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.”

 

Snap Bows Original Programming

Social media app Snap Oct. 10 announced the launch of Snap Originals and the debut of serialized programming, including its first formal slate of scripted shows and docuseries from Bunim/Murray Productions, the Duplass Brothers and Brad Weston’s Makeready, as well as established film and television writers.

Snap also announced NBC Universal extended its content production commitments through 2019, and Viacom has committed to creating 10 new Snap Originals. Viacom also committed to syndicating at least 500 episodes of its network’s shows to the platform.

Snap Originals will be available on the app’s Discover page to Snapchat users globally. It is also introducing new product features that will make it easier for viewers to find, watch and interact with programming.

Every Show will have a dedicated profile page where users can find all available episodes and seasons to watch at once. Each ad-supported episode averages five minutes. Snap recently launched a six-second, non-skippable ad format.

The app has also created portals for several of its shows, enabling users to swipe up from an episode and literally walk into a scene and interact with the objects and characters. It has also developed custom interactive lenses that will enable users to share the show experience with their friends.

Since the beginning of the year, Snap said it has nearly tripled the time viewers spend engaging with its video programs.

“Over the last two years, our highly engaged and loyal audience has helped to define what mobile content should look like,” Nick Bell, VP of content at Snap, said in a statement.

The initial launch slate includes:

  • “Endless Summer”- (Bunim/Murray Productions) – Influencers Summer McKeen and Dylan Jordan try to balance love, friends, family, and fame in this intimate snapshot of their lives in Laguna Beach, California. Docuseries launches )ct. 10.
  • “Class of Lies”- (Makeready) – Best friends slash college roommates Devon and Missy crack cold cases on their successful true-crime podcast…but can they solve the most important case of all when their best friend disappears without a trace? Scripted series launches Oct. 10.
  • “Co-ed” (Duplass Brothers’ DBP Donut, Indigo Development and Entertainment Arts) – Juggling classes, parties, and down-the-hall crushes, freshman roommates Ginny and Chris try their best to face whatever college throws at them, discovering who they are along the way. Scripted series launches Oct. 10.
  • “Vivian” (NBCU Digital Lab, The Intellectual Property Corporation in association with Wilhelmina) – Vivian is the youngest model scout at Wilhelmina, one of the most prestigious modeling agencies in the world. She takes us inside this exclusive world where she has the power to make wannabes’ dreams come true — but can she do that for her own? Docuseries launches Oct. 22.
  • “The Dead Girls Detective Agency”- (Indigo Development and Entertainment Arts, Insurrection and Keshet) – This darkly comedic supernatural soap follows Charlotte Feldman, a young woman who must work from beyond to figure out how and why she died, in order to avoid an eternity in purgatory. Based on the young adult novel by Susie Cox. Scripted series launches Oct. 22.
  • “V/H/S”- (Indigo Development and Entertainment Arts and Studio 71) – The next generation of the horror anthology series, bringing four new frightening experiences to the palm of your hand. Scripted series launches Oct. 28.

Six additional series have already been greenlit for production.

 

 

Former Time Warner CEO Richard Parsons Named CBS Interim Chairman of the Board

CBS Sept. 25 announced it has named former Time Warner CEO Richard Parsons interim chairman of the board of directors – replacing chairman/CEO Les Moonves, who exited the company following allegations of inappropriate behavior in the workplace. The board unanimously approved the appointment, which was recommended by the board’s nominating and governance Committee.

“Dick Parsons has a combination of deep industry knowledge and unmatched corporate and board experience,” Candace Beinecke, chair of the nominating and governance committee, said in a statement. “We are fortunate to have Dick in this leadership role.”

Parsons, who stepped down as CEO of Time Warner in late 2007 – replaced by Jeff Bewkes  – has worn many corporate hats (including Citigroup) in a lengthy career that included a stint as interim CEO of the Los Angeles Clippers NBA franchise after former owner Donald Sterling was forced out following allegations of racist behavior.

CBS also announced that Bruce Gordon and William Cohen, who have served on the board of since CBS became a stand-alone public company in 2006, have decided to step down from their posts to focus on other personal and professional priorities. The board unanimously adopted a resolution to express its thanks and appreciation to Gordon and Cohen for their long and dedicated service to CBS, and to wish them well on their future endeavors.

Viacom Launching Ad-Supported Indian-Themed VOD Service in the U.K.

Viacom CEO Bob Bakish has vowed to expand the media conglomerate’s entertainment assets globally.

In November, Viacom 18 Media’s ad-supported Voot streaming video service will expand operations to the United Kingdom – the first of several planned international markets launches.

Viacom 18, which is majority (51%) owned by Mumbai, India’s TV18 and 49% by Viacom, will produce 18 original multi-lingual, multi-genre series for the platform through its Viacom 18 Motion Pictures unit. A news service is slated for as well.

“Voot is integral to our strategy as we gear up for a future-ready Viacom18 that is screen, platform and pipe agnostic,” Sudhanshu Vats, managing director at Voot, said in a statement. “We are building a digital-first brand to harness [our] strengths across its brands, creative franchises and businesses in multiple Indian languages.”

With an Indian origin population of around 1.8 million consumers, the U.K. market presents a significant opportunity for Voot to leverage.

Voot Originals will feature content across multiple genres, psychology, mystery, sports biopics, comedy, drama, thriller, politics, history, crime and suspense, among others.

“The digital medium brings us close to the consumer at a very personal level,” said Monika Shergill, head of content at Viacom18 Digital Ventures. “Our entire content strategy is based on a deep data backed analysis of the needs and desires of our consumers and their consumption preferences and patterns.”

Voot said it would also will also strengthen its user interactivity options with the adoption of Google Watch Action, an industry first in the Asia-Pacific region for premium OTT players. Voot’s platform will also employ Dolby Surround Sound for all original programming – a first for Indian-based OTT video services.

“At an execution level, we have been extremely lucky to be partnering with a galaxy of very talented and committed actors, writers and directors to bring forth our second bundle of Voot Originals,” said Shergill.

 

Viacom Upping Content Game

While Viacom remains ensnarled in the crosshairs of a power play between corporate parent National Amusements and CBS, the media giant has quietly ramped up original content creation and licensing.

Last month, the corporate shell to Paramount Pictures, MTV, Comedy Central, BET and Nickelodeon, among others, inked license agreements with Hulu, while reportedly signing up to create programming for Netflix.

Much of the latter through the recent launch of MTV Studios, which pledges to develop and produce a full slate of original programming with a focus on series, franchises and spin-offs that span MTV’s 35-year history.

With over 200 titles, MTV Studios has one of the largest libraries of young adult series and franchises. The initial production slate includes rebooted editions of animated series “Daria,” with writer Grace Edwards from “Inside Amy Schumer”; sci-fi series, “Aeon Flux” from “Teen Wolf” creator Jeff Davis; reality series, “The Real World”; and an update of the Emmy Award-winning coming of age unscripted series, “Made.”

The slate will include two new titles: “The Valley” (working title), a coming of age docuseries that follows a group of young friends growing up in the town of Nogales, Arizona, a city split in half, with one side in the United States and the other in Mexico.

Also included is “MTV’s Straight Up Ghosted,” which follows young people trying to reconnect with lost friends, lovers and family members and confront them about why they have been ghosted.

“With MTV Studios, we are for the first time ever opening up this vault beyond our own platforms to reimagine the franchises with new partners,” Chris McCarthy, president of MTV, said in a statement.

MTV claims to be the fastest growing network on TV, with viewership in prime time up 21% year-over-year. It generated 2.9 billion streams in 2018 and has amassed more than 350 million social followers globally.

 

 

Hulu Inks Library Deal With Viacom

In a new library agreement with Viacom, Hulu is now the exclusive streaming home to full libraries of series, including “Daria,” “Nathan for You,” “My Super Sweet 16” and “New Edition Story,” according to an announcement from the streaming service.

The deal also brings to Hulu 11 series from Nickelodeon and more than 20 films, including “Big Time Rush,” School of Rock, “Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn,” “Hunter Street,” “Make It Pop,” “Every Witch Way” and “WITS Academy.”

Also returning to Hulu will be series “Alvinnnn!!! and the Chipmunks,” ‘Kung Fu Panda” and “Penguins of Madagascar.”

“The new deal is part of Hulu’s commitment to expanding its library with programming for the whole family,” according to the announcement. “More series and films from Nickelodeon will continue to rollout throughout the year.”

CBS, Shari Redstone Clash Gets Oct. 3 Court Date

The legal skirmish between CBS and corporate parent National Amusements, which is led by co-owners Sumner Redstone and his daughter Shari Redstone (who runs the company in place of her ailing father), will gets its day in court on Oct. 3.

On that day, the Delaware Chancery Court will begin proceedings to determine whether CBS has the legal authority to flood shareholders with a dividend issuance that would reduce National Amusement’s voting power from 79% to 17%. The issuance would not undermine NAI’s stock ownership or market cap.

Shari Redstone responded to the CBS move by changing the company’s bylaws and requiring 90% approval vote by the board of directors on such matters.

At issue is Ms. Redstone’s desire to meld CBS with Viacom, whose assets include Paramount Pictures, BET, MTV, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central, among others.

Les Moonves, who heads CBS, has been lukewarm to the idea. Moonves, who would head the combined company, wants to install his own management team, including COO Joseph Inniello as his second-in-command.

Redstone wants to put Bob Bakish, current CEO of Viacom, in that position.

CBS, which delayed its annual shareholder meeting due to the conflict, has rescheduled it for August 10.

 

Nickelodeon President Cyma Zarghami Departs

Nickelodeon June 4 announced that longtime president Cyma Zarghami is stepping down after more than 30 years with the network. As Zarghami exits, Nickelodeon claims to have the highest share of total viewing in kids’ television.

While Viacom conducts a search for a successor, Sarah Levy, COO of Viacom Media Networks, will lead the brand on an interim basis.

Levy will work with Nickelodeon’s management team to launch a pipeline of more than 800 new episodes and accelerate the brand’s push into new and next-generation streaming platforms, film, live experiences and consumer products.

Zarghami joined Nickelodeon in 1985 and was named president in 2006. Under her leadership, Nickelodeon became a global brand for kids, spanning linear and multiplatform programming, film, live experiences and consumer products.

“Over the course of her career, Cyma has played an integral role in growing Nickelodeon into the dominant force in kids’ entertainment,” Bob Bakish, CEO of Viacom, said in a statement. “Her instincts for creating content and experiences that kids love have been vital to the brand’s success around the world.”

Upon assuming control of Viacom, Bakish said the media company would focus ongoing efforts on select brands, that include Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon and Nick Jr., among others.

“We continue to evolve the business and connect with young audiences in new and innovative ways,” Bakish said. “I want to extend my deepest gratitude to Cyma for her leadership and wish her every success.”

CBS Postpones Annual Shareholder Meeting

CBS canceled its planned May 18 annual shareholder meeting following a week of litigation and drama between the media giant and its majority shareholder National Amusements, which is headed by Shari Redstone and her ailing 94-year-old father Sumner Redstone.

On May 17, the board of directors of CBS voted 11-3 to dilute the voting power of National Amusements from 80% to 20%. That vote was largely for naught since Shari Redstone – before the board vote – changed the company’s bylaws, requiring a supermajority vote to enact changes by the board.

“CBS management and the special committee cannot wish away the reality that CBS has a controlling shareholder [i.e. National Amusements],” Shari Redstone said in a statement. “NAI yesterday exercised its legal right to amend the company’s bylaws to require a supermajority vote on certain board actions with respect to dividends, effective immediately. In light of the Board’s action today, that action was plainly necessary, and it is valid.”

Indeed, a judge from the Delaware Chancery Court May 17 ruled against CBS’ request for a temporary restraining order prohibiting the Redstones from blocking the expected CBS board vote diluting their voting power.

In the rapidly changing media landscape, Shari Redstone is seeking to re-merge CBS and Viacom, with Viacom CEO Bob Bakish assuming the No. 2 position to CBS CEO Les Moonves. The latter reportedly has no real interest in CBS rejoining Viacom, including assets Paramount Pictures, BET, MTV, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central, among others.

Judge Denies CBS Restraining Order in Merger Battle with Redstones

A judge in the Delaware Court of Chancery May 17 denied a restraining order request by CBS Corp. to stop majority shareholders Shari Redstone and her ailing 94-year-old father Sumner Redstone from blocking an expected CBS board vote later today that would dilute the Redstones’ voting power.

The judge’s ruling means Shari Redstone can override a planned move by CBS to thwart the Redstones’ stranglehold on board votes by reducing their 70% voting stake to 18%.

CBS issued a statement saying the judge’s decision would not keep it from pursuing what was in the best interest of its shareholders.

“The ruling clearly recognizes that we may bring further legal action to challenge any actions by [the Redstones] that we consider to be un lawful,” the company said in a statement.

In the rapidly changing media landscape, Shari Redstone is seeking to re-merge CBS and Viacom, with Viacom CEO Bob Bakish assuming the No. 2 position to CBS CEO Les Moonves. The latter, who has no real interest in rejoining Viacom, including assets Paramount Pictures, BET, MTV, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central, among others, wants to install his own senior management.