Yesterday, 9:55 PM
- A number of mini-strokes have impaired the speaking ability of Sumner Redstone, The Wall Street Journal reports in a story that restokes the discussion around succession at Viacom (VIA, VIAB).
- Redstone holds about 80% of the voting power of Viacom, though it and CBS (also Redstone-controlled) have been reluctant to comment on the subject of his health. Redstone has begun to miss annual meetings and go silent on the earnings calls, though he continues to issue statements clarifying that his interest in the companies will be managed for shareholder benefit when he's gone.
- Viacom is going through an unusually tough year, taking the brunt of media-stock concerns about ratings and TV subscribers. Its stock is down 36.6% YTD; it's now an $18B company.
- Sources tell the WSJ that Redstone continues to talk with top management and dial into board meetings, and that he has taken and passed several mental competency tests, including one a month ago.
- Some Viacom investors think CEO Philippe Dauman should go, though Redstone continues to reiterate full support. Dauman is on a seven-member trust (along with Sumner Redstone's daughter Shari) that would manage the ownership interests if Redstone dies or is incapacitated.
Yesterday, 3:35 PM
- Viacom (VIA +2.3%, VIAB +2.9%) and Hulu (CMCSA -0.9%, DIS +0.1%, FOXA) have expanded their content deal, making Hulu the exclusive streaming destination for a number of Comedy Central and MTV programs, notably including Inside Amy Schumer, Broad City and Key & Peele as well as Faking It and Nickelodeon content including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Rugrats.
- The two formed a pact in 2011 for day-after availability for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report; the new deal renews rights for The Daily Show with Trevor Noah and The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore. A deal expansion last year added full seasons of a number of Comedy Central and Nick programs.
- Amazon.com has exclusive rights to other Nickelodeon, MTV and Comedy Central shows that aren't part of Hulu's deal.
Mon, Oct. 5, 8:09 PM
- Scripps Networks Interactive (SNI +3%) and Viacom (VIA +2.6%, VIAB +2.6%) gained today amid a solid market rally, despite downgrades by Goldman Sachs (which admits that overall, media stocks it covers are trading at a "near trough").
- The two stocks are "squarely in the middle of cord cutting," analyst Drew Borst writes. He cut Viacom to Neutral and lowered its price target to $46, from $69; VIAB closed at $45.46 today. The firm cut SNI to Sell with a $47 target, down from $74; that stock closed at $51.30 today.
- But Goldman maintained its Buy ratings on Time Warner (TWX +0.7%) and Twenty-First Century Fox (FOX +1.4%, FOXA +1.1%) "because well-positioned, vertically-integrated media companies should be able to navigate a landscape of steady but not sharp pay TV sub erosion."
- Despite the Buy rating, Time Warner came off Goldman's Conviction Buy list amid the more general pay TV concerns. For subscriptions, Goldman sees "2% per annum declines; every 1% additional decline equates to 80-170 bps decline in EPS. The big bundle will not be for every consumer, especially as more Internet substitutes arise, but this will also create new revenue opportunities for some media companies to offset declines in pay TV subs."
Mon, Oct. 5, 7:46 PM
- Viacom (VIA, VIAB) is planning a new production hub in Miami, taking advantage of all 88,000 square feet of a new complex there.
- EUE/Screen Gems Studios Miami was built by a public-private partnership that broke ground on the complex last December. It includes a pair of 15,000-square-foot sound stages, as well as multiple dressing rooms and post-production facilities as well as offices and editing bays.
- Miami's Omni Community Redevelopment Agency will get an annual $100K in lease payments as well as 11% gross revenue sharing. Viacom will be able to produce films and television at the space.
Mon, Oct. 5, 4:36 PM
- More than meets the eye and more films on the way: Hasbro (HAS +3.2%) and Paramount (VIA +2.6%, VIAB +2.6%) have committed to four more Transformers movies, meaning the CGI-packed actioners will be a franchise the likes of the Fast and the Furious films, at least in numbers.
- "We decided that we wanted to plot out the next 10 years of the Transformers franchise, so we got together in a room over a three-month period of time," said Hasbro Studios President Stephen Davis. "Similarly, we are doing the same in television and in digital. So stay tuned, Transformers 5 is on its way, and 6 and 7 and 8."
- He called out director Michael Bay by name, though Bay isn't officially attached to the fifth installment (star Mark Wahlberg is).
- "Hasbro simply can't walk away from the lucrative movie franchise that has seen the last two entries top $1 billion worldwide," says analyst Jeff Bock.
- The four-film series has grossed more than $3.7B since its 2007 debut. The last entry, Transformers: Age of Extinction, grossed $245.4M domestically (and $1.1B worldwide) in summer 2014.
Mon, Oct. 5, 9:25 AM
- AT&T (NYSE:T) and Viacom (VIA, VIAB) have signed a new long-term deal for retransmission of Viacom programming on the U-verse and DirecTV platforms.
- AT&T took the extra step of highlighting its own rate accomplishment: "In recognition of AT&T's status as the largest pay TV provider in the world, this agreement entitles AT&T's satellite and IPTV platforms to the best deal in the industry for Viacom's leading portfolio of television brands."
- Premarket, AT&T is up 0.8%; VIAB is flat.
- Previously: Media General, DirecTV ink last-minute carriage deal (Oct. 01 2015)
- Previously: Tegna, Dish extend carriage talk deadline by eight days (Oct. 01 2015)
Fri, Oct. 2, 12:56 PM
- Viacom (VIA +1.5%, VIAB +1.6%) -- which has been pursuing new approaches into audience measurement amid a ratings slump -- has hired Julian Zilberbrand as its executive VP of Audience Science.
- He starts Oct. 19 with a wide scope over data and audience development, including audience onboarding and segmentation; advanceed analytics (to draw insights and models); and digital media executions.
- He joins Viacom from ZenithOptimedia, and previously had worked at Starcom Mediavest, Eyeblaster and Doubleclick.
- In April, Viacom launched its "predictive engine" Viacom Vantage, a data-driven ad product letting sponsors do custom targeting across its entire network portfolio (MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon and others).
Wed, Sep. 30, 4:43 PM
- Stephen Friedman, president of the MTV network (VIA +0.7%, VIAB +0.8%) since 2011, is stepping down as he opted not to renew his contract.
- Viacom will announce a new president on Thursday morning.
- Friedman rose through ranks in an 18-year career and guided MTV's transition toward a millennial focus, though MTV wasn't immune from Viacom-wide ratings declines over the past year -- drops that forced a heavy restructuring and rounds of layoffs. This year's Video Music Awards, usually a draw, shed another half-million viewers from the year before and peaked in 2011.
- He's the latest in a series of departures at the network; Programming head Susanne Daniels departed for YouTube in July, and music group chief Van Toffler left to do his own thing in February.
- Updated 6:03 p.m.: The company has named Sean Atkins as the new MTV president. Atkins joins the company from Discovery Communications, where he served as GM and executive VP of digital media and strategy.
Fri, Sep. 18, 12:37 PM
- Viacom is trading up in today's down market (VIA +1.5%, VIAB +1.2%) after using a Communacopia talk to boost its guidance for Q3 domestic advertising revenues, now expected to be comparable to slightly better than Q2.
- The company had previously guided for Q3 to be comparable to Q2, where domestic ad revenues had fallen 9%.
- The company doesn't see material acceleration in what have been "modest" subscriber declines, and like some of its peers is pointing to "tremendous" subscriber growth internationally.
- After a yearlong ratings slide at its TV networks, it's intensifying creation of original programming across the board.
- It also plans to resume stock repurchases starting next quarter, at a reduced level from before.
Tue, Sep. 15, 8:50 AM
- China's Youku Tudou (NYSE:YOKU) has a new deal with Paramount Pictures (VIA, VIAB) that brings more than a hundred film titles to its video on demand service, including valuable hits like Star Trek, Mission: Impossible, Transformers and Forrest Gump.
- The move grows Youku's on-demand library to more than 4,000 films, including not only domestic and foreign productions but original content as well.
- In addition to the library content, select future releases will be available.
Mon, Sep. 14, 1:37 PM
- A thrills-and-chills face-off at the box office ended with The Perfect Guy narrowly edging The Visit, but with both films well outperforming projections.
- ScreenGems' (SNE -1.1%) The Perfect Guy drew $26.7M against The Visit, a bit of a comeback from M. Night Shyamalan, which pulled $25.7M -- both well above an expected $15M-$17M each.
- Sony's War Room continued its surprising run, drawing $7.4M to finish third and likely overshadowing the debut of another faith-based film, 90 Minutes in Heaven. War Room, from the company's Affirm label, has grossed $39.2M in three weeks.
- In continuing-film strength, Mission: Impossible -- Rogue Nation (VIA -0.9%, VIAB -1.2%) was fifth, grossing $4.2M to bring its seven-week total to $188.2M, and Straight Outta Compton (CMCSA -0.9%) was sixth, adding $4.1M to its five-week cumulative run of $155.7M.
Wed, Sep. 9, 6:34 PM
- Fox News Channel (FOX, FOXA) has been on a streak since its GOP debate ratings coup, prevailing in weekly primetime cable ratings for the fifth week in a row.
- The network averaged 1.86M viewers overall to ESPN's 1.82M. Disney Channel (NYSE:DIS) was third with 1.5M, while HGTV (NYSE:SNI) and USA Network (NASDAQ:CMCSA) tied with 1.4M viewers.
- Total-day ratings were ruled by the usual suspects: Nickelodeon (VIA, VIAB) in first, followed by Disney, Adult Swim and Cartoon Network (NYSE:TWX).
- The top-rated cable show was again TNT's Rizzoli & Isles, with 4.7M viewers, followed by USA Network's weekly doses of WWE Monday Night Raw, with just under 4M.
Tue, Sep. 8, 3:28 PM
- Christian film War Room (SNE +1.3%) prevailed in holiday-weekend box office, preventing Straight Outta Compton (CMCSA +1.8%) from ruling for a fourth straight week as few moviegoers left end-of-summer gatherings to hit up theaters.
- War Room grossed $12.6M over the four days ($9.45M in three), benefiting from one of the slowest Labor Day weekends at the box office in a decade and outpacing Compton's $11.1M ($8.85M for the three days). It's nonetheless proving a surprising faith-based hit for Sony's Affirm unit.
- New films failed to boost totals. A Walk in the Woods and The Transporter Refueled drew $10.3M and $9M in third and fifth place respectively for the four days.
- Compton has earned just under $150M in four weeks, while Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation (VIA +1%, VIAB +1.5%), in fourth at the holiday box office, has grossed over $180M domestically in six weeks.
Wed, Sep. 2, 10:53 AM
- Steven Spielberg's DreamWorks studio is set to leave Walt Disney (DIS +0.3%) and find a new distribution home after a six-year arrangement that showed mixed results and few blockbusters.
- The label is in talks with Universal Pictures (CMCSA +1.2%), The Hollywood Reporter writes. And going back to Paramount (VIA +1.7%, VIAB +2.3%) is a possibility.
- DreamWorks left Paramount for a Disney deal in 2009 just after breaking off talks with Universal. Spielberg's maintained offices at Universal, though, and was a hands-on executive producer to its monster hit Jurassic World, making him important to extensive future dinosaur-related plans.
- Spielberg's deal with Disney expires next August, just after the release of fantasy story The BFG, an adaptation of the Roald Dahl book.
- DreamWorks won't be going with hat in hand: It has hundreds of millions in new commitments from Participant Media and other sources, meaning it won't have to fight for funds as it did during its Disney cold streak.
Mon, Aug. 31, 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.
Mon, Aug. 31, 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.
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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.
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