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Paramount Media Networks

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Paramount Media Networks
  • MTV Networks (1984–2011)
  • Viacom Media Networks (2011–2019)
  • ViacomCBS Domestic Media Networks (2019–2022)
Company typeDivision
FoundedDecember 1, 1977; 46 years ago (1977-12-01) (as Warner-Amex Satellite Entertainment)
June 25, 1984; 39 years ago (1984-06-25) (as public company)
FounderRobert Pittman
Headquarters1515 Broadway, ,
Key people
ParentParamount Global
DivisionsParamount Digital Studios
The original prototype logo for MTV Networks.
The logo for MTV Networks.
The logo for Viacom Media Networks.
The first logo for ViacomCBS Domestic Media Networks.
The second logo for ViacomCBS Domestic Media Networks.

Paramount Media Networks[1] (founded as MTV Networks in 1984[2] and known under this name until 2011; thereafter known as Viacom Media Networks until 2019; then known as ViacomCBS Domestic Media Networks until 2022) is an American mass media division of Paramount Global that oversees the operations of many of its television channels and online brands. Its related international division is Paramount International Networks.

The division's original namesake, MTV, is managed through a subsidiary called MTV Entertainment Group.

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Pre-launch: Warner Communications joint venture (1977–1984)

Warner Cable Communications was formed on December 1, 1977, by Warner Cable, itself a division of Warner Communications (Discovery's predecessor), to launch QUBE, an interactive cable television network. Seeing the potential in the creation of new cable networks, Warner Cable divested QUBE's biggest brands, Star Channel, Pinwheel and Sight on Sound, into nationwide outlets. Star Channel began by satellite in January 1979 and was renamed The Movie Channel by the end of the year. The original Channel C-3, by then known as Pinwheel, became Nickelodeon in April 1979. As a result of these actions, Warner Cable Communications would then be rebranded as Warner-Amex Satellite Entertainment, becoming a joint venture between Warner Cable and American Express.

In 1980, Warner-Amex formed a joint venture with Cablevision's Rainbow Media division to launch Bravo, a cable network dedicated to arts and films, on December 1, 1980. Full control of the channel, however, was sold to Rainbow Media in 1984; NBC would acquire Bravo in 2003, and the channel is now currently owned by Comcast's NBCUniversal.[3]

On August 1, 1981, MTV debuted.

In 1983, concerned by the strategic and financial failure of its pay-TV venture The Movie Channel (started to reap the benefits Time Inc. was having with HBO and Cinemax), WASEC established a joint venture with Viacom, merging TMC with their premium movie network Showtime to form Showtime/The Movie Channel, Inc.; WASEC, however, had no operational involvement in the joint venture.

Launch as MTV Networks, Viacom gets full ownership (1984–2011)

On June 25, 1984, Warner Communications made the decision to divest Nickelodeon, MTV, and VH-1 (launched in 1985; Warner acquired it from Turner) into a new public corporation called MTV Networks.[2][4] A year later, Warner would acquire the 50% stake from American Express.[5]

On August 27, 1985, Warner sold 31% of MTV Networks to Viacom, with Warner also selling 19% of its Showtime/The Movie Channel, Inc. joint to Viacom as well.[6][7]

In November 1985, Viacom announced that it had plans to buy the remaining 69% of MTV Networks from Warner for $326 million,[8] The acquisition was completed on May 20, 1986.[9]

In 1988, the company partnered with fellow Viacom subsidiary Viacom Enterprises to handle advertising sales of Superboy, a syndicated television series.[10] The division was later evolved into One World Entertainment in the early 1990s, who partnered to launch a VH1 syndicated series.[11]

In 2003, MTV Networks assumed full ownership of Comedy Central from AOL Time Warner.

On December 31, 2005, the remnants of MTV Networks and Showtime Networks were separated following Viacom's split into two entities: CBS Corporation, which retained CBS, UPN, Simon & Schuster and Showtime Networks (Showtime, The Movie Channel, and Flix), and a spun-off company under the Viacom name, which took ownership of Paramount Pictures, BET Networks and MTV Networks (Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, and VH1). MTV Networks was renamed "Viacom Media Networks" in 2011.

Expansion (2011–2019)

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.[12][13] 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. Channel, BET, and Paramount Pictures.[14][15][16][17] 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.[18] 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.[19][20]

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.[21]

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.[22][23][24][25]

Reintroduction and re-merger with CBS (2019–present)

In August 2019, Viacom announced that it would merge with CBS Corporation, reuniting the two entities under the ViacomCBS name.[26][27] The merger closed on December 4, 2019.[28][29] 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",[30] 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 (formerly co-owned with Lionsgate);[31] Pop TV was transferred to the Entertainment & Youth Group on January 15, 2020.[32]

On February 16, 2022, ViacomCBS was renamed as Paramount Global, and ViacomCBS Domestic Media Networks was renamed Paramount Media Networks.[33] On May 9, 2023, Paramount announced that it would restructure its U.S. domestic network business.[34]

Channels list

Current channels

Category Name Notes Launch
MTV Entertainment Group
MTV Branded Networks MTV 1 August 1, 1981
MTV2 August 1, 1996
MTV Classic 19 August 1, 1998
MTV Live 20 January 16, 2006
MTV Tres August 1, 1998
MTVU 22 January 20, 2004
Entertainment & Youth Group CMT 5 March 5, 1983
Comedy Central 2 June 1, 1991
Logo TV 4 June 30, 2005
Paramount Network 3, 5 March 7, 1983
Pop 15 1981
Smithsonian Channel 13 September 26, 2007
TV Land 14 April 29, 1996
Premium Networks Group (Showtime Networks)
Showtime Networks Paramount+ with Showtime
  • Showtime 2
  • Showcase
  • Showtime Extreme
  • Showtime Family Zone
  • Showtime Next
  • Showtime Women
12 May 9, 1976 (Showtime)
October 1, 1991 (Showtime 2)
September 1999 (SHO×BET)
1996 (Showcase)
March 10, 1998 (Showtime Extreme)
March 2001 (Showtime Family Zone, Next and Women)
The Movie Channel
  • The Movie Channel Xtra
18 December 1, 1979
October 1, 1997
Flix 16 August 1, 1992
Kids & Family Entertainment (Nickelodeon Group)
Nickelodeon Networks Nickelodeon 7 April 1, 1979
Nick Jr. 8 September 28, 2009
Nick at Nite July 1, 1985
NickMusic 9 May 1, 2002
Nicktoons 10
TeenNick 11 September 28, 2009

Former channels and blocks


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

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

3Originally TNN from 1983 to 2003 (as The Nashville Network until 1997; as The National Network until 2003) and as Spike until January 2018.

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

5Channel was previously owned by Gaylord Entertainment Company, acquired in 1997 by the CBS Cable division of CBS Corporation, and became part of MTV Networks when CBS merged with Viacom.

6Channel created as VH1 Country before Viacom/CBS merger.

7Channel was originally launched under Warner-Amex Satellite Entertainment and tested as Pinwheel until 1979, then was officially launched as Nickelodeon.

8Channel space was previously held by Noggin (a joint venture with Sesame Workshop) before being replaced with the Nick Jr. Channel in 2009.

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 (styled as "nicktoons") once more in 2009.

11Channel space was previously held by Nickelodeon Games and Sports for Kids from 1999 to 2007, and a 24-hour version of Noggin's The N brand from 2007 to 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.[35]

14Channel was originally a block on Nick at Nite.

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

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 1999 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.

21Channel was originally a division of Warner Communications and the original owner of MTV, and launched on January 1, 1985, in the former space of Turner's short-lived Cable Music Channel.

22Channel slot was originally VH1 Uno, until MTV Networks on Campus replaced VH1 Uno with a televised simulcast of MTVU. The college campus feed of MTVU no longer exists but the public feed is still on a limited amount of MSOs.

Other properties


Through its Networks division, Paramount also owns internet properties, such as MTV News and AwesomenessTV. The company ran a virtual world system, Virtual MTV, in the late 2000s.[36]

The company has owned various other internet properties including virtual pets website Neopets; Flash game websites and; online content production company Atom Entertainment; along with, GameTrailers, and iFilm, all of which have been shut down or sold off during 2000s and 2010s.

New York headquarters

During the first quarter of 2008, iFilm was merged into Spike with its website re–branded and re–purposed as[37]

In 2014, Viacom purchased a stake in multi-channel network Defy Media, while offloading GameTrailers, Addicting Games, and Shockwave to Defy.[38]


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.[39] The two subsequently collaborated on the creation of Rock Band.[40] That year, Viacom also acquired the gaming–oriented communications platform Xfire.[41]

In 2010, Harmonix was divested to an investment firm to become an independent studio,[42][43] and Xfire was sold.[44]

In 2011, Viacom established a short–lived, in–house development studio known as 345 Games, which was dedicated primarily to developing games based on Comedy Central, MTV and Spike properties.[45]


MTV Entertainment Group

MTV Entertainment Group
Company typeSubsidiary
FoundedJune 25, 1984; 39 years ago (1984-06-25) (as MTV Networks)
August 1, 1996; 27 years ago (August 1, 1996) (as a separate group)
Key people
Chris McCarthy (president and CEO)
ParentParamount Media Networks

MTV Entertainment Group is a subsidiary of Paramount Media Networks and serves as the holdings company for the more general entertainment brands such as its flagships MTV, Comedy Central, and Paramount Network.[46]

In 2022, MTV Entertainment Group partnered up with Second Chance Studios to launch Media careers.[50]

Showtime Networks, Inc.

Showtime Networks Inc. is a subsidiary of Paramount Media Networks that oversees the company's premium cable television channels, including its flagship service Showtime.

Nickelodeon Group

Nickelodeon Group (also known as "Nickelodeon Networks Inc." and as its family distribution name called "Paramount Kids and Family Group") is an American entertainment company that oversees Paramount's kids' cable television channels, including its flagship service Nickelodeon.


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