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Viacom’s Spike to begin int’l roll out in UK

Viacom is set to launch its male-skewing Spike channel internationally for the first time, with rollout of a new free-to-air UK version of the network in spring next year, TBI’s sister publication DTVE reports.

Philippe DaumanAnnouncing the launch in London today, Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman said that Viacom’s acquisition of UK terrestrial broadcaster Viacom earlier this year has “made it possible for us to accelerate the deployment of this brand, starting here”.

He also said that the UK would establish a “strong foundation” for further launches of the Spike channel outside of its home market of the US.

In the UK, Spike will be available on Freeview from Q1 2015 and will combine repeats of Channel 5 factual shows like Police Interceptors and Cowboy Builders with Spike’s US content, including programmes such as Bar Rescue.

The channel will also broadcast acquired films, original commissioned content and library titles from other Viacom brands.

“It’s our intention to expand the Spike brand, beginning with the UK, but expanding it around the world. It will become one of our major global brands,” said Dauman.

He said Viacom will “opportunistically” launch Spike in “the rest of Europe, in Latin America, in Africa, in Asia.” Whether it is a free-to-air or pay channel will depend on the opportunities in these markets, he added.

Spike will be managed by Channel 5 under Viacom International Media Networks’ UK ownership, with a new channel manager to be appointed who will report to Ben Frow – Channel 5’s programme director.

The channel will take the place of Viacom-owned music channel Viva, which will be removed from the Freeview platform – however, Viva will still be available to cable and satellite viewers in the UK and Ireland.

The free-to-air UK TV rights to Viacom content previously owned by VIVA will now be available on Channel 5 sister network 5*.

At the same time, VIMN said it will “strengthen” Channel 5-owned networks 5USA and 5* on Freeview by adding additional Viacom content to their schedules.

VIMN closed its £450 million (US$723.4 million) acquisition of UK broadcaster Channel 5 from Northern & Shell Media Group last month.