Viacom's Executive Chairman Sumner Redstone opened the
content company's first quarter earnings call with a proclamation that, "We'll
engage audiences on every screen, on every device and every place on this
And while the company's cross platform movie channel Epix is
an example of what the company hopes to achieve, CEO Philippe Dauman was a
little more circumspect about its plan for a TV Everywhere-type
domination. When asked by an analyst whether the company prefers cable
operator fronted aggregation plays or rolling out its long form content online
through its own sites, Dauman said: "There are technology and measurement
issues. It's important that Nielsen measure the viewing on non-traditional
platforms. As that progresses we are willing to have distributors provide
content on the various TV Everywhere platforms."
He added that Viacom's own Websites were seeing nice ad
growth. After largely abandoning online video opportunities to stick with their
core TV buys, marketers are again starting to look again at media buys that
combine TV and online video.
Viacom recently yanked its content from top shelf video
player Hulu, owned by News Corp., NBC Universal and Disney Co. Dauman said he
looked forward to seeing new distribution models, "we will look to see if it
makes sense for us."
Viacom, which has fielded pop culture icons as enduring as
Sponge Bob Square Pants and perhaps slightly more short lived, Snooki, is still
ratings challenged. It has seen some growth at MTV but is still attempting to return
some of its brands to their former glory. VH1's new slate has three themes:
â€˜music, celebrities and compelling real life stories,' in order to be more ad
friendly. And Dauman noted that Nickelodeon had also slightly altered its
target and would soon begin negotiating in the kids upfront marketplace.
Dauman further outlined the ad picture saying, "The tone
continues to be strong and getting stronger. We see a lot of competitive
industries, strength in retail, toys and games and technology. We do continue
to see sequential improvement."
However, Viacom's TV networks would welcome a comeback in
the movie category. Dauman added: "What would really help some of our networks
will be when the motion picture category gradually increases and [with a
bigger] number of releases from mini-majors like CBS Films, DreamWorks and Summit." While ad
revenue is up, the picture has been impacted by the percentage of inventory
that was sold at discount prices in last year's upfront. That impact would
diminish as the balance of upfront commitments versus scatter diminished with
Dauman also took time on the call to address the issue of
piracy, saying that the company was working closely with cable and satellite
partners to reduce infringement. "We look forward to protecting American jobs
and intellectual property," he said, pointing out that countries such as the U.K. and France have taken â€˜bolder moves,'
in the area of IP enforcement.