Viacom, Endemol Partner on New Female Channel Viacom Blink!

4:46 PM PST 05/05/2011 by Mimi Turner

The long-term partnership aims to roll out the channel around the world starting next year.

LONDON -- Viacom International Media Networks and global entertainment giant Endemol have partnered to create Viacom Blink!, a female-skewed entertainment channel that they will begin to roll out around the world starting next year.

The move aims to add a pivotal new brand to Viacom's International Media Networks portfolio -- which currently includes MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon, Viva and Comedy Central. It will also tap a female 16-49 demographic that the portfolio currently underserves.

The partnership gives Endemol its first foothold in the international channel business outside a number of sports channels it currently has in the Middle East. Under a long-term programming deal, Viacom will have access to the producer's huge drama and entertainment libraries to power the new channel. Endemol will also produce key shows for Blink! in local markets.

Announcing the partnership in London, Viacom International Media Networks president and CEO Bob Bakish said the channel would launch initially to more than a million pay-TV homes in Poland, one of VIMN's key markets.

"We're bringing it to life in Poland to shake it down as a proof of concept before we go further," said Bakish, who said international expansion would take-off out in 2012.

"We have done some preliminary spadework in other markets, we think there is a range of opportunity out there," Bakish said. "However, we also know that launching a new brand is a non-trival exercise, so we want to get this one up and running and fine-tune it and then we'll go."

Shows on the network will include Make Me a Supermodel, Hot in Cleveland, Home and Away and Gok's Fashion Fix.

Endemol chairman and CEO Ynon Kreiz, who earlier in his career launched the Fox Kids Europe channels, said the marriage brought together complementary elements.

"We see this as a meeting of two big companies that specialize in different areas," Kreiz said. "Viacom is probably one of the biggest channel operators in the world, and Endemol is one of the largest production and distribution companies. That combination is very strong. You can do a lot of things with it."

Viacom and Endemol have worked together previously in India, where Viacom's Colors channel rapidly took a market-leading position on the back of Endemol-produced shows like Fear Factor and Big Brother and locally produced drama. However, Blink! marks their first full partnership.

VIMN's head of emerging markets, Bhavneet Singh -- who spearheaded the rapid success of Colors in India -- has spent the past 12 months working on the launch of Viacom Blink! after pitching the idea to Kreiz over a breakfast meeting last year.

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