Kate Remsen Inspires a Greener Viacom With “Eco-Lodeon”

Orange is the new green at Nickelodeon—at least, according to Kate Remsen, Burbank-based project coordinator, avid environmentalist and founder of Viacom’s West Coast “Eco-Lodeon” initiatives.

Remsen came to Viacom in 2013 as a Comedy Central intern while studying film and television at Loyola Marymount University. After graduation, she began working as executive assistant to David Steinberg, the senior vice president of animation production at Nickelodeon. “I always wanted to work in entertainment,” said Remsen.

Viacom fulfilled her career goals. Unexpectedly, it became a venue to actualize her passion for environmental sustainability—something she might not have been able to do at other media companies.

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Viacom Takes Six NAACP Image Awards Across Four Properties

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

With programming that ranged from definitive biopics to animation to riotous unscripted and scripted programming, Viacom scooped up six NAACP Image Awards at this year’s ceremony honoring outstanding performances by people of color.

BET earned a pair of honors for its standout biopic The New Edition Story, while Comedy Central’s animated Legend of Chamberlain Heights took home one statuette. Viacom’s newest network – Paramount Network – brought in two more wins with its beloved Lip Sync Battle, while the Paramount Television-produced 13 Reasons Why added one more.

Take a look at the diverse Viacom properties that impressed this year’s selection committee.

BETThe New Edition Story

  • Outstanding Television Movie, Limited-Series or Dramatic Special
  • Outstanding Writing in a Television Movie or Special – Abdul Williams, Night 2

When The New Edition Story landed last January, it hit as BET’s most-watched premiere in five years, racking up more than 4 million viewers per episode and dominating the social media conversation. Critics loved it.

COMEDY CENTRALLegends of Chamberlain Heights

  • Outstanding Character Voice-Over Performance – Tiffany Haddish

Comedy Central’s ribald animated portrait of three benchwarming hoops wannabees returned for a second season in June. Turns out the trio can’t hit the starting lineup in the awards circuit either: Tiffany Haddish, who plays Cindy on the series, out-hustled the guys to win this honor for the year’s best voice-over. Haddish also earned the Outstanding Supporting Acrtress in a Motion Picture honor for her role as Dina in Universal Picture’s Girls Trip.

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There’s No Safe Space in Paramount Network’s Heathers Reboot

Paramount Network’s Heathers is a modern take on the 80s cult classic, with sardonic, NSFW dialogue, and fierce fashion (rather than shoulder pads, this squad rocks faux fur and statement chokers).

And this time, the elite Heathers are not three white girls with long hair and thin legs rocking color coordinated twin sets. Heather M. is black, Heath is gender-fluid and their vicious ringleader Heather C. is a plus-sized, body-positive badass.

Watch the trailer:

Meet the Heathers on Instagram:

Tectonic. #Heathers #ParamountNetwork

A post shared by Heathers (@heathers) on

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Apple Names MTV Play App, Built with Viacom’s Play Plex Mobile Platform, One of Best of 2017

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Apple named the MTV Play product to its Best Developers category on its App Store Best of 2017 list. The app, built on Viacom’s proprietary Play Plex platform, underscores the company’s engineering expertise and acts as a case study of its ability to create widely adaptable solutions that allow its brands to quickly deploy their content to next-generation platforms.

“Inclusion on this list speaks a lot to the ability of Viacom’s engineering and product teams to work together to build a world-class experience for our brands and fans,” said Dhimiter Bozo, senior vice president of Software Engineering.

MTV Play, which is available in 26 global markets, has been installed nearly 10 million times and has served more than 325 million MTV content streams. Viacom engineering teams across Berlin, Milan and New York coordinated to build and launch the app, a process that was considerably streamlined by the fact that it was built on top of an extensive and flexible mobile platform called Play Plex.

The Play Plex platform is a system that Viacom engineers custom built to enable the company’s brands to quickly launch branded apps. When MTV or Nickelodeon or Comedy Central wants to build a new mobile app, they don’t have to start from scratch. They simply feed their content and branding to the engineering team, which then ingests the content and submits it to the App Store (or Google Play or Kindle) for review and release.

The result is an app that looks and performs great with minimal technical investment from the brands themselves.

“As a Viacom brand, when you sign up to be on the Play Plex platform, your touchpoints are minimized, so you don’t have to worry about the complexity of being on some of these platforms,” notes Bozo. “This makes things easier for everyone: designers can focus on creative instead of getting hung up with tech, we don’t need large engineering teams to do repetitive work, and our process considerably shortens the timeline for brands to reach consumers in new markets.”

And since apps built on the Play Plex platform have already been downloaded tens of millions of times, Viacom brands know they are creating an app that consumers will love and that will faithfully deliver their content.

“We didn’t want to build just another utility app that would be easy for us, but something that showcases Viacom’s strong history and presence in amazing content creation,” said Bozo.

The ramping up of Play Plex reflects a larger global investment in top engineering talent at Viacom, which has attracted industry leaders who now staff an ever-evolving operation that has pivoted rapidly toward mobile development, machine-learning and more.

“Our mission is to meet fans wherever they might be watching and on whichever device they prefer,” said Bozo. “That includes any new ways of consuming content that evolve in the future. To meet these ever-evolving demands, Viacom has built a best-in-class software engineering team that works tirelessly to enable the distribution of content to new platforms and reach our global users in ways that we could not in the past.”

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Paramount Network Makes Noise with Strong Ratings, NASDAQ Bell Ceremony

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Paramount Network burst from the ashes of Spike TV last week with sizzling ratings and a clamorous opening bell ceremony at the NASDAQ stock exchange.

Ratings and viewership soared 93 percent over Spike’s previous quarter in Paramount Network’s first full week, led by holdovers Lip Sync Battle and Ink Master, and supercharged by original series Waco, which hit as the highest-rated drama series on ad-supported cable in nearly half a year. When Lip Sync Battle: Live Michael Jackson Celebration ushered the network to life on Jan. 18, the program ruled its basic cable timeslot, topped social media for the night, and drew an additional 4 million YouTube views.

The following week, Paramount Network President Kevin Kay joined Viacom CEO Bob Bakish and the stars of Waco to introduce the net’s dramatic six-part retelling of the 1993 federal government siege of the Branch Davidian compound in Texas.

Viacom and Paramount Network executives joined talent for the six-part Waco miniseries to ring the opening bell at the NASDAQ stock exchange in New York City on Jan. 23, 2018.

“Working with the biggest Hollywood talent in front of and behind the camera, our mission is to create big and bold content that honors the history of Paramount Pictures’ 100 year-plus legacy of great storytelling,” Kay said just before a shower of confetti erupted along with the stock market’s opening bell. “I truly believe that we are living in the golden age of television right now, and the time is right to capitalize on this moment when the appetite for powerful storytelling and high-quality cinematic production has never been greater.”

Watch Waco’s gripping open, with Taylor Kitsch playing cult leader David Koresh, to see what Kay means by powerful storytelling and high-quality cinematic production:

The series has drawn praise for its acting, its balanced portrayal of both sides of the infamous standoff, and its unvarnished look at the consequences of America’s firearms obsession. Mostly, critics have been pleased with the show’s high quality.

“No sooner did the Spike network change its name to Paramount than the quality of the network’s content suddenly shot upwards,” wrote Adam Buckman in MediaPost.

Which was exactly the point of Viacom’s deliberate evolution of one network into the next. With critical reaction positive and powerful Waco complements hitting Paramount Network’s lineup over the next several months – a Heathers reboot, American Woman with Alicia Silverstone, Yellowstone starring Kevin Costner – ratings should remain strong.

While those series gestate, there are five more installments of Waco to come. Here’s what to expect in the weeks ahead: