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:

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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NASDAQ Bell Ringing Launches VH1’s The Breaks, Nostalgic 1990s Hip-Hop Follow-Up to Hit Movie

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

VH1 rolled out its new series, The Breaks, recently with an adrenaline shot opening bell at the NASDAQ stock exchange and a ceremonial street renaming in front of Viacom’s Times Square headquarters. The events teed up the premiere of the hip-hop throwback series that followed and directly continued a VH1 movie of the same name that aired early last year, and ended up ranking as the number two cable movie of 2016.

The Breaks movie debuted last year to huge fanfare and really strong ratings, and so it became a no-brainer to take this fabulous movie to series,” said Amy Doyle, general manager of MTV, VH1 and Logo, flanked by the show’s cast and crew at NASDAQ’s opening bell podium. “The buzz on this show is palpable. Essence has deemed it, ‘VH1’s highly anticipated new series,’ and NPR is calling it – my favorite – ‘a hip-hop answer to Mad Men.’”

 

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VH1 executives and cast and crew of The Breaks gather at the NASDAQ stock exchange to ring the opening bell on Feb. 17, 2017. Photo by Christopher Galluzzo, Getty Images

Later that morning, this crew gathered again on the corner of Seventh Avenue and 44th Street in Manhattan to temporarily rename the street “The Breaks Way.”

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 17: Atmsphere at the VH1 street renaming "The Breaks Way" for the premiere- Monday, February 20th at 9PM ET/PT. on February 17, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images for VH1)

NEW YORK, NY – FEBRUARY 17: Atmsphere at the VH1 street renaming “The Breaks Way” for the premiere- Monday, February 20th at 9PM ET/PT. on February 17, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images for VH1)

The Breaks rumbles out of the unfiltered New York City of 1990, an ode to hip-hop’s gritty rise that is equal parts historical drama, nostalgia trip, and reminder that there was nothing predestined about the genre’s eventual rise.

A period piece set at a crucial juncture where rap had crept into the zeitgeist but still skirted the mainstream, the series immerses us within a crew of fictional stand-ins who shoulder the mighty task of recreating that frantic era: a wily and determined Nikki Jones (Afton Williamson), her boyfriend and radio station rookie David Aaron (David Call), aspiring producer DeeVee (Tristan “Mack” Wilds), hip-hop manager Barry Fouray (Wood Harris), and drug dealer-cum-rapper Ahm (Antoine Harris).

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VH1’s Save The Music Rang In 20th Anniversary With Very Special Instrument: NASDAQ’s Closing Bell

Since 1996, VH1’s Save The Music Foundation has let classrooms across the country ring out with harmony. On Oct. 17, the nonprofit celebrated its 20th anniversary by ringing a different type of instrument—NASDAQ’s Closing Bell.

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VH1 Save The Music Foundation rings the NASDAQ closing bell on Oct. 17, 2016. Photo by Christopher Galluzzo / Nasdaq, Inc.

“We’re proud to have Viacom part of the NASDAQ family of companies,” said NASDAQ Vice President David Wicks. “The benefits of music education are truly astounding. Studies have shown the immensely positive effect that music education has on a child’s academic performance, sense of community, self-expression, and self-esteem.”

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TMNT: Out of the Shadows Crew Pumps Up NASDAQ for World Turtle Day

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

World Turtle Day was May 23. You may have missed it, but the talent behind the upcoming Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows sure didn’t. To promote both the June 2 film release and the global focus on everyone’s favorite shelled reptiles, Director Dave Green, actor Will Arnett (who returns to play Vernon Fenwick in the film), and producers Andrew Form and Brad Fuller stood in the clanging, adrenaline-pumping NASDAQ studio in Times Square as the trading day clock ticked toward its 4 p.m. close.

Director Dave Green, actor Will Arnett, and producers Andrew Form and Brad Fuller ring the Closing Bell at the NASDAQ stock exchange on May 23, 2016.

Director Dave Green, actor Will Arnett, and producers Andrew Form and Brad Fuller ring the Closing Bell at the NASDAQ stock exchange on May 23, 2016.

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The Taco Train to Times Square: a Delicious Start to Paying for College

by Marie Groark, Executive Director, Get Schooled

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Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman and others ringing the bell at the NASDAQ exchange. Read More

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They call Times Square the Crossroads of the World. It is the hub of media, arts, and business in New York City.  Tens of thousands of New Yorkers work in Times Square and millions of tourists flock to it every year. So what better place to recognize some of America’s greatest high school students.

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Viacom Salutes Veterans

by Chanel Cathey, Viacom

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Across the country, from Paramount Pictures’ studio lot to Viacom’s headquarters in Times Square, Viacom employees are commemorating Veteran’s Day and thanking those who sacrifice to serve and protect. Viacom employees were busy packing  goody bags for the troops in lower Manhattan, throwing a celebrity studded Veteran’s breakfast at Paramount and Spike’s Hire A Veteran initiative rang the NASDAQ opening  bell in Times Square.

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CEO Philippe Dauman, Viacom Employees Ring NASDAQ Opening Bell

by Daina Amorosano, Viacom

This Friday, the majority of Viacom employees put on their out-of-office autoreplies, made their way to a community service project of choice, and rolled up their sleeves to do something good – as is tradition on Viacommunity Day, our company-wide day to give back. All around the world, droves of Viacom employees dispersed across hundreds of volunteer sites — another year of record numbers, as participation steadily grows.  This year, employees worked on everything from packing goody bags for Boston First Responders, to rebuilding sites still devastated from Hurricane Sandy, and conducting mock interviews for the unemployed in need of such training.

In honor of Viacom’s service on Viacommunity Day, Viacom President and Chief Executive Officer Philippe Dauman and a group of employees rang the NASDAQ opening bell Monday morning. Following the bell ringing, I sat down with Dauman to hear his take on the Company’s corporate conscience and why this day of service is so important. Here’s what he had to say. Read More