Viacom's bro-centric Spike network hasn't been in the upper echelons of cable TV in the recent past, but the company plans to change all that. Today at Manhattan's Cipriani 42nd Street, a cavernous restaurant housed in what used to be an art deco bank building, the network announced its intentions to attract more women to its air, pump up its scripted offerings, and bring viewers the story of King Tut. Also, lip syncing.
Within the larger Viacom portfolio, "I think it's in a great place to be the home for general entertainment for both men and women," said the network's evp of brand marketing and creative, Frank Tanki. "Shows like Ink Master and Bar Rescue have brought in a ton of women, so now we just want to put a little polish on the brand. We're trying to make it a little more holistic as a brand. We want to make it more cohesive."
The network has big plans for the future, including a new show from World War Z author Max Brooks called Emergency Broadcast, in development with Legendary Entertainment, more episodes of Lip Sync Battles, and a new show ordered for 10 episodes called Sweat Inc., an unscripted series in which a health guru tries to find the right workout for the right bod.
Tut is definitely the highlight of the slate—star Ben Kinglsey attended the event in person alongside Avan Jogia, the miniseries' lead actor, and actress Sibylla Deen. It's a major investment in an original production (as opposed to an acquisition or a co-production with a larger partner) commissioned from Muse, the outfit that put together The Kennedys and Pillars of the Earth. And it looks like Spike will promote the six episodes (airing over three nights) aggressively.
"Scripted" was Spike's watchword on Tuesday, and with ratings of reality programming falling across the board, it's probably a good idea to play up high-budget hour-long dramas, even if they're being produced on the shorter British-style programming model.