Viacom Offers Ideas on Digital Video Threats

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When it comes to knowing how young people are using digital media to watch their favorite television shows, no one should know more than MTV parent Viacom. During the company’s first quarter earnings call with analysts on Thursday, Hulu, Netflix and the cord-cutting phenomena were all on the minds of analysts who see them as threats to the current TV business models. Company executives had interesting answers to some of those issues.

The day before the earning call, Viacom signed a new agreement with Hulu providing access to shows including The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and Jersey Shore, some immediately, some delayed; some for free, others on the subscription service Hulu Plus.

Here’s what Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman had to say about how he views the broadband video distributors:

“We find in the Hulu and Netflix services to be complementary to television viewing. And we look at windowing not just on an aggregate basis, but we look at it based on particular shows or genres, for example, Daily Show and Colbert will available on a much shorter window because it is a topical show. We have a new show every day and what we found through our own sites and other distribution is that the online viewing of yesterday’s show actually drives a viewing of subsequent shows. So it serves an important marketing function. So not only is it additive from an economic standpoint, but in fact, it can help drive the viewing for shows that have immediacy.”  

“One of the reasons that windowing is so important is that — and the focus of our programmers has evolved, is that we need to have the immediacy, the impact of our shows like Jersey Shore, like that new episode of iCarly, that people want to see right now. They don’t want to wait for 21 days. And in fact, when they look at the older shows, can introduce those shows to new audiences that will then look at the shows when they become available on television. Now, the marketplace may evolve and we will track that as we go forward.”

Viacom COO Tom Dooley chimed in on the way the likelihood of cord cutting changes as a young person grows up and family life  changes.

“We’ve also seen in our research when they get married the likelihood of subscribing to a multi-video provider increases dramatically and then when they have children, it geometrically increases and that is almost 100% at that level. There’s very few cord-cutters that have kids. So we see this sort of a college age phenomena. We don’t see it as a big industry trend that people should be all that worried about.”