Amid still-troubling TV network ratings concerns -- and some weak advertising results -- Viacom's media networks were the highlight of its quarterly earnings report.
Second-quarter 2012 revenues were 5% higher for its TV networks to $2.19 billion, boosted by big affiliate revenue gains of 15% during the period, and even higher 17% hikes for worldwide affiliate revenues.
This made up for its advertising results -- which struggled, just improving 1% versus the period before. Worldwide advertising sales were the same at $1.07 billion.
Viacom has said that in the fourth quarter of 2011, Nickelodeon witnessed some unexplained double-digit-percentage rating declines. Some analysts believe much of this could be caused by viewership erosion from deals Viacom made concerning Nickelodeon programming with the subscription video-on-demand service Netflix.
Viacom's filmed entertainment revenues -- theatrical, home entertainment and digital sales -- decreased 5%, to $1.17 billion because of lower theatrical and television license fee revenues. By itself, worldwide theatrical revenues gave up 19% in the quarter. Films did not match the performance of releases in the same period last year.
The current slate of releases include "The Devil Inside," "A Thousand Words" and "Jeff, Who Lives at Home" -- against strong performers the prior year including "Rango," "No Strings Attached" and "Justin Bieber: Never Say Never." Viacom says its worldwide filmed entertainment ancillary revenues -- digital sales -- increased 41% to $111 million in the quarter. Home Entertainment revenues were up slightly.
Overall, Viacom beat Wall Street expectations: Operating profit at the company's TV networks business rose 11% to $893 million. Film operating profit jumped 195% to $115 million, driven by lower distribution costs. Company-wide operating income was $932 million, up 23%. Revenue gained 2% to $3.33 billion.