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%)
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%.
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.
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.
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
Thu, Jan. 29, 9:34 AM
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.
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.
Thu, Jan. 15, 3:14 PM
- Viacom (VIA, VIAB) extends the contract of CEO Philipe Dauman out to the end of 2018.
- The exec's previous contract was due to expire on Dec. 31, 2016.
- Dauman's salary will remain unchanged and performance-based incentives will stay be in place.
- What to watch: The next three years will see Dauman lead Viacom during what is expected to be an evolved pay-TV and movie industry. Several analysts see M&A as a potential answer for Viacom in the face of some risk to revenue growth.
Thu, Jan. 15, 12:40 PM
- Barry Diller says there's no stretch left on pay-TV pricing as he dissects the influence of Amazon Prime (NASDAQ:AMZN) in the industry.
- He warns on the Prime model where adding subscribers for the company dwarfs concerns on viewership and advertising.
- By the sound of it, Diller isn't recommended staying long cable stocks (CMCSA, TWC, CHTR, CVC) or positive on programmers (SNI, CBS, AMCX, FOXA, VIA, VIAB, MSG, DIS) set to renegotiate carriage deals.
- CNBC interview (video)
- Previously: Woody Allen to direct series for Amazon Studios (Jan. 13)
- Previously: Amazon added over 10M new Prime users during holiday season (Dec. 26, 2014)
Wed, Jan. 14, 3:04 PM
- Viacom (VIA, VIAB) falls after Citigroup cuts its rating on the company to Sell, a two-notch slide from the previous ratings perch at Buy.
- Citi slashes the price target on Viacom to $62 from $88.
- The investment firm sees a risk that Dish Network might drop Viacom after the current carriage fee deal expires.
- In other smaller cable deals, the impact on EBITDA from lower programming fees more than offset revenue lost from subscriber defections.
- M&A could save the day for Viacom, notes Citi.
Fri, Jan. 2, 11:54 AM
- 2014 saw a mixed performance for movie studios (LGF, CMCSA, TWX, DIS, SNI, VIA, VIAB, FOXA, DIS).
- U.S. box office -5.2% Y/Y to $10.3B. Higher ticket prices and improved in-theater spending helped offset low traffic.
- China box office +36% Y/Y to $4.77B Though the number of foreign films are capped by the government, the box office winner in the nation in 2014 was Paramount's Transformers: Age of Extinction. Local productions accounted for 54% of the tally. IMAX (NYSE:IMAX) had a big year.
- U.K. box office -5% to $1.73b. The Lego Movie from Warner Bros. topped the chart.
- France box office +8% to $4.77B.
- Japan +5.9% led by a stellar $249M from Disney's Frozen.
Dec. 31, 2014, 8:42 AM
- Streaming: Sony (NYSE:SNE), HBO (NYSE:TWX), CBS (NYSE:CBS), and Dish Networks (NASDAQ:DISH) are set to unveil streaming products in 2015. The theory of the companies that the skinny bundles will draw in more cord-cutters and cord-nevers than they will cannibalize current pay-TV subscribers will be put to the test. The rush of streaming options could help or hurt Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) depending upon which analysis an investor leans on.
- Theater traffic rebound: Exhibitors (CNK, RGC, AMC, CKEC, IMAX) and movie studios (LGF, VIA, VIAB, DIS, FOXA, CMCSA, TWX) maintain that the decline in theater attendance in 2014 (-6%) was due to a slate of films light on blockbusters. A bounce is forecast for 2015 with high-profile films such as Avengers: The Age of Ultron, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, Fifty Shades of Grey, Jurassic World, Spectre (James Bond), and Mission Impossible 5 all set to premiere - along with the reboot of the Star Wars franchise in December. Capex spending on theater upgrades could also help boost in-theater spending and average ticket price for exhibitors.
- Mergers: If regulators allow the Comcast-Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC) and AT&T-DirecTV (NASDAQ:DTV) mergers to sail through it could clear a path for other media combinations, note analysts. Potential buyers include Alibaba (NYSE:BABA), Wanda Group, Softbank (OTCPK:SFTBY), and a TWX-rebuffed 21st Century Fox (NASDAQ:FOXA). Content producers which could be targets include Starz (NASDAQ:STRZA), Lions Gate (NYSE:LGF), DreamWorks Animation (NASDAQ:DWA), AMC Networks (NASDAQ:AMCX), and Scripps Networks (NYSE:SNI). A split-up Madison Square Garden (NASDAQ:MSG) could also be enticing.
Dec. 30, 2014, 11:02 AM
- U.S movie admissions are down 6% to 1.259B this year to mark the lowest level of movie attendance since 1995.
- An increase in average ticket prices on the push to premium seating helped offset the decline in traffic.
- Paramount (VIA, VIAB) took in box office revenue of $1.0278B (+8% Y/Y) on 18 movies tracked to rank sixth of the studios.
- Transformers: Age of Extinction was the studio's leader at $245M, while Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Interstellar both beat expectations with takes of $191M and $174M, respectively.
Dec. 24, 2014, 8:10 AM
- Media analysts expect an announcement shortly from Sony Pictures (NYSE:SNE) on how it plans to distribute The Interview online.
- The options for the movie studio are plentiful - including using a powerhouse tech outlet such as Google (via Google Play or YouTube), Apple, or Netflix.
- Sony-owned Crackle is also an option as is a deal with a pay-TV operator.
- What to watch: A successful online launch of the film could have some wider implications for movie studios (LGF, VIAB, VIA, TWX, DIS, FOXA) and theater chains (RGC, CKEC, AMC, CNK) with the industry's mainstream distribution model showing some signs of cracking.
Dec. 16, 2014, 1:47 PM
- The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies opened in many international markets last weekend with an impressive $122.2M haul.
- The Warner Bros. (NYSE:TWX) film had strong openings in Germany, France, and Brazil ahead of the U.S. debut scheduled for this weekend.
- The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 is up over $334M globally for Lions Gate (NYSE:LGF) with China and Japan still untapped.
- Interstellar from Paramount (VIA, VIAB) became only the 4th film ever to top $100M at IMAX (NYSE:IMAX) theaters.
VIAB vs. ETF Alternatives
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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