The Must-See Moments of the 2016 VMAs

It wasn’t VH1’s Hip Hop Honors: All Hail the Queens, but women ruled the VMAs this year. MTV’s flagship award show took place Sunday, August 28 at Madison Square Garden, and featured a host of first-name-only divas, from Rihanna to Beyoncé to Britney (and back to Rihanna).

VMAs seats

Alicia Keys had a front row seat at the 2016 VMAs. Photo courtesy of MTV.

As always, the VMAs were a cultural phenomenon. We can quantify this in new ways thanks to social media. The 33rd annual ceremony drew nearly 50 million streams on Facebook, and tripled in Snapchat impressions since last year. According to Nielsen, the VMAs produced 90 percent of TV social conversation that night.

Read more to find out why the VMAs broke the internet.

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How Creativity Can Kill You and Why You Are Totally Unprepared for the Next Panther Attack

“I want you to know less at the end of this talk than you think you do now. Nothing interesting begins with knowing, it begins with doubt.”

This was how Dr. Beau Lotto began his speech on Tuesday, June 28, addressing a group of nearly 100 employees at Viacom Headquarters. “The Neuroscience of Creativity” promised to help unlock our best ideas using perceptual awareness.


Brain cells from Lotto’s lab. (Courtesy of Beau Lotto)

Confused by this nebulous description? So was I. But through the course of an hour, Lotto methodically demonstrated the stages of creativity, taking us through biology, human evolution, and social constructs. By the end of his talk, I knew far less than I did when I sat down.

Some might think this is a strange result of a scientific lecture, but Lotto is a renegade of scientific academia. He’s built a career out of making neuroscience—the study of the brain and nervous system—accessible to those of us without PhDs. His speeches distill complex topics like brain chemistry and cognitive function using art, puzzles, and storytelling.

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The 5,000 Pound CMT #InternVolunteerDay

What happens when you combine a Saturday afternoon, the largest food bank in Tennessee, and CMT’s summer 2016 interns? Over 5,000 pounds of food collected and sorted to feed the hungry throughout the state.

With seven participants representing CMT, we joined forces with Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee to help end the fight against hunger in America. Second Harvest is an organization that works with more than 450 partner agencies to ensure that men, women and children throughout the state have access to food and basic personal care needs.

CMT Intern Volunteer Day

From left to right: Chelsea Gant (Social Media intern), Elaheh Ziglari (Business & Legal Affairs intern), Betsy Howard (Human Resources intern), Jennifer Teeter (Creative Services: On-Air Graphics intern), and Erica Greskoviak (Creative Services: Short-Form Programming intern)

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VIMN’s Christian Kurz Re[DEFINED]s TV

Recently, over 100 employees gathered at Viacom’s Times Square Headquarters to learn more about TV’s transformation from Viacom International Media Networks Senior Vice President of Consumer Insights and Analytics Christian Kurz.

Kurz runs VIMN’s research blog, Viacom International Insights, which distills emerging trends about our global audience based upon original research convened by our international operations. Kurz shared intriguing points from his latest study, TV Re[DEFINED], which explores how consumers react to the new age of television.

It was the inaugural event in a series called Insights at Viacom, where industry experts share compelling stories about the latest currents in the entertainment business—all informed by their most recent research and metrics.

Here are seven insights that resonated most as a Viacom employee—as well as a TV consumer.

Bakish Quote

A quote from the president and CEO of VIMN, Robert Bakish.

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This Father Is Not Surprised to See Viacom Make Fatherly’s List of Great Workplaces for New Dads

Stuart Winchester by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

My daughter Waverly cannot believe I work with SpongeBob. Or Dora. Or the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

And that’s just the beginning of what amazes her about Viacom. She loves that I work in “Robot City,” (as she calls Times Square). She is already planning her route through our skyscraper for the company’s annual kids’ day, which in the past has included everything from custom cape-making to face painting to magic shows (her favorite). And every time Wave sees a movie trailer that includes the string of silver stars wrapping over Paramount’s iconic mountain, she screams at the TV: “My dad works for them!” She’s 8 years old, and from her point of view, I have the coolest job in the world, for all of these reasons and more.

Wave Turtles

Wave and I hanging out with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles at Viacom’s Times Square headquarters during Kids Day 2015.

From a grown-up’s point of view, the benefits of working for Viacom are a bit different: strong work-life balance, a companywide commitment to social responsibility, and a day-to-day workplace that is widely acknowledged as being one of the best around.

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Fast Company Ranks Viacom As a Top Destination for Those Seeking Work-Life Balance

Stuart Winchester by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Sure, Viacom is a great place to work. The offices tend to be seated in thriving, energized urban hubs (New York! Los Angeles! Nashville! Miami! London! Amsterdam!). The aura of iconic franchises (South Park turns 20 this year), new hits that rumble through pop culture (my 8-year-old daughter cannot turn off Nickelodeon’s The Loud House), progressive programming (RuPaul just received his first Emmy nomination for his role as host of RuPaul’s Drag Race), and the mystique of Hollywood (Paramount’s century-old library continues to grow both through franchise expansion and compelling original ideas: Jack Reacher and Xander Cage are fighting back onscreen later this year, while films about alien landings and monster trucks present us with entirely new worlds) linger over the whole operation.

But it’s also a great place to live while working, which earned the company a top-five slot on Fast Company’s list of employers with the best work-life balance.

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Viacom’s Sarah Nix Is HERE to Give Back to Her Community

She grew up as a Girl Scout and a Special Olympics volunteer whose father donated to United Way and passed his spare change to panhandlers on family trips into Manhattan from suburban Sleepy Hollow, New York. As an adult, she set up charity galas, helped manage amfAR’s silent auction to benefit HIV prevention, and joined the planning board for the National Hemophilia Foundation’s silent auction, Denim and Diamonds.
Still, something was missing from this life of community engagement. “You don’t have the direct service element,” said Nix.

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Viacom’s Consumer Insights From Around the Globe: August 2016

Christian Kurz by Christian Kurz, Research & Insight, Viacom International Media Networks

Welcome to the August issue of the Viacom International Insights Digest, bringing you Viacom’s latest consumer insights from around the world.

This month’s issue includes a look at global parents’ rising LGBT acceptance, an analysis of how global teens listen to music, and two infographics: one identifying the role of humor in the daily lives of global adults and another detailing the sources global kids use to watch TV and video content.

As always, please check out our insights blog, where you can find these stories and many more.

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Viacom Brands Break Down the DNC

The 2016 presidential race has consumed the country for over a year—and our nominees have only just been selected. Last month we reported what several Viacom brands were doing to spread our universal goal of social justice and voter engagement through the pre-convention hype. Now, here’s a look at what a few of our brands did to represent these principles during the Democratic National Convention.

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JULY 22: Balloons sit on the arena floor before they are hoisted to the rafters at the Wells Fargo Center, July 22, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Democratic National Convention will formally kick off on Monday. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The Democratic National Convention. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

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Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg Have a Dinner Party Invitation You Will Not Be Able to Ignore

When I think of celebrity besties, Snoop Dogg and Martha Stewart aren’t the first duo that comes to mind. But VH1’s upcoming show, Martha and Snoop’s Dinner Party, will give viewers a rare peek at the innovative rapper’s bond with the home décor renegade.

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