ViacomCBS to Acquire Stake in Spanish-Language Content Producer

ViacomCBS Networks International (VCNI) has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire a majority stake in the Spanish-language content producer Fox TeleColombia & Estudios TeleMexico from The Walt Disney Co. and the founding family of Fox TeleColombia & Estudios TeleMexico.

ViacomCBS International Studios’ VIS, a division of VCNI, will operate Fox TeleColombia & Estudios TeleMexico as a collaborative partnership with the founding family. The transaction is subject to regulatory approval and customary closing conditions.

Through this transaction, VCNI will gain access to Fox TeleColombia & Estudios TeleMexico’s studio operations in both Colombia and Mexico, as well as many hours of library content, including premium series, telenovelas, films, documentaries, unscripted, kids and family, branded and digital content, and live sports shows produced for various audiences. This content will fuel ViacomCBS’s global streaming platforms including Paramount+ and Pluto TV, and its linear networks around the world, according to the company. Fox TeleColombia & Estudios TeleMexico will also bolster ViacomCBS’ Spanish-language content production capabilities to capitalize on significant content demand in the region and worldwide, the company noted.

“The acquisition of Fox TeleColombia & Estudios TeleMexico, combined with ViacomCBS’s existing Spanish-language portfolio including Telefe and Chilevisión, reinforces the company’s position as a leading worldwide producer of Spanish-language content,” Raffaele Annecchino, president and CEO, ViacomCBS Networks International, said in a statement. “This content will fuel ViacomCBS’ global ecosystem across Paramount+, Pluto TV and its linear networks.”

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“This announcement is very fulfilling and I feel very honored that Fox TeleColombia & Estudios TeleMexico will continue its expansion and growth in the hands of such an amazing company as ViacomCBS and its talented and visionary executives,” Samuel Duque Rozo, founder and CEO of Fox TeleColombia & Estudios TeleMexico, said in a statement. “The extraordinary work that our team has made during all these years, combined with ViacomCBS’s vision, iconic brands, experience, professionalism, creativity among much more, will bring nothing less but the best for both businesses.”

Rozo will continue to exclusively support the business from a creative and strategic advisory position, and Samuel Duque Duque, current president, will lead the business. Fox TeleColombia & Estudios TeleMexico will fall under the remit of Juan “JC” Acosta, President of ViacomCBS International Studios and Networks Americas.

The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

ViacomCBS Launching Nickelodeon-Branded Kids SmartWatch

ViacomCBS Networks International (VCNI), a division of ViacomCBS, June 29 unveiled the first-ever connected smart “NickWatch” by Nickelodeon at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

This new family-centric wearable device, manufactured by Israeli technology startup Watchinu, offers entertainment and communication safety features. Pricing, retail and distribution partners, as well as market availability, will be announced at a later date by VCNI. The device will be available for purchase in 2022.

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“This strategic product launch will leverage our IP and content to further strengthen our position … with diverse consumer touchpoints creating a new immersive experience,” Raffaele Annecchino, CEO of ViacomCBS Networks International, said in a statement.

The NickWatch aims to provide a direct line of communication to family and friends, promote physical activity, independence and help kids explore their world. Each device comes with the smart watch body, two watch bands (one Nickelodeon band and one more adult, premium band) and a character-led charging base.

The product aims to promote a healthy lifestyle for kids by promoting physical and social play activities. Kids can play alone or with friends who have a NickWatch to set off on the same quest together.

Entertainment based on Nickelodeon IP will include photo filters, motion sound effects and musical instruments that play out according to hand movements. Regular content updates with new games, new stickers, and new sound effects will be added on an ongoing basis.

The platform will allow two primary modes of communication: text and voice. The parent or caregiver can text the child from their phone, and kids can respond with pre-written responses, voice-to-text, emojis, or photos. The child can also call their parents/contacts within their directory, and they can receive incoming calls from pre-selected contacts. Caregivers can create group threads and can also send sticker messages, timers, reminders, photos, voice messages, and create polls.

Kids and parents can stay connected via a map feature that will allow the latter to see the current location of everyone in the family via GPS, Wi-Fi and cellular towers, by downloading the app on their device.

ViacomCBS, Rakuten Ink Streaming, Content, E-Commerce Deal in Japan

ViacomCBS Networks International and Rakuten Group April 20  announced the signing of a long-term agreement, which includes the launch of Nick+, Nickelodeon’s kids’ streaming service, on Rakuten’s video-on-demand platform Rakuten TV in Japan, covering mobile, STB/dongle, Web and smart-TV devices. The partnership also includes the creation of a dedicated Nickelodeon zone on e-commerce platform Rakuten Ichiba.

“The integration of Nick+ and the Nickelodeon digital storefront into the Rakuten ecosystem will enable us to create an interconnected Nickelodeon experience for consumers and leverage strategic cross-platform promotional opportunities,” Raffaele Annecchino, CEO of ViacomCBS Networks International, said in a statement.

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Nick+ is planned for launch on Rakuten TV on April 28. Kids and families will be able to watch on demand favorite shows such as “SpongeBob SquarePants,” “Paw Patrol,” “Blaze and the Monster Machines,” “Bubble Guppies,” “Dora the Explorer,” “Blue’s Clues & You!,” “Deer Squad,” “The Loud House,” “Game Shakers,” “The Thundermans” and more.

Rakuten will host the first-ever Nickelodeon digital storefront in Asia on Rakuten Ichiba, showcasing a collection of select Nickelodeon products from multiple merchants. Products will cover multiple categories, including fashion, stationery and collectibles. The digital Nickelodeon storefront launch is planned for May.

ViacomCBS Networks International Promotes Olivier Jollet to SVP of Streaming Strategy & Business Development

ViacomCBS Networks International Feb. 22 announced the promotion of Olivier Jollet to SVP of strategy and business development, streaming and head of mobile. The move was prefaced last September when Jollet was upped to SVP of emerging business — a new business unit that includes AVOD, SVOD and mobile services.

Jollet will be responsible for defining and developing the streaming strategy and business development priorities across VCNI and securing partnerships to drive growth and revenue. He will also continue to expand VCNI’s mobile business, including 5G and the Internet of Things.

Based in Berlin, Jollet reports to Kelly Day, president of streaming and COO of VCNI, and Jeff Shultz, chief strategy officer and chief business development officer of streaming at ViacomCBS.

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“As the company prepares for the upcoming international rollout of Paramount+ in Latin America, the Nordics and the continued expansion of Pluto TV internationally, elevating Olivier to this new role will enable us to further strengthen our strategy and new market development,” Day said in a statement. “Olivier’s digital expertise and business acumen is critical to our senior leadership team as we expand our integrated ecosystem and continue to deliver an exceptional consumer entertainment experience.”

Jollet previously worked as European managing director for Pluto TV, where he helped launch the first free ad-supported streaming television service in the U.K., Germany, Switzerland and Austria.

Raffaele Annecchino Upped to CEO of ViacomCBS Networks International

With major focus on international streaming and sub growth in 2021, ViacomCBS Dec. 10 announced it has promoted longtime executive Raffaele Annecchino to CEO of ViacomCBS Networks International. The 23-year veteran replaces David Lynn, who is departing the company after 24 years following the transition period, and reports to ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish.

Annecchino has held a number of positions across ViacomCBS Networks International, formerly Viacom International Media Networks, most recently as president of ViacomCBS Networks Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia.

Raffaele Annecchino

“Raffaele is an entrepreneurial, results-oriented leader with a proven ability to transform businesses and drive growth across diverse markets,” Bakish said in a statement. “His experience in expanding ViacomCBS’s international footprint, forging key partnerships and accelerating our push into mobile and digital platforms will be critical to building on our leadership positions across Europe, Latin America and Asia and realizing our global ambitions.”

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Annecchino’s achievements include the launch and acquisition of free-to-air channels in the key markets of Italy, Spain and Germany, and the creation of a new business unit in September 2020 to help drive ViacomCBS’s digital businesses across the EMEAA region. He also led the expansion of Pluto TV in Europe, including launches in Spain and the upcoming roll out in France and Italy in 2021.

Pluto TV Going to Spain

ViacomCBS Networks International announced it would begin offering ad-supported VOD platform Pluto TV in Spain at the end of the month.

The service, which ViacomCBS acquired in 2019 for $340 million, offers 40 curated Spanish-language channels across multiple genres, including movies, TV series, reality, kidvid, lifestyle, crime and comedy.

Telefónica’s SVOD platform Movistar+ will handle Pluto TV’s advertising and marketing.

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“This innovative service perfectly complements our linear and non-linear offering in Spain,” Raffaele Annecchino, president ViacomCBS EMEA and Asia, digital and mobile strategy, said in a statement.

Since being acquired by ViacomCBS, Pluto TV has been heavily marketed worldwide as part of the the media giant’s push toward direct-to-consumer content distribution. Next year, SVOD platform CBS All Access will rebrand as Paramount+, and be marketed globally. Pluto TV aims to have 100 content channels by the end of 2021.

“This launch in Spain marks an important step of our expansion in Europe, where the service is already available in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and the U.K.,” Annecchino said in a statement.

Pluto TV content partners in Spain include All3Media, Endemol Shine, Fremantle and Lionsgate.

Pluto TV Now Streaming on Web Browsers in the U.K., Germany, Austria and Switzerland

Pluto TV, the ad-supported VOD platform owned by ViacomCBS, is now available to stream on Web browsers in United Kingdom, Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

Pluto TV is also accessible through third-party connected devices, including Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Android TV, Roku, Virgin Media, Now TV and via apps in the App Store and Google Play Store.

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“Pluto TV has grown consistently since it launched outside of the U.S. two years ago. In Europe and the U.K., we’ve increased both our user base and our channel offering on a monthly basis,” Pierluigi Gazzolo, president of studios and streaming at ViacomCBS Networks International, said in a statement.

Gazzolo said browser access to Pluto TV is an important feature for consumers without streaming media devices, including connected televisions. can be accessed on Safari, Chrome and Firefox and other operating systems. The platform recently topped 100 content channels.

ViacomCBS Networks International Ups Pluto TV Executive Olivier Jollet to SVP of Emerging Business

ViacomCBS Networks International Sept. 2 announced the promotion of Olivier Jollet to SVP of emerging business — a new business unit that includes AVOD, SVOD, mobile services and products as well as advanced advertising and VDSI for Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia (EMEAA).

The move comes as ViacomCBS ramps up its digital presence globally, including the EMEAA, led by Raffaele Annecchino, president, ViacomCBS Networks, EMEAA. The new unit is tasked with  driving digital business and capturing new opportunities in both pay and free streaming video, as well as mobile business, advertising and ViacomCBS Digital Studios International.

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Jollet will be responsible for developing and expanding the digital business across these markets reporting directly to Annecchino.

“Olivier’s digital expertise and entrepreneurial approach are essential to driving growth in these critical areas of the business,” Annecchino said in a statement. “With digital initiatives in the region managed by Jollet, we will be ideally positioned to expand our integrated digital ecosystem while offering audiences the best of our brands, products, content and platforms.”

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Jollet has been managing director Europe for Pluto TV since 2016, where he led strategy and business development for Europe. Prior to to the AVOD platform, Jollet worked at Watchever and Universal Music.

Pluto TV Bowing in Brazil in December

ViacomCBS continues to expand its brand globally through ad-supported Pluto TV, now in Brazil beginning in December.

The service, which bowed service in select Latin America countries earlier this year, is offering Pluto TV Cine Sucessos, Pluto TV Cine Comédia, Pluto TV Cine Drama, Pluto TV Cine Terror, Pluto TV Séries, Pluto TV Retrô, MTV Pluto TV, Pluto TV Anime, Pluto TV Investiga, Pluto TV Natureza, Pluto TV Junior, Nick Jr. Club, Pluto TV Kids and Nick Clássico.

“As ViacomCBS Networks International continues to expand its streaming presence globally, the expansion of Pluto TV furthers this mission and enables audiences in Brazil to enjoy premium streaming content entirely for free,” JC Acosta, president of ViacomCBS Networks Americas, said in a statement.

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Pluto TV already offers 46 live and original channels in Latin America, in addition to on-demand movies from pay-TV operators, movie studios, publishers, and digital media companies, from all genres and for all ages. Pluto TV says it reaches 33 million monthly active users.

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ViacomCBS Expands Content Distribution in France

ViacomCBS continues to expand distribution of its core brands around the world — this time with a new linear and on-demand access to BET, Comedy Central, Paramount Pictures, Nickelodeon and MTV on French telecom/broadband provider Orange.

Nick Junior, Nickelodeon, Nickelodeon +1 and Nickelodeon Teen join Orange on July 9th, with MTV, MTV Hits and J-One coming aboard on Aug. 20.

“This distribution renewal marks an important step for both our partnership with Orange and brand presence in France, as we now distribute the full ViacomCBS channel portfolio throughout the French market,” Raffaele Annecchino, president of ViacomCBS Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia, said in a statement. “We look forward to building on this important relationship and offer all French audiences the best of our content.”

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With a track record of driving growth from both on-screen and off-screen activities in the markets for which he currently has responsibility, Annecchino was brought on board ViacomCBS’s international expansion focusing on developing scale in the company’s operations in EMEAA, in addition to continuing to be responsible for VCNI’s mobile strategy.

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In March, Annecchino helped ViacomCBS and Comcast-owned Sky ink a distribution deal for select content offered in Germany, Switzerland and Austria. Under terms of the deal, Sky’s satellite customers in the countries now have access to Nickelodeon, Nick Jr. and Nick Toons.