Nashville Season Six Debuts On a High Note

Nashville Is back and in rhythm.

On Thursday, Jan. 4, CMT’s beloved country soap Nashville returned for its sixth and final season. 1.6 million viewers joined them, a testament to the loyal “Nashie” fan base hooked by season five’s plot twists—including the death of a major character (Connie Britton’s Rayna Jaymes), police misconduct and racial profiling, song stealing and scheming, dramatic hookups and breakups…accompanied by melodic country harmonies, of course.

Nashville started 2018 with the highest ratings since its midseason five premiere. And according to Nielsen, Nashville’s debut was the night’s top social entertainment cable program—with #NashvilleCMT trending nationally on Twitter.

“The final season is truly the culmination of the incredible journey of each of these beloved characters,” said Keith Cox, president of development for Paramount, CMT and TV Land. “We want to give the fans, who fought so passionately to bring the show to CMT, a spectacular ending and great payoff.”

Watch a teaser for the next episode:

“The continued success of ‘Nashville’ remains a critical and defining part of our 2018 plan and a vital building block towards a strong future,” said Frank Tanki, general manager of CMT and TV Land. “Once again, the team has pushed themselves on all fronts and it’s absolutely amazing to see all these moving parts come together so smartly and loudly.”

The strong tune-in for the premiere follows a record-breaking 2017, in which CMT scored 53 consecutive weeks of ratings growth, underscoring the fact that Nashville is just one part of a diverse CMT programming roster that encompasses a bit of everything—from unscripted dramas to innovative digital content.

Music City, for example, is a docu-series created by famed executive producer Adam DiVello, who also helmed iconic MTV reality dramas Laguna Beach and The Hills.

Watch a teaser for Music City:

Music City is filmed in Nashville, with a cast of young, up-and-coming musicians struggling to make it in a cutthroat industry—much like The Hills, which gave viewers an inside look at fledgling fashionstas Lauren Conrad, Audrina Patridge and Heidi Montag as they tried to succeed in Hollywood.

Watch a throwback clip of The Hills:


This sort of unscripted docu-series has broad appeal: I was a rabid fan of The Hills, even though I didn’t share career aspirations as future fashion mogul Conrad (I tuned in for the personality conflicts, delectable drama and luxurious landscape), and I’ll probably watch Music City, even though I’m not a country music fan. It’s enticing to watch young professionals engage in a heightened state of reality, vying for their dream career (especially now that I’m around the same age as the cast members).

And the network is meeting fans on all platforms – CMT’s 2018 slate includes three new short-form digital series, exclusive for YouTube: How To Wear, Street Art Stories, and The Downtown Farmer.

Watch the trailer for Street Art Stories below, and find the full playlist on YouTube:

Watch new episodes of Nashville on CMT, Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET

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.

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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CMT Celebrates 2017 With a Milestone: 53 Weeks of Consecutive Growth

Combining network transformation and honoring tradition, CMT broke records this year with 53 weeks of consecutive growth. It’s the longest active growth streak in cable (among all ad-supported cable channels).

How did CMT achieve this landmark?

The network remained true to its mission statement, fueling its status as the leading authority on country music and lifestyle by re-branding the network to become more than just a music channel, but an entertainment hub for modern country culture.

The new creative filter beckoned a programming renaissance, with hit shows and specials including Nashville and the limited run series Sun Records, while fan-favorite series like Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Challenge and Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders Making the Team were re-energized and attracted new fans.

CMT re-examined its signature music events and specials with fresh eyes. With the seminal series CMT Crossroads which pairs a country act with a pop artist, the network focused on more diverse and current pairings like Maren Morris and Alicia Keys, Thomas Rhett and Nick Jonas, and Florida Georgia Line and Backstreet Boys, which scored the highest “Crossroads” ratings in 5 years.

Fresh off a pair of Grammy-nominations, Kesha is joined by Old Crow Medicine Show for a newly interrupted version of her smash hit Your Love Is My Drug:

Given the hurricanes and shootings in Las Vegas, the annual CMT Artists of the Year special was evolved from a celebration of the year’s top artists to a night of hope and healing. Fans responded…the critically acclaimed special notched the event’s highest ratings ever. And with the CMT Music Awards, CMT successfully expanded the event from one-night event into a three-day festival for sponsors and fans. The events dominated downtown Nashville with multiple sponsor activations, music performances, and fan experiences…creating the largest footprint in CMT history.

The growth isn’t just limited to television. This year, CMT’s ramped up social strategy bolstered its reach to be “everywhere fans are.”  It’s working: in the past year, CMT’s Facebook fans have increased by 3,000 percent.

While the brand continues to expand, its commitment to its fans has never wavered. In the last few months alone, CMT expanded the “Empowering Education” campaign encouraging our fans to pursue higher education and was proudly the first cable network to sign-up for the “Hand in Hand” telethon benefiting hurricane victims.

The last 53 months of growth coincided with subtle yet impactful changes on CMT: introducing more culturally-relevant content to the network, and spreading such content across a range of platforms.

“We discovered that more than ever country fans cannot be put into one box. They connect with smart content which reflects their diverse identities.”

– Frank Tanki, CMT and TV Land General Manger

Network executives chose this course after careful reflection: What does it mean to be a diehard country music fan in 2017?

It means being socially-conscious.

It means having a diverse taste in music—with Carrie Underwood and Beyoncé on the same Spotify playlist.

It means being open to progressive dialogue and content.

CMT fans are diverse in age, race, ethnicity, class and nationality.

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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.

Viacom Global Insights, December Edition: TV’s Continued Importance, Kids’ Passion Points and More

by Christian Kurz, Global Consumer Insights, Viacom

Viacom’s latest consumer insights from around the world include TV’s continued importance, kids’ passion points, how the internet fosters unity, Filipino kids’ purchase influence, and happiness in Asia-Pacific countries. As always, you can read these and all our stories in English, Latin American Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese.

Our latest study on global TV habits finds that in viewers’ lives, TV is as essential as ever.
A recent project looks at today’s top passion points among kids in 30 countries.
A new infographic reveals stats on how the internet is opening people’s minds and inspiring them to make the world a better place.
Filipino kids are more likely to live with grandparents and help out other relatives, broadening their influence over family decisions.
People are happier and less focused on material success in Asia-Pacific countries than 5 years ago, according to a recent study.

“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.

Viacom Reports Fourth Quarter and Full-Year 2017 Growth as Strategic Plan Advances

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Riding broad ratings increases, significant improvement in domestic ad sales, and continued growth of its international business, Viacom reported fourth-quarter and full-year earnings this morning headlined by year-over-year gains in revenue and other key financial metrics.

The report serves as an affirmation that the strategy outlined by Viacom President and CEO Bob Bakish in his first earnings call in February is working to stabilize and revitalize the business, reversing previous declines in revenue, operating income and operating cash flow.

“In the fourth quarter and full year, we made strong progress against our plan to fundamentally stabilize and revitalize Viacom, with top line gains in both Media Networks and Filmed Entertainment segments driven by continued execution on our strategic priorities,” Bakish said. “We saw significant ratings increases across the portfolio, which drove sequential improvement in domestic advertising; our international business continues to expand, delivering double-digit revenue increases; and Paramount is demonstrating growth across multiple revenue streams as it rebuilds the theatrical slate and continues to grow its TV production business. Additionally, we have completed several multi-year renewals of major distribution contracts – including our recent agreement with Charter – which secure broad, long-term carriage of Viacom’s networks for subscribers and expand our relationships with distributors through new, forward-looking advanced advertising and content production partnerships. We realized these achievements and established a stable base while reducing debt, improving free cash flow and strengthening our balance sheet.

“Viacom is stronger and our momentum continues to build. To accelerate our transition to long-term, sustainable growth, we are ramping up the evolution of Viacom’s media business to better serve next generation platforms and solutions while continuing to diversify our business and strengthen our global portfolio of flagship brands. In the coming year, we will continue to focus on unleashing the full creativity and energy of Viacom to create greater value for our shareholders and audiences.”

Here’s a closer look at what Viacom achieved this quarter, and what lies ahead:

Improved financial performance

The company’s operational and organizational changes have begun yielding financial results. Viacom ended the quarter with increased revenue (+3%, $3.3 billion), adjusted operating income (+7%, $578 million), and adjusted earnings per share (+12%, $0.77). Revenue grew six percent for the full year, to $13.3 billion, while adjusted earnings per share grew two percent to $3.77.

As revenue increased, operating free cash flow also grew 26 percent, to $1.5 billion, while the company reduced gross debt by approximately $2 billion since February, a 15 percent reduction in the company’s debt load and an important step in retaining its investment-grade metrics. The company expects to further reduce its total debt load in 2018.

The most viewers in cable, and growing

Viacom continues its longstanding position as the most-watched cable family in the United States. Behind a varied collection of channels tucked alongside the flagship six of MTV, BET, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr. and Spike (soon to be Paramount Network), the company has earned a larger share of several coveted audiences than any competitor, including Millennials, African-Americans, and key child and adult demographics:

This position is likely to strengthen, as strong programming helped drive quarterly ratings up three percent across the domestic portfolio and six percent across the flagship brands, with especially sharp rises at several networks:

Viacom International Media Networks’ ratings also grew four percent, riding the strength of Paramount Channel, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, Telefe and Channel 5.

Strong partnerships lock in subscribers, stabilize ad sales

Viacom has put renewed focus on building stronger partnerships, with positive results in the distribution and ad sales worlds.

After signing an advanced advertising and content distribution agreement with Altice USA earlier this year, Viacom yesterday finalized a renewal of its deal with Charter Communications. Both of these deals transcend traditional carriage arrangements to include data, advertising and co-production components, underscoring Viacom’s focus on finding opportunity in a rapidly changing industry.

Viacom has now locked in agreements with nearly half its subscribers in the past year, with no major renewals looming until well into 2019.

Additionally, the company announced earlier this week that 11 of its networks would headline the new Philo streaming product, a low-cost entertainment package that will also include programming from A+E, AMC, Discovery and Scripps.

Strong partnerships – combined with the aforementioned ratings growth and industry-leading innovation – also helped stabilize ad sales after a decline in the same period last year. International ad revenues were especially strong, jumping 36 percent.

Top talent and intellectual property drives so much more ahead 

Viacom’s fiscal 2018 is already well underway, and the company’s reinvention continues to accelerate behind a portfolio of diverse and iconic brands. On the immediate horizon, Viacom looks forward to further growth into next generation platforms with the launch of Viacom Digital Studios behind former Awesomeness TV Chief Digital Officer Kelly Day, an increase in live events led by SpongeBob on Broadway, the launch of Paramount Network in January, the upcoming content partnership with Tyler Perry – who is already scripting a film for BET – and so much more.

To see what Viacom will debut in the months ahead, scroll through the timeline below, or click here to view the full-screen version.

To listen to the earnings call or read the press release or other materials, visit Viacom Investor Relations.

5 Questions With Viacom18’s Sudhanshu Vats

Viacom18 is the home of Viacom’s brands in India and is one of the country’s fastest-growing entertainment networks, reaching more than 600 million viewers in 80 countries across its channels.

Hear from Group CEO Sudhanshu Vats as he talks about the business, its programming and how they’re celebrating Viacom18’s 10th anniversary this month.

Video by Viacom Catalyst.

Viacom, Home to MTV, BET, and MBAs

An NYU graduate student gazed at the dazzling digital wallpaper in The White Box event space at Viacom’s Times Square Headquarters, sipping a mimosa and munching a croissant. Other students milled about, intrigued by animation-splashed LED panels splashed with famous Viacom characters, such as Broad City’s Abbi and Ilana.

Networking before the panel discussion. Photo by Essence Dashtaray.

Viacom’s MBA Media Trek invited 150 grad students from some of the most prestigious business schools in the U.S. – such as Columbia, NYU and Harvard – to sit in on a panel featuring company executives and mingle with them afterward.

Viacom was one of several stops for these students on their tour of media hubs. Our talent acquisition department organized the event, curating an accomplished panel of speakers that included MTV President Chris McCarthy, Viacom Vantage Senior Vice President Gabe Bevilacqua, Paramount Digital Content Senior Vice President Anu Bhatia, and Viacom International COO Jose Tolosa.

The goal: to define Viacom’s eclectic, innovative culture, so the students could understand the workings of a fast-paced modern media company and determine whether it was a potential match for their ambitions.

What is Viacom?

Daisy Auger-Dominguez welcomed MBA grads to Viacom Headquarters. Photo by Photo by Essence Dashtaray.

Daisy Auger-Dominguez, our senior vice president of talent acquisition, welcomed students by sharing what makes her most proud to work at this company: “Viacom creates entertainment that drives culture and conversation.” She emphasized the massive breadth of this entertainment, with 4 billion subscribers in more than 180 countries.

“We are truly a global company,” said Auger-Dominguez. “This work extends to all areas of our business – from content production to advertising, distribution to data strategy and beyond.”

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