Viacom CEO Bob Bakish is set to reveal “a new strategic vision and framework” for the struggling company tomorrow. And while he had singled out Paramount Pictures and MTV as the primary focus of turnaround efforts, there will be a change at another Viacom network, Spike, which is expected to be renamed the Paramount Network.
The pending name change will give Viacom a film studio (Paramount Pictures), TV production company (Paramount TV) and TV network (the Paramount Network) sharing the famous moniker, just like former corporate sibling CBS Corp. has the CBS broadcast network, CBS TV Studios and CBS Films. This also will align the channel with the Viacom’s Paramount-branded international TV channel. (Bakish comes from the company’s international TV division)
Spike, which started off as the Nashville Network and later became TNN, changed its moniker to Spike TV and then Spike in 2003, signaling its focus on male-oriented programming. That has evolved with recent entries like Lip Sync Battle, and Bakish last week called the network “a premium entertainment destination for a gender-balanced audience.” A name change underlines the transformation. Reps for Viacom declined comment. UPDATE: The Paramount Network was unveiled on Thursday as a general entertainment network carrying scripted and unscripted programming.
No leadership change is expected as president Kevin Kay just had his responsibilities greatly expanded a week ago, when he also received oversight of CMT and TV Land with a big vote of confidence by Bakish.
“Kevin has a long-running track record of developing some of Viacom’s biggest franchises, including SpongeBob and Fairly OddParents during his tenure at Nickelodeon,” Bakish wrote in a February 1 memo. “Under Kevin’s leadership, Spike has grown and evolved into a premium entertainment destination for a gender-balanced audience. He is the driving force behind hit global, multiplatform formats such as the Emmy-nominated Lip Sync Battle, Ink Master and Bar Rescue, which rank among the highest-rated cable series in their respective timeslots. He is also responsible for bringing live sports into the house, with the acquisition of Bellator MMA, one of the world’s fastest-rising sports properties, now seen more than 140 countries worldwide.
“I’m looking forward to seeing Kevin bring that same creative vision to the strong teams and leadership he’s inheriting with CMT and TV Land,” he added.
Spike was the most watched among the Viacom TV networks in 2016 with 704,000 average viewers. Among adults 18-49, it was third behind VH1 and MTV with 334,000 viewers, down 10% year-to-year in both categories.
The network had been looking to expand beyond unscripted series with event series such as Tut and the upcoming Waco and also has explored drama series.