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David Ellison Makes Case to Investors

David Ellison Makes Case to Investors

The incoming owners of Paramount Global laid out their vision for the company — and why the deal is a good one for investors — in a call with Wall Street analysts early Monday morning.

Skydance CEO David Ellison, former NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell (who would be Paramount’s president when the deal closes), and Paramount’s three co-CEOs hosted the call, answering questions from the investor community, while a presentation included a refreshed Paramount logo… one that seemed to merge Skydance’s logo with the legacy studio’s.

“The key thesis behind this transaction is our desire to inject Skydance as a pure play content company, to double down on Paramount’s prowess as one of the world-class storytelling enterprises, and also ensure the company is positioned to be able to expand into a tech hybrid, to be able to transition to meet the demands and needs of the evolving marketplace,” Ellison told analysts to open the call.

Indeed, Skydance’s tech prowess was a recurring theme on the call, from the company’s partnership with Oracle (founded by Ellison’s father Larry Ellison, who is among the backers of the deal), to Ellison touting his mentorship from Apple’s Steve Jobs.

And of course tech is a key piece of the streaming puzzle, which both Ellison and Shell elaborated on. Shell laid out a three-prong plan in streaming, including a review of its content strategy, and figuring out what content belongs where.

“I’m a big political believer in windowing strategy, and I think there’s maybe a more efficient way to maximize the value of our content while continue to be in the DTC business,” Shell said.

And Shell sounded open to partnerships with other companies.

“Our goal, David and my goal and the rest of the team, is to win. We want to make this company the leader in entertainment, and that goes for DTC too,” Shell said. “So we’re going to be evaluating all options to be a winner in DTC, and to be a winner in DTC really means being in the ultimate bundle that’s coming. We’ve got a bunch of inbound from a number of people about partnerships that could involve a partnership with another player or players, and so we will evaluate all that.”

And finally, the executives reiterated that they believe their tech background is key.

“Our intention is to rebuild the Paramount+ platform. And believe that with the technological prowess and relationships that we have, we can expand our DTC business,” Ellison said, noting things like revamping its recommendation engine, improving advertising tech, and unifying cloud providers.

As for Paramount’s linear business, Shell said the plan is to manage their decline while also “restructuring and elevating” some of the cable brands, and that they have already identified $2 billion in cost efficiencies.

“We’ve got to run these businesses in a different way as they as they decline,” Shell said. “So we’ve spent a lot of the last few months really building a bottom up plan, and our goal is to manage the businesses, particularly the linear businesses, for cash flow generation.”

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On Sunday night Skydance and Paramount announced that they had finally reached a deal, one that would see Ellison’s company acquire Shari Redstone’s National Amusements, in turn giving it control of Paramount. Once the deal closes (they expect approvals to take nearly a year), Paramount would acquire Skydance, with Ellison becoming CEO of the combined company, and Shell becoming its president.

Shell, on Monday’s call, heaped praise on his future boss, arguing that he is was the perfect person to run a media company during this tumultuous period.

“It’s been a long time since a creative executive ran one of the big Hollywood companies,” Shell said. “And I think it’s really important when creative is at the core, working with artists is the core of our business, to have somebody like David running the business.

Actually, if you went into a lab and designed the perfect executive for the next-generation Hollywood company, you would literally spit out David Ellison, because he not only can go to a table read, but he can go to the next room and code too,” Shell added.

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