MTV Doc Films Acquires ‘Pay or Die’ to Stream on Paramount+ After Hitting Theaters

MTV Documentary Films has acquired worldwide rights to the documentary feature Pay or Die

The film will serve as the closing night event at the upcoming Human Rights Watch Film Festival in New York City on June 8. MTV Documentary Films is planning a theatrical release later this year before the film’s streaming premiere launch on Paramount+. 

Directed and produced by award-winning directors Scott Alexander Ruderman and Rachael Dyer, the film explores the fact that there are nearly 2 million Americans living with diabetes being held hostage by the pharmaceutical industry, as many cannot afford insulin and the cost to patients in America soars. Without this life-sustaining drug, they will be dead in days. The film follows families struggling to afford their medications and reveals the harrowing reality of living with a chronic illness in the richest country in the world. From a mother-and-daughter struggling to rebuild their lives after spending their rent money on insulin, to a young adult diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes during the COVID-19 pandemic, to a Minnesota family thrust into the national spotlight when their 26-year-old son dies from rationing his insulin, Pay or Die highlights this devastating struggle to survive while living with diabetes.

“This film, in the tradition of documentaries that nudge the world, exposes the astronomical and unconscionable costs of life saving drugs. The big business of Pharma rules over whether the afflicted will live or die,” said executive producer Sheila Nevins in a statement.

Pay or Die plays like a horror film that’s both urgent and harrowing; a must see that will leave viewers on the edge of their seats in utter disbelief” Nina L. Diaz and Liza Burnett Fefferman, co-heads of MTV Documentary Films, said in a statement.

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“Knowing that Americans are dying trying to afford the same lifesaving medication that keeps me alive left Rachael and me enraged,” filmmakers Ruderman and Dyer said in a statement. “As filmmakers, we knew we had to highlight this social injustice. Our film, Pay or Die will serve as a cautionary tale for the whole world to understand what happens when healthcare is treated too much like a business and not a public service. We are honored to join forces with MTV Documentary Films to strengthen the voices that need to be heard so change can be made.”

‘Yo! MTV Raps’ to Return on Paramount+ With Hosts Conceited and DJ Diamond Kuts

Paramount+ announced that battle rapper Conceited and DJ Diamond Kuts will host the return of the hip-hop series “Yo! MTV Raps.”

From MTV Entertainment Studios, the reimagined global iteration will include hosted segments, live performances, cyphers and lifestyle content, and serve as a comprehensive deep dive into the current state of hip hop, according to a press release. As previously announced, the series will premiere on Paramount+ in the United States and in all international markets where the streaming service is available.

“Yo! MTV Raps” debuted 33 years ago on Aug. 6, 1988. 

“’Yo! MTV Raps’ is truly one of the most groundbreaking, iconic music series to date,” Bruce Gillmer, chief content officer of music at Paramount+ and president of music, music talent, programming and events at Paramount, said in a statement. “The wildly popular franchise introduced hip hop to the world and along the way helped launch the careers of countless artists. Conceited and DJ Diamond Kuts are the perfect pair to bring new life and energy to our storied past, as we merge the show’s legacy with the fresh faces of hip hop’s present and future, taking ‘Yo!’ worldwide to a whole new generation of fans on Paramount+.”

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Reggie “Conceited” Sergile, is a multifaceted artist best known for being a battle rapper in the SMACK/URL circuit and as one of the recurring cast members of the franchise “Wild ‘N Out.” Hailing from Brooklyn, N.Y., he earned his fame in the “Motherland of Urban Renaissance” in Harlem, N.Y. His first major-league battle took place in fall of 2009 alongside battle rap legends such as Murda Mook and Loaded Lux’s at the Lion’s Den. Across all social platforms he has surpassed more than 30 million online views. In February 2020, Conceited began hosting the MTV internet series “Sneaker Wars,” posted on the “Wild ‘N Out” YouTube channel.

Hailing from Philadelphia, DJ Diamond Kuts is the first female mixer to have a DJ slot on Philadelphia radio, along with being the official DJ for the Philadelphia Eagles. Over her career she’s DJed for political campaigns, including President Barack Obama. Diamond has toured with various artists, such as Nicki Minaj, and has appeared on and worked for numerous television networks and shows such as BET, “Good Morning America,” and others. Diamond has been featured on worldwide promo campaigns for NYX cosmetics and Dove and produced music for chart-topping artists and Disney Records. 

Executive producers for the series include Kurt Williamson, Warren Oliver and Michelle Kenner of HollandWest Productions. Kim Velona is head of production. Bruce Gillmer and Jennifer Demme serve as executive producers for MTV.

Hulu + Live TV Adds Nine ViacomCBS Networks

Hulu + Live TV is adding nine ViacomCBS networks to its channel lineup, including Comedy Central, BET, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr, VH1, CMT, MTV, TV Land and the Paramount Network.

Subscribers will also have on-demand access to TV series titles such as “Freaks & Geeks,” “Moesha” and “Sister Sister.”

Monthly subscription pricing for Hulu + Live TV will remain at $64.99 per month.

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Five ViacomCBS networks — BETher, MTV2, NickToons, TeenNick and MTV Classic — will join Hulu’s entertainment add-on.

Hulu + Live TV offers more than 65 live TV channels, plus the core Hulu on-demand service (normally $5.99 per month as a standalone offering).

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.