Viacom Revs Dip 6%, But Nickelodeon Rebounds

Philippe-Dauman-A2A year ago, there were all kinds of questions about falling ratings at Nickelodeon. Was Nielsen cheating the network? Was Netflix peeling kids away?

On Wednesday on an earnings call, much of that seemed to be in the rear-view mirror. With ratings regaining momentum and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” a plus, Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman said Nick has already sold about a third of its upfront inventory.

Furthermore, he said marketers are warming to a new Nick iPad app that is at the core of the brand’s multiplatform future. Referring to it as an “interactive playground,” he said content stretches from full episodes to games to opportunities to link with network stars.

Viacom is planning to launch similar apps this summer, linked with brands such as MTV, which will include a heavy emphasis on social media along with original content and full episodes.

The apps have a role in Viacom’s TV Everywhere offerings, helping boost value for distributors, Dauman said on the call.

In the January-March quarter, domestic advertising rose 2%. Ad dollars at the Viacom cable networks helped offset a fall-off at the film studio in the quarter, as revenues fell 6% to $3.14 billion. Profit came in at $478 million, down 22%.

Separately, the CEO touted a “BET Experience” coming to downtown Los Angeles this summer linked with an annual awards show. The multifaceted event -- which will help generate some 16 hours of programming -- will be held in concert with a Beyonce performance at the Staples Center. Also included will be other musical acts and an outdoor festival, with screenings of BET-produced films and panel discussions about issues impacting the network’s audience.

Dauman said the Paramount studio will continue to return to TV production. A partnership with Sony includes plans for a “Beverly Hills Cop”-inspired series. Original series as well as others linked with film franchises are being considered. “We see great opportunity here,” Dauman said.

The executive touched on Viacom’s deal with Netflix that runs through the end of the month. He said negotiations on a renewal continue, but indicated Viacom would be content to walk away and work on stronger arrangements with Netflix competitors.



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