In September, the People’s Choice Awards announced nominees for their 44th annual show. Viacom earned 30 shortlist spots for its shows and movies, and 13 finalist nominations for awards at the ceremony on Sunday, Nov. 11.
Six women leaders from across Viacom’s global operations will join the next two cohorts of the Betsy Magness Leadership Institute (BMLI), working alongside dozens of their industry peers in a yearlong leadership development program.
“WICT [Women in Cable Telecommunications] is honored to welcome the incoming BMLI classes,” said Maria E. Brennan, CAE, president and CEO of WICT, which announced this year’s classes. “Our graduates represent many of the most influential and committed leaders in our industry. The collective contributions made by our graduates is immeasurable and serves as a testament to the impact of the BMLI program.”
BMLI’s immersive curriculum includes feedback on participants’ leadership styles and helps them develop a strategic vision for their teams and companies.
“I’m looking forward to working on myself as a leader, and improving for the organization and for my team,” said Viacom Vice President of Talent Acquistion for Campus to Career and Internal Mobility Suzanne Rosenthal.
The program has already launched. Following a battery of pre-assessments filled in by participants’ managers and direct reports, a nutritional audit, and more, Rosenthal and the rest of her cohort traveled to Greensboro, North Carolina for an intensive first week. The sessions, which included comprehensive assessments based on coworker feedback, a three-plus-hour individualized executive coaching session, and a full day focused on health and wellness – all in conjunction with the Center for Creative Leadership –forged close connections among participants.
Four Viacom women in Class 38 of the Betsy Magness Leadership Program gather to kick off this year’s program. L to R: Claudia Loda, Suzanne Rosenthal, Michelle Narciso, Kelly Bradshaw.
“We formed these unbelievable bonds with women from across the industry,” said Rosenthal, noting that the cohort now communicates over one massive group text. “I think women leaders in some cases face different challenges than men, and they overlay those on top of media and the very, very changing landscape.”
Last night, VH1 broke yet another benchmark at the 70th Primetime Emmy Awards, as RuPaul’s Drag Race won its fifth Emmy this year (after racking up four at the Creative Arts Emmys last week) for the category of Outstanding Reality-Competition Program. Drag Race is now the first show in history to earn an Emmy for best reality series and best reality host in the same year. The awards, like Ru’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, are yet another symbol of the show’s enduring popularity, critical acclaim, and cultural impact.
Fans have embraced Drag Race for its universally accessible message of self-love and acceptance – especially in recent years. The show is a beacon of resistance and hope set against a tense political climate; sprinkling glitter and feathers in the face of bigotry.
In light of RuPaul’s seismic sweep, Vanity Fairfilm critic K. Austin Collins underscored how Drag Race, a diverse, controversial and intimate show, has etched its mark on Hollywood and the entertainment industry:
“On a night that was host to what S.N.L. star and Emmy nominee Kenan Thompson called “the most diverse nominees in Emmy history,” it was only appropriate that one award—for outstanding reality-television program—should push the event beyond the usual questions of race and gender.
RuPaul’s Drag Race—the most culturally influential queer show on television, as well as one of the most consistently racially diverse—tackles all of the above, rambunctiously, complicatedly, and at times controversially, but just as often with love.”
Viacom President and CEO Bob Bakish appeared on CNBC’s Squawk on the Street yesterday, joining co-host David Faber from backstage at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference.
“Viacom is a story of turnaround and evolution,” Bakish said, before detailing the company’s progress ramping up its studio production business, expanding its digital presence, improving affiliate relationships and revenue, and adapting Viacom to an increasingly digital landscape.
“My job is to move Viacom forward, turn it around, evolve it, make sure it’s a vibrant company for the future to benefit our shareholders, our employees and all our partners, that’s job one, that’s what we’re doing,” Bakish said.
Here are a few highlights of the conversation:
“Viacom is a story of turnaround and evolution”
“Viacom is a story of turnaround and evolution. And on the turnaround side, we’ve had a lot of progress on distribution, and on the evolution side – which is really where this fits – we’ve announced recently that we’re ramping up our studio production, including on our flagship brands, on MTV and Comedy Central and Nickelodeon, and that’s about getting those brands represented in third-party platforms, so that consumers who might not have a full bundle still has access to these brands, still think of them in their entertainment experience, and by the way, could be promotion to bring people into a bigger bundle.”
Viacom is increasingly Over The Top
“[Philo – which includes Viacom – is] a low price point, entertainment skinny bundle delivered via OTT. … AT&T Watch is essentially that too. There’s no broadcast, there’s no sports in there. It’s all entertainment product. It’s a limited selection, so we think there’s more to come, and in fact in every MVPD cable renewal or extension deal we’ve done in the last year and a half, it includes provision that we’ll be added to any OTT or skinny bundles that they have, so it’s more product to come.”
Delivering an evolution
“From the beginning, back to November of ’16, my focus has, was and continues to be running this company, moving it forward, delivering a turnaround, delivering an evolution. And on the turnaround we’ve got proof points on U.S. distribution, where, by the way, we have sequentially improved our distribution revenue every quarter this fiscal year. We’ll have growth in the fourth quarter, the quarter we’re in right now, and we’ll have growth in 2019. We’ve improved our audience shares. We’ve tremendously turned around Paramount.”
The financial picture improves across Viacom
“We’re focused on putting points on the board. We are. Coming out of the third quarter, I think we started to get some recognition on that. Coming out of our fourth quarter, when we deliver not only sequential improvement in domestic affiliate, but growth in domestic affiliate, I think we’ll get some respect for that. When we talk about the numbers that Paramount’s delivering, I think we’ll get some respect for that. And you don’t know what the catalyst to turn [the stock price is], but we have had a real change in sentiment.”
Viacom evolves into a multi-platform global entertainment company
“The fundamental thing we need to do is shift the narrative. People look at us, and they say, ‘yeah, yeah, yeah, you’re a domestic pay TV company,’ and the reality is, that’s wrong. We’re a multi-platform global entertainment company. And that’s why this evolution point, building these new revenue streams, whether it’s studio production, our Advanced Marketing Solutions business, our advanced ad business, which, the strategy is to use that to more than offset any decline on call it the traditional side, that business is growing over thirty percent. You’ll see that business grow, on a percentage basis, accelerate in ’19.”
Earlier in the morning, Bakish also appeared onstage at Communacopia. You can listen to his full question-and-answer session here.
LAS VEGAS, NV – APRIL 25: Jim Gianopulos speaks onstage during the 2018 CinemaCon – Paramount Pictures special summer presentation held at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace on April 25, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic)
Paramount Pictures Chairman and CEO Jim Gianopulos appeared last week at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2018 Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference in Los Angeles. In a wide-ranging question-and-answer session, he elaborated on the multiple levers the studio’s new management team has activated to drive Paramount’s renaissance: tightening synergies with Viacom’s media networks, strengthening relationships with popular streaming services, building out Paramount Television, building up the consumer products business, and more deliberately monetizing the studio’s deep library. And it doesn’t hurt that Paramount is churning out great movies.
The excerpts below portray a studio in the midst of an awesome transformation. Listen to the full interview here.
Paramount is in a renaissance
“About the culture, I think people do feel that Paramount is in a renaissance and they are part of it and they feel engaged in that. We’ve also extended deals that were expiring – new five-year exclusive deal with Hasbro, which brought us across the Transformers properties, but also has properties like Dungeons & Dragons and Micronauts and many other very popular properties and IP that they are very deeply engaged in producing. We extended our deal with J.J. Abrams, who is arguably one of the most talented people in the movie business and the television business, and also extended a new deal with David Ellison to provide some of our biggest tent-poles like Mission: Impossible and now Top Gun and others, and as well as Terminator, a franchise that he owns. So, you add to that Jerry Bruckheimer and others, so I feel really confident that the team that we have on the executive side and the team that we have on the creative and production side externally that we have ongoing relationships with Leo DiCaprio, Martin Scorsese and others will enable us to continue putting together a great slate.”
Making movies for someone or for everyone
“And I think you’ve heard me say and it’s now a longstanding tradition even when we had at Fox, which is make it for someone or make it for everyone. And that in itself is a principle that has guided us so that even recently where we had films like A Quiet Place, which was a very modestly budgeted, originally a thriller horror movie that broke out and did $340 million and a little movie like Book Club, which was – had a very distinct audience of older women. We bought it for $10 million and it made $70 million. And then, of course, the movie for everyone, which is Mission: Impossible that has now surpassed all the prior films and continues to head toward $775 million or more million dollars worldwide. So, the current slate, we’re very confident in.”
Uniting across Viacom
“…[Viacom CEO] Bob Bakish and [Non-Executive Vice Chair of the Viacom Board of Directors] Shari [Redstone] have been very focused on uniting those elements of the company across all of Viacom. … So, we have films like Nobody’s Fool, which is a Tiffany Haddish movie that’s in concert with BET. Similarly, a film called What Men Want, which is a play on the original What Women Want, one of our films, which will be done again with, with BET. Dora the Explorer live movie, which we’re doing with Nickelodeon, as well as an animated movie we’re doing with them. So we’re harnessing all the value and potential and capabilities of the Viacom labels to drive – both to define our slate in the branded area and also to promote our big tent-pole films as well. What they did, for example, on Mission: Impossible was a massive global campaign putting all the resources of the Viacom brands, and particularly internationally MTV, which is very well-situated, as is all of Viacom and there are 3.8 billion homes.”
Chuck Johnson interned on the VH1 Consumer Marketing team in the fall semester of 2013, and the VH1 Public Relations team in the spring semester of 2014. Currently, he works as a senior social media coordinator at VH1.
Campus to Career: Thanks for speaking with us about your experience as an intern and full-time employee, Chuck. Can you tell us a bit about your background and education?
CJ: I attended North Carolina A&T State University for my bachelor’s degree, and then went to New York University (NYU) for graduate school. I interned at Viacom while studying at NYU, and immediately knew this was exactly the place for me to start my career.
Awesome! Whatdrew you to Viacom?
Growing up, I had always felt so connected to all of Viacom’s brands. Each has impacted me at a different stage of life, and I was so ready to work for a company with that kind of reach.
For me, the entertainment industry – Viacom specifically – embodied the New York City dream. I couldn’t wait to get my foot in the door.
Chuck interned on the VH1 Consumer Marketing team in the fall semester of 2013, and the VH1 Public Relations team in the spring semester of 2014. Currently, he works as a senior social media coordinator at VH1.
Earlier this summer, Viacom’s Campus to Career program hosted its inaugural Multicultural Media Summit at the company’s New York City headquarters. The day-long series of executive panels and Q&A sessions focused on the future of television/media, spelled out unwritten rules for career success, and offered inside advice on landing a job or internship at Viacom. Students from universities across the nation presented a pitch to top Viacom leaders, then joined a networking session with executives, Viacom recruiters, and representatives from diversity partner organizations.
Clockwise from bottom left: BET Networks EVP and GM Michael Armstrong addresses the crowd; attendees gather in the amphitheater at Viacom’s world headquarters in Times Square; a brainstorming session after the event.
Here are six of the quotes that best defined the summit’s energy and positive message:
“Whether or not you realize it, today could be your very first day working in media. We hope you learn something. We hope you’re inspired, and we hope you inspire one another.” – Michael Armstrong, Executive Vice President and GM, BET
2. “Be a good storyteller. At the end of the day, even when you were a little kid, all you wanted was for someone to tell you a good story.” – Rob Gregory, President, WHOSAY
Viacom executives at the Campus to Career Multicultural Media Summit. From L to R: Michael Armstrong, BET EVP & GM; Sean Coar, SVP, Data Strategy; Rob Gregory, President, WHOSAY; Zuri Rice, SVP, Original Short Form Content, Viacom Digital Studios – Nickelodeon
3. “Diversity is at the core of business. It makes good business sense to be as broad as possible and to have as many voices building your content as possible.” – Zuri Rice, Senior Vice President, Viacom Digital Studios (Nickelodeon Short-Form Content)
4. “You have to set the tone for yourself. How you show up and the narrative you set for yourself dictates how people will treat you. People will look at you the way you want to be seen. When you know who people are and not just what they do, you win the race.” – Michele Thornton Ghee, Senior Vice President, Ad Sales, BET Her
Nickelodeon’s canon runs deep: AAAHH!!! Real Monsters, All That, Are You Afraid of the Dark?, CatDog, Clarissa Explains It All, Doug, Kenan & Kel, Legends of the Hidden Temple, Rocko’s Modern Life, The Angry Beavers and The Wild Thornberrys.
Beginning today, these and many other Nick favorites – nearly 30 altogether – are available on NickSplat, an over-the-top destination served up a la carte or as part of the VRV platform. The channel, with its treasure chest of classic Nick shows, serves as both the latest evidence of Viacom’s deliberate move into the digital arena and an affirmation of its brands’ enormous reserves of intellectual property.
“Viacom’s content – including our deep library of genre-defining television – is highly in demand, and our audiences are always looking for new and innovative ways to enjoy our programming,” said Viacom Executive Vice President of Distribution and Business Development Partnerships Sam Cooper. “We’re committed to finding the best partners to bring our individual brands direct to the consumer, and this relationship with VRV is an exciting step forward in our strategy.”
The NickSplat launch over VRV builds on a series of recent moves to widen Viacom’s content footprint within the digital universe, both via the company’s own channels and over third-party platforms. In June, Nickelodeon announced that it would produce two seasons of Pinky Malinky for Netflix, while MTV would revive Real World, Daria, Aeon Flux and other classic shows for as-yet-to-be-announced platforms. Awesomeness, which Viacom recently acquired and folded under its Viacom Digital Studios umbrella, has a strong track record of third-party production, evidenced most recently by To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, which debuted earlier this month on Netflix.
This studio model complements a general ramping up of premium content production throughout the Viacom ecosystem, from the explosive growth of Viacom Digital Studios to the consolidation of its global network into Viacom International Studios to the zero-to-$400-million-in-projected-annual-revenues ascendance of Paramount Television.
VRV is the premiere launch partner for NickSplat, and Viacom will curate content for the channel throughout the partnership. The $9.99-per-month service joins a roster of 12 channels – including Crunchyroll, Funimation, Rooster Teeth, Shudder and more – along with exclusive series such as HarmonQuest, Killjoys, Thundercats and Gary and His Demons.
It’s a worst-nightmare-come-to-life scenario for teenage Lara Jean Covey (Lana Condor): five fawning secret love letters disappear from her room and turn up in the mailboxes of her five crushes. The mortified scribe soon finds herself in an elaborate tap-dancing deception involving her sister’s ex-boyfriend Josh (Israel Broussard), and her school’s resident superhunk Peter (Noah Centineo).
This is the setup for To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, an Awesomeness Films production based upon the Jenny Han novel of the same name and currently airing on Netflix. The well–reviewed romantic comedy is the first that the studio has released since joining Viacom and the latest in a long line of movies Awesomeness Films has produced for digital platforms, including last summer’s You Get Me on Netflix.
The film’s release over a popular streaming platform affirms the strategic importance of last month’s acquisition, as Awesomeness’ production capabilities and relationships with third-party platforms fuel Viacom’s mission to amplify its digital presence and significantly boost its volume of premium content production.
Wrapped under the Viacom Digital Studios (VDS) umbrella, Awesomeness’ output – which also includes a TV division that produces series such as Hulu’s All Night and forthcoming Light as a Feather, as well as YouTube Premium’s Foursome – bolsters an already-surging unit that drove 7 billion digital streams last quarter and significantly grew year-over-year video views (+112 percent) and watch time (+104 percent). VDS, which is still in its nascent phases, has an additional 600 hours of new, original digital content in the pipeline.
“The [Awesomeness] team brings strong digital expertise, deep connections with top talent and influencers, and a robust branded content studio and creative agency that will accelerate the growth and scale of Viacom Digital Studios,” VDS President (and Awesomeness alum) Kelly Day said when the deal was announced.
To All the Boys also debuts at a time when Viacom is significantly ramping up its productions for third-party platforms, both through Paramount Pictures’ Paramount Television production unit and a studio model that mines the company’s deep content vault and translates that intellectual property into new programming. Paramount Television expects to bring in more than $400 million in fiscal 2018 on the back of hits such as Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why and Amazon’s Jack Ryan, while Nickelodeon is producing Pinky Malinky for Netflix and MTV revives fan-favorites The Real World, Daria, Made and others. The newly formed Viacom International Studios has established a powerful generator of Spanish- and Portuguese-language content, with shows for Netflix, Amazon, Telemundo, Fox and others.