Viacom Grows Italian Presence With Spike and Super! Channels

Spike TV

The company increases its free-to-air strategy in the country against a strong pay-TV portfolio.

Viacom International Media Networks (VIMN) continues its drive to expand in Italy with Thursday's announcement that it will double its free-to-air channel offerings.

The company announced the acquisition of channel LCN 49 from Scripps Networks to launch a local version of Spike TV. The new station will launch at the end of October with a mix of international acquisitions and local productions targeting the adult male demographic.

Separately, Viacom also announced a joint venture with Italian group De Agostini Editore to launch the kids’ TV channel Super!, with Viacom taking a 50% stake in the channel.

With 11 channels currently on pay-TV platform Sky Italia, including MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon and Nick Jr., Viacom maintains that pay TV partnerships are its priority in Italy, but free-to-air channels are helping to grow the brand’s presence across the country. Since the launch of free-to-air channels Paramount Channel and VH1, Viacom has grown its free-to-air reach by more than 19 million and is quickly approaching 30 million viewers a month.

“Free-to-air channel launches have helped us significantly expand our reach amongst Italian TV viewers, and we’re ambitious for future share growth in this valuable and important TV market,” said David Lynn, president and CEO of VIMN.

“I’m pleased to confirm this latest step in our ongoing strategy to scale-up our business in Italy, which has the highest number of free-to-air channels of any European TV market and is the third-biggest in terms of advertising revenues,” said Raffaele Annecchino, head of VIMN Southern & Western Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

Along with the free-to-air expansion, Viacom is ramping up local advertising sales operations VIMN Pubblicita and Brand Solutions, concluding deals for TV channels owned by Scripps Networks Interactive, De Agostini Editore and Sony, along with its own portfolio of channels.