After receiving unconditional clearance from the European Commission, Viacom has finalized its purchase of British free-to-air broadcaster Channel 5 for US$726 million and announced development on Nella the Knight, its first joint kids commission.
Viacom’s deal to buy Channel 5 from its previous owners Northern & Shell Media Group was announced on May 1. It aims to boost the company’s investment in UK-produced content, complement Viacom’s existing pay-TV networks in the region, and grow Channel 5′s original programming pipeline with commissions and acquisitions.
Its first kids co-production with Channel 5′s preschool block Milkshake! is Nella the Knight, a brand-new animated series currently in development.
Viacom and Channel 5 will co-fund the UK-produced series and share broadcast rights as they already do with other preschool shows that air on Nick Jr. UK, including Peppa Pig, Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom and Bubble Guppies.
Episodes of Viacom-owned Nickelodeon series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and SpongeBob SquarePants are also expected to air on Channel 5.
Following the closure of the deal, Viacom has announced that Channel 5′s ad sales team will be retained.
Channel 5 does stand to benefit from Viacom’s growing ad network. In Q3 this year, Viacom’s global ad revenues rose 2% versus a year ago and its Media Networks division, which operates Nick Jr., TeenNick and Nicktoons, reported a 1% increase in revenue totaling US$2.59 billion.
To date, there are more than 20 branded Viacom TV networks on air in the UK, and Channel 5′s channels are seen by more than 42 million UK viewers every month.