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Viacom Inc. (VIA)

  • Fri, Mar. 27, 4:47 PM
    • These mega-franchise "cinematic universes" are really catching on: Paramount Pictures (VIA, VIAB) plans to expand its Transformers films with more sequels and even spinoffs, an ambitious plan that mirrors Disney's efforts with its Marvel and Star Wars brands.
    • Writer Akiva Goldsman is being brought in to join Michael Bay, Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Steven Spielberg as producers, and Goldsman will head a "writers room" to create a two-part sequel as well as possible spinoff films.
    • Transformers is no cheap toy for Paramount or Viacom; Four films in the series since 2007 have made billions, with last year's Transformers: Age of Extinction making $1.1B globally.
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  • Mon, Mar. 23, 8:15 PM
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  • Mon, Mar. 23, 3:48 PM
    • Dystopian-teen movie Insurgent (LGF +0.2%) led the box office for the weekend, logging $54M to pass a still-strong Cinderella (NYSE:DIS) with $34.5M.
    • Insurgent -- the second adaptation from a Veronica Roth book series -- drew slightly less than the year-ago first film, Divergent -- a mild disappointment for Lions Gate, which plans two more films to close out the book trilogy, though the studio notes a lack of upcoming teenage-girl competition as promising.
    • Aside from the female-driven leaders, receipts were disappointing. The Gunman, starring Sean Penn, limped to $5M to finish fourth, just ahead of six-week veteran Kingsman: The Secret Service, (NASDAQ:FOXA) which has earned $114.6M in its run.
    • The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water (VIA, VIAB) took the last spot in the top 10 in its seventh week with $2.4M (total gross: $158.8M).
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  • Tue, Mar. 17, 4:54 PM
    • The future of CBS might well include some kind of tie-up as the era of Chairman Sumner Redstone starts to draw to a close -- and last year, CEO Les Moonves talked with Time Warner (NYSE:TWX) chief Jeff Bewkes about making a merger, Bloomberg reports.
    • Bewkes wasn't interested, though, and so speculation continues. Redstone's health has been the subject of increasing conversation -- he will be 92 in May, and missed his usual speaking part on Viacom's January earnings call -- as has succession planning for his empire.
    • The trustees that will take over Redstone's interests upon his death include Viacom (VIA, VIAB) CEO Philippe Dauman and Redstone's daughter Shari, but not Moonves.
    • Moonves has talked down merger chatter before ("very happy being alone"), though that may be about boosting price -- Moonves says CBS will be a $100 stock in four years, while BofA's Jessica Reif Cohen says TWX could offer $80/share.
    • Moonves has said he doesn't think a Viacom reunion fits either, and he reportedly gathered partners earlier this year with an eye to taking the network private.
    • Previously: March Madness equals billions in ad-ness for CBS, Turner (Mar. 17 2015)
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  • Mon, Mar. 16, 11:25 AM
    • Disney's (NYSE:DIS) live-action Cinderella reinvigorated a lackluster box office, taking a runaway lead with $70.1M to claim the domestic crown, and pulling a huge $132M worldwide, including $25M from China.
    • Cinderella far outpaced the week's other debut film -- Run All Night (NYSE:TWX), starring Liam Neeson, which drew $11.1M to hold off Kingsman: The Secret Service (NASDAQ:FOXA) at $6.2M. In its fifth week, Kingsman has drawn $107.4M total for Fox.
    • Will Smith in Focus (TWX) was No. 4 with $5.81M and South African robot sci-fi Chappie (NYSE:SNE) rounded out the top five with $5.8M. Still in the top 10 are hits The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water (VIA, VIAB) at No. 7 with $4.1M ($154.7M total) and American Sniper (TWX), No. 9 with $2.93M ($341.5M total).
    • The success of Cinderella may be quite timely for Disney, which is already planning development on live-action versions of Dumbo and Beauty and the Beast, as well as The Jungle Book.
    • Previously: Global box office: 2014 boosted by Asia's moviegoers, especially in China (Mar. 12 2015)
  • Fri, Mar. 13, 4:28 PM
    • As signaled before, the FCC has paused the 180-day "shot clock" on reviewing two megamergers -- Comcast's (NASDAQ:CMCSA) deal for Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC), and AT&T's (NYSE:T) deal to buy DirecTV (NASDAQ:DTV) -- as it's tied up with another case over programming contracts.
    • The review of the deals was set to expire by the end of March, but now may take somewhat longer, likely several more weeks.
    • The cause is the ongoing dispute with programming firms -- Disney (NYSE:DIS), CBS, Twenty-First Century Fox (NASDAQ:FOXA), Viacom (VIA, VIAB) and others -- over whether third parties commenting on the mergers will get access to private documents containing sensitive pricing and strategy information.
    • The FCC has argued it has sufficient protections to keep those details from getting out. But the merger reviews now appear to be dependent entirely on that case's timetable.
    • "In reaching this conclusion, the commission reserves the right to restart the clock as it believes will best serve the public interest," the FCC said.
  • Thu, Mar. 12, 11:57 PM
    • The MPAA's report on global box office notes that 2014 sales were up 1% to $36.4B, lifted by China's industry -- the first time that Asian revenues passed those of other regions.
    • China's $4.8B made it the first foreign market to exceed $4B a year. Domestic sales of $10.4B were down 5%.
    • In 2013 the three major regions (North America, Europe/Middle East/Africa, Asia Pacific) essentially tied, but 2014 was the year of Asian box office share: 34.1% vs. 29.1% in EMEA and 28.6% in North America.
    • Among worries for the industry, The Hollywood Reporter notes 32% of North America's audience didn't go to a movie at all, and that steep dropoffs in ages 2-11 and 25-39 means the industry needs to look at long-term audience growth. (Frequent moviegoers make up just 11% of the population but buy 51% of the tix.)
    • The U.S. industry might be frontloaded for a rebound with a franchise- and sequel-heavy 2015 ahead, though.
    • Filmmakers: CMCSA, FOXA, TWX, VIA, DIS, DWA, SNE
    • Previously: DreamWorks touts Chinese venture, global projects (Mar. 04 2015)
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  • Wed, Mar. 11, 9:24 PM
    • As planned restructuring rolls on at Viacom (VIA, VIAB), Paramount Pictures is the latest to see layoffs, losing 20-40 employees across all divisions, Deadline Hollywood reports.
    • It's another part of Viacom's month of cuts, which CEO Philippe Dauman says will save about $250M a year all told.
    • Yesterday, as much as 12% of MTV's staff were hit, especially the New York group.
    • Along with TV Land and VH1, rumors are out that Nickelodeon, one of Viacom's key TV jewels, is also seeing job cuts. The TV Group has faced ratings headwinds across the board this season.
    • Filmed Entertainment revenues rose 6% in Viacom's most recent quarter, and its operating loss of $60M was about 19% better than the prior year.
    • Previously: CEO: Viacom restructuring to wrap this month, save $250M (Mar. 09 2015)
    • Previously: Goodman out as Paramount Pictures president (Feb. 25 2015)
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  • Mon, Mar. 9, 11:55 PM
    • Recent underperformance at the American box office is catching, as a lackluster weekend came with what some analysts are calling R-rated fatigue (too many films with the restricted rating that means lower box office overall).
    • Sci-fi robot film Chappie (NYSE:SNE) led the take in the U.S. with $13.3M -- not strong, but enough for No. 1 in a week where ticket sales were down 35% Y/Y.
    • Among other debuts, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (NASDAQ:FOXA) drew $8.5M, good enough for third behind the $10M of Will Smith feature Focus (NYSE:TWX).
    • The other key opening was Unfinished Business (FOXA), a new bomb for Vince Vaughn at 10th place with $4.8M.
    • Some of the veteran films still playing pushed their takes -- Kingsman: The Secret Service (FOXA) drew $8.3M to reach $98M; The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water (VIA, VIAB) sold $6.7M to reach $148.7M; and Fifty Shades of Grey (NASDAQ:CMCSA) took in $5.5M to hit $156M domestically.
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  • Mon, Mar. 9, 2:15 PM
    • Viacom's (VIA +1.2%, VIAB +1.3%) jumped into positive ground as its restructuring should be done by month's end and bring $250M in savings, CEO Philippe Dauman says.
    • Speaking at Deutsche Bank's media conference, Dauman also raised the issue of re-evaluating some programming, in the middle of a season of companywide ratings issues.
    • A long-in-the-works layoff process reportedly began as the company's TV channels were realigned into two groups and cuts were reported at TV Land. MTV is reported to have cut 9% of workers.
    • Despite investor chatter about Viacom reuniting with CBS, Dauman was categorical: "We have no intention of buying CBS or buying any big company ... If we see there's lot of consolidation, we'll take a look at it, but we're not going to be a consolidator."
    • Dauman also denied the company would sell Paramount in whole or part to a Chinese company: "completely untrue."
    • Previously: Moonves boosts CBS, dismisses merger talk again; shares rise (Mar. 02 2015)
    • Previously: Viacom reportedly prepping companywide layoffs (Feb. 23 2015)
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  • Fri, Mar. 6, 5:45 AM
    • CBS slipped 1.5% yesterday, and Viacom (VIA, VIAB) another 1.2%, as Deutsche Bank's Brian Kraft weighed in on big media in a spate of coverage updates noted at Benzinga. He expects continued profit growth in the sector, particularly with international expansion.
    • Kraft actually has a Buy on Viacom with an $83 price target (yesterday's close: $70.37). Though the company is starting layoffs (see TV Land) amid widespread ratings issues, Kraft says investor worries about contract renewals are overdone, and its discounted value is attractive.
    • Twenty-First Century Fox (NASDAQ:FOXA) is another buy at a $42 target (yesterday: $34.87), with "best in the sector" three-year prospects for profit growth, as is Time Warner at a $100 target (yesterday: $83.26).
    • He started CBS at Hold with a target of $67 (yesterday: $61.55) and Disney at Hold with a target of $105 (yesterday: $105.03), praising both stocks but suggesting they're a bit overdone.
    • Also getting a Hold was Sirius XM (NASDAQ:SIRI), and Liberty Media (NASDAQ:LMCA) -- whose holdings are now 90% Sirius XM.
  • Thu, Mar. 5, 7:58 PM
    • With ratings-challenged Viacom (VIA, VIAB) planning to "pull all the levers" on cost control at a 10,000-employee organization, today an ax fell at its nostalgia-focused channel TV Land -- one of the hardest hit by ratings down 26% so far.
    • Layoffs there will be largely in PR and marketing.
    • The company is "making changes in three of our domestic network groups, creating two new organizations." After music chief Van Toffler's departure, channels are being consolidated into a Music and Entertainment Group, and a Kids and Family Group, which includes TV Land.
    • Earlier, Deutsche Bank launched coverage on Viacom with a Buy rating and a price target of $83. VIA closed today down 1.2% to $70.37.
    • Previously: Viacom reportedly prepping companywide layoffs (Feb. 23 2015)
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  • Wed, Mar. 4, 5:41 PM
    • Viacom's (VIA, VIAB) restructuring is in the early stages of what could be a long process. Next up: naming Jeff Lucas to run a consolidated group selling ads for all its channels except BET.
    • Lucas was working in the ad group for music channels (MTV and VH1); adding the Nickelodeon fleet is a substantial expansion of duties.
    • Viacom shares are down almost 19% over the past year.
    • Previously: Viacom reportedly prepping companywide layoffs (Feb. 23 2015)
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  • Wed, Mar. 4, 9:14 AM
    • Following an early rollout, and a carriage deal made with AMC Networks (NASDAQ:AMCX) and EPIX (VIA, VIAB, LGF), Sling TV (NASDAQ:DISH) has added IFC to its basic package for the same $20/month price, and EPIX and Sundance to its $5 "Hollywood Extra" add-on pack. It had already folded in AMC TV (Mad Men, Better Call Saul).
    • The service is still live broadcast-based, so as with the existing channels, video on demand content is "coming soon."
    • Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen says Sling is key to its mobile strategy, "to a more mobile basis, to more wireless basis, because that’s the way the next generation is going to watch television.”
    • Previously: Dish opens Sling TV signups for all U.S. viewers (Feb. 09 2015)
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  • Tue, Mar. 3, 8:00 PM
    • At its upfront, Spike TV (VIA, VIAB) -- known for skewing aggressively male -- has rolled out a new logo and tagline ("The Ones To Watch"), and added a fitness competition with Jillian Michaels as it pursues female viewers.
    • Female viewership is part of a companywide challenge for Viacom, facing ratings declines even as key networks skew to male viewers.
    • The network also signed a deal wth Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson to produce programming surrounding troops and veterans.
    • Drama Emergency Broadcast goes into development, as well as eight more episodes of celebrity competition Lip Sync Battle.
    • Previously: Viacom looking outside company for Stewart replacement? (Mar. 03 2015)
    • Previously: Viacom reportedly prepping companywide layoffs (Feb. 23 2015)
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  • Tue, Mar. 3, 7:28 PM
    • Facing its fair share of ratings challenges, Viacom (VIA, VIAB) may look for an outsider to take the helm of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart when its eponymous host leaves the program -- as some obvious candidates inside and outside rule themselves out.
    • Comedy Central management is working from a short list and there is a good chance it skews female: “If there’s room for Comedy Central to grow, it’s probably with female viewers,” says Starcom's Sam Armando.
    • But show correspondent Jessica Williams has said she's "unqualified" for the role, and peer Samantha Bee (who at 45 may be older than the network would like) is working with husband Jason Jones on a new series at TBS.
    • With Stephen Colbert having already departed The Colbert Report, the pressure on Comedy Central is enormous to make the right call for the next-gen Daily Show.
    • Previously: Viacom reportedly prepping companywide layoffs (Feb. 23 2015)
    • Previously: Is Jon Stewart worth $100M to Viacom? (Feb. 12 2015)
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Company Description
Viacom Inc is an entertainment content company. It connects with audiences in 165 countries and territories and creates television programs, motion pictures, applications, games, consumer products, social media & other entertainment content.
Sector: Services
Industry: CATV Systems
Country: United States