Viacom today unveiled its new strategic vision moving forward, and it doesn’t necessarily bode well for VH1, CMT or Spike.
As part of today’s earnings announcement, Viacom revealed that it would put its “full power” behind six flagship brands: BET, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr. and Paramount.
Left out of the “flagship” group is VH1, Spike, CMT, TV Land, Nick at Nite, Logo, Nicktoons, TeenNick, Channel 5 in the U.K., and Telefe in Argentina.
“These six brands each have compelling, valuable and distinct brand propositions. They serve diverse, substantial audiences with largely-owned content, have global reach and distribution potential across linear, digital, film, and consumer products, events and experiences,” the company said in a statement. “Viacom's other brands—some of which hold strong positions in their categories and maintain diverse and loyal followings—will be realigned to reinforce the six flagship brands.”
During today's call, Viacom CEO Bob Bakish was careful to say the move was not a “light switch turning off a whole bunch of networks,” but more of a refocus of Viacom’s efforts on the most successful networks.
Most notably in terms of realignment will be Spike’s rebranding as The Paramount Network, which will take place in early 2018.
The Paramount Network plans to use Spike's programming and use other Viacom original scripted and non-scripted programming, and incorporate more original and third-party programming.
Bakish said The Paramount Network will benefit from increased production capital within the media networks segment.
“There [are] no contractual problems with the rebrand of Spike,” Bakish said, adding that the channel already includes a relatively high volume of films on its schedule.
Viacom today also announced plans to create a new dedicated short-form content unit to work on existing programming and new original intellectual property (IP).
For Paramount, Viacom intends for the studio to launch cobranded releases from each of the flagships. First up, Viacom announced a commitment between Nickelodeon and Paramount to produce four films, with the first of these films, "Amusement Park," scheduled for release in summer 2018 alongside a new TV series on Nickelodeon the following year.