Viacom CEO 'Confident' That Ratings, Ad Revenue Trends Will Improve

The Hollywood Reporter
Viacom CEO 'Confident' That Ratings, Ad Revenue Trends Will Improve

Viacom's leadership on Thursday reiterated its confidence that the entertainment conglomerate can improve ratings and advertising revenue momentum near-term despite recent challenges at MTV and Nickelodeon. And the company emphasized that it won't let changing TV viewing habits affect its business without changing its strategies.

CEO Philippe Dauman said on the company's quarterly earnings conference call that within a big company it was unavoidable that some networks face ratings challenges, while others are on the rise.  In addition though, he said that the overall TV industry, which has seen a slower ratings start to the fall broadcast TV season, is facing challenges.

"The entire broadcasting and cable industry is at an inflection point," Dauman said, citing increased time-shifted viewing and a lack of established measurement tools for online viewership.  Dauman pointed to Comedy Central's Tosh.0 as an example of the changed viewing patterns, saying it nearly doubles its viewership when including three days of DVR viewing.

Overall though, Viacom is "confident that can grow ratings" in its just-started fiscal year with original content investments and the help of social media and bring in "more robust ad revenue as the year progresses," Dauman said. "We are not waiting for business to change. We are changing the way we do business."

After lauding a rejigged MTV leadership team and highlighting the continued success of hit shows, he said Nickelodeon ratings trends have started to stabilize and vowed more original content on the network this fiscal year.

Viacom executive chairman Sumner Redstone started off the call by once again showering Dauman with praise and arguing that "Viacom has always been in the reinvention business" amid the changing tastes of its young audiences. Redstone said Dauman has managed the company in a "truly successfully fantastic manner."And after highlighting that he has often called Dauman a genius, Redstone added that he was "my most trusted advisor who understands my vision and has the…ability to see it through."

Wall Street observers said they felt the positive adjectives were in line with previous calls, but  some said it seemed that Redstone spent a little more time on praising Dauman.


Twitter: @georgszalai