is the next thing. What can you say about sports in terms of prioritization for Paramount+?

As you probably noticed, we’re huge proponents of sports, we think it’s an important ingredient in a broad pay service that has coast-to-coast total household appeal. It’s also in our DNA with CBS Sports, there’s no better brand in sports and it’s been so synonymous with championship sports from Super Bowls to March Madness to the Masters. We saw that early on in our days of CBS All Access just in terms of how sports could be a huge component of driving people to sign up, especially that urgency. That’s what led us in 2019 to go after the UEFA Champions League and Europa League rights, and that has been wildly successful for us. This fall we start the next phase of that arrangement – we have another six years with them and we’re really doubled down in soccer. And that’s one where we can also do a lot exclusively on the service and then put the biggest moments on CBS, like some of the later knockout stage games and certainly the Champions League final always will be on CBS.

I know there’s a ton of unknowns with this joint venture coming up from Fox, Warner Bros. and Disney. Is that impacting any of your decisions at all? Are you guys talking about it?

Sure, we talk about it. We have to understand what’s going on in the space. It remains to be seen and based on what we understand from pricing, I think it’s going to be not something that we’re competing directly with. But obviously, that remains to be seen.

So what’s next for you? What are you guys excited about?

We’re continuing to work with what’s working for us. We had the “Halo” finale along with “Tracker,” and the entire CBS primetime lineup which comes to Paramount+ the next day is an important ingredient over the next few months. And then we’re really gonna start to see the slate of originals start to fill up again. We’re in kind of that moment where things were a bit thinner than typical because of the strikes, then here in Q2 we’re gonna start see a lot of our big series come back. Things like “Mayor of Kingstown,” “The Chi” for for Paramount+ with Showtime, “Criminal Minds,” the final season of “Evil,” so a lot of good stuff there. And then some more sports, we have March Madness, we’ve got the Masters coming up in a few weeks, and then the knockout stages and the final match for the Champions League on June 1.

This interview has been edited and condensed for length.

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