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,” Paramount Network President Kevin 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 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.

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.

“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.”

Viacom Renews Charter Deal, Includes Co-Production and Advanced Advertising Elements

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Viacom and Charter Communications have announced a multi-year renewal and expansion of their partnership, the latest in a string of recent distribution agreements that have expanded consumer options for accessing the media company’s content.

The Charter deal includes co-production of original content via its Paramount Television property and a collaboration around advanced advertising, underscoring Viacom’s commitment to continue evolving its partnerships in the rapidly changing media space.

As part of the agreement, core Viacom networks –  including Nickelodeon, BET, MTV, Comedy Central, Spike (soon to be Paramount Network), VH1, TV Land and CMT – will be available to all Charter subscribers.

The announcement comes just one day after Viacom and four other major entertainment groups partnered with internet television company Philo to launch an affordable, sports-free entertainment pack, a first-of-its kind offering that fills a gap in the U.S. television landscape.

Earlier this year, Viacom inked a deal with Altice USA – which owns Optimum, Lightpath and Suddenlink systems – that also included advanced advertising components.

Viacom Is Using Data to Drive Growth

by Chanel Cathey, Viacom

 

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Big Data took center stage at the Ad Age Data Conference in New York City. This meeting of the minds brought together leading data scientists and marketers from around the country to spotlight the powerful connection between analytics and marketing and how companies are using data in smarter ways to meet business needs. In a fireside chat with Ad Age Media Reporter Jeanine Poggi, Viacom’s Kern Schireson, executive vice president of Data Strategy and Consumer Intelligence, shared how the company leverages data to drive growth and how his team brings advanced data products to the marketplace.

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Full Circle: A Viacom Employee’s Journey from Mentee to Mentor

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom
Aulston Taylor with UP Mentees at End-of-Year Cere…
Aulston Taylor with UP Mentees at End-of-Year Cere…
Stuart Stuart

4 / 4 Taylor with UP mentees at the year-end celebration at Viacom's Times Square headquarters, Jun… Read More

Aulston Taylor with UP Mentees
Aulston Taylor with UP Mentees
Stuart Stuart
Aulston Taylor with Wallace Post Graduation 821x53…
Aulston Taylor with Wallace Post Graduation 821x53…
Stuart Stuart
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Aulston Taylor with Wallace the Intern 821x530
Stuart Stuart
Aulston Teaching
Aulston Teaching
Stuart Stuart

It was 1993. A 13-year-old boy sat in the bleachers of a Tulane University youth baseball camp in New Orleans. He was geared up to play: cleats tied, baseball uniform on, mitt on the bench beside him. But as camp participants ran drills on the field, the boy sat watching them.

A woman walked by and asked why he wasn’t playing. “My mom couldn’t afford it,” he replied. “I’m here watching my best friend until we head to our summer team’s practice at six o’clock.”

“Come with me,” the woman stated.

That woman was Gina Jones, wife of then Tulane baseball head coach Rick Jones. A phone call to the young man’s mom and he found himself on the field with his best friend. By the end of camp that week, he was named most improved player.

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Great Content Continues to Fuel the Upfronts

by Chanel Cathey, Viacom

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The Ad Age Digital Conference in New York brought together dynamic leaders in advertising and marketing to talk candidly about doing business in this “post-digital” age.  Viacom’s own Sarah Iooss, SVP for Partnerships and Client Strategy joined a panel titled “What’s Coming Next: Upfronts, New Fronts, Cannes and Beyond” with Kris Magel (Chief Investment Officer, Initiative), Laura Molen (EVP, Lifestyle Advertising Sales Group, NBCUniversal) and Peter Naylor (SVP, Sales, Hulu). They reflected on the evolution of the Upfronts and a variety of topics trending from the growth of big data to the impact of on-demand viewing and steaming to the influence of social media measurement.

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Counting for Dummies: A Comprehensive Guide to TV Measurement

by Chanel Cathey, Viacom

The Nickelodeon upfront audience was treated to a bit of industry humor with the debut of a short parody starring Benjamin Flores Jr. and Breanna Yde from the hit Nick series “The Haunted Hathaways.” While hanging out in the Viacom offices in Times Square, the curious child stars stumble upon the fictitious Counting for Dummies: A Comprehensive Guide to TV Measurement.

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Viacom Velocity Launches YouTube Channel, Spoofs Parenting in Social Media Age

by Daina Amorosano, Viacom

Viacom Velocity, our creative hub for branded content, launched its YouTube channel this week. Velocity (which bills itself a love child of innovation and collaboration on its website) bids viewers hello with its first YouTube video, “How To Raise A YouTube Star” — a spoof tutorial and parody of parenting in the social media age. Read More