Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman told reporters in London Wednesday that the company will launch the Spike network in the U.K. as the first step in the brand’s international expansion.
He said he was passing through the U.K. for the first time since his “little shopping trip in May” when the company agreed to buy British broadcaster Channel 5, adding that the U.K. “is a second home for us, a hub for international expansion.”
In Britain, Spike will be managed by Channel 5, Dauman said. “It will begin with a combination of fact-based, reality programming from Channel 5 and our Spike network in the U.S.,” he said, highlighting the latest collaboration tied to the Channel 5 deal. “Original programming we will commission.”
Added Dauman: “It is our intention to expand the Spike brand, beginning with the U.K., around the world. It will become one of our major global brands. That is just one indicator of the strategic value to Viacom of expanding our presence in the UK, through the Channel 5 group.”
The company is “planning to have that launch in the next few months, we’re preparing for it,” he said about the first Spike channel outside the U.S.
Discussing the importance of Britain for Viacom, Dauman said that “10 percent of our worldwide employees, including the U.S., now reside in the U.K. We have 1,100 people here in the U.K. London is now our third city after New York and L.A. And we expect that to grow.”
In response to Channel 4 CEO David Abraham’s speech at the Edinburgh TV Festival this year where he said U.S. acquisitions are damaging to U.K. creativity, Dauman said: “We’ve been here almost as long as Channel 4” – referring to the launch of MTV in London in 1987. “Some people are afraid of competition, but we are here to compete and we are here to win more viewership and we will be focused on providing great content on every platform that people want to use and we will bring our U.K. knowhow and our global knowhow, and we will relentlessly pursue our objective to be the great content company that the U.K. audience would like us to be.”
Read more Discovery CEO Talks Channel 5 Auction
Asked about the growth outlook for Channel 5, he said it “has a long way to go.” Added Dauman: “We do think that there is the opportunity to bring the average age of Channel 5 down through original programming…We really see the opportunity for collaboration between Channel 5 and Nickelodeon.”
Dauman also emphasized: “It’s not about cost-cutting,” adding: “We are now a major media company in the U.K., and we want to be bigger and we’re going to be bigger by growing the business.”
Overtaking Channel 4 in viewership on a consistent basis is one goal. “That’s the first step,” Dauman said. “We cannot put bounds on our ambitions. But we’re not arrogant of our ambitions. We respect our competitors. Competition makes you stronger.”