Viacom Sees (Small) Full-Year U.S. Ad Revenue Gain For First Time In Six Years

In its last earnings report before merging with CBS in early December, Viacom said it realized a 6% gain in U.S. advertising revenue, to $946 million, in its fiscal fourth quarter, and a 1% increase for the full fiscal year ended September 30, to $3.65 billion.

But Viacom’s international ad revenue dipped 14% in the quarter and 13% for the year, resulting in a total-company ad revenue gain of just 1% (to $1.16 billion) in the quarter and a 2% decline (to $4.65 billion) for the year.

The full-year domestic ad revenue gain — the company’s first in six years — was driven by growth in the Advanced Marketing Solutions business, Viacom CEO Bob Bakish said in the results announcement.

AMS revenue shot up 76% in the full year, and 83% in the quarter, driven by higher OTT and studio production revenue and contractual rate increases, which were partially offset by subscriber declines.

Those declines weren’t at Viacom’s increasingly important Pluto TV: The ad-supported streaming service has seen its monthly active users rise nearly 70%, to 20 million in the current calendar year, according to the company.

Pluto launched 43 new channels, including 24 Viacom-branded channels, in fiscal Q4, and Pluto Latino now has 22 channels with more than 4,000 hours of Spanish and Portuguese programming, the company reported.

Viacom International Media Networks’ total revenue was up 4% in the quarter (to $2.6 billion) but down 1% in the year (to $9.88 billion), and adjusted operating income was down 16% in the quarter and 6% in the year (to $597 million and $2.94 billion, respectively).

Viacom attributed the declines in adjusted operating income to investments in “key growth initiatives,” including Pluto TV and the lunch of BET+.

Paramount returned to full-year profitability for the first time in four years.

Viacom’s domestic affiliate revenue rose 1% in quarter and 1% in the full year (to $1 billion and $4 billion, respectively) driven by Viacom's distribution across more viewing platforms.

Total-company affiliate revenue rose 6% in the quarter and 1% in the year (to $1.33 billion and $4.83 billion, respectively).

Licensing revenue rose 26% in the quarter and 5% in the year (to $1.6 billion). Home entertainment rose 4% in the year, to $646 million, and ancillary revenue rose 33%, to $260 million. But theatrical revenue declined 18%, to $567 million for the year.

Diluted earnings per share for the quarter were $0.75, down 22% versus $0.96 in the year-ago quarter. Diluted EPS for the full fiscal year were $3.77, down 10% versus $4.19 last fiscal.

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