ViacomCBS Domestic Media Networks
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ViacomCBS Domestic Media Networks

ViacomCBS Domestic Media Networks
  • MTV Networks (1985-2011)
  • Viacom Media Networks (2011-2019)
IndustryEntertainment, cable and satellite television
PredecessorWarner-Amex Satellite Entertainment
FoundedJuly 18, 1985; 35 years ago (1985-07-18)
FounderRobert Pittman
HeadquartersMTV Studios, One Astor Plaza, 1515 Broadway, Times Square, Manhattan, New York City, New York 10036, United States
Key people
  • Chris McCarthy (President; MTV Entertainment Group)
  • David Nevins (President; Premium Content Group)
  • Brian Robbins (President; Kids and Family Group)
ParentWarner Communications (1985-1987)
American Express (1985-1987)
Viacom (1987-2006, 2005-2019)
ViacomCBS (2019-present)

ViacomCBS Domestic Media Networks[1] (formerly known as MTV Networks and Viacom Media Networks) is an American mass media division of ViacomCBS that oversees the operations of many of its television channels and Internet brands. Its related international division is ViacomCBS Networks International.


MTV Networks Begins after Warner-Amex (1985-1987)

The company was founded in 1985 by Warner Communications and American Express after those two companies decided to divest the basic cable assets of Warner-Amex Satellite Entertainment, renaming it as MTV Networks, Inc.[2] Warner-Amex had originally created and owned Nickelodeon, MTV, VH1 and The Movie Channel. Viacom acquired MTV Networks in 1987.

Viacom era (1987-2005)

In 1987, Viacom bought MTV Networks, which owned MTV and Nickelodeon. This led to Viacom becoming a mass media company rather than simply a distribution company.

In 2000, following Viacom's acquisition of CBS Corporation, The Nashville Network and CMT, the two channels owned by CBS by that time, became part of MTV Networks, with The Nashville Network becoming The National Network.

In 2001, Viacom purchased Washington-based Black Entertainment Television, and integrated it into MTV Networks, which later separated BET from MTV to a new group BET Networks.

In 2003, Comedy Central became part of MTV Networks after Viacom's acquisition of the remaining shares of the latter from Time Warner. The joint dates back to 1991, when HA! and Time Warner's The Comedy Channel merged.

In 2005, the company announced plans of looking into splitting into two publicly traded companies under the continuing ownership of National Amusements because of a stagnating stock price. The internal rivalry between Les Moonves and Tom Freston, longtime heads of CBS and MTV Networks respectively, and the controversy of Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show, which resulted in MTV being banned from producing any more Super Bowl halftime shows, were also seen as factors. After the departure of Mel Karmazin in 2004, Redstone, who served as chairman and chief executive officer, decided to split the offices of president and chief operating officer between Moonves and Freston. Redstone was set to retire in the near future, and a split would be a creative solution to the matter of replacing him. The split was approved by Viacom's board on June 14, 2005.

Viacom splits CBS and spun-off Viacom (2006-2019)

In January 2006, the remnants of Warner-Amex Satellite Entertainment (MTV Networks and Showtime Networks) were separated following Viacom's split into two entities: CBS Corporation, which took retained Showtime Networks (Showtime, The Movie Channel, and Flix), and a spun-off company under the Viacom name, which took ownership of Paramount Pictures and MTV Networks.

MTV Networks was renamed Viacom Media Networks in 2011.

In the fall of 2012, media analysts began to report that ratings among some of Viacom's leading brands in the U.S were experiencing declines in viewership.[3][4] MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon were of most concern to investors as the three account for roughly 50% of Viacom's operating profit, estimated David Bank of RBC Capital Markets.

In 2017, Viacom announced a five-point restructuring plan, in which the company would pour most of its resources behind six "flagship brands". These were MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., BET, and Paramount Pictures.[5][6][7][8] In February 2017, cable channels CMT and TV Land were moved from the Kids and Family Group to the Global Entertainment Group under Kevin Kay, joining up with Spike TV.[9] During the same month, it was announced that Spike would be relaunched as Paramount Network in 2018, aligning with the namesake film studio and being positioned as Viacom's main general entertainment outlet.[10][11]

In October 2018, Kevin Kay was announced to be leaving his position as head of the Entertainment Group. CMT was transferred from the Entertainment Group to the Music Group under president Chris McCarthy, with his exit. Executive Kent Alterman would take charge of Paramount Network and TV Land to go with his current leadership of Comedy Central and Bellator MMA.[12]

In 2019, after acquiring the free streaming service Pluto TV, Viacom would launch several channels on the service branded after its Media Networks and company-owned IP.[13][14][15][16]

Viacom re-merged with CBS to become ViacomCBS (2019-present)

In August 2019, Viacom announced that it would re-merge with CBS Corporation, reuniting the two entities under the new name ViacomCBS.[17][18] The merger closed in early December 2019.[19][20] Announced on November 11, 2019, as part of the re-merger, the Media Networks division was renamed ViacomCBS Domestic Media Networks, and reorganized. MTV, VH1, CMT and Logo were reorganized into the "Entertainment & Youth Group",[21] with the addition of Comedy Central, Paramount Network, Smithsonian Channel, and TV Land. BET Networks was merged with Showtime Networks under CEO David Nevins, who also temporarily gained oversight of Pop TV;[22] Pop TV was transferred to the Entertainment & Youth Group on January 15, 2020.[23] In October 2020, the Entertainment & Youth Group was renamed MTV Entertainment Group.

Channels list

Current channels

Category Name Notes Launch
MTV Entertainment Group
CMT CMT 5 1983
CMT Music 6
MTV MTV 1 August 1, 1981
MTV Classic 19
MTV Live 20
MTV Tres
Other Comedy Central 2 June 1, 1991
Logo 4 2005
Paramount Network 3 1983
Pop TV 15 1981
Smithsonian Channel 13 2007
TV Land 14 April 29, 1996
VH1 1985
Premium Content Group
BET Networks BET 1983
BET Gospel
BET Hip-Hop
BET Jams
BET Soul
BET+ (streaming service) 2019
Showtime Networks Showtime
  • Showtime 2
  • Showcase
  • SHO×BET17
  • Showtime Extreme
  • Showtime Family Zone
  • Showtime Next
  • Showtime Women
12 1976
The Movie Channel
  • The Movie Channel Xtra
18 1979
Flix 16 1992
Kids and Family Group
Nickelodeon Nickelodeon 7 April 1, 1979
Nick at Nite July 1, 1985
Nick Jr. 8 February 1, 1999
NickMusic 9 2002
Nicktoons 10
TeenNick 11

Former channels


1Channel was created by Warner-Amex Satellite Entertainment originally tested as Sight on Sound until 1981 when it was officially launched as MTV.

2Channel started as Ha!, merged with HBO's The Comedy Channel the following year, became fully owned by Viacom in 2003.

3Originally TNN from 1983 to 2003 (as The Nashville Network until 1997; as The National Network until 2003) and was known as Spike until January 2018. Will relaunch as Paramount Movie Network in 2021.

4Channel was originally known as VH1 MegaHits before being discontinued in July 2005 to facilitate Logo launch.

5Channel originally owned by CBS, became part of MTV Networks when CBS merged with Viacom.

6Created as VH1 Country prior to Viacom/CBS merger.

7Channel was created by Warner-Amex Satellite Entertainment originally tested as Pinwheel until 1979 when it was officially launched as Nickelodeon.

8Channel was originally known as Noggin before being rebranded as Nick Jr. in 2009. Co-owned with Sesame Workshop from 1999 to 2002.

9Channel was originally known as MTV Hits before being rebranded as NickMusic on September 9, 2016.

10Channel was originally known as Nicktoons TV until 2003 when it was rebranded as Nicktoons which was rebranded again as Nicktoons Network in 2005 and finally rebranded yet again as Nicktoons once more in 2009.

11Channel was originally known as The N before being rebranded as TeenNick in 2009.

12Channel originally owned by the first incarnation of Viacom, and earlier with former partner Warner-Amex, and later became part of CBS Corporation following Viacom's split in 2006. Showtime was established in 1976, and The Movie Channel was established in 1973 as Star Channel, and relaunched under its current name in 1979.

13Channel was originally co-owned by CBS Corporation through Showtime Networks and the Smithsonian Institution until November 7, 2019, when the Institution sold its equity interest to Showtime.[24]

14Channel was originally a block on Nick at Nite.

15Previously owned by CBS Corporation, and prior to 2019, half of the share owned by Lionsgate. Formerly known as TVGN, and TV Guide Network.

16Established by Viacom's Showtime Networks in 1992, and later became part of CBS Corporation following Viacom's split in 2006.

17Channel was formerly Showtime Beyond from 1998 and was discontinued on July 15, 2020.

18Channel was originally known as "Star Channel" until it was bought by Warner-Amex Satellite Entertainment before becoming "The Movie Channel" in 1979.

19Channel was originally known as VH1 Smooth before being relaunched as VH1 Classic Rock on August 1, 1999. The channel was renamed VH1 Classic in 2000 and was later rebranded as MTV Classic on August 1, 2016.

20Channel was originally known as Music: High Definition (MHD) before being rebranded as Palladia on September 1, 2008. On February 1, 2016, the channel was rebranded as MTV Live.

Other properties


Through its Domestic Media Networks division, ViacomCBS also owns internet properties, such as MTV News and AwesomenessTV. The company ran a virtual world system, Virtual MTV, in the late 2000s.[25] It formerly owned Neopets, Atom Entertainment,, and other web properties before shutting them down or selling them to other companies in the 2000s and 2010s.

New York headquarters


In 2006, Viacom acquired Harmonix, a video game studio oriented towards music video games and the original developer of the Guitar Hero franchise, for $175 million.[26] The two subsequently collaborated on the creation of Rock Band.[27] That year, Viacom also acquired the gaming-oriented communications platform Xfire.[28]

In 2010, Harmonix was divested to an investment firm to become an independent studio,[29][30] and Xfire was sold.[31]

In 2011, Viacom established a in-house studio known as 345 Games, which is dedicated primarily to developing games based on Comedy Central and MTV properties.[32]

ViacomCBS Networks International

ViacomCBS Networks International is the sibling division of Domestic Media Networks. Its headquarters are in New York, London, Warsaw, and Buenos Aires, and manages the following brands: MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, Channel 5, Network 10, Telefe and Colors.

The division is split into three regional units:

Former brands include TMF and VIVA which, along with digital properties Nitrome Limited, Shockwave, Addicting Games, Atom Films and Xfire, have either since merged with other networks, were shut down, or were sold off.

Showtime Networks

Showtime Networks Inc.
FormerlyShowtime/The Movie Channel, Inc. (1983-1988)
PredecessorWarner-Amex Satellite Entertainment
Warner-Amex Satellite Entertainment
Warner Communications
United States
Key people
ProductsPay television, television production
Revenue$950 million (2011)
Number of employees
ParentViacomCBS Domestic Media Networks
Footnotes / references

Showtime Networks Inc. is an American entertainment company that oversees the company's premium cable television channels, including its flagship service Showtime. It is a subsidiary of ViacomCBS Domestic Media Networks.


The company was established in 1983 as Showtime/The Movie Channel, Inc. after Viacom and Warner-Amex Satellite Entertainment (now ViacomCBS Domestic Media Networks) merged their premium channels, Showtime and The Movie Channel respectively, into one division. In 1984, American Express sold their interest in Warner-Amex to Warner Communications (now WarnerMedia) making Warner the new half-owner of Showtime/TMC. In 1985, Warner sold its half-interest to Viacom, making the company a wholly owned subsidiary of Viacom. 1985 also saw the pay-per-view service Viewer's Choice become part of the operation; it merged with rival PPV service Home Premiere Television in 1988, and Viacom ceded control to the cable companies that owned HPT (Viacom still held a stake until the 1990s). In 1988, the company was renamed Showtime Networks Inc.[35]

On March 1, 1994, a partnership between Showtime Networks and Home Box Office, Inc. (parent of HBO and Cinemax) implemented a cooperative content advisory system that was initially unveiled across Showtime, The Movie Channel and the HBO properties that would provide specific content information for pay-cable subscribers to determine the suitability of a program for children. The development of the system--inspired by the advisory ratings featured in Showtime and The Movie Channel's respective program guides and those distributed by other participating premium cable services--was in response to concerns from parents and advocacy groups about violent content on television, allowing the Showtime Networks and other services to assign individual ratings corresponding to the objectionable content depicted in specific programs (and categorized based on violence, profanity, sexuality or miscellaneous mature material). Labels are assigned to each program at the discretion of the participating service.[36] A revised system--centered around ten content codes of two to three letters in length--was implemented across the Showtime Networks and Home Box Office services on June 10, 1994.[37]

SNI, along with CBS, The CW (formerly UPN), Viacom Outdoor, Spelling Television, CBS Television Studios (formerly CBS Productions, Paramount Television and CBS Paramount Television), CBS Television Distribution (formerly Paramount Domestic Television, CBS Paramount Domestic Television and KingWorld), CBS Studios International (formerly CBS Paramount International Television), Simon & Schuster and other entities became part of CBS Corporation when CBS officially split from Viacom in December 2005, but it eventually re-merged with CBS to transform into the new ViacomCBS in early December 2019. SNI managed the CBS, Robert Redford and NBC Universal joint venture Sundance Channel until 2008, when it was sold to Rainbow Media (now AMC Networks).

See also


  1. ^ Lafayette, Jon. "Viacom-CBS Merger Done Creating Larger TV Company". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved 2019.
  2. ^ "BUSINESS PEOPLE ; A Chief Is Named By MTV Networks". The New York Times. July 19, 1985. Retrieved 2014.
  3. ^ Jannarone, John (October 28, 2012). "Audiences Fall for MTV, Comedy Central". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2013.
  4. ^ Flint, Joe (October 10, 2012). "MTV has big ratings issue, analyst warns". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2013.
  5. ^ Lieberman, David (February 9, 2017). "Viacom CEO Supports Paramount And Non-Core Networks - But For How Long?". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 2017.
  6. ^ "Viacom Stock Rises on Restructuring". Multichannel. February 9, 2017. Retrieved 2019.
  7. ^ "Viacom Unveils Five-Point Turnaround Plan (MESA)". February 9, 2017. Retrieved 2019.
  8. ^ "Viacom outlines five point turnaround plan". TBI Vision. February 9, 2017. Retrieved 2019.
  9. ^ Goldberg, Lesley (February 1, 2017). "Viacom Restructure: CMT, TV Land Moved to Kevin Kay's Global Entertainment Group". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2019.
  10. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (February 9, 2017). "Spike President On Channel's Rebranding As The Paramount Network". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 2017.
  11. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (February 9, 2017). "Spike To Change Name & Become The Paramount Network In Viacom Rebranding". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 2017.
  12. ^ Holloway, Daniel; Otterson, Joe (October 25, 2018). "Kevin Kay Exits Paramount Network as Viacom Reorganizes Cable Channels". Variety. Retrieved 2019.
  13. ^ "Viacom Acquires Free Streaming Platform Pluto TV for $340 Million". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2019.
  14. ^ "Viacom Announces Completion of Pluto TV Acquisition". March 4, 2019. Retrieved 2019.
  15. ^ Spangler, Todd (April 29, 2019). "Viacom Launching 14 Free Channels on Pluto TV, Sets Broad Digital Originals Slate". Variety. Retrieved 2019.
  16. ^ Peterson, Tim (April 16, 2019). "Viacom will debut 15 channels on Pluto TV to bolster its upfront pitch". Retrieved 2019.
  17. ^ Szalai, George; Bond, Paul; Vlessing, Etan (August 13, 2019). "CBS, Viacom Strike Deal to Recombine". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2019.
  18. ^ "CBS and Viacom To Combine" (PDF). CBS. August 12, 2019.
  19. ^ Steinberg, Brian (October 28, 2019). "Viacom, CBS Set to Merge in Early December". Variety. Retrieved 2019.
  20. ^ Weprin, Alex (October 29, 2019). "Viacom-CBS Merger Now Expected to Close in 'Early December'". Billboard. Retrieved 2019.
  21. ^ "ViacomCBS shakes up its content leadership teams following merger". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2019.
  22. ^ Viacom and CBS Announce Content and Digital Leadership
  23. ^ Littleton, Cynthia (January 15, 2020). "ViacomCBS Shuffles Oversight of Pop TV, Bellator MMA Amid Post-Merger Restructuring (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety.
  24. ^ "Smithsonian sells its stake in... the Smithsonian Channel". November 8, 2019. Retrieved 2020.
  25. ^ "Virtual MTV Launches Alpha of Browser-Based Experience". Engage Digital. February 5, 2009. Retrieved 2015.
  26. ^ "MTV acquires Harmonix for USD $175 million". Retrieved 2017.
  27. ^ Kohler, Chris (September 14, 2007). "A Glimpse Into Harmonix's Punk-Rock Design Process". Wired. Retrieved 2008.
  28. ^ "Viacom to acquire Xfire". GameSpot. April 24, 2006. Retrieved 2017.
  29. ^ Halliday, Josh (December 24, 2010). "Viacom sells Rock Band game studio". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2010.
  30. ^ Marie, Meagan (December 23, 2010). "Viacom Sells Harmonix To Columbus Nova". Game Informer. Retrieved 2010.
  31. ^ Wauters, Robin. "Exclusive: Titan Gaming Takes Xfire Off Viacom's Hands". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2017.
  32. ^ "MTV Networks Group Launches 345 Games". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2017.
  33. ^ "MTV Latin America Confirms Rock Band Thirty Seconds to Mars to Perform at MTV World Stage Mexico" (Press release). Mexico: Retrieved 2012.
  34. ^ InsideView Company Profile: Showtime Networks, Inc.
  35. ^ Variety June 7, 2001 25 memorable moments in Showtime's 25-year history
  36. ^ Ellen Edwards (January 11, 1994). "Cable Leaders to Develop Violence Ratings". The Washington Post. The Washington Post Company. Archived from the original on June 11, 2014. Retrieved 2013 – via HighBeam Research.
  37. ^ Steve Weinstein (June 8, 1994). "Premium Cable Channels Adopt Content Labels". Los Angeles Times. Times Mirror Company.

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