Viacom International Studios (VIS) is expanding its third-party production capabilities with two new centers in Manchester and Madrid.
The new additions come amid a rebrand, as Viacom’s London-based production house, Elephant House Studios is renaming itself Viacom International Studios UK. VIS UK will be led by Jill Offman, who joins the team from Comedy Central and Paramount Network International where she served as EVP. Offman first joined Comedy Central in 2007, and as international brand head for both Comedy Central and Paramount Network, she oversaw comedy and drama productions for Viacom out of the UK.
Following the reband, VIS UK is opening a new production hub in Manchester to support efforts to secure English-language commissions from third-party broadcasters and distributors across the country, in addition to content produced for Channel 5 and Viacom’s pay TV channels. The UK outfit is wasting no time on its mandate to produce content for third parties, and is filming a factual series for ITV (its first-ever original production for a third-party platform).
Laura Abril, meanwhile, will lead the company’s expansion across Western and Southern Europe and MENA. Based in Madrid, Abril will manage an expanded team in an effort to secure commissions from pay-TV operators, broadcasters, SVODs and social media platforms across the territories. She will also oversee all production of multi-platform content for Viacom’s own branded networks in those regions. In addition to her new role leading VIS for Southern and Western Europe and MENA, Abril is SVP of multibrand for VIMN Iberia, with responsibility for editorial strategy for Viacom’s networks in Spain and Portugal. She first joined VIMN in 2009, and before that worked for Sony Pictures International Television as well as The Walt Disney Company.
Additionally, the VIS team in Madrid will partner with VIS Americas to develop, produce and syndicate content across Western and Southern Europe and MENA. VIS Americas launched in 2018 and boasts more than 900 hours of scripted, comedy, reality and kids’ live action from six different production centers available for presale or syndication.
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 (pictured) would premiere exclusively on Netflix. 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 SVOD based on Nick’s Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and The Loud House.
Beyond its ongoing efforts to produce and license content for third-party linear and digital platforms, Viacom also inked a content distribution agreement with T-Mobile that will allow the American wireless network operator to provide live linear feeds and on-demand content from Viacom brands like Nickelodeon to its customers.