Please wait...
Please wait...

Viacom sharpens Spike in UK

Viacom International Media Networks (VIMN) is to roll out its US cablenet Spike internationally, beginning with a UK launch on digital terrestrial TV (DTT) early next year.

The free-to-air (FTA) male-skewing TV channel will launch on the Freeview DTT platform in spring 2015, marking the first time the channel has been made available outside of the US.

Philippe Dauman, Viacom president and CEO, told journalists at a Broadcasting Press Guild event this morning that the UK launch was only the beginning, with the aim to turn Spike into a “global brand in every continent.”

Over in the US, the channel is stepping up its drama efforts, having recently hired its first senior VP of scripted original series and announcing a trio of series with the likes of Gary Oldman, Pierce Brosnan and one of the executive producers behind Game of Thrones.

Meanwhile, the UK launch comes as Viacom looks to strengthen its grip on the local FTA market after the US media giant acquired broadcaster Channel 5 (C5) earlier this year.

Spike will be managed out of C5 under VIMN’s UK ownership, with a new channel manager to be appointed, reporting to C5 programme director Ben Frow.

“This launch has been made possible by our recent acquisition of C5, which gives us ownership of a pipeline of quality factual content,” Dauman said.

Spike’s UK schedule will combine repeats of C5 factual programming, such as Police Interceptors and Cowboy Builders, with Spike’s US content, including Bar Rescue. The channel will also feature acquired films and series, as well as library content from other Viacom brands, which include MTV and Comedy Central.

There is also the potential for co-commissions, as VIMN was quick to announce two new programmes, one to be made between C5 and Nickelodeon and another with MTV, soon after its acquisition of the UK broadcaster for £450m (US$759m) was closed last month.

Meanwhile, crossovers are already happening, with Nick Jr preschool series such as Paw Patrol in the process of joining the Milkshake! line-up, with many more expected to follow.

Previously, C5’s children’s content only targeted preschoolers, under the channel’s popular Milkshake! programming block, however the channel will now also target 6-11s, with content such as SpongeBob Squarepants and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles soon to arrive on the channel.

Dauman reaffirmed Viacom’s plan is to keep the Milkshake! brand on C5, as opposed to replacing it with Nick Jr, having previously stated that the children’s block will grow as a result of Viacom’s takeover.

Spike replaces VIMN’s VIVA channel on Freeview, with the FTA UK TV rights to Viacom content previously owned by VIVA to be made available to 5*, while VIVA will continue to be available to cable and satellite viewers in the UK and Ireland.

Ad sales for Spike will be handled by Sky Media, which sells the airtime for VIMN’s UK portfolio of more than 20 pay-TV channels. VIMN said it is also aiming to secure distribution for Spike on Virgin Media sand on the UK’s DSAT platform.


Please wait...