Viacom International creates new digital studios unit

Viacom International Media Networks has named Brendan Yam to head up a new digital studios unit, as vice-president and general manager.

Brendan Yam

Viacom Digital Studios International (VDSI) will focus on creating, distributing and monetising digital content for Viacom’s brands outside of the US.  The move marks an upping in Viacom’s investment in short-form, digital content aimed at younger viewers.

Yam will report to Katherine Liu, VIMN’s SVP, strategy and business development, and Kelly Day, president, Viacom Digital Studios (VDS).

Yam will be charged with managing new business development and commercial opportunities related to international short-form content, including branded content and licensing deals, and content and platform partnerships.

The unit will have three production hubs and charged with creating original digital series, topical shows, co-commissions and complementary shorts with a pipeline that includes VIMN and VDS as well as Viacom-owned Argentinian free-to-air broadcaster Telefe and Brazilian comedy brand Porta dos Fundos.

Yam previously served as vice-president, multiplatform for MTV and Comedy Central International, and head of business development for digital. In the latter role, he led efforts to develop a strategy to for a business unit that encompasses short-form content production, distribution, publishing and commercialisation.

Viacom president and CEO Bob Bakish

“Viacom has prioritized reaching digital-first audiences, and with over 3.1 billion cumulative subscribers in more than 180 countries and territories, our international youth audience is key to delivering on Viacom’s goals. I’m confident that with Brendan’s passion for and knowledge of the digital, mobile and social landscape he and his team will elevate our short-form business and drive engagement around the world,” said David Lynn, president and CEO, VIMN.

“Viacom Digital Studios International will be fully aligned with our US business as we provide a compelling pipeline of content that can be localized and commercialized around the world. Like our flagship brands, we will maximize our international content pipeline as well, taking internationally originated content and making it available to our audiences in the US,” said Kelly Day, president, Viacom Digital Studios.

Speaking to analysts following Viacom’s Q3 results last week, CEO Bob Bakish said that the company’s cross-portfolio studio production initiative, was key to its future strategy. He said this was not about licensing library product wholesale to SVOD platforms but about “new first-run content for SVOD platforms and other third parties”.

Bakish said he believed there was “a much larger opportunity” for premium episodic video content that will see Viacom build studio production into a US$1 billion business by 2020.


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