Nashville Season Six Debuts On a High Note

Nashville Is back and in rhythm.

On Thursday, Jan. 4, CMT’s beloved country soap Nashville returned for its sixth and final season. 1.6 million viewers joined them, a testament to the loyal “Nashie” fan base hooked by season five’s plot twists—including the death of a major character (Connie Britton’s Rayna Jaymes), police misconduct and racial profiling, song stealing and scheming, dramatic hookups and breakups…accompanied by melodic country harmonies, of course.

Nashville started 2018 with the highest ratings since its midseason five premiere. And according to Nielsen, Nashville’s debut was the night’s top social entertainment cable program—with #NashvilleCMT trending nationally on Twitter.

“The final season is truly the culmination of the incredible journey of each of these beloved characters,” said Keith Cox, president of development for Paramount, CMT and TV Land. “We want to give the fans, who fought so passionately to bring the show to CMT, a spectacular ending and great payoff.”

Watch a teaser for the next episode:

“The continued success of ‘Nashville’ remains a critical and defining part of our 2018 plan and a vital building block towards a strong future,” said Frank Tanki, general manager of CMT and TV Land. “Once again, the team has pushed themselves on all fronts and it’s absolutely amazing to see all these moving parts come together so smartly and loudly.”

The strong tune-in for the premiere follows a record-breaking 2017, in which CMT scored 53 consecutive weeks of ratings growth, underscoring the fact that Nashville is just one part of a diverse CMT programming roster that encompasses a bit of everything—from unscripted dramas to innovative digital content.

Music City, for example, is a docu-series created by famed executive producer Adam DiVello, who also helmed iconic MTV reality dramas Laguna Beach and The Hills.

Watch a teaser for Music City:

Music City is filmed in Nashville, with a cast of young, up-and-coming musicians struggling to make it in a cutthroat industry—much like The Hills, which gave viewers an inside look at fledgling fashionstas Lauren Conrad, Audrina Patridge and Heidi Montag as they tried to succeed in Hollywood.

Watch a throwback clip of The Hills:


This sort of unscripted docu-series has broad appeal: I was a rabid fan of The Hills, even though I didn’t share career aspirations as future fashion mogul Conrad (I tuned in for the personality conflicts, delectable drama and luxurious landscape), and I’ll probably watch Music City, even though I’m not a country music fan. It’s enticing to watch young professionals engage in a heightened state of reality, vying for their dream career (especially now that I’m around the same age as the cast members).

And the network is meeting fans on all platforms – CMT’s 2018 slate includes three new short-form digital series, exclusive for YouTube: How To Wear, Street Art Stories, and The Downtown Farmer.

Watch the trailer for Street Art Stories below, and find the full playlist on YouTube:

Watch new episodes of Nashville on CMT, Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET

RuPaul Wins Best Reality TV Host Critics’ Choice Award for VH1’s Drag Race

After the 23rd annual Critics’ Choice Awards, RuPaul Charles can add Best Reality TV Host to his ever-growing trophy collection.

RuPaul’s Drag Race – The VH1 show that he hosts – was also nominated for Best Reality Competition Series. Since moving to VH1 from sister network Logo last year, Drag Race has amassed an even larger and more diverse fan base—driving it from cult LGBT favorite to mainstream darling.

Viacom’s other Critics’ Choice nominees included TV Land’s Younger (Sutton Foster, Best Actress in a Comedy Series) and MTV’s Teen Mom (Best Unstructured Reality Series).

Check out this video by Viacom Catalyst:

The Critics’ Choice win follows a string of recent successes for RuPaul. In September, he won his second Emmy at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards—for top host, with Drag Race earning an additional two Emmys for its Oh. My. Gaga. episode.

Watch the award-winning episode, Oh. My. Gaga:

The Emmys were for Outstanding Costumes for Variety, Nonfiction or Reality Programming; and Outstanding Picture Editing for a Structured or Competition Reality Program.

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MTV Keeps the Party Going from Shore to Shining F***ing Shore

When Floribama Shore came whirling out of MTV in November as a barrage of binge drinking, bar brawls and bedwetting, it included a surprise announcement: the cast of the original Jersey Shore, which launched a global franchise and transformed “GTL” into widely understood shorthand, was reassembling for a new series: Jersey Shore Family Vacation.

Fans’ appetite for more Shore seemed to match the network’s enthusiasm – that first episode of Floribama Shore was MTV’s highest-rated premiere in more than three years.

There’s plenty more to come. After a raucous season that embedded itself deeply enough into the national conversation to earn the honor of a hilarious Saturday Night Live skit, MTV announced that Floribama Shore would return for 20 episodes starting this summer. The net also dropped another Family Vacation promo, this time asking viewers to help decide where the f*&% the OG cast will go by using the hashtag #JSFamilyVacation.

To understand the show’s popularity, it helps to examine its layers.

Watching an episode of Floribama Shore is akin to hopping into a time portal, transporting you to a bygone era of hot pin Polo T-shirts with the collar popped and “going-out tops” (aka the early aughts) that is somehow fused with 1950s sensibility.

It’s a world where a 23-year-old divorcée is fraught with anxiety over potential spinsterhood, and a gorgeous 24-year-old woman frets over aging. The male contestants at once act hyper-macho and are quintessential Southern gentleman. Imagine living life on the set of A Streetcar Named Desire, surrounded by the scent of Hollister cologne.

Of course, this group of twentysomethings partied as hard as their predecessors, but they also prayed before dinner and had thoughtful, seemingly unscripted conversations about their lives—one cast member had been homeless before the show, and another was reeling from the end of a 10-year relationship after her boyfriend cheated on her with her cousin. (This was, according to her, an “Alabama thing.”)

These deep conversations about real-life issues are perhaps what won over fans and critics, enough to earn the show a second season. In a Rolling Stone review, writer Kory Grow said Floribama Shore revealed “soul” and lauded MTV for showing “a group of eight red-state denizens, who, despite their personal flaws, did not espouse any outward Trumpism (or for that matter, Hillary hating). They all found common ground with each other easily – praying, discussing their Christianity and talking about their families.”

While you’re waiting for season two of Floribama Shore, watch season one on MTV, or cast your vote for the crew’s destination on Twitter, because the party hasn’t stopped.

Check out these tweets from our fans:

Tyra Banks Returns to VH1’s America’s Next Top Model on Tuesday, January 9

On Tuesday, Jan. 9,  America’s Next Top Model returns to VH1 for its 24th cycle with a promise: to go next-level fierce, or go home.

With the return of former host and all-around boss Tyra Banks, it looks as if the seminal modelling competition will hold true to its promise. The legendary “Queen of the Smize” has a few surprises up her sequined-sleeve, and has already drummed up excitement for the new season by removing the show’s 27-year-old age limit.

In a video posted to her personal Twitter account, Banks explained why contestants of all ages are welcome to werk it.

“There have been 23 cycles of America’s Next Top Model, and every single cycle we say you have to be 27 years old or younger,” said Banks. “You know what I hear all the time? ‘Tyra, come on. Why have an age limit?’ So you know what? I’m taking that age limit off.”

We can also expect guest appearances by RuPaul’s Drag Race stars Valentina, Katya and Manila and a special episode involving “noted fashion photographer” Nigel Barker.

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Viacom Stands Out On 2017 Year-End Lists, Owns Half of Billboard’s 10 Best Award Show Performances

Viacom wrapped 2017 with a strong showing on the flurry of industry best-of compilations assembled by top media and entertainment press.

Critics lauded Viacom’s premium content: Vice included South Park’s Put It Down episode on its list of memorable TV moments, while BET’s The Rundown With Robin Thede – which stars the only African-American host in late-night television – made Deadline’s list of top 10 new TV shows of 2017. And The Advocate praised VH1’s RuPaul’s Drag Race for its positive representation of the LGBT community, commending it with several mentions on their list of the 15 most important LGBT TV moments of 2017.

Most striking, however, is that Viacom’s culturally resonant awards shows staked out half the slots on Billboard’s 10 Best Award Show Performances of 2017: Critics’ Picks. Keep in mind that there were roughly 45 music award shows across the industry in 2017.

These poignant musical moments stood out to Billboard critics: Kendrick Lamar’s raw, rapid-fire delivery of DNA and Humble at the VMAs; the moment when Logic, Alessia Cara and Khalid sang out for suicide prevention (also at the VMAs); New Edition’s epic reunion performance at the BET Awards (a swaggering fusion of OG members and the cast of BET’s biopic, The New Edition Story), Camila Cabello’s EMA performance of Havana; and Missy Elliot’s old-school rendering of her classic banger She’s a Bitch at the VH1 Hip-Hop Honors.

Let’s take another look at these phenomenal performances. Here are Billboard’s top Viacom picks:

Kendrick Lamar, “DNA.” / “HUMBLE.” (MTV VMAs)

​Logic feat. Alessia Cara and Khalid, “1-800-273-8255” (MTV VMAs)

New Edition Medley (BET Awards)

Camila Cabello, “Havana” (MTV Europe Music Awards)

👀HAVANA👀 #mtvEMA numero 3

A post shared by camila (@camila_cabello) on

Missy Elliott, “She’s a Bitch” (VH1 Hip-Hop Honors)

There were plenty more noteworthy Viacom performances Billboard’s shortlist. My favorite acts from Viacom’s 2017 shows included Lorde’s muted modern dance at the VMAs and musical trio Hayley Kiyoko, Alex Newell, and Wrabel‘s exhilarating True Colors cover at Logo’s Trailblazer Honors during Pride Month in June.

Watch the performance:

With the upcoming launch of the Paramount Network on Jan. 18, returning hits like CMT’s Nashville and Comedy Central’s Detroiters, VH1’s latest addition to fan-favorite franchise Love & Hip Hop: Miami and a ravishing slate of upcoming live events, Viacom promises to deliver another year of eminent content and groundbreaking experiences for our fans.

MTV Goes Free in Germany

Free MTV? Yes, please.

On Dec. 23, Viacom International Media Networks (VIMN), will launch exactly that in Germany: a free-to-air version of MTV on cable, satellite and on-demand, as well as the MTV Play App for Android and iOS.

The new offering complements already-free versions of Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, and Viacom-operated German music channel Viva in that nation.

“MTV is a global leader when it comes to producing music and entertainment content that appeals to youth culture,” said Raffaele Annecchino, president and managing director of VIMN for Southern and Western Europe, the Middle East and Africa, in the Hollywood Reporter.

Annecchino says the network took advantage of an opportunity for growth in their German free-to-air market, giving fans unparalleled access to MTV’s deep content library, which includes the Jersey Shore franchise and tentpole events like the MTV EMAs.

Germany is well acquainted with MTV, according to Viacom International’s general manager of Germany, Switzerland and Austria, Mark Specht.

“MTV stands for legendary music formats and international events such as the MTV EMA, MTV VMA or our successful MTV Unplugged series,” said Specht.

Watch the promo video:

The shift in MTV to free-to-air status in Germany follows Viacom’s acquisition of Argentina’s Telefe, one of the nation’s main free-to-air channels, last year, underscoring what CEO Bob Bakish calls Viacom’s “unrivalled track record” of creating hybrids of free and paid TV.

Viacom has steadily expanded its European presence by shifting select offerings from cable in markets where it makes sense to do so. In September, Viacom expanded in Italy by doubling its free-to-air channel offerings on the Paramount Channel and VH1, and launched a local version of Spike TV.

MTV Germany will celebrate its return to free TV on Dec. 23 with a televised special, beginning with a three-episode run of music documentary series Dare to Live (starring Rory Kramer and featuring Shawn Mendes, Martin Garrix and the Chainsmokers), followed by a local music video highlights program called MTV Buzz, hosted by German star Uli Brase.

Drink, Dance, Donate: How Viacom Gave Back and Got Down for the 8th Year in a Row

“Everyone on the left side of the room say, ‘Give back,’” shouted Viacom President and CEO Bob Bakish, addressing a constellation of nearly 200 Viacom employees and nonprofit partners, all gathered in the White Box at Viacom’s Times Square Headquarters one evening in early December.

Viacom President and CEO Bob Bakish rallies the crowd at Give Back & Get Down VIII during his opening statements. Photo by Emil Cohen.

“Give back,” the crowd roared.

“Now everybody on the right side of the room say, “Get down!’”

“Get down!’”

After this rhapsodic rallying cry, Bakish began his opening remarks for our eighth annual gala of goodwill: Give Back & Get Down.

“Every year, Give Back and Get Down reminds us to celebrate the qualities that embody the Viacom spirit: empathy and engagement for the communities in which we serve,” said Bakish, applauding our Office of Global Inclusion (OGI), Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) and Corporate Social Responsibility (Viacommunity) department for their concerted efforts in organizing such a festive and fruitful event.

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CMT Celebrates 2017 With a Milestone: 53 Weeks of Consecutive Growth

Combining network transformation and honoring tradition, CMT broke records this year with 53 weeks of consecutive growth. It’s the longest active growth streak in cable (among all ad-supported cable channels).

How did CMT achieve this landmark?

The network remained true to its mission statement, fueling its status as the leading authority on country music and lifestyle by re-branding the network to become more than just a music channel, but an entertainment hub for modern country culture.

The new creative filter beckoned a programming renaissance, with hit shows and specials including Nashville and the limited run series Sun Records, while fan-favorite series like Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Challenge and Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders Making the Team were re-energized and attracted new fans.

CMT re-examined its signature music events and specials with fresh eyes. With the seminal series CMT Crossroads which pairs a country act with a pop artist, the network focused on more diverse and current pairings like Maren Morris and Alicia Keys, Thomas Rhett and Nick Jonas, and Florida Georgia Line and Backstreet Boys, which scored the highest “Crossroads” ratings in 5 years.

Fresh off a pair of Grammy-nominations, Kesha is joined by Old Crow Medicine Show for a newly interrupted version of her smash hit Your Love Is My Drug:

Given the hurricanes and shootings in Las Vegas, the annual CMT Artists of the Year special was evolved from a celebration of the year’s top artists to a night of hope and healing. Fans responded…the critically acclaimed special notched the event’s highest ratings ever. And with the CMT Music Awards, CMT successfully expanded the event from one-night event into a three-day festival for sponsors and fans. The events dominated downtown Nashville with multiple sponsor activations, music performances, and fan experiences…creating the largest footprint in CMT history.

The growth isn’t just limited to television. This year, CMT’s ramped up social strategy bolstered its reach to be “everywhere fans are.”  It’s working: in the past year, CMT’s Facebook fans have increased by 3,000 percent.

While the brand continues to expand, its commitment to its fans has never wavered. In the last few months alone, CMT expanded the “Empowering Education” campaign encouraging our fans to pursue higher education and was proudly the first cable network to sign-up for the “Hand in Hand” telethon benefiting hurricane victims.

The last 53 months of growth coincided with subtle yet impactful changes on CMT: introducing more culturally-relevant content to the network, and spreading such content across a range of platforms.

“We discovered that more than ever country fans cannot be put into one box. They connect with smart content which reflects their diverse identities.”

– Frank Tanki, CMT and TV Land General Manger

Network executives chose this course after careful reflection: What does it mean to be a diehard country music fan in 2017?

It means being socially-conscious.

It means having a diverse taste in music—with Carrie Underwood and Beyoncé on the same Spotify playlist.

It means being open to progressive dialogue and content.

CMT fans are diverse in age, race, ethnicity, class and nationality.

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Viacom’s 2017 Employee Halloween Costume Contest Winner Lina Henriquez, aka La Calvera Oscura, On Her Culturally Inspired Look

Congratulations to Lina Henriquez, our 2017 Viacom Employee Halloween Costume Contest winner. By day, Henriquez works in our Core Services department as the executive receptionist, greeting visitors and directing incoming calls.

By night, she’s a holy ghost, the grand dame of death, a Mexican folk saint. Well, at least on Halloween.

Henriquez was inspired to honor Mexico’s saint La Calavera Oscura after a recent trip to the country.

Below, Henriquez explains the meaning behind her costume, how much effort (and makeup) went into creating the stunning, authentic look, and how she celebrated the spookiest night of the year.

Lina Henriquez is the 2017 Viacom Employee Halloween Costume Contest winner. Photo courtesy of Henriquez.

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Shore Franchise Catches a Wave as Floribama Debuts to Big Ratings and Original Jersey Shore Cast Returns

Winter is just a few weeks away. In New York, this means hearing excessive amounts of holiday music while listening to weather reports with the ominous buzzword “polar vortex.”

Luckily, we can count on MTV to help us through the winter doldrums. The network announced Monday the return of beloved franchise Jersey Shore, which ended in 2012.

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