LONDON — Philippe Dauman, chief executive of Viacom, spoke to Variety about why the company has bought U.K. free-to-air broadcaster Channel 5, and the opportunities that exist for further strengthening the network’s position in the territory.
“It’s a great opportunity for us. We’re very excited about the prospects for Channel 5 as part of the Viacom family. It was unique to have this great public broadcasting franchise available for us to buy,” Dauman said.
EARLIER: Viacom Buys U.K. Free-to-air Network Channel 5 for $757 million
“We’ve been increasing our presence in the U.K. over a long period of years. We have over 20 pay channels there today. We are a company that’s 100% focused on content and building great brands, and we see in Channel 5 a family of channels that have come a long way in a short period of time. And we have the ability, with our programming know-how, investment and resources, and our know-how and investment in technology to distribute content in new and different ways, on mobile and all new devises, to bring all that to bear to take Channel 5 to the next level.
“There are a lot of specific examples of natural collaboration between the two parts of our house once we get through the regulatory process. Those would include, for example, the Milkshake! children’s block on Channel 5, and you put that together with what we have in our Nickelodeon brands, from a content point of view, from a cross-promotional point of view, driving consumer product sales, whether it is ‘Dora the Explorer’ or ‘SpongeBob’ or ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.’ So just on the children’s block alone there are a lot of opportunities.
“On the programming side, on a global basis, we spend over $3 billion a year on programming, and that is growing at mid to high single digit percentage rates every year. We are focusing more and more on original programming. So we will do the same on Channel 5.
“And we will be able to develop and put on air a lot of fresh, original, eventized programming that’ll make it more and more appealing, and it will be great for the viewers, it will be great for our business, it will provide a lot of great opportunities for the people working in the company, and we will be able to export all that great content on many of our channels around the world, including the U.S., and we’ll be able to develop formats, as the U.K. does so well, that could work as formats in other parts of the world. So it has a lot of very positive attributes.
“From a financial point of view, this is an attractive valuation for us. It will be financially accretive to us from day one, and it was just one of those opportunities that we have been looking for for a number of years, and it turned up, and we couldn’t pass it up.”