Viacom to launch US factual channel Spike in the UK

Cowboy Builders: hosts Gabrielle Blackman and Dominic Littlewood
Cowboy Builders: hosts Gabrielle Blackman and Dominic Littlewood

Viacom International Media Networks (VIMN), a division of Viacom Inc. is expanding Spike, one of its most-watched US cable networks, to the UK.

The TV channel will launch on a Freeview digital terrestrial TV platform early next year. Spike currently reaches almost 100 million households in the US.

Spike’s UK programming will combine repeats of Channel 5 factual shows including Cowboy Builders with Spike's US content, such as Bar Rescue, a show where a nightlife expert revamps failing bars.

The channel, which is primarily aimed at males will also show films, series and other library content from Viacom's other brands that is likely to appeal to that audience.

Viacom brands include, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickleodeon, VH1 and Paramount Channel.

Spike will replace Viva on Freeview. The free-to-air UK TV rights to Viacom content previously owned by VIVA will move to 5*. Viva will continue to be available to cable and satellite viewers in the UK and Ireland.

Spike in the UK will be managed out of Channel 5 and a new channel director will be appointed. VIMN will also add Viacom content to 5USA and 5*. Viacom purchased Channel 5 in May this year for £463.3 million.

Sales for Spike will be through Sky Media, which handles all VIMN’s portfolio in the UK. 

Philippe Dauman, Viacom president and chief executive, said: "Spike is one of our best performing networks and brands and I’m delighted audiences outside the US are going to be able to access and enjoy it for the first time.

"This launch has been made possible by our recent acquisition of Channel 5, which gives us ownership of a pipeline of quality factual content.

"Combined with Spike's US content and targeted acquisitions it represents a powerful programme line-up that we are very confident will prove popular with British TV viewers.

"We believe this launch will establish a strong foundation for Spike launches in other countries."

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