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.”

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“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.

SpongeBob SquarePants Delights Critics in Broadway Debut

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Following an audience-wowing run in Chicago, Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob SquarePants The Broadway Musical officially landed in New York City last week, greeted by captivated fans and an ocean’s worth of critical praise.

“Skeptics better tie themselves to the mast if they want to survive this tempest of effervescent candy-for-the-spirit,” writes Vulture’s Sara Holdren. “Even if you venture into the Palace feeling Squidward  -ish, it’s a truly gloomy soul who’ll be able to leave without mirroring the dopey grin with which the show’s absorbent yellow hero responds to his buddy’s existential angst…”

The Tina Landau-directed story, in brief: while the ever-more-fiercely trembling Mount Humungous threatens to bury Bikini Bottom beneath a tsunami of lava and ash, a number of subplots playfully expose the absurdity of contemporary real-world issues in the non-animated realm in which we all dwell. Sandy the squirrel faces land-animal xenophobia from her sea fellows. Plankton’s attempts to win business through hypnosis has echoes of an online fake-news sales job. “Tidal warming” threatens to upend daily life.

With music from an all-star jukebox’s worth of musicians, a riotous set and costumes perfectly channeling the cartoon’s manic aesthetic, and a cast preternaturally suited to their undersea identities, the show is a complete work, tuned both to its obvious target audience of children and to theatergoers entranced by the spectacle of big-time Broadway productions.

Critics, many of whom expressed only a vague familiarity with the show prior to stepping into the Palace theater, were delighted. Here’s a sampling of what they liked:

The set design

Twenty years in, SpongeBob fans are well acquainted with the whimsical animated set pieces that constitute Bikini Bottom. But even long-time observers will be delighted by the maritime decor, a boldly colored and meticulously curated bazaar of pool noodles, floaty-devices, and the discarded effluvia of the consumerist human world above – shopping carts, umbrellas, surfboards and more.

“[Set designer]  David Zinn, a master designer, seems to have been fed an herb meal before devising the set and costumes that transform the noble old Palace into a trippy mindf!ck that’s equal parts Rube Goldberg and Electric Circus,” writes Deadline’s Jeremy Gerard. “I doubt there are any colors on view that exist in nature, or that you or I have seen since black light met ingested pholiotina cyanopus.”

Sesley Taylor as Sheldon Plankton (center) and company. Photo by Joan Marcus, 2017.

The costumes

Bikini Bottom is crowded with characters of odd shape and dimension, and Zinn, who in addition to set designer is also the show’s costume designer, does not try to interpret this cartoon fantasyland literally. Instead, the actors’ decidedly human-proportioned outfits match their character’s familiar color palette, evoking their essence while individual performances complete the profile.

“The production smartly shuns prosthetics to match the characters’ looks from the animated series. Instead, undersea denizens are given human form but retain telltale traits,” writes Joe Dziemianowicz in The New York Daily News. “It’s a smart decision that broadens accessibility — fans and non-fans, adults and kids.”

Pictured: The company of SpongeBob SquarePants. Photo by Joan Marcus, 2017

The music

SpongeBob’s Broadway debut packs an outsized catalogue of that key element to so many big-time stage productions: music. The play brims with songs – many of them originals created for this production – by a deep well of musicians: Yolanda Adams, Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Sara Bareilles, Jonathan Coulton, Alex Ebert, The Flaming Lips, Lady Antebellum, Cyndi Lauper, John Legend, Panic! At the Disco, Plain White T’s, T.I., David Bowie, Tom Kenny and Andy Paley.

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“This Continues to Be an Extremely Undervalued Company” – Six Highlights from Bob Bakish’s UBS Global Media & Communications Q&A

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Viacom CEO Bob Bakish attends the Ribbon Cutting for the new Viacom Building on January 26, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Todd Williamson/Getty Images)

Viacom CEO Bob Bakish appeared onstage at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference yesterday in New York City, where he spoke to media and telecommunications analyst John C. Hodulik.

Bakish discussed the financial improvements surfaced in Viacom’s recent earnings report, the strength of Paramount’s film and television studios, flagship network highlights, and his optimism about the growth opportunities available through multi-platform distribution, live events, and other streams.

In his remarks, Bakish crystalized several key points about Viacom’s operations. Six of the most important are pulled out below. Click here to listen to the full conversation.

1) Viacom is a global cross-platform content engine

“And as we pivot and look to 2018, what we’re really focused on – and people think about Viacom and they say, ‘you’re a pay-TV company.’ And it’s true that we have a substantial business base in pay television. But what Viacom really is, it’s a global content engine across television, across feature film and increasingly across digital-native.”

2) Partnerships are key to growth

“The interesting thing is outside the U.S., in most markets, still today, Viacom is a relatively small player. And so, how do we get the benefits of being a bigger player? And the route to that was through partnership, whether that was partnering with our distributors, on the advertising side. We participated in a whole set of ad sales houses through that time, some of them we run, some of them other people run, some of them were joint ventures but that was all about getting the benefits of scale.”

3) Viacom’s flagship brands remain the priority

“Well, flagships [Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., MTV, Comedy Central, BET and the soon-to-launch Paramount Network] are certainly Viacom’s priority because again we think there’s significant opportunity particularly to grow share there on the network side, as well as broader awareness. As we begin to implement that strategy we certainly remixed our programming investment and moved it towards the flagships, point one. And point two is within the flagships, a brand like MTV, which I’m continuing to be tremendously excited about, there was a place where we put a new team in place, we put a new strategy in place, that strategy was about shifting the programming mix. MTV had gone to a place where it was very invested in scripted programming, which is quite frankly something you can get from a variety of places and it was not really a core association of the brand, so we’ve moved it to a more of an unscripted place, more of a live place.”

4) Viacom is the market leader in advanced advertising

“And by the way, on the advanced advertising space, Viacom is clearly the market leader. We partnered with Fox and Turner to set up OpenAP and we did that so the category can continue to scale, which is a very important thing for us. But we were the leader and we, as far as I know, are the only people doing these type of multi-faceted distribution deals and you’ll see the benefit of those start to come online as we get into 2018 too, and we’re able to unlock some more of this addressable inventory. So I think that is a very exciting road ahead. And again, sets the stage for a much more productive partnership with the MVPDs here in the U.S. and frankly around the world.”

5) 2017 was about stabilization, 2018 is about acceleration

“But as we accomplished really the stabilization of the company and I think that’s the best word, 2017 was about stabilization, 2018 is about acceleration particularly in these newer areas.”

6) Viacom is an undervalued cash machine

“Well, Viacom if you look at 2017, $1.5 billion to $1.7 billion in cash flow, durable cash flow, it’s about a 15 percent yield. So, this thing is a significant cash machine. You look at 2017 and we eliminated the big overhang on the business, quite frankly, which was the uncertainty around distribution. We have distribution deals with mid-single digit annual escalators locked in through well past 2020. So we have a secured distribution base and we have these incremental opportunities that are not only ideas on the next-generation platforms and solutions, on incremental revenues beyond the core, they’re not only ideas, they’re businesses we are already in, in 2017 that we are, therefore, know how to operate and can accelerate. So there is a tremendous opportunity ahead. This continues to be an extremely undervalued company.”


Bakish also appeared on CNBC last week. Watch his conversation with Julia Boorstin here.

Legends Return and Stars Unite as Viacom Nets Stuff the Content Pipeline

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

It’s a time of great energy and invention at Viacom, with our networks announcing new shows, series extensions, and reboots weekly.

“Content is what Viacom is,” Viacom CEO Bob Bakish told CNBC’s Julia Boorstin last week. And this robust content pipeline underscores that point as ratings continue to creep up at core channels and fourth-quarter and full-year earnings map upticks in revenue and other key financial metrics.

The return of those crazy kids of Jersey legend, a beloved host helms an all-new concept, a fan-favorite franchise expands south, an unlikely onstage pairing produces a dazzling country-pop concert, a pair of season renewals drop, and a comedy legend is honored – here’s a look at previews for some our most anticipated programming, all of which MTV, VH1, CMT and Spike have released in just the past week:

MTV:

When Floribama Shore hit with the highest ratings of any network premiere in three years, it underscored fans’ hunger for the return of the Shore franchise. Perhaps foreseeing this enthusiasm, MTV queued up the return of the original series cast with a spot announcing Jersey Shore: Family Vacation during Floribama’s debut.

We don’t have many details or even a premiere date yet, but we know the important stuff: Deena, Pauly D, JWOWW, Vinny, Ronnie, Snooki and The Situation will all be back on our screens, together:

After headlining a pair of MTV classics in Rob & Big and Rob Dyrdek’s Fantasy Factory,  skateboarder and reality star Rob Dyrdek returns to the network headlining Amazingness. Human towers, a hands-free archer, stepladders balanced on teeth – check out what will be – in Dyrdek’s words – “the talent show like no other talent show in the world” beginning this Friday, Dec. 8.

VH1:

VH1 has a New Year’s present for its rabid base of Love & Hip Hop fans – the premiere of the latest complement to the hit shows set in New York, Atlanta and Hollywood: Love & Hip Hop: Miami. Here’s a first look at the series and its ensemble cast, featuring Trick Daddy, Trina, Gunplay and Amara La Negra, among others:

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“Content Is What Viacom Is” – CEO Bob Bakish Talks Success and Strategy on CNBC

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom


Viacom CEO: Content is essentially what Viacom is from CNBC. Used with permission.

Less than two weeks after reporting fourth-quarter and full-year 2017 earnings headlined by year-over-year revenue gains built on strong partnerships and improving ratings, Viacom President and CEO Bob Bakish appeared on CNBC this morning to further underscore the company’s recent successes and positive long-term trajectory.

“You look at ’17, and I’m really happy with what we’ve accomplished,” Bakish told CNBC’s Julia Boorstin. “We rolled out this notion of flagship brands, which is about prioritization and multiplatform expression; we grew ratings and our ratings had been declining; our ad sales business went from minus eight in the quarter I took it over to flat last quarter, and that’s a big improvement; our distribution relationships, we said we were going to broaden them and bring more value to the table, and we did exactly that, and along the way renewed or extended half the sub-base; we moved the needle on content and IP, including doing some cross-house deals.”

There is still a lot of work to do, Bakish acknowledged, as he outlined the reasons for his optimism. “At the core, what Viacom is, is it’s a company of passionate content entrepreneurs that are expert in creating, producing, packaging and monetizing content on a global basis.”

Bakish also pointed to Viacom’s deep content library and novel partnerships arrangements – such as the company’s recent Charter renewal that included co-production of original content and collaborations around advanced advertising – as factors likely to contribute to the company’s long-term growth.

“Content is at the center of virtually every conversation,” Bakish said. “And content is what Viacom is.”