Viacom Boosts Digital Presence, Showcases Classic Content as NickSplat Launches on VRV

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

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.

Viacom’s Q3 2018 Earnings Demonstrate Turnaround, Evolution Into Global Multi-Platform Entertainment Company

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Viacom released its third quarter 2018 financial results today, articulating progress on its turnaround and detailing Viacom’s evolution beyond its linear roots and into a global multiplatform company.

“Viacom produced another quarter of strong progress, with clear evidence that our turnaround is delivering results and that our evolution into a truly global, multiplatform, brand- and IP-driven entertainment company is well underway,” said Viacom President and Chief Executive Officer Bob Bakish.

Viacom’s core media networks business continues to increase share, Paramount Pictures is surging and profitable, domestic affiliate revenues are up sequentially, and new initiatives are helping to build ad sales strength. Even as these traditional business drivers stabilize, Viacom continues to transform itself by feeding booming digital consumption, growing its Advanced Marketing Solutions (AMS) portfolio, increasing its number of live events, and establishing a burgeoning cross-portfolio studio model that opens significant opportunities for third-party production.

A RESURGENT BUSINESS

Over the past several quarters, Viacom has revitalized four core elements of its business – Paramount Pictures, media networks’ audience share, ad sales, and its domestic affiliate business – while continuing to strengthen its balance sheet and improve its credit rating.

“This improvement in operating performance – combined with meaningful actions over the past 18 months to de-lever our balance sheet – have resulted in a stronger credit profile to help support Viacom’s return to long-term sustainable growth,” said Bakish. “We remain focused on building this momentum with an even stronger September quarter as we continue to position Viacom for the future.”

Here’s a look at how Viacom’s core business elements demonstrated a resurgence in the latest quarter:

Paramount Pictures continues profitability on theatrical hits, television production strength

Paramount’s new management team kicked off their slate with a pair of hits: A Quiet Place brought in $188 million domestically (and another $144 million internationally), on a $20 million budget, while Book Club, acquired for $10 million, raked in $68 million. After growing operating income for six consecutive quarters, Paramount Pictures reached profitability over the past two, with domestic revenue surging 58 percent year-over-year (YOY) in Q3. This trend is expected to continue during the fourth quarter on the strength of the well-reviewed Mission: Impossible – Fallout, which has earned more than $330 million globally – a record open for the franchise – since its July 27 debut.

The studio’s Paramount Television production arm continued to show strong growth, and is aiming for $400 million in revenues for fiscal 2018 behind licensing income from acclaimed series such as the second season of Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why and The Alienist, which earned six Emmy nominations.

With deepened and expanded distribution deals, affiliate revenue is headed back toward growth

As Viacom has renewed or closed major affiliate renewals, the company has often broadened the agreements’ scope to include advanced advertising and co-production elements. Viacom has also captured new distribution, returning in full to Charter and Suddenlink and establishing carriage on vMVPD bundles, such as AT&T Watch. Domestic affiliate revenue has improved sequentially throughout fiscal 2018, and Viacom anticipates growth of one percent in the fourth quarter.

Viacom’s flagship media networks continue to grow audience share behind ratings strength

For the fifth consecutive quarter, Viacom’s flagship brands achieved YOY share growth as a unit. MTV is the fastest-growing network in primetime among the top 50 cable and broadcast channels in its target demo of adults 18 to 34, and the network has recorded YOY primetime ratings gains for four consecutive quarters. Combined, VH1 and MTV own nine of the quarter’s top 10 unscripted cable series. BET (up 23 percent in live-plus same day ratings among adults 18 to 49), and Comedy Central (recording its largest YOY primetime quarterly ratings gain since 2014), also delivered strong quarters.

Viacom’s move into premium content with the Paramount Network also showed momentum, with Western drama Yellowstone compiling an average of approximately 4.4 million live-plus-three-day viewers, good for the year’s most-watched scripted cable series after The Walking Dead.

Advertising Sales are gaining momentum behind Viacom’s Advanced Marketing Solutions portfolio

Strengthened brands and Viacom’s AMS portfolio – which includes branded content, advanced advertising technologies, and experiential offerings – helped drive the company’s best Upfront pricing in five years. AMS revenue grew 33 percent for the quarter, driving projections of a $300 million haul for the year and a return to growth for ad sales in fiscal 2019. Fox is also licensing Viacom’s ad-targeting Vantage product, an additional incremental revenue stream that validates AMS’ sophistication and value.  

EVOLVING INTO A MULTI-PLATFORM, GLOBAL, BRAND- AND IP-DRIVEN ENTERTAINMENT COMPANY

As Viacom transforms elements of its core business, the company has also been evolving to thrive in a digital and mobile landscape. Here’s a closer look at the three key initiatives – expanding the digital footprint, establishing a broader studio production business, and growing live events and adjacent businesses – that are driving the company’s evolution:

Digital consumption explodes under the Viacom Digital Studios umbrella

Behind the fast-growing Viacom Digital Studios, Viacom tripled its total digital streams since Q3 2016 to approximately 7 billion in this quarter, while recording YOY jumps in video views and watch time of 112 and 104 percent, respectively. The acquisition of Gen Z-focused digital video producer Awesomeness should further drive Viacom’s momentum in this space.

Viacom is building a cross-portfolio studio production operation that is aiming to be a $1 billion global, episodic content production business by 2020

From its launch in 2013, Paramount Television grew into a $400 million business, and Viacom is now expanding this studio production model across its portfolio. With deep vaults of intellectual property to feed the insatiable global demand for content, Viacom’s brands are ideally situated to feed this pipeline: Nickelodeon has already forged a deal to produce two seasons of Pinky Malinky for Netflix, while MTV Studios will leverage assets like The Real World, Daria, Made and others from its enormous and largely untapped youth-focused IP library. More deals are on the way, and other Viacom brands will soon launch their own studio models. Meanwhile, the newly formed Viacom International Studios is already producing Spanish- and Portuguese-language shows for Netflix, Amazon, Telemundo, Fox and others.

Live events attendance is becoming a substantial business driver

Demonstrating the power of its brands to transcend screens and translate across a variety of experiences, Viacom drew millions of fans to 65 branded live events – including Comedy Central Clusterfest, the BET Experience and Viacom’s first Vidcon – in the first three quarters of fiscal 2018. At the cross-section of live events and digital platforms, Bellator inked a nine-figure, multi-year distribution deal with global sports streaming service DAZN that will double Bellator’s revenue and make the organization profitable. Live events helped Viacom drive ancillary domestic revenues up 31 percent YOY during the quarter, to $93 million.

Viacom will wrap up its fourth quarter and full fiscal year in September. To see what Viacom will debut in the months ahead, scroll through the timeline below, or click here to view the full-screen version.




Nick International Roars for Change: Together for Good Wildlife Special

Lions, giraffes, elephants…oh my!

Kids interested in learning about endangered species can watch Together for Good Wildlife Special, in which Breanna Yde of Nick’s School of Rock guides viewers on a journey through Uganda. On the tour, she discovers key conservation and environmental challenges, and hears from heroes who work daily to protect at-risk wildlife including lions, giraffes, rhinoceroses, elephants and chimpanzees. Digital vignettes supplement the story, creating a vivid, immersive world.

The special was produced through a partnership with the African Wildlife Foundation and Nick International’s social responsibility initiative, Together for Good. The goal is to raise awareness about endangered wildlife and act as a call to action, using Nickelodeon’s globally recognized brand to empower kids to become change-makers.

Nickelodeon star Breanna Yde guides viewers on a journey through Uganda in Nickelodeon International’s Together For Good Wildlife Special, Photo courtesy of Nickelodeon International.

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Transform into Bumblebee with this Free iOS App from Paramount and Viacom NEXT

Legendary Autobot Bumblebee towers over Times Square through the lens of an augmented reality app created by Viacom NEXT.

Time to take that classic yellow and black Chevy Camaro for the joy ride you always longed for.

Now, thanks to the studio that brought you the explosive Transformers film series and the tech magic-makers at virtual reality (VR) group Viacom NEXT, fans of the heroic Autobot can play as Bumblebee in Transformers: Cade’s Junkyard, a free experience launched today to coincide with the 4K Ultra HD release of the five-movie collection on iTunes.

Cade’s Junkyard, created in augmented reality (AR) using cutting-edge VR technology from Apple, incorporates content from Transformers: The Last Knight – the latest installment of the blockbuster franchise – to transport users to the virtual junkyard of protagonist Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg).

“We’re excited to give fans the opportunity to get in the driver’s seat and take Bumblebee for a ride,” said Howard Hsieh, vice president of Paramount Home Media Distribution.

The experience overlays eye-popping 3D graphics onto your surrounding physical space, allowing you to maneuver around (or into) barrels, wooden crates, rusted-up jalopies, gas tanks and all sorts of other obstacles at breakneck speeds in the iconic automobile. Careful you don’t drive off your desk, though. The action really heats up when you transform into Bumblebee and show those pesky barrels who’s boss. Blowing stuff up with your phone has rarely been this fun. And in case you’re more of a builder than a demolisher, the app allows you to choose and place objects to expand the virtual world wherever you wish.

Smashing up Viacom’s New York City offices with an augmented reality app created by Viacom NEXT.

The sharp gameplay is the product of putting Apple’s new ARKit platform in the hands of the expert engineers and developers at Viacom NEXT. This is the group’s second time building an AR experience with ARKit – in September, Viacom NEXT released ARQUA!, an artistic building game in which users transform their physical environments into rainbow-colored aquariums.

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Can’t Make It to London? Join the MTV EMAs Onstage With Augmented Reality

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

The MTV EMAs will air on Sunday, Nov. 12, broadcasting a hit parade of star performers from London to a worldwide audience. But those millions unable attend the show at SSE Arena can still interact with host Rita Ora and her fellow nominees onstage via augmented reality on the MTV EMA mobile app.

With their device plugged into select performances, viewers will see and be able to interact with digital animations transposed over the action. “3-D rendered objects can fill the environment around you,” Karmelina Parouka, MTV International’s vice president of digital content and engagement told Deadline. “We’re trying to immerse [fans] into the show itself, and tie it back to the artists they’re passionate about.”

What might this look like while watching the EMAs via your phone? To quote Deadline’s example“As a musician like Camila Cabello takes the stage to sing Havana, that might prompt a virtual Cuban flag to unfurl within the app,” evoking a sort of musical fantasyland realized over top of live performances, reminiscent of the animated monsters dropping into your everyday environment in Pokeman Go.

The EMA augmented reality activation follows the artist- and musician-fueled virtual reality explorations and fellowships pouring out of the Viacom NEXT innovation lab. Viacom has been sinking roots into the growing augmented reality space for some time – check out Dr. Beau Lotto, a Viacom Labs creator-in-residence, discussing the blend between the digital and physical realms at an employee event last year:

Augmenting the augmented reality announcement is the unveiling of the EMA’s 2017 social squad, a coterie of global influencers immersing themselves into the festivities to spread the energy around the world in their native languages. This year’s squad is Madison Beer (U.S.), Hugo Gloss (Brazil), Bontle Modiselle (South Africa), Geordie Shore stars Sophie Kaseai and Charlotte Crosby (UK), and Marcel aka KsFreak and Manuel “Krappi” Krappinger (Germany).

The EMAs will air in more than 170 markets. Visit the show’s website for more information on how to watch and vote.

Erykah Badu Returns as 2017 Soul Train Awards Honor Industry Legends and Newcomers

Solange Knowles and Bruno Mars have soul. At least, BET thinks so.

The network has announced nominations for the BET Presents: 2017 Soul Train Awards, an annual ceremony that recognizes the best in soul, R&B and hip-hop music, honing in on artists from the 1970s—or newcomers whose music is evocative of the disco era.

So far, Solange is leading with seven nominations, including video of the year and song of the year for her hit single, Cranes in the Sky.

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Setting New Records for Slime at KCA Sports 2017

In sports lingo, the 2017 Kids’ Choice Sports Awards was a slam dunk, touchdown and homerun. With thousands of fans and sports stars gathering in UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion, as well as the multitude of viewers watching from home, the fourth annual rendition of the awards show treated its audience to cameos by the U.S. Olympic team’s Final Five, raucous events such as the Slime Mountain challenge, an award honoring legendary Olympic gold medal-winning swimmer Michael Phelps, and much more.

Guiding us through it all was the incredible emceeing of third-time host Russell Wilson. As a football superstar and new father, Wilson easily took the head play caller’s role to steer a show celebrating both kids and sports.

Check out some of the highlights from Nick’s slime-filled sports extravaganza.

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Viacom & Hot Sugar Are Innovating Music With Virtual Reality

Viacom’s newest virtual reality (VR) project is an exploration unlike any other. The Melody of Dust transports you to a castle-like world where every object you encounter (a rose found in a bedroom; a dove descending from the heavens) has a distinct melody to discover and unlock. It blends music, video and gaming into an immersive, interactive experience so groundbreaking that Rolling Stone dubbed it a “new art form.”

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Get Schooled Scores a Spot on Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies in Gaming List

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

The lighting-thumbed gamer diehards will nod in knowing agreement as they glance at Fast Company’s roll call of the 10 most innovative companies in gaming – streamer Twitch, gamemakers 2K and Activision Blizzard, founding father of modern gaming Nintendo. But the name at number nine might teach even the most seasoned gamer something brand new: Get Schooled, the non-profit organization whose primary mission is inspiring students to finish high school and succeed in college.

How exactly does an organization founded via a partnership between the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Viacom crash a who’s who of modern gaming giants? By adopting the fearless attitude and experimental dynamic of a Silicon Valley start-up driven to solve an complex problem.

“Get Schooled has a track record of success in part because we have adopted the principles of a high performing tech start up: we value partnerships, use data to continuously improve and have learned how to fail fast,” said Marie Groark, Executive Director of Get Schooled.

Those improvements have hinged upon a bold and vast adventure into gamification, a realm that many high school students know well and require no primer to engage with. The pivot began just two years after Get Schooled launched in 2010, transforming www.getschooled.com into an immersive gamified universe, where competition, point scoring and rules have engaged millions of young people, who can cash out their points for stuff like autographed gear from NBA and NFL stars, calculators or backpacks in a rewards store sponsored by the organization.

Students can also earn scholarships, or celebrity appearances by the likes of DJ Khaled, Nicki Minaj, James Harden, KeKe Palmer, Nick Cannon, Ne-Yo, Chance the Rapper and Ludacris. Check out Kendrick Lamar’s visit to Bethel High School in Alaska, a former “drop-out factory” that earned the visit by winning one of Get Schooled’s national points-based competitions:

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Paramount Channel Vietnam: Five Things You Should Know About Viacom’s Latest International Launch

Viacom’s Paramount Channel already has a robust worldwide footprint, with networks spanning Europe, South America, and Asia. The channel has unique programming in 12 countries, including Spain, Russia, Sweden and now one more: Vietnam.
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