Wednesday, April 03, 2019

Viacom Scales Up International TV Studios with New Manchester and Madrid Production Centres


Jill Offman to lead expansion of Viacom International Studios in UK and Laura Abril to head roll-out across Europe, building on successful Latin American launch last year

VIS UK secures first 3rd party commission for ITV

LONDON/MADRID/MIAMI, 3rd April 2019 – Viacom International Studios (VIS) has announced it is to open new production centres in Madrid and Manchester, as part of an ongoing expansion of its international production capacity in both the English and Spanish languages.

VIS is expanding its international production footprint following its successful launch in Latin America last year. VIS Americas, headed by Federico Cuervo, has rapidly established itself as a leading creator and distributor of Latin content with more than 900 hours of scripted, comedy, reality and kids’ live action being originated out of six different production centres across the continent and available for pre-sale or syndication in 2019.

With a view to replicating this success in other territories, Jill Offman will now assume management oversight of Viacom’s London-based production house, Elephant House Studios, which is being rebranded as Viacom International Studios UK with immediate effect.

At the same time, VIS UK will open a new production office in Manchester to support its push to secure English-language commissions from third party broadcasters and distributors based in the UK, in addition to the large volume of content it already produces locally for Channel 5 and Viacom’s pay TV channels.

The UK production outfit is currently filming its first-ever original production for a channel or platform not owned by Viacom, having been commissioned to produce a new prime time factual series for ITV. Full details will be published shortly.

VIS UK’s General Manager, Joe McLusky, and Creative Director, Ed Taylor, will now report to Offman, who as international brand head for both Comedy Central and Paramount Network already has oversight of comedy and drama productions for Viacom out of the UK. Offman is funding a number of scripted development projects with UK independent producers including a re-make of Bergerac from Artist Studios and a TV treatment of Amanda Craig’s novel Lie of the Land from Baby Cow.

Coinciding with Offman taking on her new UK responsibilities, Laura Abril has been appointed to lead a planned VIS expansion across western and southern Europe, the Middle East and Africa (MENA). Based in Madrid, Abril will head an expanded team that, like VIS UK, has been tasked with securing commissions from pay TV operators, broadcasters and SVOD and social media platforms across these regions, in addition to having oversight of all production of multi-platform content for Viacom’s own branded networks in these territories. The team in Madrid will also work closely with their colleagues at VIS Americas to jointly develop, produce and syndicate content across western and southern Europe and MENA – for example, the VIS teams in Argentina and Spain have collaborated on the development of a Spanish-language remake for TV of the Hitchcock classic, To Catch a Thief, which will be produced in Barcelona and Buenos Aires.

David Lynn, CEO, Viacom International Media Networks, commented: “Broadcasters and streamers are in a global ‘arms race’ for the best content, which represents a significant growth opportunity for Viacom with our international studio capacity and in-built creative expertise, exemplified by Jill, Laura and Federico. As our competitors become more vertically integrated, Viacom is free to forge much deeper partnerships with all kinds of distributors internationally and for all types of content.”

The content sales division of the expanded and aligned VIS operation will come to the MIP TV market in Cannes next week with a significantly richer catalogue including, for the first time, Awesomeness film and TV titles, a range of scripted development projects, new factual series and formats originated for Channel 5 and the latest titles and formats from Viacom’s flagship brands Comedy Central, MTV and Nickelodeon. VIMN CEO, David Lynn, will outline his growth strategy for VIS at the MIPTV conference in Cannes on 9th April.

Having secured high-profile content deals with a number of distributors across Latin America, including the recent launch of its comedy Homens on Amazon Prime and the sale of Borges to Netflix, the VIS Americas team has now finalised a number of sales to European broadcasters including licensing the format for Amar Despues de Amar (Love After Loving) to Alpha in Greece, TVI Portugal and Atresmedia in Spain.

This global expansion comes less than a year after Viacom kicked off its third-party production efforts by announcing the Nickelodeon Animation Studios comedy Pinky Malinky would premiere exclusively on Netflix, followed by plans to co-produce a live-action version of the network's beloved animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender for the SVoD platform. Then, earlier this year Nickelodeon and Netflix signed an original animated film deal that will see Nick produce a pair of original animated feature films for the streamer based on Nickelodeon’s Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and The Loud House.

About Jill Offman

Jill Offman has oversight of the Comedy Central and Paramount Network brands internationally, as well as MTV in the UK and across northern and eastern Europe. She has overseen the development of local language versions of Comedy Central hits Drunk History and Roast Battle in a number of territories, as well as critically acclaimed local commissions including Your Face or Mine, Teen Mom UK and Threesome. She is currently overseeing a push into original scripted content for Paramount Network International, with a number of projects in development including a remake of Bergerac and a TV adaptation of Amanda Craig’s novel, Lie of the Land. Prior to joining Viacom, she worked for Discovery and commissioned factual hits including How It’s Made and the Emmy and BAFTA-award nominated, How Trekkies Changed the World.

About Laura Abril

In addition to her new role leading VIS for Southern and Western Europe, Middle East and Africa, Laura Abril is SVP, Multi-brand for VIMN Iberia, giving her responsibility for Editorial Strategy for Viacom’s networks in Spain and Portugal, including Marketing, Production and Programming. Laura joined VIMN in 2009, as VP of Editorial for MTV Spain; in 2014, she was promoted to VP, Youth & Music Brands for South Europe, Middle East and Africa and subsequently took over responsibility for Kids and Family brands in those regions, whilst being promoted to SVP. Prior to joining VIMN, she worked for Sony Pictures International Television and The Walt Disney Company in content sales and acquisitions.

About Federico Cuervo

Federico Cuervo is responsible for the creation and execution of all original productions for Viacom International Studios Americas and Telefe Studios, international co-productions, as well as original productions for MTV, Nickelodeon, Paramount Channel and Comedy Central for the Latin American region. He is also instrumental in developing local productions including: Duelo de Comediantes, a Comedy Central U.S. format (Roast Battle) adapted for Mexico in 2018; Se Busca Comediante, a show where four comedians travel across Mexico in search of the best comedians in the land, and; La Culpa es de… franchise, an original format that has local versions in Mexico, Colombia, Brazil and Argentina.

About Viacom International Studios (VIS):

Viacom International Studios is the umbrella brand for all of Viacom’s content production and syndication activities outside of the U.S. It has production centres in Buenos Aires, London, Madrid, Manchester, Miami and Rio de Janeiro. Within VIS, the Content Sales group is responsible for all international programme syndication, format and co-production activities for Viacom’s diverse portfolio of entertainment brands, which are seen globally in more than 4.4 billion households in approximately 180 territories and 40 languages via more than 300 locally programmed and operated TV channels and many more digital media and mobile TV properties. The group also oversees the strategic acquisition of original content in VIMN’s core competency areas of kids, youth and adults, for sale to third parties around the world.

For more details about the VIS programming library, please visit

More Nick: Nickelodeon Embarks on New Direction with its Biggest, Most Wide-Ranging Content Slate Ever!

H/T: Kidscreen.
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