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Bob Bakish is President and Chief Executive Officer of Viacom Inc. and is responsible for growing Viacom’s industry-leading brands – including Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon and BET – and the world-renowned Paramount Pictures film and TV studio. He is focused on investing in and developing new content, expanding distribution and pursuing strategic growth opportunities in Viacom’s core businesses.
Bakish has been promoted to his role after serving as President and CEO of VIMN – and its predecessor MTV Networks International – since 2007 and more than doubling the division’s revenue and consistently growing its profitability across that period. VIMN enjoyed its most profitable year financially in the 12 months to September 30th 2016, thanks to the success of its diversification strategy that has helped it build leading positions in some of the world’s most valuable media markets including established markets like the U.K., Italy and Spain, as well as higher growth markets such as India, Mexico, Brazil, China, Russia and Africa, where VIMN is the continent’s leading supplier of pay TV channels.
As CEO of VIMN, Bakish oversaw a massive expansion of the international footprint of Viacom’s branded TV networks, gaining distribution for Comedy Central and Nick Jr. and launching Spike and Paramount Channel – now the world’s leading ad-supported movie network – to sit alongside MTV and Nickelodeon on pay TV platforms worldwide. Viacom’s 200 plus TV channels now reach a cumulative 3.9 billion subscribers across more than 180 countries and broadcast in more than 40 languages, making it the world’s largest entertainment company by reach across TV.
In addition, Bakish built scale for Viacom in high value and high growth international media markets through the launch or acquisition of large general entertainment networks including Colors in India – through its Viacom18 joint venture with Reliance Industries – Channel 5 in the UK, which has just delivered record profits under Viacom’s ownership, and, most recently, Telefe in Argentina.
Bakish also rapidly accelerated VIMN’s digital strategy and grew online engagement with its video content, by launching a range of innovative multi-platform products, including My Nick Jr. and My MTV and mobile streaming service, Viacom Play Plex, which makes content from all Viacom’s branded TV networks available to view on-demand and on-the-go. Play Plex mobile apps have been downloaded 16M times to date and served more than half a billion streams.
Under Bakish’s direction, VIMN has also substantially increased the volume of programming it originates and owns internationally, driven in part by the launch of Viacom International Studios in Miami, and the expansion of Channel 5 Productions in the UK. VIMN has also scaled up production of short form video content for distribution via its own digital properties and third party social media platforms, including via MTV and Comedy Central’s global channels on Snapchat Discover; Viacom now has an estimated 850 million fans and followers on social media worldwide.
In addition, Bakish has expanded the ‘real world’ presence of VIMN's brands through live events, stores, theme parks and recreation.
Prior to taking over responsibility for Viacom’s international business, Bakish held a series of corporate, sales and development roles at both Viacom Inc. and Viacom’s MTV Networks (MTVN). From 2004 to 2006, he played a key role in Viacom’s senior management team, serving as Executive Vice President, Operations and Viacom Enterprises with responsibility for Strategic Planning and Business Development and a range of business units including the Famous Music Publishing Company and Famous Players Theater Circuit in Canada. He served as EVP and Chief Operating Officer, MTVN Advertising Sales, from 2001 to 2004, and was also Chairman of the Cable Television Advertising Bureau from 2003 to 2005. Prior to that, Mr. Bakish was Senior Vice President, Planning, Development and Technology at Viacom.
Before joining Viacom Inc. in 1997, Bakish was a partner with Booz Allen & Hamilton in its Media and Entertainment practice. He worked with clients in the TV, motion picture, book publishing and new media industries in the U.S., Europe, Latin America and Asia. Previously, he worked at AT&T in network systems.
Bakish has an M.B.A. from Columbia Business School and a B.S. in Operations Research from Columbia’s School of Engineering and Applied Science. Mr. Bakish serves on the boards of both schools and is also a Director on the Board of AVID Technologies, a NASDAQ-listed company.