Viacom International Media Networks is making Spain an offer it can’t refuse.
Bob Bakish, President and CEO of Viacom International Media Networks, is in Madrid today to announce the launch of the first-ever Paramount Channel, which hits the airwaves this Friday, March 30th in Spain – the first of many countries in which the company plans to localize and offer the new channel.
We talked to Bakish about the Paramount Channel, its place in the Spanish television landscape and Viacom’s global expansion plans, and how the company is turning to Don Corleone for the christening of its new network.
Julia Phelps: The first Paramount television channel will be launching in Spain on March 30th. Tell us about the channel – the vision for the brand, the content, the creative…What can audiences expect?
Bob Bakish: Paramount is the oldest Hollywood studio, and it stands for absolute quality, iconic films, and that’s exactly what we want our channel to reflect. The channel will house films from Paramount and other studios, as well as local Spanish titles, all presented in a clean and contemporary way. The channel brand was developed internally, by our in-house creative shop – the World Design Studio in Milan – in tight collaboration with our strategy, editorial, and creative teams. The brand’s look and feel is very loyal to the original Paramount Pictures look and feel.
JP: Why Spain for the inaugural launch? What countries will be next?
BB: We’ve been in Spain for a long time, and we know it’s a market that loves great entertainment. We recently moved MTV to the DTT [digital terrestrial television] free-to-air platform, with great results, and we thought the time was right to introduce a new channel on DTT – which we know is a vibrant medium in Spain. As for what’s next, we’re looking at a whole range of countries. Today is all about Spain, so I’m not making any other announcements yet.
JP: You’ve spoken about VIMN’s ‘GLOCAL’ approach to programming – combining the best of global hits with locally relevant franchises. Will Paramount Channel follow the ‘GLOCAL’ model?
BB: Absolutely. If you look at the first couple of weeks of Paramount Channel’s programming schedule, you’ll see we’re launching with great Hollywood product, like Breakfast at Tiffany’s. But you’ll also find we’ve licensed really great Spanish films as well, both classic and new. You’ll see this mix in the early weeks, and in perpetuity. So, like our other brands around the world, Paramount Channel will be truly GLOCAL, reflecting the best of Hollywood product and local content.
JP: Will the channel develop original movies, or are you just acquiring titles?
BB: At this point, we’re focused on acquiring great films, especially since we have unique access to an amazing library. We will be packaging unique elements associated with great films – like behind-the-scenes access and interviews with talent – but nothing feature length at this point.
JP: Can you tell us a bit about the Spanish cable landscape – who will Paramount Channel be competing with? Will Paramount Channel be pay or free-to-air?
BB: Paramount will be launching on DTT free-to-air – like our MTV channel in Spain is – so it will be available to the vast majority of people to watch. Generally, we see the pay movie market in Spain as quite crowded, but the DTT audience is hungry for quality film content. Yet, at the same time, two of our other core brands – Nickelodeon and Paramount Comedy – continue to thrive in the pay environment. We strongly believe in both business models in Spain, and are happy to have foot in both worlds.
BB: We wanted to launch with an iconic, enduring title from Paramount, and decided to go with The Godfather. We’ll be airing the entire trilogy over the first three days we’re live. Not to mention, this year is the 40th anniversary of The Godfather, so the timing of that choice seemed particularly relevant for the Spanish launch. I swear the fact it’s one of my personal favorites had nothing to do with it.
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