ViacomCBS Domestic Media Networks

ViacomCBS Domestic Media Networks[1] (formerly known as Warner Cable Communications, Warner-Amex Satellite Entertainment, MTV Networks and Viacom Media Networks) is an American mass media division of ViacomCBS that oversees the operations of many of its television channels and Internet brands. Its related international division is ViacomCBS Networks International.

ViacomCBS Domestic Media Networks
  • Warner Cable Communications (1977–1979)
  • Warner-Amex Satellite Entertainment (1979–1984)
  • MTV Networks (1985–2011)
  • Viacom Media Networks (2011–2019)
IndustryEntertainment, cable and satellite television
  • December 1, 1977 (1977-12-01) (as Warner Cable Communications)
  • July 18, 1984 (1984-07-18) (as MTV Networks)
FounderRobert Pittman
Headquarters1515 Broadway, ,
Key people


Logo used as Warner-Amex Satellite Entertainment.

Warner-Amex Satellite Entertainment consists of Warner-Amex Cable (later became Warner Cable/Time Warner Cable, became part of Charter Communications), and eventually Nickelodeon (formerly Pinwheel), Bravo (in a joint with Cablevision's Rainbow Media (now AMC Networks), later sold to them, purchase by NBC, now owned by NBCUniversal), MTV (formerly Sight on Sound), VH1 (channel spot originally Turner's Cable Music Channel), and The Movie Channel (which later merged with Viacom's Showtime in 1983 to become Showtime/The Movie Channel, Inc.). Warner-Amex Cable division even owned the QUBE interactive cable service as well.


Warner Cable begins and renamed Warner-Amex (1977–1984)

Logo used as Warner Cable Communications

In 1977, Warner Cable Communications is founded. In 1979, Warner Communications, alongside card firm American Express, formed a joint–venture company called Warner-Amex Satellite Entertainment, merging Warner Cable Communications into it.

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. Pinwheel became Nickelodeon in April 1979. In 1981, Sight on Sound became MTV.

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. It was launched on December 1, 1980. However, it was sold to Rainbow Media in 1984; Bravo was eventually purchased by General Electric's NBC Entertainment division in 2002 and it is now owned by NBCUniversal.

John Lack had worked in sales at CBS Radio (in fact, it was he who suggested Schneider to Warner chief Ross) and had an idea of cable programming as a series of special–interest 'channels.' A devotee of popular music, he developed a half–hour show named Pop Clips at Nickelodeon with musician Mike Nesmith as a program for music video film clips. He also planned a series of 24–hour channels to imitate the strategy of The Movie Channel—single–focus programming for music, video gaming, and shopping. Bob Pittman accepted Lack's idea and inaugurated the music channel as MTV: Music Television (née The Music Channel), in the process developing the careers of such future media executives as Mark Booth, Larry Divney, Fred Seibert, Andrew G. Setos, and John Sykes.

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 with this joint venture.

Meanwhile, Warner Communications experienced financial upheaval, including Atari's involvement in the video game crash of 1983, and legal questions about the business dealings of Ross and his senior lieutenants. Jack Schneider also left WASEC, being replaced by senior Warner executive David Horowitz, who oversaw Warner Communications' half of the WASEC joint venture.

American Express sold their stake in Warner-Amex Cable to Warner Communications, which renamed the company Warner Cable.

MTV Networks begins and acquisition by Viacom (1984–2005)

1st MTV Networks logo
2nd MTV Networks logo
3rd MTV Networks logo

On July 19, 1984, Warner Communications made the decision to divest Nickelodeon, MTV, and VH1 into a public corporation called MTV Networks, Inc..[2]

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.[3]

In November 1985, Viacom bought the remaining 69% of MTV Networks from Warner and American Express for $326 million;[4] this led to Viacom becoming a mass media company rather than simply a distribution company and ending Warner's venture into cable television until it added HBO and Cinemax as part of its merger with Time Inc. in 1990. Time Warner, as Warner Communications was now known at this time, would also purchase the Turner Broadcasting System, consisting of the TBS, TNT, CNN and Cartoon Network cable networks in 1996. Time Warner would retain Time Warner Cable[5] until spinning off that division into a separate company in 2009; that unit would eventually become part of Spectrum, a brand of Charter Communications which was launched in 2014.

In 2000, following Viacom's acquisition of CBS Corporation, The Nashville Network and CMT, the two channels owned by CBS by that time under CBS Cable, became part of MTV Networks, with The Nashville Network becoming The National Network.

In 2001, Viacom purchased Washington-based BET Holdings, the owners of the Black Entertainment Television network, and was integrated into Viacom (which owned MTV Networks), but was later separate into BET Networks following outcry from BET headquarters' employees.

In 2002, Viacom acquired Sesame Workshop's shares of Noggin (now Nick Jr. Channel), and placed it under editorial control of MTV Networks' Nickelodeon.

In 2003, Comedy Central became part of MTV Networks after Viacom acquired 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 2005, Viacom announced plans of looking into splitting into two publicly traded companies under the continuing ownership of National Amusements because of a stagnating stock price. The internal rivalry between Les Moonves and Tom Freston, longtime heads of CBS and MTV Networks respectively, and the controversy of the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show, which resulted in MTV being banned from producing any more Super Bowl halftime shows, were also seen as factors. After the departure of Mel Karmazin in 2004, Redstone, who served as chairman and chief executive officer, decided to split the offices of president and chief operating officer between Moonves and Freston. Redstone was set to retire shortly, and a split would be a creative solution to the matter of replacing him. The split was approved by Viacom's board on June 14, 2005.

Viacom splits CBS and spun–off Viacom (2006–2019)

Viacom Media Networks logo

In January 2006, 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.

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.[6][7] 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.[8][9][10][11] 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.[12] 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.[13][14]

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.[15]

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.[16][17][18][19]

Viacom re–merged with CBS to become ViacomCBS (2019–present)

In August 2019, Viacom announced that it would re-merge with CBS Corporation, reuniting the two entities under the new name ViacomCBS.[20][21] The merger closed in early December 2019.[22][23] 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",[24] 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);[25] Pop TV was transferred to the Entertainment & Youth Group on January 15, 2020.[26] In October 2020, the Entertainment & Youth Group was renamed MTV Entertainment Group. In 2021, Nickelodeon formed Avatar Studios to create more content based off its popular Avatar: The Last Airbender series.

Channels list

Current channels

Category Name Notes Launch
MTV Entertainment Group
CMT CMT 5 March 5, 1983
CMT Music 6 August 1, 1998
MTV 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
Other Comedy Central 2 June 1, 1991
Logo 4 June 30, 2005
Paramount Network 3, 5 March 7, 1983
Pop TV 15 1981
Smithsonian Channel 13 September 26, 2007
TV Land 14 April 29, 1996
VH1 21 January 1, 1985
Kids & Family Group
Nickelodeon Nickelodeon 7 April 1, 1979
Nick Jr. 8 September 28, 2009
NickMusic 9 May 1, 2002
Nicktoons 10
TeenNick 11 September 28, 2009
Nick at Nite July 1, 1985
NickRewind July 25, 2011
Noggin (steaming service only) February 2, 1999
Premium Content Group
BET Networks BET July 1, 1983
BET Gospel July 1, 2002
BET Her January 15, 1996
BET Hip–Hop July 1, 2005
BET Jams May 1, 2002
BET Soul August 1, 1998
BET+ (streaming service) September 19, 2019
Showtime Networks Showtime
  • Showtime 2
  • Showcase
  • SHO×BET17
  • Showtime Extreme
  • Showtime Family Zone
  • Showtime Next
  • Showtime Women
12 May 9, 1976 (Showtime)

October 1, 1991 (Showtime 2)

September 1999 (SHOxBET)

1996 (Showtime Extreme)

March 10, 1998 (Showcase)

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

Warner-Amex Satellite Entertainment

  • Bravo (sold to Rainbow Media in 1984; later purchased by General Electric's NBC Entertainment division in 2003, and NBCUniversal a year after)
  • Pinwheel (officially launched as Nickelodeon, Pinwheel block replaced with Nick Junior block)
  • Slight on Sound (officially launched as MTV)

MTV Networks/Viacom Media Networks/ViacomCBS Domestic Media Networks

Pluto TV


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

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

3Originally TNN from 1983 to 2003 (as The Nashville Network until 1997; as The National Network until 2003) and was known as Spike until January 2018. Will relaunch as Paramount Movie Network in 2021.

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

5Channel originally owned by the CBS Cable division of CBS Corporation, became part of MTV Networks when CBS merged with Viacom.

6Created as VH1 Country prior to Viacom/CBS merger.

7Channel was created by Warner-Amex Satellite Entertainment originally tested as Pinwheel until 1979 when it was officially launched as Nickelodeon.

8Channel was originally known as Noggin before being rebranded as Nick Jr. in 2009. Co–owned with Sesame Workshop from 1999 to 2002.

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 was originally known as The N before being rebranded as TeenNick in 2009. Slot originally belonged to Nickelodeon Games and Sports for Kids from 1999 to 2007 (Dish Network in 2009, replaced with Turner's Cartoon Network West)

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.[27]

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 division of Warner Communications and the original owner of MTV, and launched on January 1, 1985, in the former space of Turner Broadcasting System'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.

Other properties


Through its Domestic Media Networks division, ViacomCBS also owns internet properties, such as MTV News and AwesomenessTV. The company ran a virtual world system, Virtual MTV, in the late 2000s.[28]

During Viacom, the company 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[29] The content of was set to be composed of Spike programming, Comedy Central clips, GameTrailers and MTV videos. In 2014 when Viacom sold several online properties to Defy Media, Defy additionally bought the iFilm URL, and so it then redirected to Defy’s property Screen Junkies. It is no longer in use.

In 2012, was absorbed into Comedy Central, and the domain now redirects to Comedy Central’s website at

On March 17, 2014, Viacom sold Neopets to JumpStart Games for an unannounced amount.

In 2014, Viacom purchased a stake in MCN Defy Media while offloading GameTrailers, Addicting Games, and Shockwave to Defy.[30]


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.[31] The two subsequently collaborated on the creation of Rock Band.[32] That year, Viacom also acquired the gaming–oriented communications platform Xfire.[33]

In 2010, Harmonix was divested to an investment firm to become an independent studio,[34][35] and Xfire was sold.[36]

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.[37]

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.

See also


  1. Lafayette, Jon. "Viacom-CBS Merger Done Creating Larger TV Company". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved December 9, 2019.
  2. "BUSINESS PEOPLE ; A Chief Is Named By MTV Networks". The New York Times. July 19, 1985. Retrieved June 1, 2014.
  3. "Viacom to Buy Warner Stake In Cable Units". The Washington Post. August 27, 1985.
  4. Fabrikant, Geraldine (September 17, 1986). "VIACOM CHIEF LEADS GROUP'S BUYOUT BID (Published 1986)". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 23, 2021. In November 1985, Viacom acquired MTV Networks for $326 million in cash and warrants. One-third of MTV was publicly owned; the rest was owned by Warner Communications and the American Express Company. At the same time, Viacom bought 50 percent of Showtime, the pay television service, that it did not already own for $184 million.
  5. Warner Amex Revamps
  6. Jannarone, John (October 28, 2012). "Audiences Fall for MTV, Comedy Central". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved June 22, 2013.
  7. Flint, Joe (October 10, 2012). "MTV has big ratings issue, analyst warns". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 22, 2013.
  8. Lieberman, David (February 9, 2017). "Viacom CEO Supports Paramount And Non-Core Networks – But For How Long?". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved September 18, 2017.
  9. "Viacom Stock Rises on Restructuring". Multichannel. February 9, 2017. Retrieved September 2, 2019.
  10. "Viacom Unveils Five-Point Turnaround Plan (MESA)". February 9, 2017. Retrieved September 2, 2019.
  11. "Viacom outlines five point turnaround plan". TBI Vision. February 9, 2017. Retrieved September 2, 2019.
  12. Goldberg, Lesley (February 1, 2017). "Viacom Restructure: CMT, TV Land Moved to Kevin Kay's Global Entertainment Group". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 5, 2019.
  13. Andreeva, Nellie (February 9, 2017). "Spike President On Channel's Rebranding As The Paramount Network". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved February 10, 2017.
  14. Andreeva, Nellie (February 9, 2017). "Spike To Change Name & Become The Paramount Network In Viacom Rebranding". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved September 18, 2017.
  15. Holloway, Daniel; Otterson, Joe (October 25, 2018). "Kevin Kay Exits Paramount Network as Viacom Reorganizes Cable Channels". Variety. Retrieved February 5, 2019.
  16. "Viacom Acquires Free Streaming Platform Pluto TV for $340 Million". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 23, 2019.
  17. "Viacom Announces Completion of Pluto TV Acquisition". March 4, 2019. Retrieved March 4, 2019.
  18. Spangler, Todd (April 29, 2019). "Viacom Launching 14 Free Channels on Pluto TV, Sets Broad Digital Originals Slate". Variety. Retrieved April 30, 2019.
  19. Peterson, Tim (April 16, 2019). "Viacom will debut 15 channels on Pluto TV to bolster its upfront pitch". Retrieved April 29, 2019.
  20. Szalai, George; Bond, Paul; Vlessing, Etan (August 13, 2019). "CBS, Viacom Strike Deal to Recombine". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 15, 2019.
  21. "CBS and Viacom To Combine" (PDF). CBS. August 12, 2019.
  22. Steinberg, Brian (October 28, 2019). "Viacom, CBS Set to Merge in Early December". Variety. Retrieved October 28, 2019.
  23. Weprin, Alex (October 29, 2019). "Viacom-CBS Merger Now Expected to Close in 'Early December'". Billboard. Retrieved October 29, 2019.
  24. "ViacomCBS shakes up its content leadership teams following merger". TechCrunch. Retrieved December 9, 2019.
  25. Viacom and CBS Announce Content and Digital Leadership
  26. Littleton, Cynthia (January 15, 2020). "ViacomCBS Shuffles Oversight of Pop TV, Bellator MMA Amid Post-Merger Restructuring (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety.
  27. "Smithsonian sells its stake in... the Smithsonian Channel". November 8, 2019. Retrieved July 31, 2020.
  28. "Virtual MTV Launches Alpha of Browser-Based Experience". Engage Digital. February 5, 2009. Retrieved September 14, 2015.
  29. Andrew Hampp (September 11, 2007). "Once Considered a YouTube Rival, MTV Does Away With". AdAge. Retrieved February 18, 2012.
  30. Kafka, Peter (June 9, 2014). "Viacom Makes a Web Video Bet, and Grabs a Piece of Defy Media". Recode. Retrieved November 21, 2018.
  31. "MTV acquires Harmonix for USD $175 million". Retrieved October 9, 2017.
  32. Kohler, Chris (September 14, 2007). "A Glimpse Into Harmonix's Punk-Rock Design Process". Wired. Retrieved July 24, 2008.
  33. "Viacom to acquire Xfire". GameSpot. April 24, 2006. Retrieved October 9, 2017.
  34. Halliday, Josh (December 24, 2010). "Viacom sells Rock Band game studio". The Guardian. London. Retrieved December 24, 2010.
  35. Marie, Meagan (December 23, 2010). "Viacom Sells Harmonix To Columbus Nova". Game Informer. Retrieved December 23, 2010.
  36. Wauters, Robin. "Exclusive: Titan Gaming Takes Xfire Off Viacom's Hands". TechCrunch. Retrieved October 9, 2017.
  37. "MTV Networks Group Launches 345 Games". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 9, 2017.
  38. "MTV Latin America Confirms Rock Band Thirty Seconds to Mars to Perform at MTV World Stage Mexico" (Press release). Mexico: Retrieved May 31, 2012.
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