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Viacom plans: "A separate station for each target group"

Viacom International Media Networks (VIMN) can only be right that German television viewers are increasingly distributing their attention to more and more smaller special-interest channels: with its three station brands MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon, the US group also has offices in Germany, Austria and Switzerland via a broad portfolio of program content from comedy, music and for children and young people. On Tuesday evening in Berlin at the “Viacom Showcase 2019”, VIMN provided a small preview of the innovations for the coming weeks and months. Strategies to distribute existing content via new platforms and make it accessible were as much in focus as developing own program ideas.

With the flagship MTV - according to Viacom the “best known global youth brand” for “premium music related content” - the innovation is initially very limited: the second season of the in-house production “Yo! MTV Raps ”started; "MTV Unplugged" issues with Santiano and Max Raabe are also planned. But that's essentially it.

Comedians on the move

For Comedy Central, Wolfgang Til, Brand Director Comedy Central GSA (Germany, Switzerland, Austria), took stock of the past nine months and was happy to have been given "twelve hours of free TV broadcasting time" (Comedy Central through the hiring of Viva got struck at the end of 2018). They are used, among other things, to show animation series such as "Rick & Morty" and "Bojack Houseman" (DWDL.de reported); In addition, Viacom has brought the sitcom classic "Modern Family" to itself, is currently showing the 9th season as a free TV premiere and has already planned season 10 for the new year. Another in-house production joins the line-up on October 18: For "Der Comedy-Roadtrip" the station sends the trio Ingmar Stadelmann, Osan Yaran and Thomas Schmidt on trips through German-speaking countries: to the Spreewald in Brandenburg, Grindelwald in Switzerland, to Solingen, Hamburg and Vienna. There the comedians meet normal citizens who are supposed to help them discover the special features of the region - and thank them with a stand-up appearance. “This is also a piece of social study,” said Stadelmann, describing the idea in Berlin - and had Schmidt differentiate the concept as “a mixture of nonsense and getting to know people”. The episodes run weekly at 11 p.m.

Meanwhile, children's channel Nickelodeon is delighted with the growing popularity of its in-house production “Spotlight” about teenagers who practice singing, dancing and acting at the Berlin School of Arts (and coping with normal teenage problems). The fourth season, which starts on Sunday, includes 93 new episodes, for which the cast has been expanded to include several protagonists - including "GZSZ" veteran Wolfgang Bahro, who plays a crazy poet. In addition, in cooperation with a drugstore chain, there is “Spotlight” merchandising products for everything to do with school and, for the first time, its own magazine. In addition, Nick celebrates Spongebob's 20th birthday whenever the opportunity arises and on the weekend organizes a new edition of the “Slimefest”, which was brought to Germany for the first time last year.

Pluto TV with its own Viacom channels

Above all, however, VIMN seems to be concentrating on creating new "touchpoints" for its program brands - such as Nick +, which can be accessed via Telekom's megathek, and Comedy Central + and MTV + on Amazon Channels. A new addition is myMTV Music, which is to be launched as a customizable music video streaming service with a cooperation partner in Switzerland, as Michael Keidel, Vice President Content Distribution and Sales GSA, announced.

Viacom does not necessarily have to look for external partners for its so-called “premium niche outlets”. At the beginning of the year, the group took over the streaming provider Pluto TV for 340 million US dollars, which offers viewers an advertising-financed alternative to Netflix and Prime Video. To this end, the service launched in the USA relies on “channels” that are programmed like classic free TV and promise their users that they do not have to look for content that they cannot consume themselves from huge catalogs.

“We want to create a separate channel for each target group,” explained Olivier Jollet, Managing Director Europe at Pluto TV. There are currently 32 channels available in Germany. The new mother can help a lot with further development - and further differentiate her own brands. A best of MTV is shown on “MTV Pluto TV”, “MTV Dating” bundles - as the name suggests - all of the group's dating shows, plus pop-up channels such as “MTV Teen Mom” and “MTV The Hills ”and“ MTV The Stores ”are experimenting. The first two Comedy Central Channels are new, also with a best-of variant and "CC Made in Germany", where only German comedy productions are shown (DWDL.de reported). Jollet: "We want to have a total of 70 channels live by the end of the year."

Then - in all likelihood - the merger with CBS is pending in the USA, which would give Viacom access to numerous interesting program brands and TV classics. Several attempts to reunite the two companies had previously failed.

Correction: In the original version of this text it was stated that an "MTV Unplugged" with the hip-hop formation The Orsons was planned. That's not the case. The Orsons only appeared in front of an "MTV Unplugged" lettering at the "Showcase". In addition, Comedy Central + and MTV + started as Amazon channels, not Apple TV.