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Viacom Inc. (VIA)

  • Yesterday, 6:52 PM
    • The purposefully outrageous Video Music Awards failed to dent what has been a slow ratings bleed at MTV and at Viacom (VIA -0.5%, VIAB -0.3%) channels in general, losing a half-million viewers from last year despite trying to guarantee controversy with a Miley Cyrus hosting gig.
    • That's despite adding six more channels simulcasting the show -- not only MTV and MTV2 and sister networks VH1 and VH1 Classic, but also Comedy Central, CMT, Logo, BET, Centric and TV Land.
    • The show peaked in 2011 with 12.4M total viewers. Last night's broadcast drew 9.8M viewers across the 10 networks.
    • The awards did set a Nielsen Twitter record, as the "most tweeted" nonsports program since the ratings firm began tracking Twitter TV activity. Some 2.2M people in the U.S. sent 21.4M tweets about the awards (up 69% Y/Y), and 11.8M people saw them 676M times in total. It also generated 19.1M streams (up 155% Y/Y), according to MTV.
    • Another (somewhat) bright spot is that the VMAs are the year's top-rated cable awards show in the 18-34 demographic.
    | Yesterday, 6:52 PM | 7 Comments
  • Yesterday, 2:58 PM
    • Straight Outta Compton (CMCSA -0.5%) became the first film to top the box office three weeks in a row since Jurassic World pulled that off in late June, and it overcame a surprising challenger along the way: low-budget Christian film War Room (SNE +0.5%).
    • Compton grossed $13.2M, just higher than War Room's $11M on just 1,135 screens (a healthy $9,692/screen average). The N.W.A biopic has drawn a cumulative $134.1M in its three weeks on top.
    • Mission: Impossible--Rogue Nation (VIA -0.1%, VIAB +0.7%) drew $8.3M to finish third, and Owen Wilson thriller No Escape $8.29M for fourth.
    • Aside from War Room and No Escape, the other key debut -- We Are Your Friends with Zac Efron (TWX -0.9%) -- tanked with just $1.8M from 2,333 screens.
    • Overall, total box office was down more than 20% Y/Y -- but against a difficult comp, with an earlier Labor Day holiday in 2014.
    | Yesterday, 2:58 PM | Comment!
  • Sun, Aug. 30, 5:57 PM
    • Epix will team with Hulu (CMCSA, DIS, FOX, FOXA) in a distribution deal to replace its pact with Netflix, TheWrap reports.
    • Earlier, Netflix posted that its deal with Epix -- a cable/satellite network run by a joint venture of Paramount (VIA, VIAB), Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Lions Gate Entertainment (NYSE:LGF) -- would lapse at the end of September, meaning some high-profile Hollywood films would cease to be available to Netflix subscribers.
    • Epix and Hulu could announce their deal as soon as tonight.
    • Updated: Epix confirms a multi-year, non-exclusive deal with Hulu to begin Oct. 1.
    | Sun, Aug. 30, 5:57 PM | 19 Comments
  • Sun, Aug. 30, 3:25 PM
    • Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) braced its subscribers for the loss of some hit movies with a blog post saying it's letting its agreement with cable network Epix lapse in September.
    • The move will drop films including The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, World War Z and Transformers: Age of Extinction from Netflix's service at the end of next month.
    • Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos used his post to emphasize Netflix's rapidly increasing investment in original films, as well as its coming exclusive deal with Disney (and with it, Pixar, Lucasfilm and Marvel content).
    • Epix -- owned by a joint venture between Paramount (VIA, VIAB), Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Lions Gate Entertainment (NYSE:LGF) -- signed a reported $1B exclusive deal in 2010 that allowed for films to appear on Netflix 90 days after debuting on Epix's pay channel. That deal became non-exclusive in 2012, leading Epix to a deal with that year.
    | Sun, Aug. 30, 3:25 PM | 58 Comments
  • Mon, Aug. 24, 1:32 PM
    • With summer winding down, box office this weekend was down about 7% Y/Y with a lackluster set of new releases. But Universal's N.W.A picture Straight Outta Compton (NASDAQ:CMCSA) scored again, grossing $26.8M to bring its two-week total to $111.5M despite increasing press mentions charging the film with whitewashing the group's treatment of women.
    • Mission: Impossible-Rogue Nation (VIA, VIAB) took second place with $11.7M, bringing its four-week total to $157.8M. The new entries followed: Sinister 2 (CMCSA) in third with $10.6M; videogame convert Hitman: Agent 47 (FOX, FOXA) in fourth with $8.2M, and American Ultra (NYSE:LGF) sixth with $5.5M.
    • In international markets, Terminator: Genisys (VIA, VIAB) is putting on a rebound, taking the top spot due to a big bow in China. The film has drawn just $89M domestically, but its worldwide total is $353M thanks to foreign markets. It was the fourth-best opening ever for a U.S. film in China.
    • Stock movements among film producers have a heavy effect from today's market melt: CMCSA -1.5%; VIA +0.6%; VIAB -0.9%; FOX -2.2%; FOXA -1.9%; LGF -2.3%.
    | Mon, Aug. 24, 1:32 PM | 2 Comments
  • Thu, Aug. 20, 7:07 PM
    • How much are Disney and (especially) Comcast's Universal dominating the box office this summer (and, along with that, the year)? Enough that the two studios have combined for 61% of domestic ticket sales since the first Friday in May.
    • With a few weeks left until Labor Day, the summer grosses in North America could come to $4.4B, an all-time record.
    • The two studios have just over 47% of market share for 2015 to date, and seven of the year's top 10 grossing films.
    • Warner Bros. (NYSE:TWX) is the best of the also-rans, with 14.3% share of the summer box office and 16.7% of 2015. But a relative lack of summer success from Fox (FOX, FOXA), Paramount (VIA, VIAB), Sony (NYSE:SNE) and Lionsgate (NYSE:LGF) presages a tough fall ahead for most.
    • Disney's scores have come with just eight films this year, vs. Universal's 12 and Warner's 17. Paramount had just two films out this summer. Lionsgate's only two summer films are Shaun the Sheep and this weekend's American Ultra, though it can look ahead to the final film in its Hunger Games series due in November.
    • Disney (NYSE:DIS) is up 6.2% YTD (and was up 29% for 2015 until this month's media meltdown); Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) is up 0.6% YTD (and was up 12% at its late-July high point).
    • Previously: 2015 box office: Universal 138% ahead of 2014 pace with $1.38B home grosses (Jul. 04 2015)
    | Thu, Aug. 20, 7:07 PM | 7 Comments
  • Thu, Aug. 20, 11:24 AM
    • Viacom (VIA -3.8%, VIAB -4.2%) is joining other media stocks under pressure, as Deutsche Bank cuts its price target to $56.
    • VIA closed yesterday at $43.72 and is currently trading at $42.24.
    • The bank's Bryan Kraft says renewal renegotiations with Dish Network for spring 2016 are "critical" for Viacom -- with the spectre of Dish dropping Viacom content entirely.
    • "DISH has low double-digit market share of the national pay-TV ecosystem, and in our view a nonrenewal is simply not an option for Viacom," Kraft says. He thinks the deal will happen, but that Dish has the upper hand in pricing power.
    • "We think that even if Viacom is able to secure a DISH renewal at competitive rates, pressure coming from smaller bundles, continued weakness in traditional pay-TV subscribers, combined with the fact that stronger networks are also looking for healthy increases will likely limit Viacom's ability to achieve the top end of its long term affiliate guidance."
    • Deutsche Bank anticipates 5.2% growth in Viacom's domestic affiliate revenue for fiscal 2016, followed by 5% growth -- below Viacom's management guidance.
    | Thu, Aug. 20, 11:24 AM | 1 Comment
  • Tue, Aug. 18, 8:07 PM
    • Despite no publicity-generating GOP debate this time, Fox News (FOX, FOXA) finished last week as the most-watched primetime cable net for the second week in a row.
    • Nielsen says Fox News averaged 1.8M viewers to top the Disney Channel's (NYSE:DIS) 1.7M average and TNT's (NYSE:TWX) 1.6M viewers. TNT had the top two shows with its consistently strong-performing Major Crimes (4.4M viewers) and Rizzoli & Isles (4.3M).
    • On a 24-hour basis, it was children's programming that won again: Disney Channel and Nickelodeon (VIA, VIAB) tied for the lead with 1.3M viewers.
    • In the adults 18-49 demographic: TBS won primetime, and USA Network (NASDAQ:CMCSA) prevailed on a 24-hour basis.
    | Tue, Aug. 18, 8:07 PM | 16 Comments
  • Mon, Aug. 17, 11:08 AM
    • Straight Outta Compton -- the story of the rise of rap group N.W.A -- topped the box office with a strong $56.1M, piling on to a record year for Universal (CMCSA +1.2%).
    • On the back of a solid marketing strategy, the film outpaced a third week of Mission: Impossible-Rogue Nation (VIA +0.9%, VIAB +0.9%), which collected $17M, and the debut of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (TWX +0.9%), which drew a disappointing $13.5M to settle for third.
    • After an opening-week letdown, fourth-place Fantastic Four (FOX, FOXA) crumbled to end the weekend with 8M ($42M total in two weeks).
    • Straight Outta Compton's certain profit (the film cost just $30M to produce) will mark the ninth profitable film of Universal's 10 this year -- and the studio has collected a worldwide box-office haul of $5.76B, already surpassing the highest full-year total from a studio ($5.52B, from Fox last year).
    • Universal created $715M in operating cash flow in the first six months of 2015.
    | Mon, Aug. 17, 11:08 AM | 3 Comments
  • Fri, Aug. 14, 6:10 PM
    • Along with Warren Buffett cutting stakes in energy (but leaving Berkshire's "Big Four" alone), the latest 13F filing shows a telecom/media changeout as well.
    • Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A, BRK.B) boosted its stake in Charter Communications (NASDAQ:CHTR) -- itself in the process of buying out Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC) -- by 42%, to about 8.5M shares ($1.5B worth).
    • In the other direction, its stake in Viacom (VIA, VIAB) declined by 32%, to about $250M worth.
    • A notation that confidential information has been omitted suggests a secretive stake is being built -- Berkshire used such a notation while building an IBM stake in 2011 -- but confirmation won't come for three months, in mid-November.
    • After hours: VIAB +0.8%; CHTR +0.1%.
    • 13F filing
    | Fri, Aug. 14, 6:10 PM | 5 Comments
  • Wed, Aug. 12, 11:36 AM
    • Viacom (VIA, VIAB -0.6%) is launching a new division in its ad sales unit focused on multi-platform social partnerships -- another step in the company's efforts to draw ad spending from non-Nielsen data programs.
    • The Velocity Product Group will drive partnerships with platforms including Snapchat, Twitter and Tumblr. It will encapsulate solutions including Viacom Vantage, a data-driven offering it launched in April, along with Echo ("a strategic approach to harnessing Viacom's unparalleled social reach with customized programs for ad partners") and its Social Talent Platform, a roster of social superstars to be used in custom campaigns.
    • Earlier this year, CEO Philippe Dauman said the company is on track within three years to increase non-Nielsen-derived revenues to more than 50% from a current 30%.
    | Wed, Aug. 12, 11:36 AM | Comment!
  • Mon, Aug. 10, 2:26 PM
    • Fox's expensive reboot of Fantastic Four might face a write-off after stumbling from the box-office gate this weekend amid bad word-of-mouth and critical reviews.
    • Fox (FOX -1.4%, FOXA -0.1%) inherited the Marvel property and had hopes for a hero franchise that could rival X-Men, though the film will need a huge overseas reception to realize those dreams.
    • The $26.2M it earned was below expectations of $40M, ensuring it finished second behind Paramount's Mission: Impossible -- Rogue Nation (VIA +2.2%, VIAB +2.5%), topping the box office with $29.4M ($108.7M in its two weeks).
    • Among longer-term August players, Ant-Man (DIS +1%) earned $7.8M to bring its domestic total to $147.4M in four weeks, and Minions (CMCSA +1.3%) drew $7.4M to total $302.8M in five weeks.
    | Mon, Aug. 10, 2:26 PM | 33 Comments
  • Fri, Aug. 7, 7:01 PM
    • Robert Kraft, owner of the NFL's New England Patriots, resigned from the board of Viacom (VIA, VIAB), saying his plate is too full.
    • In an 8-K filing, the company said Kraft noted "his obligations elsewhere had increased to the extent that he no longer felt capable of fulfilling his duties as a member of the Board."
    • Kraft had been on Viacom's board since Jan. 1, 2006.
    • His 2015 has been occupied with an NFL investigation ("Deflategate") into the Patriots' use of underinflated footballs in last season's conference title game. Quarterback Tom Brady has been suspended for four games in connection with the NFL's probe.
    | Fri, Aug. 7, 7:01 PM | 1 Comment
  • Fri, Aug. 7, 6:21 PM
    • A pair of cable TV numbers highlights from last night: First, coverage by Fox News (FOX +4.5%, FOXA +2.8%) of the first Republican primary debate drew a giant 24M viewers, with the help of unpredictable poll leader Donald Trump.
    • That's the most-watched primary debate ever, and far more than the most-watched GOP debate of the 2012 race (7.6M viewers). Interest was high with a cavalcade of candidates (10 of the 17 declared candidates in the crowded prime-time debate) and expectations for controversy, or at least brashness, from Trump.
    • The next GOP debate is set for Sept. 16 on CNN (NYSE:TWX) -- likely fervently hoping for a Trump boost.
    • Meanwhile, on Comedy Central (VIA +2.6%, VIAB +3.1%), Jon Stewart's last episode of The Daily Show drew 3.5M viewers, making it the No. 2 Daily Show ever in viewer count. Only an October 2008 episode with Barack Obama drew more, with 3.6M.
    • Of the 3.5M last night, 1.8M were adults 18-49. It was also the show's most social episode ever, Nielsen said, with 117K Twitter users sending 233.4K tweets about the show, seen by 4.3M people.
    • The success was a double-edged sword for Viacom: A nice coup, but it highlights the challenge of replacing Stewart with Trevor Noah after Comedy Central (and Viacom nets in general) faced ratings headwinds this past season.
    • Previously: Viacom faces heavy risk in late-night host replacements (Apr. 16 2015)
    • Previously: Noah succeeding Stewart, taking fake news helm at Comedy Central (Mar. 30 2015)
    • Previously: Is Jon Stewart worth $100M to Viacom? (Feb. 12 2015)
    | Fri, Aug. 7, 6:21 PM | 1 Comment
  • Fri, Aug. 7, 10:06 AM
    • Viacom is rebounding (VIA +4.6%, VIAB +5%) from a rampant selloff after earnings -- VIA was down 13.3% yesterday, and VIAB down 14.2% -- amid the feeling that it may have gotten swept up in a media meltdown following profits that beat expectations despite a (somewhat predictable) revenue decline.
    • Analysts are stacking up cautious notes on VIAB today. Wells Fargo has downgraded the stock to Market Perform, and deep price target cuts are coming in: RBC Capital to $62 from $73; Wunderlich to $87 from $98; Stifel Nicolaus to $70 from $89; and Topeka Capital to $57 from $73.
    • One defense comes from Barclays, which sees the stock may be oversold in upgrading to Overweight, from Underweight. Viacom had the most exposure to structural media shifts, Kannan Venkateshwar explains, but "At present levels however the stock is starting to price in extreme scenarios."
    • Despite the two-notch upgrade, Barclays reduced its price target to $56 from $67, implying a 20%-plus upside.
    • Viacom's greatest uncertainty lies in domestic ad growth rates and affiliate fees, but the stock already reflects "decline scenarios worse than newspapers."
    • In the worst case, Viacom could trade on asset value/option value instead of earnings, setting a floor for the stock, Venkateshwar writes.
    • Previously: Viacom dive accelerates, down more than 17%; Paramount boosting slate (Aug. 06 2015)
    • Previously: Viacom sinks after revenues miss by nearly 5% (Aug. 06 2015)
    | Fri, Aug. 7, 10:06 AM | 2 Comments
  • Thu, Aug. 6, 10:52 AM
    • A Viacom sell-off is accelerating rapidly: VIA -17.4%; VIAB -19.1%.
    • Notable in its earnings report was the fall-off in Filmed Entertainment, chiefly due to comps with last year's quarter (and its release of Transformers: Age of Extinction) and this year's Q3, which had no major release.
    • On its earnings call, the company detailed that Paramount Pictures would expand its release slate in 2016, to 15 films. They included several sequels -- new follow-ups to Transformers, Jack Reacher and Zoolander among them.
    • Paramount is looking forward this fall to Minority Report, its new drama coming to Fox.
    • Previously: Viacom sinks after revenues miss by nearly 5% (Aug. 06 2015)
    • Previously: Viacom beats by $0.02, misses on revenue (Aug. 06 2015)
    | Thu, Aug. 6, 10:52 AM | 2 Comments
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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