Viacom International Media Networks has reached a deal with Northern & Shell to acquire free-to-air broadcaster Channel 5 for £450 million.
The two parties announced a definitive agreement for the deal today, with Viacom adding that the acquisition of Channel 5 will improve the content on offer to UK viewers on both Channel 5 and Viacom’s other UK channels – such as MTV and Comedy Central. Channel 5 airs a number of US dramas (CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, The Mentalist) and commissions a diverse slate of factual programming and more recently made a move back into scripted drama. Channel 5’s output in all of these areas is expected to increase dramatically under the umbrella of VIMN
The deal, which is subject to regulatory approval, fell short of the £700 million price tag that Northern & Shell’s Richard Desmond was seeking during the bidding process, which began in January. It is nevertheless a big profit on the price he paid (just north of £100 million) for Channel 5 back in 2010. A number of possible buyers emerged during the process, though the frontrunners had always been considered to be Viacom and Discovery, who retracted their bid last month.
“The acquisition of Channel 5 accelerates Viacom’s strategy in the UK, one of the world’s most important and valuable media markets. Channel 5’s momentum is indisputable, with impactful programming, increasing popularity and a growing digital platform. Channel 5’s management and employees have done an outstanding job building their brand and we are pleased to welcome them to our team”, said Philippe Dauman, CEO and President of Viacom. “Viacom’s global resources, technology and expertise will help Channel 5 develop even more compelling programming and provide content to consumers in exciting new ways. In addition, we will introduce our popular content to new UK audiences and create a comprehensive offering for our commercial partners on-air and on-line.
While Paul Dunthorne, Channel 5’s Chief Operating Officer, added: “Since Northern & Shell’s acquisition of Channel 5 in 2010, the financial and operating performance of the business has been transformed with improved audiences and content offering. The combination of Channel 5 with Viacom’s global resources, technology and expertise adds further to the momentum of the business and offers numerous exciting opportunities for the channel’s future.”