The company was founded in 1984 after Warner Communications and American Express decided to divest the basic cable assets of Warner-Amex Satellite Entertainment, renaming it as MTV Networks, Inc. Warner-Amex had originally created and owned Nickelodeon, MTV, VH1 and The Movie Channel. Viacom acquired 66% of the company in 1985 and then acquired the remaining 34% interest in 1986. MTV Networks was renamed Viacom Media Networks in 2011. In 2000, following Viacom's acquisition of CBS Corporation, The Nashville Network and CMT, the two channels owned by CBS by that time, became part of MTV Networks, with The Nashville Network becoming The National Network. In 2001, Viacom purchased Washington-based Black Entertainment Television, and integrated it into MTV Networks, which later separated BET from MTV to a new group BET Networks. In 2003, Comedy Central became part of MTV Networks after Viacom's acquisition of the remaining shares of the latter from Time Warner. The joint dates back to 1991, when HA! and Time Warner's The Comedy Channel merged. In January 2006, the remnants of Warner-Amex Satellite Entertainment were separated following Viacom's split into two entities: CBS Corporation, which retained Showtime, and a spun-off company under the Viacom name, which took ownership of Paramount Pictures and MTV Networks. 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. 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., BET, and Paramount Pictures. 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. 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. 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. 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. In August 2019, Viacom announced that it will re-merge with CBS Corporation, reuniting the two entities under the new name ViacomCBS. The merger closed in early December 2019. 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", 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; Pop TV was transferred to the Entertainment & Youth Group on January 15, 2020.
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. The two subsequently collaborated on the creation of Rock Band. That year, Viacom also acquired the gaming-oriented communications platform Xfire. In 2010, Harmonix was divested to an investment firm to become an independent studio, and Xfire was sold. In 2011, Viacom established a in-house studio known as 345 Games, which is dedicated primarily to developing games based on Comedy Central and MTV properties.
ViacomCBS Networks International
ViacomCBS Networks International is the sibling division of Domestic Media Networks. Its headquarters are in New York, London, Warsaw, and Buenos Aires, and manages the following brands: MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, Channel 5, Network 10, Telefe and Colors. The division is split into three regional units:
Former brands include TMF and VIVA which, along with digital properties Nitrome Limited, Shockwave, Addicting Games, Atom Films and Xfire, have either since merged with other networks, were shut down, or were sold off.