US cable network Spike is coming to the UK.
Viacom International Media Networks has announced plans to roll out a number of international versions of the channel, beginning with the UK in early 2015. The UK channel will initially launch on Digital Terrestrial TV (DTT), though VIMN are also looking to secure distribution for Spike on Virgin Media and the UK’s DSAT platforms.
Spike is best known for reruns and unscripted series in the US, though the network has in the past produced original dramas and recently re-entered that space with a green-light for mini-series Tut, starring Alexander Siddig and Ben Kingsley. The US network is available in more than 97 million homes.
The launch of the UK channel has been made possible by Viacom’s recent acquisition of Channel 5 and will use the FTA broadcaster’s pipeline of factual programming to populate their schedules. In addition, Spike UK will air a range of programmes from its US sister network, acquired films and television series and a library of content from other Viacom brands such as Comedy Central and MTV. VIMN will appoint a channel manager for Spike UK, who will report into Channel 5 Programme Director Ben Frow. Sky Media will handle ad sales for the channel.
“Spike is one of our best performing networks and brands and I’m delighted audiences outside the U.S. are going to be able to access and enjoy it for the first time”, said Philippe Dauman, Viacom President and CEO. “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 U.S. content and targeted acquisitions it represents a powerful programme line-up that we are very confident will prove popular with British TV viewers”.
When Spike UK launches in early 2015 it will assume Viva’s slot Digital Terrestrial TV (DTT), though Viva – who have rerun rights to such shows as Whitney and Scrubs – will still be available to cable and satellite viewers in the UK and Ireland. As a result of removing Viva from DTT, the channel’s free-to-air programming will segue to 5*, while Viacom owned content will also be added to both 5* and 5USA.