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Viacom to Put ‘Full Power’ Behind ‘Flagship’ Networks

15 Feb, 2017 By: Doug McPherson

NEW YORK – Viacom has unveiled a plan to put a laser-like focus on six “flagship” networks with global revenue potential in linear TV, digital, off-channel, and theatrical.

“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.”

These flagship networks are: BET, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., and Spike (which will be rebranded as Paramount early next year). Missing from the list are such longtime Viacom stalwarts as VH1, CMT, Spike, and TV Land.

Bob Bakish, Viacom’s new president and CEO, says those are still “strong networks” and “will not go away, but they don’t necessarily have global or theatrical potential.” Still, they will lose some of their resources. “This is about focusing resources to drive the highest possible performance,” Bakish said. “It’s not a light switch for those to be shutting down.”

Viacom says the focus on the six networks is just one leg of a five-point plan to “chart a new course.” The remaining four points:

1.     Revitalize and elevate its approach to content and talent.

2.     Deepen partnerships to drive traditional revenue.

3.     Make big moves in the digital world and physical world.

4.     Continue to optimize and energize the organization.

Viacom also plans to launch a short-form content unit, and will increase live experiences and consumer products, which the company said would create “valuable new channels for marketing, talent development and connecting with audiences.”

Bakish, who was named Viacom’s permanent CEO in December, has been open about the company’s need to mend relationships with distributors.

Cynthia Littleton, managing editor for TV news at Variety, says Viacom’s suite of 25 domestic cable channels is “out of sync” with industry trends at a time when traditional MVPDs are facing a host of competitive pressures and upstart digital distributors are focused on assembling smaller channel bundles at lower price-points for consumers.

About the Author: Doug McPherson

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