ViacomCBS Promotes Bruce Gillmer to President of Music

ViacomCBS June 11 named Bruce Gillmer president of music, music talent, programming and events at ViacomCBS Media Networks, effective immediately.

Reporting to CEO Bob Bakish, Gillmer will be tasked guiding the media company’s strategy to align and optimize all music-driven initiatives across ViacomCBS.

“Music is a thread uniting many of our brands, and I’m confident he will maximize the full power of our combined company’s portfolio to bring ViacomCBS’s global music events and programming to new heights,” Bakish said in a statement.

Bruce Gillmer

Gillmer will form and chair a new cross-company initiative to coordinate ViacomCBS’s music programming, talent and events strategy. He will also lead the strategy for and development of music content on ViacomCBS’s expanded streaming offering.

Additionally, Gillmer will continue to oversee music talent, development and programming of music content, series and specials, and tentpole events for ViacomCBS’s Entertainment & Youth Brands, which include MTV, Comedy Central, CMT, Logo, VH1, Pop TV, Paramount Network and Smithsonian Channel, and ViacomCBS Networks International (VCNI).

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This includes the creation and execution of worldwide music events, including the MTV VMAs, MTV EMAs and, now, the MTV Movie & TV Awards. Internationally, he will expand his remit to manage priority events across the brand portfolio.

The music and events, celebrity talent and creative music teams across ViacomCBS entertainment and youth brands will report into Gillmer along with the MTV International music and talent teams.

Gillmer most recently served as head of global music and EV of music and talent, programming and events for Viacom International Media Networks. He and his team created and produced numerous music series, specials and initiatives, most recently MTV Fresh Out Live!; the reimagined, local versions of YO! MTV Raps in countries around the world; MTV documentary series “The Ride”; “MTV Push”, a global initiative to spotlight new music talent; and many others.

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Gillmer has engineered many culturally defining moments in music, including the U2 and Jay-Z collaboration at the Brandenburg Gate for the 2009 MTV EMAs, and performances by artists ranging from Lady Gaga to Andrea Bocelli. He has executive produced some of the world’s largest music events, including several MTV VMAs and 13 MTV EMAs.

Prior to his international and global roles, Gillmer was SVP of music and talent relations for VH1 in the U.S., where he was involved in the co-development and production of VH1 DIVAS LIVE; VH1 Hip Hop Honors; VH1 Fashion Awards; Behind the Music; and a variety of other shows, series and events. He began his career in the MTV Music and talent department in 1987, working on iconic series and specials including Headbangers Ball, MTV Spring Break, YO! MTV Raps and more.

Viacom Expands Distribution Deal with Virgin Media to Include Pluto TV

Viacom International Media Networks and Virgin Media Oct. 7 announced an expanded content distribution agreement for the United Kingdom and Ireland.

In addition to live, on-demand and streaming rights to MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr. and Paramount Network, the new deal includes access to Pluto TV — the $340 million ad-supported VOD service Viacom acquired earlier this year.

The Pluto brands includes Pluto TV Drama, Pluto TV Romance and Pluto TV Crime, among 60 channels.

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“This renewed and broadened partnership with Virgin Media speaks to the strength of our brands and content, as well as our investment in new streaming apps, which will allow Virgin Media customers to access their favorite Viacom content in new ways,” Arran Tindall, SVP, commercial and content distribution, for Viacom International Media Networks, said in a statement.

The deal also includes first-time Virgin access to Viacom’s U.K. apps My5 (Channel 5, including content from A+E and PBS America)) and MTV Play.

The pact includes on-demand access to U.K. reality series “Geordie Shore,” “Inside Amy Schumer,” “SpongeBob SquarePants” and “Paw Patrol,” among others.

“This is great news for our customers who can continue to enjoy Viacom’s diverse range of channels and content,” David Bouchier, chief digital entertainment officer at Virgin Media, said. “The inclusion of three brand new apps will give our customers greater flexibility to watch their favorite shows at a time that suits them.”

 

Viacom Expands Pluto TV Access to Android Devices in Europe

Viacom has expanded access to its ad-supported streaming video service, Pluto TV, on Android devices in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

Pluto TV will be available via its app on Google Play and connected televisions.

Acquired earlier this year for $340 million, Pluto TV represents Viacom’s most-ambitious attempt to expand brand awareness and exposure in the over-the-top video ecosystem worldwide.

Viacom brands include Paramount Pictures, BET, MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon.

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With Netflix and Amazon Prime Video dominating the SVOD market, Viacom contends free ad-supported streaming video represents a competitive alternative.

Pluto TV users in Germany, Austria and Switzerland have access to more than 30 thematically-curated channels, including Pluto TV Movies, KultKrimi and recently-launched Comedy Central Pluto TV and Comedy Central — Made in Germany.

Pluto TV in the U.K. features more than 60 channels, including Pluto TV Movies, Pluto TV Indies, Pluto TV Inside and Pluto TV Crime.

Pluto TV launched earlier this month on Apple TV and iOS, and is now available on all major mobile devices and TVs.

Olivier Jollet, managing director Europe, Pluto TV, said that as today’s media consumption diversifies, premium video content isn’t limited to the TV.

“With the launch on Android tablets and mobile devices, Pluto TV is available right in our users’ pocket … on the couch, on their daily commute or at their holiday destination.”

Pluto TV Ups Viacom Programming Slate

Viacom-owned ad-supported online TV streaming service Pluto TV Aug. 6 unveiled a new slate of genre and “pop-up” channels rolling out throughout the month with content licensed from Viacom’s IP library.

Viacom, which owns and operates Paramount Pictures, acquired Los Angeles-based Pluto TV earlier this year for $340 million.

This marks the latest installment of Viacom channels for Pluto TV this year, featuring original programming from BET, CMT, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Spike and TV Land separate from the pay-TV ecosystem.

The new channels include a lineup of 150+ live, linear, curated channels and thousands of on-demand movies from studios, networks, publishers and digital media companies.

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Genre channels feature differentiated programming from Viacom’s brands that include music videos, comedy, drama, and reality. Pop-Up channels are themed around high-profile, live entertainment events showcasing programming from past years and previews of what’s to come.

Streaming channels include “MTV VMA,” “CMT Cheerleaders,” “Comedy Central Roast,” “TV Land Sitcoms,” “TV Land Drama,” “MTV Wild ‘N Out,” “MTV Ridiculousness,” “MTV The Challenge,” “MTV Cribs” and “Are You the One?”

“With this new slate of Viacom channels, Pluto TV continues to deliver on the promise of extending iconic Viacom brands and content to a growing streaming audience,” Tom Ryan, CEO and co-founder of Pluto TV, said in a statement. “We saw an incredible response to the Viacom channels we launched earlier this year and are excited to be able to expand the offering with even more programming and events including the revival of music videos on streaming television with the launch of the first three of many MTV-branded music video channels.”

 

Viacom Takes Paramount+ Streaming Service to Latin America; Inks CNN Content Deal with Pluto TV

Viacom International Media Networks is set to expand the Paramount+ streaming video platform to Latin America.

The SVOD service, which first launched in Scandinavia (in response to HBO Nordics in 2017 and later in Central and Eastern Europe – known as Paramount Play), will become available May 1 in Brazil in a partnership with telecom NET, followed by wider distribution through a mobile deal with America Movil.

Paramount+ affords Viacom and Paramount Pictures international streaming distribution of more than 150 movies and original TV shows, including “Yellowstone,” starring Kevin Costner, “The Handmaids’ Tale” (available exclusively on Hulu in the U.S.), in addition to branded content from MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon and Nick Jr.

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“By forging partnerships with the world’s leading operators and distributors, we are able to bring Viacom’s premium content to new global audiences,” David Lynn, president and CEO of Viacom International Media Networks, said in a media statement. “As the media landscape continues to evolve, we will aggressively innovate to expand our partner offerings, including Paramount+, across our massive global footprint.”

Indeed, while Paramount+ represents Viacom’s aggressive strategy to close the digital divide with rival studios, following the recent purchase of Pluto TV, Viacom is fortifying the ad-supported VOD platform with proprietary and third-party content.

Pluto TV just announced a new channel launch featuring content from WarnerMedia’s CNN – which itself is planning an OTT video product in 2020.

“At a time when news cycles are never-ending, in a world that is constantly evolving, CNN’s coveted daily reporting and in-depth features are perfect for our audience to be informed, with immediacy, accuracy and ease,” Amy Kuessner, SVP of content partnerships at Pluto TV, said in a statement. “Pluto TV’s mission to ‘entertain the planet’ also means informing the planet of what is going on in the world, and there is no better partner than the most trusted name in news.”

MTV Hires Bleacher Report’s Rory Brown as Head of Digital

Viacom-owned MTV April 8 named Rory Brown to the newly created position of head of digital and social for MTV, VH1, CMT and Logo.

Brown will be responsible for building on MTV’s brand resurgence, which now includes MTV Studios, live events “Spring Break” and the SnowGlobe Music Festival, cable channels, digital and social content.

Rory Brown

Brown reports directly to Jacqueline Parkes, chief marketing officer and EVP of digital studios for MTV, VH1, CMT and Logo, and work closely with Viacom Digital Studios.

Most recently, Brown served as president of sports-themed Bleacher Report, a role in which he oversaw content, product, social, programming as well as the “House of Highlights” team.

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During his 10 years with the company, Brown helped it grow from a 13-person team and two million monthly unique visitors to more than one billion monthly social interactions, nine figures in annual revenue and more than 450 employees worldwide.

“Rory has a powerful vision for how to connect with audiences where they live, on their terms and across platforms, and he made the closely guarded world of sports work for millennials and gen-Z in a way that legacy brands never could,” Parkes said in a statement. “With 250 million followers, MTV is the biggest youth media brand on social media, and we’re very excited to see what Rory creates for our fans across our massive footprint.”

Under Brown’s leadership, Bleacher Report and House of Highlights consistently ranked among the most viewed brands with the mostly highly engaged audience on social media.

Bleacher Report is #1 in social engagements among all sports networks (Listen First) and is the #1 media and entertainment brand on Twitter, with nearly 200 million monthly video views (Tubular).

Brown oversaw many of the original series and initiatives that drove Bleacher Report’s explosive growth, including “Game of Zones,” “The Champions” and “No Script with Marshawn Lynch.” He also served on the House of Highlights board of directors.

Viacom Inks Content Distribution Deal with T-Mobile

T-Mobile and Viacom April 3 announced they have entered into a content distribution agreement. Under terms of the deal, Viacom’s brands — MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, BET, Nickelodeon, Paramount — will play a key role in T-Mobile’s pending mobile video services to consumers later this year.

The deal enables T-Mobile to bring together live linear feeds of Viacom channels as well as a broad range of on-demand content to serve the carrier’s nearly 80 million customers.

“TV programming has never been better, but consumers are fed up with rising costs, hidden fees, lousy customer service, non-stop BS,” John Legere, CEO of T-Mobile, said in a statement. And ‘Macgyvering’ together a bunch of subscriptions, apps and dongles isn’t much better.”

T-Mobile CEO John Legere

For Viacom, the agreement is another strategic effort to expand the media giant’s lagging digital footprint. The company recently acquired ad-supported VOD service Pluto TV.

‘[It] marks a major step forward in our strategy to accelerate the presence of our brands on mobile and other next-generation platforms,” said Viacom CEO Bob Bakish.

Last year, T-Mobile acquired cable TV disruptor Layer3 TV, and with that team, talent and technology, the company has been readying its first wave of home and mobile TV offerings.

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In recent months, T-Mobile executives have shared some of the company’s plans to launch first with an in-home TV solution, designed to replace cable for the 5G era, and longer term, executives say the company will introduce mobile TV services beginning with Viacom as a cornerstone launch partner.

 

Facebook Bringing Back ‘The Real World’ Reality TV Show

MTV Studios, a subsidiary of Viacom’s MTV, Oct. 17 announced a partnership with Facebook to reboot reality TV pioneer “The Real World for three new seasons debuting in spring 2019.

Originally created for MTV in 1992 by Jonathan Murray and the late Mary-Ellis Bunim of Bunim/Murray Productions, “MTV’s The Real World” was a trailblazing social experiment. It was the first reality series on TV and the first to tackle culturally resonant stories about HIV/AIDS, race, mental health, homophobia, addiction, and more — including the first bisexual man on a TV series, the first televised same-sex commitment ceremony.

Drawing on Facebook’s global platform, the new seasons will base productions in Mexico, Thailand and the United States, respectively, to explore “friendship” and the cultural and social environment in each country.

Available exclusively on on-demand streaming video platform Facebook Watch, the new seasons will introduce interactive social and community features that will enable viewers to shape the action and connect across mobile, desktop and Facebook’s TV app.

Bunim/Murray Productions is co-producing the new seasons with MTV Studios and pre-production is underway in each location.

Facebook users will have the ability to vote one housemate onto the show prior to air, and there will be opportunities for viewers to connect with the cast through Facebook Live, Premieres, and Watch Party. Facebook Watch will also release daily drops of scenes from forthcoming episodes leading into the weekly half-hour premiere. Additional social elements will be introduced prior to launch and throughout the seasons.

“‘MTV’s The Real World’ helped to define a generation and created a new genre of television with a simple yet powerful idea of connecting people from wildly divergent backgrounds to find common ground on the issues that often divided them,” Chris McCarthy, president of MTV, said in a statement. “By partnering with Facebook Watch and BMP, we have the opportunity to impact culture and create a new genre of television all over again, while engaging the next generation of content consumers around the world.”

 

Viacom CEO: We’re Seeing Incredible Turnaround at Paramount

Among major studios, Paramount Pictures has taken an outsized share of fiscal hits in recent years — only generating its first operating profit since 2015 in March.

Speaking Sept. 12 at Goldman Sachs 27th Annual Communacopia confab in New York, Bob Bakish, CEO of corporate parent Viacom, said Paramount is a very different place today — thanks in part to a trio of theatrical hits and increased television content production, among other initiatives.

Specifically, low budget titles A Quiet Place and romantic comedy Book Club, together with Mission: Impossible – Fallout, the sixth installment in the Tom Cruise-starring franchise, overperformed at the box office – with A Quiet Placeand Book Club now generating significant sellthrough revenue.

Indeed, A Quiet Place grossed more than $188 million domestically, making it the second-highest grossing horror film in the U.S. over the past decade. The film has earned more than $332 million worldwide with a production cost of approximately $20 million.

Released in May 2018, Book Club earned more than $68 million at the domestic box office — more than six times its $10 million acquisition cost. The titles were released in retail (digital and physical) channels on July 10 and Aug. 28, respectively.

“Both those films are killing it in transactions for us right now,” Bakish said.

The executive said that when combined with the global box office of Fallout– the largest in Mission: Impossible franchise history, Paramount has turned the fiscal corner.

“Take those three things together, and there’s no question the [Paramount] mountain is back,” Bakish said.

In addition to movies, Paramount Television has upped content production from nine series on broadcast and online to 16 shows this year and is poised to generate $400 million in revenue.

Notable series include “13 Reasons Why” for Netflix; “The Alienist” for TNT and “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan” from Amazon Prime Video. Original movie production for third-party SVOD players has begun with announcements pending, according to Bakish.

“Paramount is not only back in the TV production business, it’s a hit maker,” said Bakish. “It’s a great opportunity.”

What Viacom is not doing is developing a mass market SVOD service to compete with Netflix.

“That business is looking more and more crowded,” Bakish said. “It is a very capital-intensive game if you look what program expenses at those platforms are.”

Instead Viacom is approaching over-the-top video with strategy targeting niche SVOD services such as Noggin.com and distribution through third-party platforms such as Amazon Channels.

“Putting Noggin on Amazon Channels more than doubled subs rather quickly,” Bakish said. “And we’re in the late stages of adding other distributors. We think that’s a very effective strategy.”

Viacom is launching an ad-supported OTT video service featuring library content, and creating third-party licensed content featuring Viacom brands MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, BET, etc.

Bakish says its “part promotion, part revenue,” with digital initiatives produced under Viacom Digital Studios, which launched nine months ago.

“We’re feeling very good about the momentum we have going into the [current] fourth quarter. We are very focused on operating the assets we already own. It’s a quest for scale both inside and outside the company,” he said.