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Viacom Inc. (VIA)

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  • Wed, Feb. 25, 10:22 PM
    • Adam Goodman's out as president of Paramount Pictures (VIA, VIAB), in a major shakeup.
    • There was a year left on Goodman's contract. He had been at the studio since 2008.
    • Paramount was last among major studios in market share last year as it shrank its film slate, and while The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water has been a hit, Hot Tub Time Machine 2 flopped in its debut, and key franchises like the Terminator and Mission: Impossible films depend on aging talent.
    • Sony's Doug Belgrad and Michael De Luca -- passed over to replace Amy Pascal there -- have been mentioned as possible replacements, along with Scott Stuber, Matt Tolmach and Mary Parent.
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  • Wed, Feb. 25, 8:17 PM
    • At its upfront presentation, Nickelodeon (VIA, VIAB) announced Noggin, a mobile video subscription service targeting preschool-age children with "long- and short-form education series, and preschool music videos."
    • Offerings of Blues Clues, Franklin and Friends and Little Bear are aimed at cord cutters for the moment -- but it could be come a premium add-on for TV subscribers, the company says. The service, set to cost $5.99/month, will be ad-free.
    • Nickelodeon also greenlit three new shows, committing more funds to daily scripted programming.
    • The company also branded its partnership marketing initiative as Nickelodeon Inside Out Solutions, providing "consumer insights, advertising solutions and branded-entertainment opportunities."
    • Of Viacom's consumer channels, Nickelodeon is the crown jewel, contributing nearly half the company's EBITDA.
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  • Mon, Feb. 23, 8:33 PM
    • For the second weekend, Fifty Shades of Grey (NASDAQ:CMCSA) led U.S. box office -- though it's showing substantially less in the way of legs than its actors, with receipts slipping 73% to $23.2M.
    • Blame went to it being an "of the moment" hot-topic viewing, according to analyst Paul Dergarabedian, though there was lackluster word of mouth around its faithfulness to the book -- and its performance is in keeping with other recent female-driven films that plummeted in week two.
    • The film's worldwide take so far is $410.6M.
    • The No. 2 spot went to Kingsman: The Secret Service (NASDAQ:FOXA), with $17.5M to bring its two-week take to $67.1M.
    • The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water kept counter-programming its way to No. 3 and $15.5M -- good news for maker Paramount (VIA VIAB), whose Hot Tub Time Machine 2 flopped in its debut with just $5.8M on 2,880 screens.
    | 3 Comments
  • Mon, Feb. 23, 7:30 PM
    • Adding some color to widely expected job cuts coming to Viacom (VIA, VIAB) are sources that say layoffs will be companywide in the wake of ratings headwinds at its key channels.
    • With its key properties being youth-focused networks like Comedy Central and MTV, the company faces challenges from young cord cutters (or cord-never-havers) who are watching Internet media, as well as recent and coming talent departures including Jon Stewart and music-channel chief Van Toffler.
    • Ratings declines have been precipitous at TV Land (-26% season-to-date) and BET (-23%) though more valuable properties MTV and Comedy Central have also lost 16% or more.
    • CEO Philippe Dauman has promised to "pull all the levers" to achieve "substantial net cost savings".
    • Viacom has nearly 10,000 employees.
    • Previously: Music-channel chief Toffler to leave Viacom (Feb. 17 2015)
    • Previously: Is Jon Stewart worth $100M to Viacom? (Feb. 12 2015)
    | 2 Comments
  • Tue, Feb. 17, 6:34 PM
    • Viacom (VIA, VIAB) group president Van Toffler is leaving the company in order to start a video content firm of his own.
    • Toffler oversaw the division that housed music channels MTV, VH1 and CMT, and his contract was up later this year.
    • CEO Philippe Dauman says he wanted to extend the contract of "my good friend" but that Toffler was set on his own content business, tentatively called Below the Radar.
    • The change represents a bit more upheaval at Viacom's valuable properties, most all of which are seeing sharp ratings declines: MTV is a key asset for the company, and Comedy Central will need to find a replacement for Jon Stewart at The Daily Show.
    • Previously: Is Jon Stewart worth $100M to Viacom? (Feb. 12 2015)
    • Previously: Viacom off after revenue miss; layoffs likely? (Jan. 30 2015)
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  • Thu, Feb. 12, 7:06 PM
    • Following earnings, Time Warner's (TWX +2.8%) got another challenge ahead in negotiations for programming renewals with Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA), Dish Network (NASDAQ:DISH) and Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC).
    • With distributors slimming down packages (and programming costs), economies of scale are likely to play in Time Warner's favor vs. smaller programmers.
    • The same dynamic is driving chatter around a CBS merger with Viacom (VIA, VIAB) or even TWX -- the need for size to get more mojo in negotiations with stingier distribution channels.
    • An increasing factor is the gradual unbundling of programming from traditional distributors through services like Sling TV, or subscription services from CBS and HBO.
    • TWX's outlook looks increasingly dependent on accelerating revenue growth -- "which is likely to require successful renegotiation of the last two major domestic (pay-TV) deals and highly successful box office performance," says Pacific Crest's Andy Hargreaves.
    • Previously: Dish opens Sling TV signups for all U.S. viewers (Feb. 09 2015)
    | 4 Comments
  • Thu, Feb. 12, 4:04 PM
    • As investors try to calculate what it means to Viacom (VIA, VIAB) to lose valued talent like Jon Stewart, former (interim) Yahoo CEO Ross Levinsohn claims Stewart is a $100M brand even as a stand-alone offering.
    • If Stewart goes straight to consumers with a $0.50/show deal and does 16 shows a month, with 1M subscribers he's almost there, Levinsohn notes, pointing to building momentum for direct deals: "We are at a tipping point for Millennials in the media business."
    • Meanwhile Dana Blankenhorn argues that losing a "tent pole" in Stewart should hasten consolidation for Viacom -- again, possibly through a remarriage with CBS.
    • In today's trading: (VIA +1%), (VIAB +0.8%)
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  • Tue, Feb. 10, 7:37 PM
    • Comedy Central has confirmed that Jon Stewart is departing The Daily Show later this year. He's been the face of the show since 1999.
    • The program is the most valuable franchise at Comedy Central. While the network hasn't been as valuable as Nickelodeon is for parent Viacom (VIA, VIAB) -- which has seen a surplus of ratings problems of late -- The Daily Show reportedly contributed $55.6M in ad dollars in 2013, and 1.4M viewers on average.
    • Moreover, the show was often valuable as a crucial pawn in carriage disputes with network distributors.
    • Stewart's move follows the departure of late-night cohort Stephen Colbert to take over as host of The Late Show on CBS.
    • For its part (and its plans), Comedy Central has said The Daily Show will "endure for years to come."
    • After hours, VIAB -3%.
    | 5 Comments
  • Mon, Feb. 9, 11:48 AM
    • Viacom (VIA, VIAB) has created a new executive VP position for sales and business development for Viacom and BET, and named Tom Gorke to the role.
    • Gorke has been senior VP of content distribution and marketing for Viacom.
    • He'll be the lead on deal-making for all "linear and digital distribution partnerships" across several brands, including BET, CMT, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon among others.
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  • Fri, Feb. 6, 11:40 AM
    • "There's a lot of noise out there," says CBS CEO Les Moonves about the chatter around a CBS merger with Viacom (NASDAQ:VIA) or Time Warner (NYSE:TWX), but "Right now, we are very happy being alone." Sounds like a line from a Hollywood rom-com -- particularly considering CBS split off from Viacom in 2006, which would technically make that a reunion.
    • Moonves did acknowledge on CNBC that CBS is closer to TWX than any other company -- the two co-own the CW network and Warner Bros. supplies plenty of shows to CBS TV.
    • With regard to its non-broadcast assets, particularly including CBS Television Studios and Showtime, Moonves notes content will be as important to the company's future as advertising.
    • And he plugged the network's 2016 coverage of Super Bowl 50 by praising NBC's production this year: "It's the one day of the year we root for them. ... We have Super Bowl 50 and our ad rates, which are going to begin north of $5M for a 30-second television spot, are based on their great ratings."
    • Moonves recently re-upped with CBS until June 2019.
    • Today: (CBS +2.2%); (CMCSA +0.6%); (VIA +1.2%)
    • More CBS on CNBC
    | 2 Comments
  • Fri, Jan. 30, 7:22 PM
    • Viacom (VIA, VIAB) closed Friday down 4.4% after missing slightly on fiscal Q1 revenues the previous day, but with a few more stormy concerns popping up -- including ad inventory worries and a planned reduction in stock buybacks.
    • "Layoffs on the way" is the message observers took from CEO Philippe Dauman's warning of "substantial net cost savings throughout our organization" and that the company would "pull all the levers" to achieve them. Even Chairman Sumner Redstone has taken a pay cut, with total comp reduced to $13.2M in 2014 compared to a prior $36.2M.
    • The absence of Redstone on the company's earnings call loomed large, raising concerns about his health in the context of the firm's not-quite-transparent succession plans.
    | 5 Comments
  • Thu, Jan. 29, 10:14 AM
    • Viacom (VIA,VIAB) beat bottom-line expectations in fiscal Q1 though missing slightly on revenues. Segment breakdowns: Media Networks revenue of $2.65B up 4.4% Y/Y (higher affiliate fees and ad revenues); Filmed Entertainment revenue of $720M up 5.7% Y/Y.
    • Adjusted operating income of $1.1B in Media Networks was off 1% due to higher programming costs; Filmed Entertainment had an adjusted operating loss of $60M (19% better than last year) as revenues helped to offset higher film/distribution expense.
    • Previous release Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles continued strong contributions to current-quarter film releases. Theatrical revenues up 6% and home entertainment revenues (two releases compared to none the prior year) up 16%.
    • After repurchasing about $750M in shares in fiscal Q1, Viacom had $5.62B remaining in a $20B buyback program.
    • Shares: (VIA -1.1%), (VIAB -1%)
    • Previously: Viacom beats by $0.01, misses on revenue (Jan. 29 2015)
    • Press release
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  • Thu, Jan. 29, 6:53 AM
    • Viacom (NASDAQ:VIA): FQ1 EPS of $1.29 beats by $0.02.
    • Revenue of $3.34B (+4.4% Y/Y) misses by $20M.
    • Press Release
    | 1 Comment
  • Wed, Jan. 21, 1:00 PM
    • Dish Networks (DISH -0.2%) won a significant court battle in L.A. against Fox Broadcasting over the company's Dish Anywhere app.
    • The ruling from a federal judge applied some of the principles from the Supreme Court's look at the Aereo case.
    • The opinion from the court indicated that watching content on mobile devices and tablets through Dish Anywhere doesn't qualify as a breach of copyright law.
    • The use of Dish's PrimeTime Anytime and AutoHop features were also deemed as fair use.
    • Many programmers seemed to have anticipated the legal decision and already negotiated with Dish to disable ad-skipping for a period of time after a show airs.
    • The ruling is sure to have been noticed on Madison Avenue where the largest (and smarter?) ad spenders continue to increase digital spending over broadcast/cable TV buys.
    • Big advertisers: MCD, PG, BUD, WMT, TGT, K, GIS, TM, GM.
    • Programmers: CBS, TWX, FOXA, SNI, AMCX, VIA , VIAB, DISCA.
    | 6 Comments
  • Wed, Jan. 21, 11:35 AM
    • Analysts think Viacom (VIA, VIAB) stands exposed to protracted carriage fee battles with some indications out there that pay-TV subscribers won't flinch if the company's programming is pulled from packages.
    • A combination of Viacom with a complementary programmer such as CBS (CBS +0.3%) or Discovery Communications (DISCA +1.3%) would give it some extra negotiating clout and make it more attractive to consumers as skinny bundle come online.
    | 2 Comments
  • Thu, Jan. 15, 4:27 PM
    • Viacom (NASDAQ:VIA) declares $0.33/share quarterly dividend, in line with previous.
    • Forward yield 1.98%
    • Payable April 1; for shareholders of record March 13; ex-div March 11.
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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