Dauman outlines Viacom plan to ‘turn the corner’

Investment in big data, new distribution approaches and content and a focus on events will help Viacom “turn the corner” and deliver “a new period of prosperity and growth”, according to Philippe Dauman, president and CEO.

161008_1040_dauman_finalbiggestSpeaking to analysts after reporting less than stellar fourth quarter and full year financials, Dauman cautioned that progress would “require a focus on the long-term health and vitality” of the business.

Dauman highlighted Viacom’s investment in Vantage, its big data engine to deliver targeted advertising, and Viacom Play Plex, the set of branded mobile apps it launched internationally in October, as examples of the kind of innovation that would deliver value.

He said that Viacom aimed to triple the number of clients using Vantage ahead of its 2016 upfront.

Answering analyst questions, Dauman said that Play Plex would “open up multiplatform revenue in different parts of the world”.

Viacom reported that its Nick App had passed the milestone of 20 million downloads across iOS, Android, Xbox and Roku, while its Nick Jr App has passed two million downloads. Overall, Viacom’s digital video views increased by 340% over the year.

Dauman said that Viacom could look to subscription video-on-demand rather than traditional distribution to secure growth in China. He said that China was “a potentially significant growth market” but one which was “somewhat limited in the traditional distribution of television”.

Dauman said that Viacom would also invest in more short-form “and even longer-form content” for new platforms, with the creation of a new mobile video production capability in Los Angeles and New York, “as well as internationally”.

Solid growth in domestic and international channel distribution fees failed to offset a poor domestic advertising business, a decline in the performance of the movies business and the impact of a strong dollar for Viacom in its fourth financial quarter, with revenues dropping 5% to US$3.79 billion.

Excluding a negative 3% impact of foreign exchange movements, the channels business grew by 5% to US$2.79 billion, with international advertising performing better than the domestic ad business.

The film business’s revenues dropped 24% in the quarter to US$1.03 billion, and was down 23% for the full year, thanks to the strong performance last year of Transformers: Age of Extinction.

Revenue for the full year amounted to US$13.27 billion, down 4%, and adjusted operating income fell by 5% to US$3.92 billion.

Bauman said Viacom’s predominantly youth-focused brands had been hit early by the wave of disruption in the audiovisual media business, but that there signs of progress were emerging.

Citing research that showed millennials were spending more time consuming media than sleeping, Dauman said: “Apparently, media executives aren’t the only ones losing sleep in this modern world.”

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