Viacom Forges Global Content Machine, Reinforcing Growing Premium Business

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Viacom’s rapidly growing international division has united two Latin American content powerhouses with its Viacom International Studios (VIS) production unit, transforming the studio into a global content machine with development, production and distribution capabilities. A number of SVOD, pay TV and free-to-air distribution deals will accompany the expansion, which complements and bolsters Viacom’s burgeoning premium content business.

The combination folds the production capabilities of wholly Viacom-owned Argentinian giant Telefe and majority-owned Brazilian comedy brand Porta dos Fundos under the same umbrella as the Miami-based studios that churn out Latin American content for Nickelodeon, MTV, Comedy Central and other Viacom brands.

“Since combining our production and sales forces last year after the acquisitions of Telefe and Porta dos Fundos, our focus has been on creating the highest-quality Spanish- and Portuguese-language content and expanding our distribution beyond Latin America, making the new Viacom International Studios a true global player in Latin American original content,” said VIMN Americas President Pierluigi Gazzolo. “With more than a decade of producing original, hit content for the Viacom brands, and expertise and content delivered through our acquisition of Telefe and investment in Porta dos Fundos, we are growing the reach of our product and client base with SVOD players, MVPDs and broadcast partners around the world. These partnerships are testament to the power of our brands and strength of our original productions.”

Viacom International Studios held a preview of upcoming content for new clients in May, shortly after Viacom announced the formation of the upgraded entity.

The reformulated VIS will inject global scale into many formerly regional properties, unlocking potential for high-quality content to reach a far larger audience. Fox Networks Latin America, for example, will distribute Telefe’s thriller movie Animal (from Oscar-winning screenwriter Armando Bo), on digital and linear platforms across the region, while Netflix will air the Comedy Central-Porta dos Fundos co-produced Borges in Latin America. Nickelodeon and Italy’s Rainbow Group will co-produce the 60-episode Club 57 time-travel epic, with VIS handling global distribution and Rainbow Group retaining rights in their home country.

Viacom President and CEO Bob Bakish hinted at the potential of distributing local content across worldwide channels at the recent MoffettNathanson Media & Communications Summit in New York City.

“But those local cornerstones are not only about our strength in those particular markets, but they’re also content engines more broadly, and one of the things you’re going to see that you haven’t really seen yet is our Telefe asset becoming a major producer of novela product for the world,” he said. “We’re going to be distributing about 700 hours globally, that’s not something that Telefe used to do. It’s something I’m very excited about.”

This ramping up of Spanish- and Portuguese-language content production with studios in Miami, Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro will act as a powerful international complement to Viacom’s burgeoning premium content capabilities under Paramount Pictures’ Paramount Television production studio. Behind hits such as USA Network’s Shooter, Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why, and TNT’s The Alienist, Paramount Television has grown from nothing just a few years ago into a sought-after production hub with anticipated revenues of $400 million in 2018 alone.

“We’ve Made a Lot of Progress at Viacom” – CEO Bob Bakish Touts Achievements at MoffettNathanson

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Growing viewership, building new management teams, finding efficiencies, delivering content on next-generation platforms. Viacom President and CEO Bob Bakish sat down with Michael B. Nathanson at last week’s MoffettNathanson Media & Communications Summit in New York City, where they discussed these and other ways that Viacom is strategically positioning itself to thrive in a rapidly evolving media landscape.

“I fundamentally believe we’ve made a lot of progress at Viacom in the last year or so,” Bakish said. “That starts with having a plan and laying it out for our teams, our employees, and quite frankly, the rest of the industry and the financial community. … For the last couple of quarters, we’ve seen consistent share growth, including in the last quarter. And in fact, we’re seeing improvement relative to last quarter and the current quarter we’re in. So that’s clear progress.”

Additional highlights from the conversation are below. Listen to the full exchange here.

Next-generation platforms and solutions are driving a huge potential growth market for Viacom

Viacom Digital Studios, announced late last year and launched in earnest at the recent Newfronts in New York, is just getting going, but has already stoked strong digital consumption, with video views up 110 percent year-over-year last month. This is just one part of a broad suite of digital initiatives – from vMVPD (virtual multichannel video programming distributor) distribution over Sling and DIRECTV NOW to deals with Telfonica (across Latin America), Telkomsel (Indonesia) and other mobile providers – that is positioning Viacom to evolve with its increasingly digital-first fanbase.

“So when we talk about next generation, we’re talking about vMVPDs. We’re talking about OTT (over the top). We’re talking about sort of AVOD (audio/visual on demand), in front of the wall, social, et cetera. And we have initiatives going in all of those spaces. And the reason we’re in all of those spaces is we believe that’s a very powerful complement to what we’re doing in the traditional space and is critical to driving growth.”

New management is driving ratings growth across the core television business

MTV is riding an unscripted boom to 10 straight months of ratings growth under network President Chris McCarthy, while ratings are up at BET behind a scripted programming push and at Comedy Central as Trevor Noah solidifies himself as a major voice in late-night.

“So, I feel good about our trajectory there, and in fact, again, when you met with advertisers and we did dinners with each of the agency holding companies over the last three weeks or so … what we typically heard … was, ‘wow, you guys made a lot of sort of promises and commitments when we saw you last year … And we were somewhat skeptical but it’s really incredible how far you’ve come and seeing these brands and we’re very excited about your upcoming slates,’ as are we, by the way,” Bakish said.

Paramount Pictures’ new management team is turning the studio around…

Under Chairman and CEO Jim Gianopulos, the iconic movie studio has installed a new management team and reoriented its slate so that half of its films are co-branded with Viacom’s media networks. With A Quiet Place – the first film produced, marketed and distributed under the new team – rolling out to more than $300 million in worldwide box office receipts (so far), on a $20 million budget, the studio has plenty of momentum moving into the summer.

“And if you look at Paramount, we have a plan that management is totally bought into that is about, that addresses some of our historical problems and our historical problems were a slate construction that didn’t make sense, was not balanced, didn’t leverage the assets Viacom had and then frankly poor execution,” said Bakish “… look at the branded films, the first one in this kind of era is going to be a BET film shot by Tyler Perry [starring Tiffany Haddish] … That’s a film that we made at a very attractive price point, and it’s going to benefit from the BET brand, and that’s why Tyler came and left a perfectly good existence at Discovery and Lionsgate to unify his content output with Viacom … So we are going to rapidly take share, it’s going to be profitable share and we’re going to combine that with our television business and that’s going to take us back very quickly to a very nice business.”

…while the Paramount TV production studio evolves into a premium content force

With 19 network projects in the pipeline and hits such as Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why and TNT’s The Alienist stamping the studio’s premium content credentials, Paramount Television is expected to deliver $400 million in fiscal 2018 revenue.

“When suddenly Viacom split with CBS, the TV production went with CBS and therefore we had a kind of naked film-only studio, which is not a good place for a studio to be because very lumpy,” Bakish said. “Television tends to kind of flatten out the volatility year-to-year, as well as, of course add value. … Paramount is rapidly being appreciated as a place that makes hits in television too.”

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Viacom Launches Digital Studios at First NewFront, Ramping Up Online & Mobile Content Pipeline

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Laugh with Majah Hype, wake up with Nikki Glaser, cook with Snooki, get animated with JoJo – and do it all on your phone.

Viacom Digital Studios (VDS) is here, poised to deliver hundreds of hours of premium digital content that will transport digital native stars from BET, Comedy Central, MTV and Nickelodeon to the social and mobile platforms where their fans live.

This was the headline of Viacom’s spectacular first NewFront event earlier this week at Manhattan’s Chelsea Piers, where the company marched confidently into the digital realm by detailing dozens of new short-form properties to feed its massive online social footprint of more than 850 million fans, elaborating on new content deals with Snap and Twitter, and announcing an expansion of its recently acquired VidCon conference to London this February.

“The launch of Viacom Digital Studios is an amazing opportunity to reimagine our iconic brands for a new generation of young, mobile-first audiences,” said VDS President Kelly Day. “We’re bringing the power and scale of Viacom’s global content engine and storytelling capabilities to entertain and engage our fans whenever and wherever they’re consuming content.”

VDS has been steadily ramping up since Day joined Viacom late last year, jolting year-over-year social video views and minutes viewed in the U.S. upward by 70 (to 4.3 billion) and 78 percent (to 4.7 billion), respectively.

The digital studio is a lynchpin of Viacom CEO Bob Bakish’s revitalization plan, as the company moves deliberately to expand its core television business onto next-generation platforms.

“… if you can think about all the time spent on mobile and all those devices out there, I think you quickly realize what a powerful growth engine that will be for our business,” Bakish told a crowd of investors at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference in March.

While Viacom’s digital content will run across YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and other channels, the company’s NewFront highlighted new global original content deals with Snap Inc. and Twitter.

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Paramount’s Slate of Sequels, Animation, and Cross-Viacom Films Roars to Life at CinemaCon

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

One of the most shocked-into-silence moments for the audience at Paramount Pictures’ CinemaCon presentation came when Tom Cruise, hero of five previously released Mission: Impossible films, recapped the intensity and challenge of conducting a freefall stunt for the franchise’s forthcoming sixth installment.

“Each take is like running an 800-meter sprint,” Cruise said. “We did 106 takes.”

This blunt understatement captures just one extraordinary moment in one forthcoming film from Paramount, the resurgent studio that over the course of that two-hour presentation unveiled or confirmed new installments to its cherished franchises, sequels to some of its most popular films from new and antique vintage, an aggressive Viacom co-branded slate through its Paramount Players division, a trio of animated adventures, and new films based upon a longstanding and expanded partnership with Hasbro.

“We’re laying the foundation…to deliver to you films for every possible audience for years to come,” Paramount Pictures Chairman and CEO Jim Gianopulos, who has spent the past year building a new management team for the studio, told the audience.

As we zoom (buckled up) toward the July 27 release of Mission: Impossible – Fallout, Paramount confirmed that many of its other most beloved franchises will soon get a new installment. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton will return in a new Terminator movie next November. And Transformers, which has delivered five more or less contiguous sequels, will, as previously announced, dogleg off into Bumblebee, which hits theaters this Dec. 21.

Director Travis Knight showed off the first Bumblebee clip at the event, telling the audience, “I wanted to return to the essences of what made the Transformer franchise so impactful right from the beginning: character, emotion, spectacle and explosions, lots and lots of explosions.”

Many other films will get their first sequel, including the recently released hit A Quiet Place, 2013’s World War Z, 1988’s Coming to America (look for Coming 2 America), and, as previously confirmed, 1986’s Top Gun, which also stars original Maverick Cruise.

And before he drops a fourth Cloverfield movie on us at some as-yet-to-be-announced future point, J.J. Abrams’ Overlord will transport moviegoers into a bizarro version of behind-enemy-lines World War II on Oct. 26.

Beyond the realm of the sequel, the studio will drop fans into the labrynthian world of Dungeons and Dragons and the sci-fi realm of Micronauts, both through the studio’s partnership with Hasbro (the same partnership behind Paramount’s Transformers and G.I. Joe movies).

Other standalone projects will pit assassin Will Smith against a younger cloned version of himself in Gemini Man, and cast Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne as the overwhelmed adoptive parents of three in Instant Family.

Tapping Viacom’s deep content well to co-produce Paramount films has been a priority under CEO Bob Bakish, and the studio confirmed that one of Nickelodeon’s most resiliently popular characters, SpongeBob SquarePants, will return for his third big-screen adaptation, It’s A Wonderful Sponge, in 2020. The film will be one of three newly announced releases on the animation division’s slate, joining Luck – which exposes the millennia-old battle between organizations of good and bad luck – and Monster on the Hill, set in an alternative world of wrestling monsters. Additionally, the previously announced Wonder Park will debut next March.

Other top Viacom brands are joining Nickelodeon in collaborating with Paramount, through the Paramount Players division led by Brian Robbins and formed to further integrate the brands with the movie studio. In association with MTV, Eli, the story of a boy being treated for a rare disease in a clinic-cum-haunted-prison, will roll out in January 2019. BET will reconstitute the 2000 hit What Women Want with What Men Want, portraying a frustrated female sports agent who gains the power of mind-reading. Paramount Players is also working on Nickelodeon’s live-action Dora the Explorer and Are You Afraid of the Dark, both slated for 2019 release.

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Viacom Posts Strong Second Quarter 2018 Earnings, Revitalization Accelerates

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Viacom posted strong second quarter 2018 earnings this morning, outperforming projections with significant gains in both adjusted operating income and adjusted earnings per share as the company accelerates its pivot from stabilization and revitalization to growth.

Double-digit gains across all international Media Networks revenue streams, Paramount Pictures’ return to profitability, ratings increases at key flagship networks, significant benefits from cost savings, further diversification into live events and other adjacent businesses, and an increased focus on next-generation platforms and solutions all set Viacom on a trajectory toward a full fiscal year of growth.

“Viacom continued to accelerate progress against its strategic priorities, delivering improvements across key metrics in the quarter,” said Viacom President and CEO Bob Bakish. “Our flagship brands increased audience share among important demos for the fourth consecutive quarter, and we saw sequential improvements in domestic advertising and affiliate revenue performance. Internationally, Viacom continued its winning streak, achieving double-digit revenue and profit gains in the quarter while expanding its global footprint through new channel launches and innovative mobile distribution deals across Europe and Asia. Our cost transformation initiatives are well under way; we anticipate more than $100 million in cost savings in fiscal 2018, and now expect over $300 million in run-rate savings in fiscal 2019 and beyond.

“At Paramount Pictures, turnaround efforts have firmly taken hold as the studio improved margins and returned to profitability. This month’s outstanding box-office performance of A Quiet Place, the first film produced and released under the new team at Paramount, is a clear sign of our progress.

“Viacom also took strides to advance its participation into next generation platforms and solutions. We continued to benefit from growth in the vMVPD space, delivered revenue gains in Advanced Marketing Solutions, and significantly increased original content production through Viacom Digital Studios to drive off-linear consumption. Additionally, we continue to diversify into adjacent businesses by building on our live events strategy with upcoming tentpoles including Comedy Central’s Clusterfest, the BET Experience, Nickelodeon’s U.S. debut of SlimeFest and our first-ever VidCon.”

Viacom’s core business continues to strengthen

Improved performance throughout Viacom’s core business – domestic and international Media Networks and Paramount Pictures – allowed the company to meet or beat guidance on key metrics year-over-year for the quarter, producing five percent adjusted operating income growth and a 16 percent jump in adjusted earnings per share.

Domestically, both advertising and affiliate revenues increased. Viacom’s flagship brands (NickelodeonNick Jr.MTVBETComedy CentralParamount Network), grew audience share year-over-year for the fourth consecutive quarter, while the company continued to hold the top share of basic cable viewing in key demos, including adults 18-34, African-Americans, and kids 2-11. BET grew year-over-year ratings and share by double digits for the third consecutive quarter, while VH1, CMT and TV Land notched year-over-year growth in audience share and ratings. MTV’s programming resurgence continued, with a third straight quarter of year-over-year primetime ratings growth led by Jersey Shore: Family Vacation, which, with 10 million viewers on its opening weekend, was the biggest unscripted cable premiere since 2012.

Viacom International Media Networks is on pace for another record year after posting double-digit increases in profitability, as well as across all revenue streams.

Paramount Pictures returns to profitability

After notching a $75 million year-over-year improvement in adjusted operating income under its new management team, Paramount Pictures raised the curtain on the third quarter with the release of smash hit A Quiet Place. The film rode overwhelmingly positive critical response and deft marketing to the studio’s best opening since 2016 and the second biggest domestic opening so far this year, earning more than $200 million in its first three weeks alone on just a $20 million production budget. Additionally, the studio’s Paramount Television production business anticipates $400 million in revenues this year. Behind these and other catalysts, Paramount expects meaningful improvement to its full-year adjusted operating income for the full fiscal 2018.

Viacom is aggressively increasing its digital output on next-generation platforms

Anchored by 850 million social media followers, the newly formed Viacom Digital Studios is poised to create more than 600 hours of short-form original content this year. This quarter alone, social video views shot up 70 percent (to 4.3 billion), and domestic minutes viewed increased by 78 percent (to 4.7 billion minutes) year-over-year.

The addition of Nickelodeon’s Noggin app to Amazon and a renewed agreement that adds more Viacom content to Snap’s programming slate, in addition to recent and forthcoming mobile deals, will continue to expand the reach of Viacom’s increasing volume of on-the-go-content.

Growing ad revenue through Advanced Marketing Solutions

Viacom today detailed how its Advanced Marketing Solutions (AMS) portfolio would provide even greater opportunity to take advantage of new advertising platforms. The company also broke AMS – which increased its revenue 29 percent in the quarter – into two basic categories:

  1. Advanced addressable video inventory contains advertising units that Viacom can target to consumers, either through its brands’ apps, or by using set-top-box data from its advanced advertising partners, including Comcast, Charter and Altice USA.
  2. Brand solutions is a bundle of consulting, creative services and associated activations that includes social campaigns led by influence marketers WHOSAY, creative integrations with in-house integrated marketing and creative solutions team Viacom Velocity, and experiences at retail stores or Viacom’s growing portfolio of live events.

Viacom live events and consumer products lines continue to grow

Viacom continues to reinforce its brands and drive revenue through live events, recreation, consumer products and other business lines. This quarter marked a nearly 100 percent increase in live-event attendance over 2017, and there are plenty more events in the pipeline, including Comedy Central’s Clusterfest, the BET Experience, Nickelodeon SlimeFest, and the first VidCon since the online video conference joined Viacom – all of which should serve to double live-event and recreation revenue this year.

Viacom’s future looks strong

“Looking forward, we see continued momentum as we pivot from stabilization and revitalization of our business to a new phase of growth,” Bakish said.

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

Signing with Comcast, Viacom Continues to Enhance Advanced Advertising Capabilities

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Viacom has spent years finding better ways to match advertisements with audience. Last March, the company was a founding member of the OpenAP advanced audience platform. Its 2017 renewals with Charter and Altice USA included advanced advertising components. And CEO Bob Bakish has consistently emphasized the importance of continuing to develop these capabilities.

“….on the advanced advertising space, Viacom is clearly the market leader,” Bakish said at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference in December. “…So I think that is a very exciting road ahead.”

Indeed. Especially since Viacom has now signed a multi-year agreement with Comcast that will further boost its advanced advertising and data capabilities.

The mutual advantages are clear. Viacom has a nationwide reach and deep advanced advertising expertise. Comcast, through anonymized data mined from set-top boxes in subscribers homes, knows who is watching which shows and can match that audience to ads using powerful tools developed through its FreeWheel unit. Together, they can better monetize ad inventory across premium video-on-demand and linear content.

“Today’s announcement reflects Viacom’s commitment to developing more expansive relationships with our distributors,” said Viacom Executive Vice President and Chief Data Officer Kern Schireson. “This new partnership with Comcast and FreeWheel builds on Viacom’s connections with valuable, diverse audiences and Comcast’s reach and data leadership, to create an advanced advertising platform with scale and sophistication. Marketers increasingly demand the ability to reach the right customers at the right time in a premium, trusted environment, and this transformative partnership furthers our ability to unlock greater value for our brand partners and accelerate the future of television advertising.”

“Viacom and FreeWheel have a shared goal of enhancing the value of the entire TV ecosystem,” said FreeWheel Executive Vice President and General Manager David Clark. “To do so, we believe in a shared vision of a TV and premium video unification roadmap that will accelerate the integration of TV’s broad reach and quality content with advanced cross-platform targeting, measurement and optimization capabilities.”

NBCU, which is a part of Comcast, also aligned with the OpenAP consortium last week.

Viacom Says “Yaaas” to Expansive First-Look TV Deal with Broad City Creators Abbi and Ilana

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Following the signing of expansive first-look deals with Tyler Perry and with Trevor Noah’s Day Zero Productions, Viacom has inked a similar comprehensive development agreement with Broad City stars Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson. The move, which crosses all Viacom networks and grants first-look rights to television content created or developed by the pair together or individually, underscores the company’s commitment to identifying and forging close relationships with the best creatives in the industry.

Broad City’s Abbi and Ilana may appear to be aimless and full of hair-brained schemes, but Abbi and Ilana IRL have proven to be stellar creator/writer/performer/director/producers,” said Comedy Central President Kent Alterman. “Their supreme focus on telling new stories, in new worlds, with new talent is nearly scary.”

The expanded partnership further fills out a Comedy Central lineup that was already bolstered by a long-term first-look deal Viacom sealed with Daily Show host Trevor Noah last month. The agreement includes a Paramount Pictures film adaptation of Noah’s bestselling autobiography, Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood.

Viacom CEO Bob Bakish has repeatedly expressed a commitment to better retaining homegrown talent, and the forming of these expansive cross-brand relationships with three of Comedy Central’s marquee names affirms that dedication.

The more intensive alignment with top talent is not limited Viacom’s current stars, however, as demonstrated by the expansive partnership the company signed last year with prolific writer, director, producer and actor Tyler Perry, granting Paramount Pictures first-look rights to his films and guaranteeing 90 episodes of annual content across BET and other Viacom networks beginning next year.

“By prioritizing efforts to work with the best, most versatile talent in the entertainment industry, we are better positioned to deliver must-watch content across our brands and platforms,” Bakish said at the time of the Perry announcement.

Glazer and Jacobson also announced that they will end the hilarious, quirky, two-time Emmy-nominated Broad City with its upcoming fifth season.

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Viacom’s Creative Renaissance Ignites With “Jersey Shore Family Vacation” and “A Quiet Place”

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

In the last week, Paramount Pictures’ A Quiet Place won the domestic box office and MTV’s Jersey Shore Family Vacation rolled to the strongest unscripted cable debut in six years. The efforts provide commercial evidence of Viacom’s ongoing transformation – fueled by wide-ranging creative investments in talent, programming, and marketing.

The chart-topping numbers are especially encouraging in a media environment of ever-more-elusive audiences. The divergent paths to success of these two properties – A Quiet Place delivering something novel by elevating a horror story to a genre-busting blockbuster that appeals to all audiences, Jersey Shore Family Vacation building on MTV’s deep well of intellectual property to connect with its core demographic – underscore the way in which a creative renaissance is driving Viacom’s growth.

Marketing a near-silent film in an era of loud

Making a bet on the film’s potential playability, Paramount unveiled A Quiet Place at SXSW to great response. The highly original film immediately started compiling incredibly strong reviews. A clever marketing campaign then helped launch A Quiet Place to a $50.3 million opening weekend, good for the second-best domestic opening of 2018 (behind Black Panther). With a $17 million budget, the Platinum Dunes-produced and John Krasinski-directed film is a validation of Paramount’s reoriented slate and refreshed marketing approach under CEO Jim Gianopulos, who joined the studio last year.

“An innovative concept, with great talent both behind the camera and in front, and a savvy distribution and marketing plan led to Paramount’s biggest opening since 2016,” wrote Viacom CEO Bob Bakish in a staff memo about the film’s success.

Building strong relationships with talent has become a particular focus for Viacom under Bakish, and Krasinski, who will produce and star in the Paramount Television-produced Jack Ryan for Amazon and co-created Paramount Network’s hit show Lip Sync Battle, demonstrates the enormous cross-brand potential that forming such deep relationships can yield.  

A Quiet Place’s unique storyline – featuring a family tiptoeing through a post-apocalyptic world infested with insectoid monsters that will devour anyone who makes a sound – created an opportunity for Paramount to execute an equally original pre-release marketing plan. They delivered: moviegoers in nearly 100 theater chains caught the sonically attuned monsters devouring noisy spectators in pre-show spots, with the stern warning that “the movie theater should be A Quiet Place.” A pre-Super Bowl ad, a launch of the second trailer on Ellen, and a kick-off spot and accompanying stunts at the SXSW Film Festival primed diverse audiences for the film’s release.

“Paramount’s reconstituted management team is focused on allowing great filmmakers to make great movies, and then doing everything we can to support those movies,” said Paramount Pictures Chairman and CEO Jim Gianopulos. “In A Quiet Place, we did exactly that: We gave a talented young director license to put together something unlike anything else out there, and then threw our marketing and distribution expertise behind the project.”

Tapping an iconic property to connect with a core audience

Jersey Shore Family Vacation had less work to do in the name-recognition department, as its iconic predecessor, Jersey Shore, had long ago etched its cast into the cultural conversation. The unknown was whether this fist-pumping bunch, six years older and reunited in the beaches and bars of Miami, would still connect with audiences.

It did. The show’s nearly 10 million total viewers and 4.2 average rating in the core 18-34 demo on live-plus-three-days metrics made Jersey Shore Family Vacation the most-watched unscripted debut on U.S. cable since 2012. The original Jersey Shore had ignited a global franchise – with spin-offs in the UK, Spain, Poland and Mexico, plus the recently launched hit Floribama Shore in the U.S – and the cast’s return resonated globally, with the premiere airing in nearly 180 countries and territories.

The strong ratings complemented a seven-hour trending run on Twitter and acted as an emphatic endorsement of MTV’s revamped creative direction under President Chris McCarthy. Under his leadership, the network has grown ratings for three consecutive quarters for the first time in seven years behind a blend of revitalized franchises, returning classics and original programs.  

“MTV is about celebrating youth culture and music where talent and creativity unite to produce content that resonates across generations,” said McCarthy, who also oversees VH1 and Logo. “Jersey Shore Family Vacation and the new Floribama Shore demonstrate how MTV can harness our heritage to create programming that appeals to a mass audience while serving as a great launching pad for our new series.”

“We’re Focused on a Return to Growth,” Bob Bakish Tells Deutsche Bank Conference

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Viacom President and CEO Bob Bakish sat with analyst Bryan Kraft at the Deutsche Bank Media, Telecom and Business Services Conference in Palm Beach, Florida last week. In an extended Q&A session, Bakish outlined Viacom’s wide-ranging growth initiatives, from sophisticated advanced advertising products, to the opportunities in mobile distribution, to the company’s strength outside of the United States.

“We spent 2017 really stabilizing the business, and now we’re focused on a return to growth,” Bakish said. “… We articulated a three-part plan associated with that, growing share and margins in our core business, accelerating our participation in next-generation platforms and solutions, and unlocking opportunities with synergies to the core that are outside of traditional media revenue streams.”

While Bakish looked firmly toward the future, he also summarized a few of Viacom’s many recent successes: MTV is in its 10th consecutive month of growth; BET’s ratings streak stands at three straight quarters; Paramount Network launched to both critical acclaim and ratings success in January; ratings at CMT, TV Land and VH1 continue to be strong.

Here are a few more highlights from Bakish’s conversation. You can listen to the full Q&A session here.

Viacom’s diverse demographics + diverse ad products = enormous opportunity

“… all our constituencies have embraced the flagship strategy and certainly that’s true in the ad community. We’re in a very enviable position in that we serve the full spectrum of demographics, really from preschoolers all the way up to, as I said, 25-54s. … But importantly, what you have to realize about our ad business is, yes, it’s partially ads or majority ads on linear television networks … but it’s also our advanced advertising business. And that’s around instilling data-driven approaches and alternate kind of orbits versus [potential] truck [purchasers] versus men 18 to 34 in a television-centric environment, and then all the way up through actual dynamic ad insertion, which is another element we’ve added as we’ve redone our MVPD deals this year [so that] we have access to insert at the consumer level.”

A cornerstone strategy drives growth internationally

“… [Viacom’s international cornerstone strategy] started with our creation of our joint venture in India, which we did in 2007, where we went on to launch a brand called Colors and sitting here today, it’s the number one. … We then went on to acquire Channel 5 in the UK about five years ago. That’s been a homerun and we acquired Telefe in Argentina, which is number one broadcaster in Argentina about a year ago and that’s been a homerun. So, you put that all together and you have a company that grew – our international division that grew, earnings, double digits ad revenue, double-digit affiliate revenue, double-digit ancillary revenue in the last quarter and earnings, let’s say very, very strong double digits in the last quarter and continues to be on a … strong track to additional growth.”

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Nickelodeon SlimeFest Continues to Break Into Experiential Entertainment, And You’re Going to Love It

Viacom’s live event business is booming. Just this past year, the company has launched Comedy Central’s Clusterfest, a first-of-its-kind music and comedy hybrid festival; Bellator MMA came to New York’s Madison Square Garden; and Nickelodeon brought Bikini Bottom to Broadway via the smash hit SpongeBob SquarePants the Musical.

Now, Nickelodeon will add to this growing constellation of live experiences with a two-day immersive music festival called…you guessed it…NickelodeonSlimeFest.

Nickelodeon debuted this kid-friendly festival in Australia, and has since slimed fans around the globe with events in South Africa, Italy, the UK and Spain. Now, the green goo is coming to the U.S., emphasizing the power and reach of Viacom’s global properties. It makes sense: outstanding events are universally appreciated, and slime is slime regardless of what language you speak.

Courtesy of Nickelodeon and Live Nation

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