Viacom Digital Studios Launches Under Kelly Day, Comedy Central Adds Digital Head

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Big news today for Viacom:

Under the banner of Viacom Digital Studios, Day will lead creative and editorial production for digital content across Viacom’s portfolio of global brands.

“The Viacom Digital Studios unit will further propel our efforts to become a meaningful player in digital-native content, while also elevating the social profile of our brands,” Viacom CEO Bob Bakish wrote in a note to employees shortly after the announcement. He also noted that the company would hire staff and strategically reorient certain segments of the company to support Day’s efforts.

Day’s hire comes just after Comedy Central named industry veteran Jennifer Danielson as senior vice president of its digital operations, where she will oversee digital comedy creation for the network.

The moves come as Comedy Central and many of Viacom’s other core properties, including BET and MTV, are experiencing ratings gains behind a reinvigorated programming slate.

Paramount Welcomes Pups for World Animal Day

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

​Dog lovers working on the Paramount Lot in Hollywood got a barking bonus on Friday, Oct. 20 – in honor of World Animal Day, the studio hosted its first Take Your Dog to Work Day. Paramount invited responsible dog owners to bring their furry best friends to perk up the office environment. From the photo below, it looks like canine and human alike were happy to be together for the day.

Trumped Out? Broad City’s Tr**p-No-More Browser Extender Can Help

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

We may have collectively overdone it.

In the politics-everywhere-all-the-time days of 2017, it can be tough to find a zone of existence in which you don’t encounter the name of a certain commander in chief.

Comedy Central’s Broad City is here to help. After censoring the president’s name throughout the current season of the show, Abbi and Ilana have extended their efforts online, where you can download a Trump-No-More browser extension. Once you add this handy internet supplement, “Trump” will appear as “Tr**p” on pretty much any page you visit.

Here’s how to get started:

How well does the tool work? Well, here’s a screenshot of Donald Tr**p’s Wikipedia page before downloading the extension:

And after:

So there’s a little less politics in your life, and a little more Broad City.

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Nick Follows MTV OTT Success in Return to Japan

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Nickelodeon legends SpongeBob, Dora and Leonardo and his shell-clad gang are packing their passports. Their destination? Japan.

But they won’t be rolling up in the turtle’s party wagon or following Dora’s Map to get there – this crew and more Nickelodeon favorites will arrive in the Land of the Rising Sun via an over-the-top (OTT) and mobile channel on Japanese subscription service dTV-Channel.

via GIPHY

“Over-the-top and mobile offer an important growth path for Nickelodeon and our other flagship brands in mature subscription TV markets like Japan,” said Mark Whitehead, president and managing director of VIMN’s Asia Pacific region. “This is another strong example of Viacom forging deep and innovative partnerships with OTT and mobile distributors, like NTT DOCOMO’s dTV-Channel™ in Japan, to make our ‘must-see’ content available when, where and how consumers want to view it.”

When the new channel launches in the first quarter of 2018, it will bring Nick content back to the nation of 127 million for the first time since 2009. With its re-entrance into Japan, Nick will have a home in every major international market that it is able to enter, with the exception of China.

The launch of the Nick channel follows a strong run for MTV’s OTT product in Japan, where online viewership (on AbemaTV and MTV MIX on Hulu Japan), now surpasses that on linear versions of the channel.

CMT Artists of the Year Clocks Record Ratings With Moving Disaster Tribute

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

NASHVILLE, TN – OCTOBER 18: (L-R) Honorees Chris Stapleton, Brian Kelley of Florida Georgia Line, Tyler Hubbard of Florida Georgia Line, Jason Aldean, Keith Urban and Luke Bryan speak onstage at the 2017 CMT Artists Of The Year on October 18, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for CMT)

In a powerful display of unity and emotion honoring the victims of manmade and natural disasters across the United States, CMT’s Artists of the Year event aired to record ratings on Wednesday night, skyrocketing 61 percentage points over 2016 numbers while drawing more than 1.1 million fans. The program also ranked as the most social entertainment program in primetime on cable, while #CMTAOTY trended nationally on Twitter.

CMT recast the event – typically a celebration of the year’s premiere country artists – into a “night of hope and healing” following a savage mass shooting that killed 58 people attending the Route 91 Harvest country music festival earlier this month, as well as a trio of hurricanes and a plague of wildfires that have disrupted life throughout much of the nation.

“We felt a commitment to our fans to transform the event into a night where we honor human resilience through music, and hopefully in the process lift the spirits of our fans,” said CMT General Manager Frank Tanki. “We’re thrilled that the special connected with so many people, especially those who’ve been impacted by the recent tragedies.”

The show’s ratings success hits as CMT is riding a 10-month ratings streak, with sustained year-over-year growth over that period among key demographics.

Here are a few highlights from the show, which aired from Nashville’s Schermerhorn Symphony Center.

Artists of the Year deliver message of unity and resilience

When the gunfire erupted over the Las Vegas Strip on Oct. 1, country music star Jason Aldean onstage. His audience was the killer’s target. As Aldean rushed to cover, 58 people were killed and hundreds more injured in the unending barrage of bullets.

To open the show on Wednesday night, Aldean appeared alongside the other Artists of the Year: Chris Stapleton, Florida Georgia Line, Keith Urban and Luke Bryan. The performers – whom the network had selected in September, prior to the format change – had all agreed to forego formal awards and focus on victims of the recent tragedies. They opened with a message acknowledging the power and importance of music, the resilience of the human spirit, and the strength and courage of first responders and fans:

The show resonated especially powerfully in Las Vegas, where ratings increased an astronomical 1,877 percentage points over last year.

Country stars deliver a powerful genre crossover with a tribute to Tom Petty

CMT has a bold tradition of fusing artists (pop legends The Backstreet Boys performed country sensation Florida Georgia Line’s H.O.L.Y. during the show), and one of the night’s most uplifting moments came on just such a crossover. Aldean, Urban, Stapleton and country mainstays Little Big Town united on stage for a tribute to the late Tom Petty, belting out a stirring ensemble cover of the rocker’s I Won’t Back Down.

One of Petty’s most famous songs, the defiant anthem served as an appropriate tribute to the music legend while doubling as an apt rebuke to the fear and retreat that killers like the Las Vegas mass murderer hope to inspire:

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Robin Thede Debuts to Strong Critical Reviews on BET Late Night

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Robin Thede stepped onto the late-night television stage on BET last night, filling an enormous hole by becoming the only black woman in a genre dominated by white men.

And she was fantastic.

With a GIF attack on Donald Trump, a pop-up concert in a bodega, and funny takes on topics ranging from Eminem to the NFL, Thede announced herself with a fluid, punchy half hour that critics loved.

“Thede is charismatic, funny, and unabashed in her beliefs,” wrote John Hugar in Splitsider

Indeed, the Chris Rock-produced show is hilarious. Thede, the former head writer for Comedy Central’s Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, opened with a ridiculous skit in which she attempts to seduce an attractive Trump supporter with increasingly absurd props, from a Make America Great Again hat to a Confederate flag tattoo.

Watch:

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Klepper’s Fake Fake News Show Debuts Strong As Comedy Central Sees Quarterly Ratings Rise

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 25: Comedian Jordan Klepper hosts the premiere of Comedy Central’s “The Opposition w/ Jordan Klepper” on September 25, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images for Comedy Central)

Alarmed, self-satisfied, and wielding the confabulating vocabulary of the ever-growing alt-right pseudo-news complex, The Opposition w/ Jordan Klepper came burning out of its Midtown Manhattan bunker with a week one ratings victory.

Viewers eager to, as Klepper promised, “only hear from others what you’ve already been telling yourself,” drove ratings up 43 percent among total viewers compared to the same timeslot a year ago. The show, which follows The Daily Show with Trevor Noah Monday through Thursday on Comedy Central, averaged 683,000 total viewers in its first full week.

Since that strong debut, Klepper’s conspiracy-laced satire has continued honing its deft assault on the insipid fever dreams masquerading as news on Infowars.com, Breitbart News Network, and similar outlets. And like Stephen Colbert on Comedy Central’s long-running The Colbert Report before him, Klepper is spot-on lampooning his subjects by adopting their personas.

In the aftermath of last week’s mass shooting in Las Vegas, with Alex Jones busy papering together a schizophrenic collage assigning responsibility for the carnage to a vast deep state conspiracy, an alarmed Klepper reminds us that, “… the mainstream media is wasting our time conducting interviews, verifying sources, and trying to assemble an ‘accurate picture of the suspect’s background.’ Meanwhile, brave online truth-tellers like Infowars and Gateway Pundit are getting to these answers first. They get to their answers so fast, sometimes it feels like they didn’t even have time to think about them.”

Watch:

Flanked by a coterie of absurd citizen journalists, Klepper is pulling off his fake fake news show with a consistency that has impressed critics.

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A First Glimpse at the Savage, Psychedelic World of Paramount’s Annihilation

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

A shellshocked Natalie Portman sits in a glass-walled room, draped in a hospital gown. Surrounding her is a retinue of observers and interrogators tucked into hazmat suits.

“Can you describe its form?” one asks her.

“No,” she answers, as the scene cuts away to savage nightmare jungle world where plants and flesh have intertwined.

“Was it carbon based?”

“I don’t know.”

“Did it communicate with you?”

“It reacted to me.”

“You really have no idea what it was?”

She doesn’t. This is our first look at Paramount Pictures Annihilation, the Alex Garland-directed sci-fi nailbiter based upon author Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy. It will transport us into a gripping, incomprehensible and frightening realm when it hits theaters on Feb. 23.

Annihilation also stars Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, Tuva Novotny and Oscar Isaac.

Viacom Makes Working Mothers’ Best Companies List for Seventh Year – 12 Moms Help Explain Why

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

For the seventh consecutive year, Working Mother has named Viacom to its list of 100 Best Companies. The reasons why Viacom is a great place to be a mom are plentiful, including:

  • 10 paid weeks of maternity leave
  • $15,000 in assistance for anyone adopting or fostering a child, or using a surrogate
  • A fertility concierge service that connects employees to patient advocates, nurses, genetic counselors, and surrogacy and donor specialists
  • 25 days of subsidized care-giving for children (or adults) per year
  • Access to lactation experts
  • The ability to ship breast milk home from business trips

But the best people to explain why Viacom so consistently makes Working Mother’s list is the moms themselves. We asked a dozen of them why this company was such a great destination for women who don’t want to have to choose between family and career:

Helen Adair, Learning & Development – 

“Viacom allows me the flexibility to have a rewarding career while balancing my family commitments with two children. I also appreciate The Parenthood – our employee resource group for working parents that offers educational sessions and resources for parents, fun events and chances to connect with fellow working parents. And my kids absolutely love coming to the Paramount Lot for movie screenings and the Annual Tree Lighting celebration. I love that they are so excited to visit my workplace.”

Adair and family at last year’s Christmas tree lighting on the Paramount Lot.

Lydia Daly, Social Media/Marketing, Viacom Velocity –

“I knew that Viacom was a great company for working moms on the day I returned to work after having my first baby (our second is due any day!). It’s a very emotional and sad day in many senses and yet I found I was surrounded by women who had been through this before and were able to provide support and reassurance. Family definitely comes first here and you can feel it.”

Daly and her family.

Joelle Fleming, Pricing and Inventory, BET –

“I received a call at work from my husband that we were selected as the pre-adoptive parents for two small children – and we had to pick them up that day.  I left the office, no questions asked, with the full support of my team and Viacom. The children have since been legally adopted, and we could not be more thrilled!”

Fleming with her family: John, Amber, Matty, Nikki, and Abby.

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Highest Ratings and Most Viewers in Show History as Younger Grows Older

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Warning: spoilers ahead for TV Land’s Younger.

Season four of Younger lifted off where season three stopped: Liza strafing Kelsey with the news that they are not fellow Snapchatting millennial strivers after all, on account of L being 40-plus with a kid in college and a divorced ex-husband rambling about somewhere in suburban New Jersey.

So Kelsey storms off. And Charles’ estranged wife emerges from exile with a tell-all book about their marriage even as he and Liza seem to be toeing toward some sort of inevitable for-real romance. And Josh – seemingly recovered from busting up Liza and Charles’ proposal-ruining makeout session at the end of last season – summons L to Ireland,  where he intends to marry his girlfriend of one month, whom Liza had introduced him to.

And viewers loved it. More viewers than ever before, actually: Younger’s fourth season was the highest-rated and most-watched in series history, with double-digit percentage increases versus season three among key demos. Even more impressive, the show was the number one original ad-supported cable sitcom so far this year with women 18-49 and women 25-54. Fans pushed #YoungerTV to trend on Twitter all 12 weeks that new episodes aired.

Cheers to that, team.

via GIPHY

All those fans will be pleased that TV Land has already committed to season five. And with season four ending with a cliffhanger of a missed call to Liza from Charles, some speculate that their romance may finally start blossoming. Show creator Darren Star hinted at as much in an interview with Hollywood Reporter’s Jackie Strause.

“There is a lot of story to tell there,” he said. “As writers, we’re invested in Liza and Charles’ story but at the same time, it’s not an open and honest relationship yet. There’s a lot at stake for Liza being truthful with Charles.”

The Younger crew visited Ireland for the season four finale.

A confession from Liza to Charles would, of course, crack open the central premise of the show, as her real age would be apparent to all of the main characters. But Star doesn’t think the show’s longevity is tied to Liza perpetually keeping her secret.

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