Viacom Activates Powerful Studio Model Growth Driver As MTV, Nick Move Into Third-Party Production

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Pinky Malinky is an upbeat teenager who has a lot in common with his peers: he posts rabidly on social media, he hangs out nonstop with his two best pals, and he constantly must navigate the social pressures of school and life. But there’s one very important thing that will make Pinky unique among Nickelodeon characters (besides the fact that he’s a talking hotdog): when his show debuts later this year, fans will find him exclusively on Netflix.

But Pinky won’t likely be alone for long – across Viacom’s ecosystem, brands are digging into their vaults to identify intellectual property that could be an ideal fit for a digital or linear programmer outside of Viacom. MTV, under the banner of MTV Studios, is for the first time cracking open its rich, 35-year archive to offer its iconic, youth-centric content – Real World, Daria, Aeon Flux, the Emmy Award-winning Made, just to start – in new or reimagined form on non-Viacom platforms. In addition to strategically tapping the 200 titles in its massive library, MTV Studios will churn out new ones, including, to start, The Valley (working title), about a group of friends growing up in the U.S.-Mexico border town of Nogales, and MTV’s Straight Up Ghosted, in which victims of this mobile-age abandonment will confront their disappearing former intimates.

Similar efforts will follow at other Viacom networks.

This studio model – under which Viacom will license and produce new episodes of fully owned content for third parties – will present an enormous growth opportunity, as the company’s brands increasingly feed the insatiable global demand for premium content.

Viacom is uniquely positioned to do this. The company’s voluminous original content libraries house an enormous number of beloved properties that speak deeply to their fans. Its archives stretch back decades – and, in the case of Paramount Pictures, more than a century. Its properties resonate deeply with high-value audiences: kids (Nickelodeon), African-Americans (BET), youth (MTV), the LGBTQ community (Logo), and more. Viacom’s global footprint means that those audiences stretch across cultures and borders. As the first port-of-call for creatives pitching shows tailor-made for these audiences, Viacom’s brands are keenly aware of what is in the market. Its production expertise is second to none.

And even as these sorts of deals multiply, Viacom will retain all consumer products rights for all properties, fueling the company’s increasingly robust consumer products operation.

The possibilities for third-party licensing and production are practically limitless. Pinky Malinky – which will feature Nick branding at the show open and embodies Nickelodeon’s patented spirit of fun and surprising stories and characters – is just the first of up to a dozen properties that the brand is positioning for reboots or co-productions this year alone.

Valen-time to hang out with my best friends! ❤️❤️ @babs_buttman @jj_james0n

A post shared by Pinky Malinky (@pinky_malinky) on

“Proliferating distribution platforms create incremental demand for VIAB’s [Viacom’s] content because high-quality branded content is one of the most valuable forms of differentiation for competing distribution platforms,” Needham declared in a bullish March analysis of the company’s stock. “VIAB’s film and television libraries represent differentiated, globally scalable, long-lived content.”

Take, for example, Jack Ryan, the Tom Clancy action hero who fought his way through five Paramount Pictures films, starting with 1990’s The Hunt for Red October. The quintuplet of movies grossed hundreds of millions of dollars and still carries strong brand recognition and a built-in fanbase. But while there is no obvious basecamp for Ryan within Viacom’s current brand archipelago, his bulletproof vest is a perfect fit for Amazon Video, which will debut the 10-part Jack Ryan series in August.

This branching out into third-party content production has been subtly underway for some time, both in the United States and abroad. Paramount Television, the production arm of Paramount Pictures that is producing Jack Ryan, has quietly built a $400 million-per-year business from scratch by producing premium content like Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why and USA Network’s Shooter.

In May, Viacom International Studios (VIS) united the extensive production capabilities of wholly Viacom-owned Argentinian broadcaster Telefe and majority-owned Brazilian comedy brand Porta dos Fundos with Viacom’s Miami-based production operations, creating a multi-lingual machine that will develop, produce and distribute original content around the world. A matrix of SVOD, pay TV and free-to-air distribution deals will place VIS-produced long-form series (Borges on Netflix in Latin America), cinematic adaptations (Telefe’s Animal on Fox Networks’ platforms in Latin America), telenovelas (Vikki RPM on Caracol Televisión in Colombia), and co-productions (Club 57 on Rainbow Group in Italy and Nickelodeon elsewhere) in diverse markets and maximize the potential of formerly regional or local properties.

These licensing deals will therefore sprinkle tastes of Nickelodeon and MTV and Telefe and other Viacom properties throughout the global content ecosystem, while segmenting the full brand experience for consumers who subscribe to a Viacom linear or digital distributor. Even so, this nascent third-party production is already acting as a powerful growth driver as Viacom diversifies outside of its core television business under President and CEO Bob Bakish.

“Building on the success of Paramount Television and Telefe’s quickly growing production business, we’re going to much more aggressively tap into the huge demand for content and unlock more of our IP and production and creative capabilities to drive incremental revenues from third-party platforms,” Bakish said on Viacom’s second-quarter 2018 earnings call in April. “This isn’t just an idea. … there is a lot of interest from SVOD partners in licensing library properties from MTV and Nickelodeon IP for brand-new interpretations. At the same time, we’re also developing new IP for the sector and have already closed deals for brand-new original Nick IP and animation with third parties and we see more in the pipeline.”

BET’s New Slate of Programming Continues to Entertain, Empower and Engage Its Audience

BET is in tune with what African-American viewers want: high-end drama and comedy, along with more refined reality and hard-hitting investigative documentary series.

On Wednesday, April 17, BET announced its upcoming slate of programming for 2018-2019, which will include all-star talent and a dramatic increase in original content.

“Creating powerful, engaging and provocative content has been BET Networks’ legacy for decades,” said Connie Orlando, Head of Programming, BET Networks. “With the increase in our original programming slate for 2019, we’re committed more than ever to telling the most compelling and authentic stories about the Black experience.”

BET Networks President Scott Mills spoke to The Hollywood Reporter ahead of the announcement to discuss the network’s reorientation toward original, scripted content.

“Our new focus is on shows that are dramatic, character-driven, aspirational and authentically anchored in the African-American experience,” said Mills.

“We are confident that content in that vein is going to allow us to more consistently pull big audiences you’ve seen us pull with The New Edition Story, the BET Awards, Being Mary Jane and The Game.”

via GIPHY

Here’s a look at some upcoming programming:

Paramount Pictures’ Boomerang has boomeranged back from Viacom’s deep library

Eddie Murphy’s 1992 film Boomerang is being modernized into a 30-minute comedy series, which BET will partner with Paramount TV to produce. The show mines evergreen themes from the OG film like office politics, shown through the lens of today’s culture. Expect to see plotlines develop around gender roles and the relationship between Gen-X and millennials in the workplace.

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Who Needs Turkeys? CMT to Serve Up Chicken-Themed Treat for Thanksgiving Eve

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Have you ever heard a chicken being favorably compared to Paris Hilton?

Or being described as a warrior?

Or being analyzed for its behavior in its social cliques? Its cliques of, you know, other chickens?

Well, you will. And you will because you will watch CMT’s documentary Chicken People, a deeply engaging and human exploration of the surprisingly enormous world of prize chicken breeders. And when it’s all over, you will understand why the Ohio National Poultry Show is considered the Westminster of Chickens, and why the subjects of this film care so deeply about the competition that they dedicate enormous portions of their lives to cultivating the perfect fowl.

Critical reception has been strong since Chicken People, directed by Nicole Lucas Haimes, debuted at SXSW earlier this year before going on to screen at nearly a dozen other festivals, including Nashville, Seattle and Atlantic. Reviewers have responded favorably to the documentary’s success in distilling meaning from the sprawling, intricate and exacting world of competitive chicken breeding.

“As enthusiastic as [the other main characters] are, however, their narratives are overshadowed by the poignant story of Shari McCollough, a homemaker and mother of five (children, not chickens) from Crawford, Ind., who credits poultry breeding and competition with helping her overcome depression and alcoholism,” writes Variety’s Joe Leydon. “When she says, late in the documentary, ‘Chickens make me brave — they make me face fears head-on in life,’ her matter-of-fact sincerity carries an unexpectedly potent emotional wallop. Just as important, it encourages a viewer to consider just how common her attitude is among the other breeders.”

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Free Preview: Epix Launches Pair of Original Series – Spy Serial and Presidential Renaissance

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

You probably know Epix as a warehouse for the highlights of Hollywood weekends past. From 1917’s The Eye of Envy to recent releases Whisky Tango Foxtrot and Daddy’s Home, the depth and quality of the library is stunning (check it out here and try their awesome filtering tool).

But like Viacom brands CMT (Nashville, Still The King) and TV Land (Younger, Impastor, Teachers, Lopez – check out their glimmering new website), Epix is mixing original series into their lineup, starting with the duo of Berlin Station and Graves – and you can watch the first two episodes of each for free.

Graves is set in an alt-reality America where President Richard Graves (Nick Nolte) is stumbling through life decades after his two-term presidency ends. Tended by a flock of aides, security teams, and fellow politicians-in-retirement coordinated through his wife (Sela Ward), the 42nd president grumbles through his days with a despondent resignation. At the end of another day of labored tedium, the Republican folk hero sits alone in his palatial desert compound and Googles, “Who was the worst president in history?” The search results launch him into a frenzy of shocked self-realization that will reverberate across society. Check out the preview below, then watch the first two episodes here.

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Coming Right Up: More Incredible Content From Viacom

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

With some of the most well-known television networks in America and a major Hollywood studio in the Viacom family, we are constantly launching new original content, delivering new seasons of your favorite shows, or feeding your nostalgia with reboots of iconic characters. There’s so much, in fact, that it’s tough to keep track of it all. So we’ve put together the little calendar below to give you a sense of what you can expect from VH1, BET, CMT, Nickelodeon, and the rest of the Viacom family just through the end of August. We have new seasons of MTV’s Scream and TV Land’s The Jim Gaffigan Show, the CMT Music Awards and the Guys’ Choice Awards and the VMAs, and new original series, including Crashletes on Nick. The summer will be huge for Paramount, with new installments in the much-loved TMNT and Star Trek series, in addition to the visually stunning Ben-Hur – a calendar of their upcoming releases is below the Viacom chart.

The exact dates and names of series may change, but this much is certain: it is an excellent time here at Viacom.

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Paramount and Paramount TV Upcoming Releases Q2 2016 - 824