Paramount Network Launches, Propelling Viacom Into Premium Content Space

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Paramount Network launches tonight with a special edition of smash hit Lip Sync Battle, propelling Viacom into the premium content universe and building on the century-long storytelling tradition of fellow Viacom property Paramount Pictures.

The launch marks an important business milestone for Viacom, fulfilling a key pillar of CEO Bob Bakish’s strategic plan and cracking open potential for new marketing and advertising partnerships behind a star-studded slate that blends the best of the retiring Spike network with high-quality scripted programming.

The network will rumble to life at 9 p.m. ET with Lip Sync Battle Live: A Michael Jackson Celebration, a showcase of the legendary musician’s hits starring Neil Patrick Harris, Taraji P. Henson, Hailee Steinfeld, Laverne Cox and others.

Paramount Network completes CEO Bob Bakish’s flagship six strategy

The Paramount Network launch culminates a monumental yearlong effort to reorient Viacom under CEO Bob Bakish, consolidating resources under the company’s most iconic brands. The focus around six flagships – Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., MTV, Comedy Central, BET and Paramount Network – is a strategy Bakish had successfully implemented in his decade-long run as head of Viacom International Media Networks.

The strategy has proven successful on the domestic front as well. Nickelodeon and Nick Jr. remain the top kids brands, MTV has ignited a primetime ratings and programming resurgence, Comedy Central completed 2017 with its best ratings week of the year, and BET just completed its 16th year as the top cable network for African-Americans. The last piece was the launch of Paramount Network.

“There’s no better way to better encapsulate Viacom’s strategy change under Bob Bakish than to look at the creation and launch of the Paramount Network,” notes TBI Vision.

Paramount Network launches Viacom into the premium content game, with big stars and great stories

Paramount Network’s premium scripted content will launch Jan. 22, when Waco, co-starring Michael Shannon and Taylor Kitsch, debuts. Yellowstone starring Kevin Costner, American Woman starring Alicia Silverstone and Mena Suvari, and a re-imagining of the 80s classic Heathers will follow later this year.

“The audience has an expectation that there are going to be big names, big stars, great storytelling, great characters, and I think that’s what we have to focus on,” Kay told Variety.

Paramount Network opens up tremendous partnership opportunities

The combination of captivating content, huge talent and high production generates enormous interest not just from fans, but also from advertising, distribution and creative partners who want to do business with Viacom.

“All the groups together went out and presented to both the movie studios, to our agency clients, and then to our distributors as well,” recalled Paramount Network President Kevin Kay when asked how partners have been processing the rebrand. “People understood why we are rebranding Spike as Paramount Network, they’re excited to work with us, and the biggest thing I think that came both on the distribution side and on the ad-sales side was that clients said, ‘we want to be your partners.’”

The best of Spike is coming along

When the tribute to the King of Pop ticks to life tonight, the long-running Spike network will cease to be in the United States, gifting to Paramount Network its top unscripted programs – Ink Master, Bar Rescue, and Lip Sync Battle – plus Bellator MMA.

This mix of legacy unscripted programming establishes the net’s impressive versatility and provides a stable complement to Paramount Network’s still-evolving scripted slate.

“We’ve got scripted dramas, non-scripted in a big premium way, we’ve got scripted comedies, we’ve got docuseries, and we’ve got Mixed Martial Arts,” Kay told Deadline. “If you look around at the broadcast networks, that’s not a bad model to me. On the broadcast networks, you’ve got drama nights, you’ve got comedy nights, you’ve got sports nights. You’ve got a lot of variety for different viewers across a very broad audience. I feel that’s where we want to be.”

Nobodies will also migrate to Paramount Network, from Viacom’s TV Land. There are more original concepts in development, including sketch comedy series Browntown in collaboration with leading Latino-focused digital media brand mitú.

Paramount Network builds on Paramount Picture’s century-long legacy

Paramount Network takes its name from the rich DNA of Viacom’s Paramount Pictures, the 105-year-old Hollywood icon whose deep catalogue houses some of the most memorable films ever made, including Titanic, Forrest Gump, and the Godfather films. While Paramount Network and Paramount Pictures will operate separately, their relationship will mirror that of other Viacom properties under Bakish, in which the brands collaborate with the movie studio to maximize the reach of intellectual property.

“There’s a real big need, and there’s a want, a desire, for us all to work together really closely, to both exploit [Paramount Pictures’] library and then to help promote the movies, and then to potentially create some great programs for Paramount Network,” Kay explained.

Paramount Pictures also owns the Paramount Television production studio, which tripled its revenue in 2017 through a steady stream of high-quality content, including the Netflix sensation 13 Reasons Why, Epix’s Berlin Station, and Shooter on USA.

“There is incredible demand for high-quality television content and the reality is, there are not that many places that you can get it,” Bakish said at the at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference in December, underscoring the importance of Paramount Television.

The Paramount name resonates globally – Viacom offers a network called Paramount Channel in select markets outside of the United States. According to Bakish, it is the largest ad-supported movie channel in the world.

Trevor Noah Adds “South S***hole” Comic Loyiso Madinga as Africa Correspondent

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Who says South Africa is a S***hole country?

Well, allegedly, President Trump. But that did not stop The Daily Show  host Trevor Noah from digging deeper into his home country’s talent pool to find the show’s newest correspondent:

By dispatching Madinga to localities across Africa and weaving his segments into the global, often Donald Trump-focused broadcast from New York City, The Daily Show further embeds itself into Comedy Central’s rapidly growing international audience with stories that resonate with their daily experience.

“As wild as Donald Trump is for America, many countries around the world have Trumps of their own and since The Daily Show is in many countries, we thought ‘why not give each country a chance to show off their stable geniuses?’” Noah said of the decision to add Madinga to the show’s roster.

His first segment – a look at corruption in the African National Congress under South Africa’s President, Jacob Zuma – aired locally in Africa on Thursday, Jan. 11.

The move to localize more content follows a year of torrid international ratings growth for The Daily Show, with a 35 percent surge across 10 nations, including South Africa. As the show’s popularity overseas grows, Comedy Central may look to further bolster programming with local components.

“We’re always looking for ways to take global hits and localize them for regions around the world by adding great local talent, like Loyiso,” said Jill Offman, executive vice president and head of Paramount Channel and Comedy Central International. “This is a pilot, so down the road you may see more internationally based correspondents, making The Daily Show a truly global yet local show for regions around the world.”

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Is Trevor Noah Dishonest and Corrupt Enough to Win Trump’s Honor?

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

How does a U.S. president follow up a Twitter threat to start a nuclear war with America’s external enemies?

With a promise to strike the malcontents who are most ferociously attacking the nation from within – the mainstream media:

Comedy Central’s Daily Show host Trevor Noah could barely contain his excitement at this proclamation from the Very-Stable-Genius-in-Chief.

“After provoking North Korea and then insulting Palestine, the President turned to America’s greatest foe: the fake-news media,” Noah said of Trump’s announcement. “So that was Donald Trump’s day on Twitter. The bad news is he’s itching to start a nuclear war. The good news is, despite his threats to Korea, at least he thinks we’re going to make it until Monday.”

And the better news for fans is that, despite Trump pushing the awards until Wednesday, Noah is lobbying hard to win this distinction. In the grand tradition of “for your consideration” awards season self-promotion, Noah turned to the “failing” (according to Trump), New York Times to promote himself as the best possible candidate for the president’s prize:

Noah even plastered his qualifications on a Times Square billboard (on the north side of Viacom’s HQ at 1515 Broadway):

Noah will have plenty of competition, including Comedy Central alums Stephen Colbert and Samantha Bee, who are running their own furious campaigns for this high honor. Noah is not intimidated. “President Trump, don’t be faked out by their fake fake-outs,” a narrator says on a Daily Show-sponsored ad dismissing Colbert and Bee as fake fakers. “When you cast your vote on Monday, vote for The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. He covers you very unfairly, and he’s literally un-American.”

It’s true (though don’t hold that against them): Noah is from South Africa.

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Viacom to Welcome Proven Partner: Influence Marketing Company WHOSAY

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Viacom has signed a definitive agreement to acquire WHOSAY, an influence marketing company whose deep reach into next-generation advertising and marketing platforms and solutions will boost Viacom’s capabilities across advertising, marketing and digital content.

Partnering with some of the world’s most recognizable brands, WHOSAY does everything from crafting campaign strategy to casting influencer talent to producing premium content and live events to analyzing data and performance.

An important piece of Viacom’s strategic plan

Viacom’s acquisition of WHOSAY will be an important component of the business strategy laid out by CEO Bob Bakish, who has frequently discussed the necessity of further expanding onto emerging digital platforms and beefing up the company’s already considerable advanced-advertising capabilities.

“One objective is accelerating our participation in next-generation platforms and solutions,” Bakish said, outlining his principle 2018 objectives at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference in December. “So those are things like the over-the-top business, where we see significant opportunity on the virtual MVPD [multichannel video programming distributor] side, also the direct-to-consumer side, and related to that, the advanced advertising side. And this is not something that we’re making up … we had about $350 million of business there across those sectors [in 2017], and we believe that’s a $1 billion business by 2020.”

A proven partner

This acquisition will unite two engaging storytellers, fusing Viacom’s global content engine, diverse audience and best-in-class advanced advertising tools with WHOSAY’s precision ability to seamlessly match brand objectives with talent and creative, and optimize the message through omnichannel distribution.

WHOSAY has already executed more than 50 campaigns for MTV, BET and other Viacom brands over the past two years, crafting activations that feature top influencers such as singer/songwriter LeToya Luckett for November’s BET Soul Train Awards, and rapper Lil Yachty and actor Keegan Allen for the MTV Movie & TV Awards in May.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BTnZWW6l0jj/?taken-by=keeoone&hl=en

“We’re excited about a deeper integration with WHOSAY and the strength of our combined capabilities,” said Viacom Head of Marketing & Partner Solutions Sean Moran. “This partnership will add to our linear, digital and mobile arsenal by bringing us further into the world of social media and shopper marketing. Together, we will offer brand partners unparalleled creative solutions that maximize the power of storytelling, influencer reach, omnichannel distribution and advanced advertising tools to create quality campaigns that drive results.”

Complementing Viacom’s strengths

Amplifying the power and reach of WHOSAY’s campaigns is the company’s expertise in matching brands and influencers via its proprietary Match platform. Once the pairing is solidified, WHOSAY is expert at distilling a brand’s goals, creating a campaign, and spreading that message to the ideal audience through social, digital, mobile, linear, experience, out-of-home and other channels.

These advanced whole-campaign capabilities and digital focus will act as a powerful complement to many of Viacom’s existing entities, including the Velocity full-service integrated marketing and creative team and the company’s newly created Digital Studios unit under Kelly Day.

The addition of WHOSAY to Viacom’s portfolio will also underscore Viacom’s position as a leader in advanced advertising, building upon the significant capabilities of its data-driven audience-targeting Vantage product and its status as a founding member of the OpenAP audience targeting and measurement platform.

In addition to their considerable digital and event capabilities, WHOSAY has built a bricks-and-mortar-focused WHOSAY Shopper team, which will open up potential new retail opportunities for Viacom brands.

Glassdoor Celebrates Viacom as “Company We Wished We Worked For”

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Viacom has recently snagged mentions as a company with jaw-dropping workspaces, as one of the top job destinations for working moms, and as one of the top large companies to work for. With such a multidimensional environment that continually cultivates young talent and encourages next-generation development programs such as Girls Who Code, it is fitting that Glassdoor recently named Viacom as one of “11 Companies We Wish We Worked For.”

Viacom on LinkedIn: “It’s time to end the…

It’s time to end the “company envy” and land your dream job. See why employees are raving about Viacom : https://lnkd.in/d2rNX_3

“It’s easy to be envious of other companies’ benefits, perks, offices, bonuses and culture,” Glassdoor writes of the companies that made their list. “After all, reading employees’ rave reviews on Glassdoor can give anyone company envy. If you’re already thinking about jumping ship from your current gig, check out these 11 companies with offerings and missions that are sure to make job seekers giddy.”

They point to Viacom’s suite of iconic brands and culture of growth and learning as factors that make the company an attractive job destination.

Reviewers on Glassdoor underscore this point. “Great work / life balance, great benefits, fair compensation, laid-back atmosphere, fun employee events, corporate management encourages and supports volunteerism. Last but not least – great people,” wrote one anonymous reviewer identified as a current employee.

“Great progressive place to work,” wrote another (the company’s focus on giving back and emphasis on diversity are consistent favorites among employees). Another praised the “Good benefits, time off and work/life balance” (the benefits include such perks as adoption assistance and back-up daycare, which are enormously important to those who have or are looking to start families). A third wrote, “Amazing people to surround yourself with” (there are really so many good people who work here).

If you’re interested in joining the team, you can find up-to-date job listings on viacom.com or Glassdoor.

Celebrating a Tremendous 2017 at Viacom

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Unite, World. From comedy to Hollywood blockbusters to animated serials to late-night to unscripted to Broadway to award shows to live events, Viacom stitched together an incredible 2017. Share a few snippets of it above as we wish you happy holidays heading into a tremendous 2018, which will include the launch of the Paramount Network and continued execution of the company’s revamped strategy under CEO Bob Bakish.

Paramount’s “Downsizing” Delivers “a Big Movie for Big People” in Miniaturized Future World

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

“You know how Hollywood doesn’t make original movies anymore?” asks Ann Hornaday in The Washington Post. “Well, Downsizing is here to fix that.”

The movie indeed presents as a highly original concept: an everyone-wins-the-lotto fantasia, a hypothetical near-future where every middle-class worker drone with fifty thousand in the bank can shrink themselves and relocate to a miniaturized consumerist paradise where everything is cheap and easy. And the shrunken crowds, with their shrunken environmental footprint, get to save the world in the process.

That’s what gets our attention, but what keeps it is a vividly accurate parable on class struggle and the inherent unfairness of global imbalances in rights and status. This turn happens when hero Paul Safranek (Matt Damon) – left behind by his wife (Kristen Wiig), discontented with his new world’s opulence – stumbles into a miniature tenement outside the walls of diminutive mansion-dotted Leisureland and discovers an underclass of refugees who have been downsized against their will.

Galvanized, Safranek sets off to find the meaning that financially amping up his lifestyle could not deliver. Cue the critics:

Downsizing … is the rarest thing in today’s movie industry: a big movie for big people — adults, you could call them,” writes Jake Coyle in the The Associated Press.

He’s not the only one who was impressed. Here are some highlights:

Director Alexander Payne continues his record of excellence

“It’s hard to say what’s better about the first half of Alexander Payne’s wonderfully weird – or is it weirdly wonderful? – Downsizing: the audacity of its premise, or the delicious skill with which Payne executes that premise, detail by comically ingenious detail,” Jocelyn Noveck writes for The Associated Press.

Payne has directed six previous feature films, including Paramount’s Academy Award-nominated Election and Nebraska, as well as the Academy Award-winning Sideways and The Descendants (both won for Best Adapted Screenplay).

Matt Damon and Director Alexander Payne on the set of Downsizing from Paramount Pictures.

“Alexander Payne is one of those rare filmmakers who’s never made a bad movie, and he’s not about to start now,” writes Micah Mertes in the Omaha World-Herald. “…in its sense of place, in its existential dread, in its deadpan comedy and late-inning optimism, Downsizing is an on-brand continuation of a career still running strong more than two decades in.”

Supporting actress Hong Chau is remarkable

Chau, who plays a Vietnamese refugee shrunken against her will and forced to labor as a Leisureland maid after losing a leg to gangrene, delivers a Golden Globe-nominated performance as a supporting actress.

“Hong Chau, best known from Inherent Vice and HBO’s Treme, achieves nothing less than an acting triumph,” writes Peter Travers in Rolling Stone. “Her Best Supporting Actress nominations from the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild are just the start of the honors coming her way.”

Hong Chau plays Ngoc Lan Tran and Matt Damon plays Paul Safranek in Downsizing from Paramount Pictures.

One thing that drew Chau to the role was a high-concept framework that acted as an approachable vector for important issues.

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The Real 305 Comes to VH1 – Welcome to Love & Hip Hop: Miami

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Tunneling into the vibrant, swaggering hip-hop scenes of New York, Hollywood and Atlanta, VH1’s Love & Hip Hop franchise has planted its flag atop the ratings, consistently capturing the top three slots in unscripted cable.

Now, the surging network will add a fourth property to the franchise, as the palm tree- and beach-laced music and party scene blasts up from Miami to join its amped-up cousins.

Earlier today, VH1 pushed out the magnificent 5:49 super-trailer embedded above, introducing fans to the 24-person ensemble cast.

“When ya’ll talk about Miami, ya’ll talk about the sands and the yachts, and you party at those clubs on that side of town, but I’m here to tell you, ya’ll don’t know a mother$%#*ing thing about Miami,” the self-proclaimed “Mayor of the 305” Trick Daddy warns in the lustrous opening montage of boats and skylines and bouncing clubs. “The real 305.”

Who else inhabits this unvarnished slice of South Florida? Rap mainstay Trina, Love & Hip Hop Atlanta veteran Gunplay, Latina striver Amara La Negra, producer Young Hollywood, and many more. Meet the full cast here.

 

Part of the cast of Love & Hip Hop: Miami.

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Viacom Scores Golden Globe Nominations for “Downsizing,” “13 Reasons Why”

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Video created by Viacom Catalyst

Downsizing doesn’t hit theaters until Dec. 22, but the Alexander Payne-directed fantasy about a resource-starved future, in which citizens shrink themselves to conserve resources, is already creating enough buzz to earn a Golden Globe nomination.

Hong Chau earned a spot on the list of contenders in the Best Supporting Actress category, becoming just the third person of East Asian decent to earn that distinction since 1970, according to EW.com.

“This is the type of character who’s always in the background,” Chau told EW about the significance of her prominent role in the film. “I hope filmmakers will go back and take a look at people whom they thought they couldn’t mine drama or entertainment from. There are a lot of characters that have been underdeveloped because people aren’t interested or are afraid of attempting to tell their stories.”

On the television side, Viacom scored an additional nomination, for the Paramount Television-produced Netflix series 13 Reasons Why. Katherine Langford, who plays the tragic Hannah Baker – a high-schooler driven to suicide by the behavior of her fellow students on the hit series – is a finalist in the Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama category.

Paramount Television, which is a division of the Paramount Pictures Hollywood film studio and is behind hits such as USA Networks’ Shooter and Epix’s Berlin Station, is an increasingly important part of Viacom’s business. On the company’s fourth-quarter and full-year earnings call on Nov. 16, Viacom CEO Bob Bakish noted that the studio had tripled revenues in just the last year alone and has an aggressive slate planned for 2018.

Seth Meyers will host the 2018 Golden Globes, which will air live on NBC at 8 p.m. ET on Jan. 7, 2018, broadcast from the International Ballroom of the Beverly Hilton.

Viacom Scores Five 2018 Critics’ Choice Nominations

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Congratulations to Viacom’s TV Land, MTV, VH1 and Paramount Pictures, each of which scored at least one nomination for the 2018 Critics’ Choice Awards.

A Manhattan striver who shaves 15 years off her age to advance her career, a raw look at the often shaky lives of teenage mothers, the greatest drag spectacle on television, and a what-if world where humankind shrinks itself to spare the planet’s resources – here’s a closer look at the properties that earned Viacom five nominations:

Best Actress in a Comedy Series – Sutton Foster, Younger – TV Land

Best Unstructured Reality Series – Teen Mom – MTV

Best Reality Competition Series – RuPaul’s Drag Race – VH1

Best Reality Show Host – RuPaul, RuPaul’s Drag Race – VH1

Best Supporting Actress – Hong Chau, Downsizing – Paramount Pictures

The Critics’ Choice Awards will air Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018 on The CW Network.