Viacom To Launch New Programming Service

Viacom looks to start more efforts in the merry-go-round of new digital premium TV-video businesses. When can we hope to get off the roller coaster?

Viacom's new service will include programming from all its networks -- including big cable channels such as MTV and Comedy Central, held back from other existing digital services.  

The news comes from a conference call the company had with analysts on Thursday.

Months ago, Viacom -- and other pure-play network groups -- began a live TV streaming, entertainment-focused, sports-free offering called Philo  for consumers, priced at less than half of similar competitors.

The $16-per-month package includes 11 top Viacom networks in a collection of 35-plus channels from A+E, AMC, Discovery and Scripps. It has yet to kick off a marketing campaign.

While Viacom is working on this, it is also eyeing the bigger picture: media consolidation. Last year, two pure-play cable TV groups, Discovery Communications and Scripps Networks Interactive, announced they would be combining operations in a merger deal. Discovery would buy Scripps for $14.6 billion.



That’s where Viacom’s consideration of a merger with CBS comes in. Drilling down to real operations, however, is the issue of what comes next for any TV network group? Does it stay part of a bigger entity or go it alone with new digital platforms?

Every time new digital businesses are offered by major media companies one key question always comes up: Is there a clearer endgame here for consumers to follow? Are these multiple R&D efforts navigating toward a common home?

Viacom’s stock was up 7% on Thursday -- as high at 12% that day -- even as the overall stock market lost 4.1%. Surely, a possible re-merger with CBS factored into much of this. At the same time, Viacom did over-deliver on its net income for the most recent reporting period, though revenue didn’t come up to par.

Overall, the industry still has a marketing issue about when and where consumers can find specific content. There is Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, network-owned OTT efforts, new live-streaming apps, on-demand programming apps, carriage of traditional TV networks on new live streaming apps, and existing TV channels on traditional pay TV providers.

And then, just to complicate things, there are traditional pay TV blackouts, which Viacom, and virtually every TV network group, has been subjected to for years.

So no calm before the storm; it's just a nonstop storm. Dizzy? Wet? Unfortunately, we are just getting started. Here’s looking for the Dramamine Channel.

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