Dec 02, 2019
A celebration of the content that defined the year for fans and creators.
For millions of people around the world, Viacom content provides an escape. They laugh with SpongeBob SquarePants and Trevor Noah, cheer for the contestants of RuPaul's Drag Race and the Are You the One?, and get lost in the drama of Jack Ryan and Yellowstone's Dutton family.
At Viacom, as the end of the year approaches, we like to reflect on the highlights of the last 12 months. It's not just about celebrating the moments we were able to share with audiences of all ages—it's also about understanding the creators, ideas, and themes that made the year so remarkable. With our Year in Review, we're able to see how content drives the culture forward.
The last year was monumental for fans and employees. We acquired Pluto TV, the leading ad-supported streaming service, providing audiences with more content at no cost. We bid farewell to Broad City's Ilana and Abbi and welcomed Blue and his clues back to our screens. We hummed along to the life of Elton John in Rocketman and were awestruck by Missy Elliot's medley on-stage at MTV's Video Music Awards.
In honor of the year that was—and the talent, creative spirit, and fans that made it all possible—here’s a look at some of the biggest moments of our year:
Hover your mouse across the image to learn more about how each moment made an impact this year. This experience is best viewed on desktop.
SpongeBob Turns the Big 2-0
Twenty years after SpongeBob SquarePants debuted on Nickelodeon, the show continues to influence culture. To celebrate the franchise’s 20th year—coined the “best year ever” by the network—there was an anniversary TV special, Kyrie Irving Nike sneakers, an art collaboration by singer J. Balvin and artist Louis De Guzman, the creation of new Pantone colors, SpongeBob Yellow and Patrick Star Pink, among many other celebration initiatives.
Plus, the lovable yellow sponge appeared in the 2019 Super Bowl halftime show in February. After millions signed a Change.org petition calling for the SpongeBob song “Sweet Victory” to play during the halftime show, Bikini Bottom fans got their wish: SpongeBob and Squidward made a quick and remarkable appearance to introduce Travis Scott’s Sicko Mode. The appearance sparked millions to stream the track that’s originally from the “Band Geeks” episode, with Billboard reporting that streams of “Sweet Victory” jumped 566% the day after the cartoon’s big game cameo (far outpacing other halftime performers).
The Summer of 'Yellowstone'
Paramount Network’s original series, Yellowstone, ranked as summer’s top cable series with 5.1 million average viewers.
The drama—about a Montana ranch owner, played by Kevin Costner, and his family—is the centerpiece of Paramount Network’s strategy to create TV as exciting as movies. Yellowstone is a perfect representation of the brand’s desire to produce premium content where setting plays as important a role as the characters. The series’ setting is integral to its character development—a pattern that continues in Paramount Network’s forthcoming scripted series, including Coyote, 68 Whiskey, and Paradise Lost.
Pluto TV Becomes a Viacom Brand
In January, Viacom announced its agreement to acquire the free TV streaming platform, Pluto TV. The addition extends Viacom’s distribution and advertising solutions portfolio. Since the acquisition, the platform’s added Viacom-branded channels, expanded into international markets, and increased domestic monthly active subscribers by 70% to 20 million this calendar year. As CEO and President Bob Bakish recently said during Viacom’s earnings call, “In short, in a crowded subscription universe, as consumers become increasingly more value-conscious, we strongly believe that having the leading free streaming TV service in-country, and over time, the world, is a huge competitive advantage.”
RuPaul’s Emmy Sweep
RuPaul’s Drag Race added another four Emmys to its award show haul, while host RuPaul Charles took home the statuette for Outstanding Reality Host for the fourth consecutive year. The Drag Race franchise made VH1 history with over 14 nominations, marking an iconic moment for the LGBTQ+ community and “...all the gorgeous kids who come and show how fabulous they are,” according to Charles’ acceptance speech.
And, ending the year in sashay fashion, RuPaul became the first drag queen in history to appear on the cover of Vanity Fair.
Rocketman’s Crazy Ride
Paramount Pictures’ Rocketman proved to be a win for the studio as one of the most successful musical biopics ever, according to Forbes. The film grossed $25 million domestically during opening weekend in May. The musical biopic follows the life of pop icon Elton John, who fostered the idea for nearly 30 years before teaming up with Paramount to bring his dream to the big screen.
Tyler Perry’s Streaming Sensation
In October, Tyler Perry debuted his first shows for BET with The Oval and Sistas, attracting more than 3 million total viewers combined during premiere night and becoming one of the most talked about shows on social media. As part of a Viacom deal announced in 2017, Perry will produce roughly 90 television episodes per year for BET, short-form video content across the company’s networks, and will grant Paramount Pictures exclusive first-look rights on feature films.
Comedy Central’s Rising Ratings
Comedy Central finished the fiscal year at the end of September with the largest ratings growth among men 18 to 34 since 2014. It also posted its 10th consecutive quarters of year-over-year share growth for viewers 18 to 49—the longest recorded streak since tracking began.
Plus, the network’s long-running animated series, South Park, surpassed its 300-episode mark and was renewed for three more seasons. The show will be the longest-running prime-time scripted cable television series and the second longest-running animated series after The Simpsons.
'Are You The One?' Makes History
MTV’s hit reality show Are You The One? made history this year by featuring an all-sexually fluid cast for its eighth season. The show premiered in January of 2014 and previously featured heteronormative relationships. As MTV News said in announcing the casting news, “Finding love is fair game -- so come one, come all.”
Viacom’s Ignites an Internal Spark
Viacom held its first annual internal Spark event—to equip, engage, and inspire employees—across all global offices. From insightful speakers and panels to creative workshops and brainstorming sessions, all Viacom offices participated in events to better understand the respective brands, business, and culture. Speakers like Spike Lee and Elaine Welteroth shared their thoughts on being brave, honest, and empathetic—all themes of Viacom’s mission and values.
As well, in September, the Office of Global Inclusion hosted a series of Inclusion Week events—delving into what it means to be a diverse and inclusive company—across our global offices.
David Spade’s New Late Night
Comedy Central’s Lights Out with David Spade debuted as the number one new late-night show of 2019. The series—notable for its refusal to talk politics—offers a fresh take on pop culture and entertainment, with cameos and segments featuring his famous friends.
JoJo’s D.R.E.A.M. Comes True
It was a big year for JoJo Siwa, the 16-year-old YouTube personality, singer, dancer, entrepreneur, and best-selling author who signed with Nickelodeon in 2017. She kicked off her first live concert tour, Nickelodeon’s JoJo Siwa D.R.E.A.M The Tour, which is hitting 80 cities across North America, with shows in the UK and Ireland to follow.
Live Events Continue to Bring Fun
This year brought laughs, unforgettable performances, and lots of slime with on-the-ground experiences including Clusterfest, SlimeFest, VidCon, the BET Awards, and more.
This emphasis on live events comes from Viacom CEO Bob Bakish and his strategic turnaround plan. As Bakish told Adweek in early 2018, “Building on the success of our international events business, every flagship brand now will have a live event in the U.S.”
Documentary Legend Sheila Nevins Joins MTV
Emmy-winning producer Sheila Nevins joined the Viacom family in May. In her new role, she will head MTV Studios new division, MTV Documentary Films. Nevins brings in over 40 years of experience and has produced over 1,500 series and films during her time with HBO Documentary Films.
"Throughout her stellar career, Sheila has elevated documentaries into one of the most compelling, culturally influentially forms of modern storytelling,” MTV president Chris McCarthy, who also oversees MTV Studios, told The Hollywood Reporter, "As we grow and expand MTV, we’re excited for Sheila to bring a new generation of filmmakers to the forefront and continue to extend our creativity and cultural impact."