NewFronts Debrief: Viacom

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In a week filled with lots of content, sales pitches, and very little sleep, Mindshare is bringing you a debrief on some of the biggest NewFront events – the implications for marketers, the challenges for publishers, and more. First up, Stephanie Walker, Director, Digital Investment, gives us the low down on Viacom.

  1. The big talent onstage: 
  • Kelsea Ballerini, country music singer/songwriter, who performed two songs.
  • David Spade, who announced his new late-night show for Comedy Central.
  1. The announcements that caught your eye:
  • Overall, Viacom Digital Studios is pushing out a substantial amount of programming this year. Most notable new shows include: BET’s morning talk show Black Coffee, AwesomenessTV’s romcom How to Survive: A Break Up, Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob Smarty Pants Game Show and The JoJo & Bow Bow Show Show.
  • The launch of major channels for PlutoTV, the video streaming service acquired earlier this year. Engagement on the platform is high with users spending an average of two hours watching, and even 30 minutes on average on mobile devices. And it has substantial reach with African-American and Hispanic audiences. Key channels including BET, Comedy Central, Nick, SpikeTV (it’s back!) and MTV will provide viewers with unique content specifically curated for the live streaming space. Viewers can also access  series to binge on pop-up channels such as The Hills and Laguna Beach. Currently, it’s an ad-supported free streaming platform, but paid models are expected in the future.
    • Important soundbite: For the first time, this year, audiences under 35 will be majority minority. This speaks to the importance behind the push of PlutoTV providing access to Hispanic and African-American audiences.
  • In partnership with Twitter, Viacom is launching an interactive livestream at the MTV VMAs.

3. Implications for marketers:

  • Viacom’s general approach to content creation and distribution is a means of keeping up with the ever-changing consumption behaviors among Millennial and Gen Z audiences. More specifically they’ve identified their ability to reach AA and HSP audiences at scale (via PlutoTV) in addition to the ever-challenging 2-11 demo (on Nickelodeon). Brands should consider these strengths as it relates to their own demo alignments as a means to reach their core audiences.
  • Viacom is playing with the idea of taking tried-and-true series and either bringing them back for viewers to enjoy or putting a new spin on them to create something new that’s rooted in an established theme. This has worked and continues to work for the network. Depending on the brand, it would be interesting to explore this approach within the creative development phase.

4. Challenges for the publisher:

  • As mentioned above, the elusive Millennial and Gen Z audience behaviors were mentioned a number of times throughout the presentation. Viacom’s general approach is to bring products and content that speaks to these viewers, which is translated to accessibility as well as new content paired with reinventing tried-and-true programming that allows them to evolve with audiences.

5. What was different about this NewFront from the types of deals we do every day for clients?

  • Contextual alignment and user experience is always top of mind when developing media plans for brands. These core takeaways from this NewFront are very much in line with how our teams approaches client business on a day-to-day basis.

6. Anything else we should know?

  • Kraft Heinz/Lunchables is partnering with Viacom on an original kids show called Mixed up Challenges.