Spike President Outlines Paramount Network Rebranding Plan as "Watershed Moment" (Exclusive)

Kevin Kay's memo to staff indicates a push in scripted — including comedy — and other tentpole films from outside studios.
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Kevin Kay

Spike TV's transformation into The Paramount Network was officially unveiled Thursday during Viacom's quarterly earnings call. Shortly after the call ended, Spike TV president Kevin Kay outlined, in broader strokes, what the rebranding means for Spike TV's new direction in a memo to staff.

The rebranding will begin this year with a tentative launch for early 2018, further confirming The Hollywood Reporter's Wednesday exclusive.

Hailed as a "watershed moment" for Spike, Kay noted that the rebranding would include a push for high-quality scripted — including comedy — as well as unscripted programming. Also joining the lineup would be tentpole movies from both Paramount Pictures and outside studios.

The scripted push comes as Spike is prepping The Mist, its first ongoing original series in years as the male-leaning Viacom-owned network looks to further distinguish itself in a crowded landscape.

Kay, who recently expanded his purview to include CMT and TV Land, was singled out by Viacom CEO Bob Bakish to oversee the similarly themed brands during the company's earnings call. The new plan for the media conglomerate calls for a focus on six key brands — MTV, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., Comedy Central, BET and Paramount. Bakish noted that the new Paramount Network would also likely see programming from other Viacom networks as it looks to strengthen Spike's position as a major entertainment network. The exec also noted that non-core networks like TV Land and VH1 — both of which have posted impressive ratings gains in the past year — will not fade away but rather serve to support the six key brands as Viacom looks to further invest in them.

Read Kay's memo in full, below.

Today is a watershed moment for us at Spike.

It is the culmination of years of hard work transforming Spike into a premium entertainment destination. The time is right to take the next big leap forward — to capitalize on this moment when the appetite for powerful storytelling and high-quality cinematic production has never been greater in television.

The time is right for THE PARAMOUNT NETWORK.

For more than 100 years, the iconic Paramount name has been closely associated with the biggest stars and most compelling stories in all of entertainment. It’s a studio known worldwide with unparalleled brand recognition. As one of the biggest media companies in the world, Viacom has an incredibly wide-ranging portfolio of indelible brands that have unique and powerful relationships with broad and diverse audiences across the globe, including the successful Paramount Channel aired internationally, from France to Latin America to Russia.

The big news for all of us today is that Spike will re-brand as The Paramount Network over the next year — with a tentative launch scheduled for early 2018.

The Paramount Network will take Spike’s already strong programming mix and amplify it with the Paramount brand. Its focus will be on building distinctive, high-quality scripted and non-scripted original programming — with dramas, comedies, documentaries, movies, sports and tentpole events. It will also incorporate third-party programming, as well as films from other studio’s libraries.

The new leadership team under Bob Bakish has great confidence in our ability to make The Paramount Network a huge success. We will have more information to share on the re-brand in the coming weeks — and know that I intend to keep you updated along the way.

But for now, let me say how much I look forward to taking this exciting next step with you. I hope you are as fired up as I am for the future!

Kevin

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