Viacom’s Assets “Uniquely Configured to Serve” Demand for Low-Cost Bundle, Bakish Tells CNBC

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Video courtesy of CNBC. Used with permission.

Viacom CEO Bob Bakish is in Paris this week, attending the Viva Tech conference, where he provided more insight into the low-cost entertainment package that he has been promoting in recent weeks, saying in a conversation with CNBC that such a product could be on the market as soon as this calendar year.

With a price target somewhere between $10 and $20, the sports-free package would offer significant savings from both the traditional large bundle and the $40 over-the-internet options that are now proliferating.

Bakish points to Netflix’s tens of millions of U.S. subscribers and its $10 price point as indicative of the demand for lower-cost non-sports services. Viacom’s assets are, he says, “uniquely configured to serve this.”

“Ultimately, the question will be, how does the market segment, because we’re at a transition point in the market,” Bakish notes “…but by introducing this lower price point, we think with these cord nevers and millennials, this is where we start to get traction.”

While the exact look of the package remains unclear, one thing is certain: Viacom will continue to evolve to meet the consumer where they are.

 

Daddy’s Home Again (and He Brought Mel Gibson and John Lithgow as Grandpas)

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Less than two years after Will Ferrell (playing step dad Brad) and Mark Wahlberg (dad Dusty), squared off in a territorial brawl over their kids, the duo is back in Daddy’s Home 2. Only this time, they are buddy-buddy co-dads engaged in an endless game of suburban gymnastics to serve their family.

And then Christmas hits. That means that Dusty’s smooth-moving pops (Mel Gibson) and Brad’s still-doting father (John Lithgow) collide in the suddenly undersized home for a holiday disaster of theater-sized proportions.

The Sean Anders-directed film, which also stars Linda Cardellini and John Cena, will be in theaters Nov. 10. Pack your baggage.

Daddy’s Homemade more than $242 million worldwide was released in 2015 and .

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You’ll Never Have to Walk Alone: Viacom Unites With 20,000 New Yorkers for AIDS Prevention and Awareness

Sunday, May 21 was a pleasant spring morning in Manhattan’s Central Park, and Team Viacom couldn’t have asked for a better day to unite and support the 32nd Annual AIDS Walk New York.

Stationed among other top corporate walk sponsors in the so-called “gold section,” team members soaked in the warm air, secured their fundraising rewards, and chewed on their Così squagels. After a team photo, Viacom joined thousands of other jubilant walkers in a 10-kilometer march through the 843-acre park.

Team Viacom at the 2017 AIDS Walk in New York. Photo courtesy of Viacom.

AIDS Walk New York is the largest single-day AIDS fundraising event in the world. In its more than 30 years, the event has raised more than $150 million to combat HIV and AIDS (more than $3.7 million in 2017 alone). The funds raised at the event are a vital lifeline sustaining the prevention, care, and advocacy programs that the GMHC organization provides for the thousands of men, women and families affected by the diseases in the tri-state area. The proceeds also benefit dozens of other HIV/AIDS service organizations that participate as teams and raise funds through the organization’s community partnership program.

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Power Struggles, Catfights, and Cocktails: VH1’s Daytime Divas Ring Nasdaq’s Opening Bell

VH1 rang the Nasdaq opening bell to celebrate its new scripted series, Daytime Divas. Nasdaq’s Rob Phillips welcomed the stars of the show to the podium, along with Maggie Malina, senior vice president and head of scripted for MTV and VH1.

Phillips praised Viacom’s “innovative and imaginative programming,” noting how much buzz the show has been generating. “We are honored to have Viacom as part of the Nasdaq family,” said Phillips. “Viacom truly represents what it means to be a Nasdaq company—the visionaries, the game changers.”

Watch the ceremony:

Daytime Divas is based on Star Jones’ novel, Satan’s Sisters. The book and series follow the women behind a long-running talk show called The Lunch Hour. On screen, their quirky personalities shine and their friendships seem genuine. Backstage, it’s a world of backstabbing, blackmail, and botched plastic surgery (luckily, these antics were not present on the podium at Nasdaq.)

But for a drama about a fake talk show, the plot points couldn’t be more real. Daytime Divas tackles ageism, sexism, transgender issues, sexuality, spousal abuse, addiction, sexual harassment in the workplace…and that’s just in the pilot.

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Leslie Jones to Host Star-Laden 17th BET Awards

The 17th BET Awards will celebrate top music, television, sports and movie talent on Sunday, June 25.

Comedian and Saturday Night Live actress and writer Leslie Jones, host of the 2017 awards show, got her start on BET and can’t wait to return to honor some of entertainment’s hottest stars.

The BET Awards have become a cultural touchstone. Last year’s awards captivated audiences with mesmerizing performances and a tribute to Prince. One of the evening’s most moving moments came when Jesse Williams, Greys Anatomy star and civil rights activist, utilized his Humanitarian Award acceptance speech to address how the challenges of living in a racially prejudiced world impact the black community.

This year’s Humanitarian Award winner is Chance the Rapper, whom BET is honoring for his strides toward improving the lives of young black men, decreasing gun violence, and financially supporting Chicago Public Schools.

Another highlight of the show will be incredible performances by artists Bruno Mars, Future, Migos, Trey Songz, Tamar Braxton and more.

The BET Awards draws top names from across the entertainment landscape, and many of them will ascend the stage to present awards. Among the major names will be Yara Shahidi, Cardi B, Issa Rae, Jamie Foxx, La La Anthony, Trevor Noah, Robin Thede, Cari Champion and Demetrius Shipp Jr.

The nominees include some of the biggest names in entertainment.  Queen Bey (Beyoncé) will be continuing her highest total nomination streak with seven new nominations, including Best Female R&B/Pop Artist, Best Collaboration with Kendrick Lamar for Freedom, Video of the Year, and Album of the Year for Lemonade. Bruno Mars is nominated in five categories, including Album of the Year, Best Male R&B/Pop Artist, and Video of the Year. Chance the Rapper and Migos each clocked four nominations. Check out the full list of nominees below.

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Viacom Once Again Joins Everytown for Gun Safety to Wear Orange and Fight Violence

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

There’s a reason that hunters, bicycle messengers, construction workers, joggers and anyone else with a compelling reason to stand out drape themselves in orange: it works. After all, it is hard to be mistaken for a deer when you are wearing a blaze-orange insulated onsie in a snow-filled forest.

Yet, safety orange is not a widespread part of the everyday American wardrobe, because why should it be? Most Americans are not traipsing through the forest on a deer hunt or delivering pizzas via bicycle on a daily basis.

And yet, 93 people die, on average, every day from gun violence. Seven of them are children or teens. Hundreds more are injured. Every. Single. Day. With 12,000 annual gun murders, America’s gun homicide rate is 25 times greater than the average of other developed nations.

Source: Everytown for Gun Safety

It is an ongoing crisis in plain sight. And it often seems as though it is being widely ignored by lawmakers and others. On June 2, Viacom once again teamed up with Everytown for Gun Safety for Wear Orange, a statement initiative declaring that change is needed. Their weapon was one that cannot be ignored: orange clothing.

Viacom unleashed the power of multiple brands to support the initiative across a variety of on-air and outdoor platforms. The company’s headquarters, a tower heaving from the center of Times Square, served as the epicenter of this support, with the building lit orange along the New York City skyline and this public service announcement – created in conjunction with Everytown and HUGE – playing on the enormous video screens hanging off the building’s eastern facade:

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The Commerce of Inclusion: Take a Look at Logo’s List of 25 Trailblazing Companies for the LGBT Community

What do Target, Google, Nike, AT&T, and American Express have in common? They’re among the 25 most LGBT-friendly companies in the U.S., according to Logo, Viacom’s network inspired by the LGBT community.

Logo unveiled its second annual Trailblazing Companies list on the eve of Pride Month in June to compile the catalog of inclusive and supportive businesses.

So, how can Logo measure the economics of equality? With the help of Witeck Communications, a marketing firm focused on LGBT consumer habits, Logo scored companies based on seven criteria:

Courtesy of Logo/Witeck Communications.

Aside from promoting equality and inclusivity, why should companies care about promoting LGBT initiatives? Well, there’s this: the LGBT community has an estimated buying power of $971 billion, according to Witeck Communications President Bob Witeck.

“The footprint that gay people have today in the economy is much, much more present, much more visible,” Witeck said in an interview with Bloomberg News. “Also, companies are responding not just to LGBT purchasing power, they are responding to others who are aligned and sympathetic.”

Take a look at the top 25 companies:

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Superstars Combine, Allman Honored, Video of the Year Decided – All on Tonight’s CMT Music Awards

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Expect a parade of country music superstars performing and presenting. Expect blow-your-mind onstage collaborations between wildly different musical acts. Expect a down-to-the-wire vote on the video of the year. Expect a tribute to the late Gregg Allman. And expect it all to come together under Nashville star Charles Esten at tonight’s CMT Music Awards.

Yup, you can expect all of this:

There’s a lot to process in that quick video, so here’s a bit more of what you need to know about tonight’s show:

You can still vote for video of the year even after the show starts. 

Fans have narrowed the finalists for video of the year from an original 14 to these seven nominees: Carrie Underwood, Cole Swindell, Florida Georgia Line, Keith Urban, Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert and the CMA-produced 50th anniversary video, Artists of Then, Now & Forever. Vote now.

Also help us select a #SOCIALSUPERSTAR presented by Pepsi

You can honor an act who uses social media to connect with fans by tagging your social posts with #CMTawards and with the artist’s tag, #VoteBrett (Brett Eldredge), #VoteJake (Jake Owen), #VoteKeith (Keith Urban), #VoteKelsea (Kelsea Ballerini), #VoteLauren (Lauren Alaina) or #VoteThomas (Thomas Rhett). You can cast up to 50 votes.

Never-before-seen combinations of superstars will hit center stage

The country music crossover is now a thing, and we will bring you one of the coolest tonight, when The Chainsmokers perform alongside Florida Georgia Line. Keith Urban and Carrie Underwood will perform a duet. Jason Derulo and Luke Bryan will reunite. Earth, Wind & Fire will appear alongside Lady Antebellum, while Peter Frampton will team up with Brothers Osborne.

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SpongeBob SquarePants Follows Season 12 Renewal With Voyage to Broadway

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

The power of positive thinking has been working out pretty well lately for SpongeBob SquarePants. The eternal optimist will star in his third movie in 2019. Last month, Nickelodeon greenlit a 12th season, which will correspond with the show’s 20-year anniversary when it debuts in 2019. America’s favorite talking sponge continues to be the most popular cartoon on the block, scoring the top ratings slot among core kids demographics.

And now, there’s even more to celebrate:

The play – in which an unnamed savior rises to save Bikini Bottom from volcanic annihilation – moves east after a successful run in Chicago, landing at Broadway’s Palace Theatre, which sits just a couple blocks north of Viacom’s global headquarters in Times Square.

“We could not be more thrilled to bring Nickelodeon’s iconic SpongeBob SquarePants to the theater in an original musical conceived specifically for Broadway,” said Nickelodeon President Cyma Zarghami. “We are also incredibly honored to be in such a gorgeous house as The Palace, where audiences will be immersed in the fun and surprising world of Bikini Bottom.”

SpongeBob is pretty happy about it too:

via GIPHY

And so are the folks who watch Broadway for a living: “While we’ve been so excited about plenty of other great plays for kids, this one surely takes the cake,” writes Time Out New York’s Allie Early.

There’s a lot to be amped up about. The Chicago run was well-reviewed, with high praise for many of the disparate parts that seamlessly merge into a big-time stage production. Let’s take a look at a few highlights.

The story

SpongeBob has built a reputation as an all-ages crowd-pleaser, and the musical continues that tradition.

In his television review for Chicago local station WGN 9, Dean Richards observed, “Instead of kid-like dialogue,  the story is multi-layered for kids and adults. It all adds up to one of the most fun, well-produced, and best-acted shows Chicago has seen in a long time.”

And while the plot is relatively simple – a volcano is about to destroy their world, how do we save it? – the production’s subtext is ground in a greater, unnamed sophistication that addresses the issues of the larger troubled world we all actually inhabit.

Writing in the Chicago Sun-Times, Hedy Weiss noted, “Part allegory of the precarious world in which we all now dwell, and part satire on everything from the bureaucratic babble of modern-day politicians to the hunger for moneymaking, the bloated egos of pop music groups, messianic leaders and the eternal lure of stardom, the show is full of wildly energetic performers and playful, imaginative stagecraft that might best be described as one part lavish Dollar Store ingenuity, one part Cirque du Soleil and one part childlike invention.”

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BET Says Yes To Our Fans, Yes to Our Stories at the 2017 Upfront Presentation

BET continues its 16-year reign as the number one cable network for African-American viewers. With a broad slate of programming that includes award-winning, original series such as Being Mary Jane, whistle-blowing documentaries such as Charged: The DA vs. Black America, momentous specials like Black Girls Rock!, and renowned tentpole events that include the BET Awards, BET unfailingly captures the zeitgeist of its fans’ world.

At BET’s annual upfront presentation – an event where programmers preview their upcoming shows for advertisers – CEO Debra Lee revealed the network’s plans for the upcoming year: Rebranding sister network Centric, a swell of hit biopics and miniseries, and a partnership with Twitter that focuses on African-American social media trends.

NEW YORK, NY – APRIL 27: (L-R) Actor Deon Cole, comedian Wanda Sykes and Endyia Kinney-Sterns attend the 2017 BET Upfront NY at PlayStation Theater on April 27, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for BET)

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