Now & Next Podcast S2E6 – Viacom’s Short-Form Video Bet Is Paying Off

Brendan Yam, who serves as Viacom Digital Studios International’s senior vice president and general manager, joins Leora Kornfeld to discuss short-form video content and the instrumental part it plays in the media giant’s strategy.

Listen on:

The Battle for Attention: How Viacom Uses Short-Form Video

On this episode of Now & Next we explore how a major legacy media company is navigating the shift from the “lean back” experience of linear television to the short, snappy, and on-the-go mode of mobile viewing.

We’ll look at this paradigm shift under the perspective of Viacom, one of the world’s largest media conglomerates. Viacom is best known for creating some of the coolest, edgiest, youth-oriented programming ever seen on TV. Its media brands include MTV, BET, Comedy Central, VH1, Paramount and Nickelodeon.

But all the cool in the world wasn’t enough to defend Viacom from the array of content options people had once the internet became the dominant mode of content distribution.

How has Viacom found its way back to millions, if not billions, of viewers around the world? How is it defending its turf against the likes of TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube?

In this episode we’ll dig into these questions with Brendan Yam, vice president and general manager of Viacom Digital Studios International. He has been with the company since 2005, and for the past year and a half has led the company’s short-form digital content output — and its conquest of global markets.

In this episode, Brendan Yam:

  • Recalls the strategic reflexion that led to Viacom experimenting with short-form digital video content (2:24)
  • Ponders what works and what doesn't in this format (8:39)
  • Looks back at Viacom's short-form strategy and its successes around the world (10:43)
  • Discusses business models in the video space (16:34)

Download a transcript of the episode

Dig Deeper

  • During the interview, Leora Kornfeld references an article on Viacom by Matthew Ball and Jason Hirschhorn. The full title of that article is “Why Viacom Fell (And Why It Can Come Back).” Read it on REDEF.
  • Read “How the BBC Is Getting People to Watch Short-Form Video” on Digiday
  • Read “Viacom Sets Up International Hubs to Pump Out Short-Form Content” on Digiday
  • Read “Viacom Digital, Facebook Watch Cut Four-Continent Deal for Short-Form Shows” on Forbes
  • Read “The Next Wave in Storytelling Is Short-Form Video” on VentureBeat
  • Read “Mobile Content vs. Short-Form – It’s Not the Same Thing” on TubeFilter
  • Read “Shorts’ Are Long On Value for Consumers and Advertisers” by Deloitte
  • Read “Short-Form Mobile Video on the Rise For Gen Zs and Millennials” on DigitalTV Europe


We would like to give a major shout out to Toronto’s Buffer Festival and its staff, who were instrumental in arranging this interview. Buffer Festival is the world's largest international digital-first film festival. It features theatrical screenings, red carpets, educational keynotes, and awards — and you should definitely check it out.

About Now & Next

Now & Next is a podcast featuring in-depth interviews in which experts take a closer look at emerging trends and the digital transformation of the media and entertainment industries. Now & Next is brought to you by the Canada Media Fund, produced by Katie Jensen and recorded in Toronto at Vocal Fry Studios. Leora Kornfeld hosts the series.

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