Viacom Announces First Quarter 2018 Results, Accelerates Transformation Efforts

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Viacom released its financial results for the first quarter of fiscal 2018 this morning, underscoring the significant progress being made to transform its business amid rapid industry change.

Aggressive moves to expand next-generation platforms and solutions, initiatives to grow beyond TV and film, the launch of a premium content network, strengthened relationships with distribution partners, and the demonstrable success of its Flagship Six strategy all position Viacom for potential growth in the second half of 2018.

“In the quarter, Viacom aggressively drove progress on our strategic plan, delivering improvements in our business and positioning the company for the future,” said Viacom President and CEO Bob Bakish. “Viacom’s most-watched portfolio of domestic cable brands grew viewership share in the quarter, led by our powerful flagship networks, which now includes Paramount Network – the biggest and most ambitious network rebrand in our history. Internationally, we continue to deliver double-digit top-line and bottom-line Media Networks gains while launching innovative new partnerships in growth territories around the world.

“Viacom has also made considerable progress in its push to accelerate consumption and monetization on next-generation platforms, achieving substantial growth in worldwide digital advertising revenues, expanding distribution on fast-growing virtual MVPD and mobile services, and ramping up resources and talent at Viacom Digital Studios. Additionally, since the end of the quarter, we continued to expand our digital capabilities with the acquisition of influence marketer WHOSAY and the world’s premier online video event, VidCon. In addition, our strategy to further diversify our core properties off-screen through live events, hospitality and consumer products continues to progress, with the much anticipated Broadway premiere of the SpongeBob SquarePants musical in the quarter, along with new initiatives across our portfolio.

“We remain deeply committed to maintaining strong financial discipline and delivering returns for our shareholders. In the quarter, Viacom continued to improve its leverage profile and we are on track to achieve $100 million in new cost savings in the current fiscal year, and hundreds of millions more in 2019.”

Here’s a closer look at what Viacom is doing to advance its strategic plan and transform the company in the year ahead:

Flagship Six networks anchor Viacom’s spot atop the basic cable universe

Led by its Flagship Six of MTVBETComedy CentralNickelodeonNick Jr. and Paramount Network (which launched after the quarter ended, replacing Spike in the U.S.), Viacom continued to stand at the top of the basic cable universe, holding the largest share of viewers in all key demos:

And the portfolio continued to grow: MTV primetime ratings (+14 percent) and share (+25 percent) both surged, BET recorded a second consecutive quarter of double-digit year-over-year ratings growth (+16 percent), Nick hit its 10th consecutive quarter as the top network among kids, and Comedy Central documented its third straight quarter of increased year-over-year audience share.

Viacom’s other core brands – VH1, TV Land and CMT – recorded year-over-year quarterly ratings and share growth. For VH1, this marked its 10th consecutive quarter of ratings growth, making it the only entertainment net across both cable and broadcast that can make this claim.

Complementing these growing ratings are strengthened affiliate relationships with Suddenlink and Charter, which should help further boost viewership and the advertising revenue that goes along with it.

Paramount Network launches Viacom Media Networks into the premium content space

Paramount Network rumbled to life last month, propelling Viacom Media Networks into the premium content realm and capitalizing on the deep storytelling tradition of Viacom’s iconic Paramount brand. Strong ratings immediately followed, first for Lip Sync Battle: Live Michael Jackson Celebration and then for the premiere of Waco starring Taylor Kitsch. Several more high-profile shows land over the coming months, including a Heathers reboot, American Woman with Alicia Silverstone, and Yellowstone starring Kevin Costner.

Viacom had already been invested in the creation of premium television content, however, under the umbrella of Paramount Television, a production studio seated under Paramount Pictures that tripled revenues in 2017. The studio’s robust content pipeline includes Hulu’s Catch-22, EPIX’s The Contender, TNT’s The Alienist (cable’s number one new drama series), Amazon’s Jack Ryan, and new seasons of USA Network’s Shooter, EPIX’s Berlin Station, and Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why.

The turnaround of Paramount Pictures continues

Paramount Pictures Chairman and CEO Jim Gianopulos has assembled a new leadership team dedicated to igniting growth. The July release of the next Mission: Impossible film will act as the springboard for a 2019 slate that will include eight films co-branded with Viacom’s media networks. Major production deals with Hasbro, Skydance, and The Fast and the Furious producer Neal Moritz should further bolster a lineup that already includes Bumblebee, Gemini Man, and sequels to Top Gun and World War Z.

Viacom’s push into next-generation platforms accelerates

Yesterday, Viacom announced the acquisition of VidCon, turbocharging a next-generation digital platform strategy that also includes Viacom Digital Studios and recently acquired influence marketer WHOSAY.

This digital pivot has already yielded results, with global video consumption on Viacom’s sites, mobile apps and connected devices surging 38 percent year-over-year during the quarter. As Viacom Digital Studios ramps up to scale and begins distributing unique content across the company’s massive social footprint, Viacom anticipates a doubling of video views and significantly increased watch time on YouTube and Facebook this year.

Viacom will continue to move toward the center of consumers’ digital lives, both internationally – where the company secured a major mobile distribution deal with Telefónica in Latin America– and domestically, where a significant direct-to-consumer experience could be announced later this year.

Viacom’s live events business is growing rapidly

VidCon, which draws more than 30,000 attendees to its flagship Anaheim event and is in the beginning stages of international expansion, adds a powerful arrow to Viacom’s live-events quiver. Every flagship brand will host at least one major live event in the U.S. this year, including Comedy Central’s ClusterFest, which drew 40,000 fans in its inaugural run last year; SpongeBob the Musical, which opened to soaring reviews on Broadway; and The BET Experience, which will continue to attract tens of thousands of fans around the BET Awards in June.

International ad, affiliate and general revenue surge

Viacom International Media Networks continues to crank out steady growth: a 13 percent overall revenue jump, a 17 surge in advertising revenue, and 13 percent growth in affiliate revenues.*

Strong growth in Europe and the integration of Argentinian broadcaster Telefe contributed to these impressive numbers. The launch of Paramount+ in the Nordics, the debut of a free-to-air Spike network in Italy, and a restructuring of our jointly owned Viacom18 property in India should all contribute to further gains.

*All international revenue numbers are adjusted for a five percent favorable impact from foreign exchange

To see what Viacom will debut in the months ahead, scroll through the timeline below, or click here to view the full-screen version.

Viacom Signs First Deal Directly with Mobile Carrier, Telefónica, to Stream International Channels

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Telefónica subscribers in Latin America are about to get a bit busier on their smartphones – Five Viacom International Media Networks (VIMN) properties will soon be available to stream live over the telecommunications giant’s Movistar Play platform, building on an existing linear TV and video-on-demand distribution agreement between the two companies.

This deal, struck directly with a mobile carrier, is a first-of-its-kind arrangement for Viacom, which is moving decisively to deliver more of its content to the portable devices where its fans increasingly live.

“Mobile streaming is growing in popularity across Latin America – to stay in touch with our young audiences we need our brands and content to be everywhere they are,” said Viacom Senior Vice President of Content Distribution Rita Herring. “We are very happy to extend our deal with Telefónica and add our channels, our content and our mobile products to their successful mobile TV offer through Movistar Play.”

Telefónica subscribers will be able to access live feeds of MTV, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., Comedy Central and Paramount Channel, in addition to a selection of Viacom’s mobile streaming apps, through Movistar Play.

Transform into Bumblebee with this Free iOS App from Paramount and Viacom NEXT

Legendary Autobot Bumblebee towers over Times Square through the lens of an augmented reality app created by Viacom NEXT.

Time to take that classic yellow and black Chevy Camaro for the joy ride you always longed for.

Now, thanks to the studio that brought you the explosive Transformers film series and the tech magic-makers at virtual reality (VR) group Viacom NEXT, fans of the heroic Autobot can play as Bumblebee in Transformers: Cade’s Junkyard, a free experience launched today to coincide with the 4K Ultra HD release of the five-movie collection on iTunes.

Cade’s Junkyard, created in augmented reality (AR) using cutting-edge VR technology from Apple, incorporates content from Transformers: The Last Knight – the latest installment of the blockbuster franchise – to transport users to the virtual junkyard of protagonist Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg).

“We’re excited to give fans the opportunity to get in the driver’s seat and take Bumblebee for a ride,” said Howard Hsieh, vice president of Paramount Home Media Distribution.

The experience overlays eye-popping 3D graphics onto your surrounding physical space, allowing you to maneuver around (or into) barrels, wooden crates, rusted-up jalopies, gas tanks and all sorts of other obstacles at breakneck speeds in the iconic automobile. Careful you don’t drive off your desk, though. The action really heats up when you transform into Bumblebee and show those pesky barrels who’s boss. Blowing stuff up with your phone has rarely been this fun. And in case you’re more of a builder than a demolisher, the app allows you to choose and place objects to expand the virtual world wherever you wish.

Smashing up Viacom’s New York City offices with an augmented reality app created by Viacom NEXT.

The sharp gameplay is the product of putting Apple’s new ARKit platform in the hands of the expert engineers and developers at Viacom NEXT. This is the group’s second time building an AR experience with ARKit – in September, Viacom NEXT released ARQUA!, an artistic building game in which users transform their physical environments into rainbow-colored aquariums.

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Philo Launches Low-Cost Streaming Entertainment Pack Featuring Viacom, Others

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Responding to strong consumer demand for a low-cost entertainment package unburdened by expensive sports channels, television technology company Philo has teamed up with Viacom and several other large media companies to launch a first-of-its-kind streaming service.

The $16-per-month package will include 11 top Viacom networks in a collection of 35-plus channels from A+E, AMC, Discovery and Scripps. All U.S. consumers will be able to stream Philo on their TVs (Roku), computers (most browsers), and mobile devices (iOS app and Android via Chrome). Additional offerings, including four Viacom networks, will be available in a $4-per-month add-on package.

“The video market is evolving quickly, and advances in technology continue to bring additional choice to consumers,” said Viacom Executive Vice President, Head of Distribution & Business Development Tom​ ​Gorke​. “Philo’s platform is a great step forward for the ecosystem, providing a full entertainment pack with a leading-edge interface and innovative social features, all at an appealing retail price. We’re excited to work with Philo to create even more choice for our networks’ loyal fans.”

Philo will deliver the sort of sleek, intuitive experience that modern viewers demand: easy to navigate and available across devices, the service will include an unlimited 30-day DVR, a deep well of on-demand programming, intelligent search, custom homepages, and live pause and save, among other features.

The launch of the low-cost Philo product fulfills a long-stated goal of Viacom CEO Bob Bakish, whose experience running the company’s international divisions imprinted upon him the viability of entertainment-only packs, which are popular in Europe.

“What the country and the world arguably needs is a compelling lower-priced option that we believe can be served through what we’re calling an entertainment pack,” Bakish told an audience of investors at the Deutsche bank Media, Internet and Telecom Conference in March.

Consumers can start a free seven-day Philo trial with just a phone number. Here’s what they will find on each tier:

Basic tier, 37 channels (Viacom nets in bold) – $16 per month: A&E, AMC, Animal Planet, AXS TV, BBC America, BBC World News, BET, Cheddar, CMT, Comedy Central, Discovery Channel, DIY, Food Network, FYI, GSN, HGTV, History, IFC, Investigation Discovery (ID), Lifetime, Lifetime Movies, MTV, MTV2, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., OWN, Science, Spike, Sundance Channel, TeenNick, TLC, Travel Channel, TV Land, Velocity, VH1, Viceland, We TV

An additional 9 channels – $4 per month: American Heroes Channel, BET Her, Cooking Channel, Destination America, Discovery Family, Discovery Life, Logo, MTV Live, Nicktoons

The launch of Philo comes as Viacom has renewed distribution agreements covering almost half of its subscribers in the past year, including a recently wrapped deal with Altice Communications and a renewal with Charter Communications. Terms of the Charter deal have yet to be announced.

Can’t Make It to London? Join the MTV EMAs Onstage With Augmented Reality

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

The MTV EMAs will air on Sunday, Nov. 12, broadcasting a hit parade of star performers from London to a worldwide audience. But those millions unable attend the show at SSE Arena can still interact with host Rita Ora and her fellow nominees onstage via augmented reality on the MTV EMA mobile app.

With their device plugged into select performances, viewers will see and be able to interact with digital animations transposed over the action. “3-D rendered objects can fill the environment around you,” Karmelina Parouka, MTV International’s vice president of digital content and engagement told Deadline. “We’re trying to immerse [fans] into the show itself, and tie it back to the artists they’re passionate about.”

What might this look like while watching the EMAs via your phone? To quote Deadline’s example“As a musician like Camila Cabello takes the stage to sing Havana, that might prompt a virtual Cuban flag to unfurl within the app,” evoking a sort of musical fantasyland realized over top of live performances, reminiscent of the animated monsters dropping into your everyday environment in Pokeman Go.

The EMA augmented reality activation follows the artist- and musician-fueled virtual reality explorations and fellowships pouring out of the Viacom NEXT innovation lab. Viacom has been sinking roots into the growing augmented reality space for some time – check out Dr. Beau Lotto, a Viacom Labs creator-in-residence, discussing the blend between the digital and physical realms at an employee event last year:

Augmenting the augmented reality announcement is the unveiling of the EMA’s 2017 social squad, a coterie of global influencers immersing themselves into the festivities to spread the energy around the world in their native languages. This year’s squad is Madison Beer (U.S.), Hugo Gloss (Brazil), Bontle Modiselle (South Africa), Geordie Shore stars Sophie Kaseai and Charlotte Crosby (UK), and Marcel aka KsFreak and Manuel “Krappi” Krappinger (Germany).

The EMAs will air in more than 170 markets. Visit the show’s website for more information on how to watch and vote.

Viacom Remains the Top Cable Family, Digital Traffic Surges & More Q4 Highlights

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

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As Viacom reports fourth quarter and full-year earnings, there is great momentum driving many of our brands: The top reality show on cable, an enormous surge in VMA streams, the 20th anniversary of South Park, the continued surge in ratings at TV Land and VH1. Check out the details in the slides above.

Behind this strong programming, Viacom continues its long run as the most-viewed family of cable networks, with the most non-sports shows in the top 20 and more than half of the top children’s programs. We’ve also seen a surge in digital, mobile and social consumption:

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TV Land’s Gorgeous New Everywhere Experience Is Here

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

It’s remarkable how TV Land has evolved over the past couple of years. The critically acclaimed Younger, starring Sutton Foster, fires up its third season next week, and has already been renewed for a fourth (watch the pilot here). George Lopez’s eponymous Lopez will be back for season two, as will Impastor. And the net continues to develop new original content, such as Teachers and the forthcoming Nobodies, while fans can still catch a steady run of their favorites from years past, including How I Met Your Mother, Everybody Loves Raymond, and King of Queens.

And now you can take all of this with you with TV Land Everywhere, a complete overhaul of the network’s digital experience that delivers all of this content seamlessly across all of your devices.

TVLand.com is all new. And it is beautiful, easy to navigate, and loaded with free short-form clips, trailers, previews, and episode highlights.

That means lots of stuff like this:

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Four Things You Need to Know About the New RateMyProfessors App

RateMyProfessors, the number one destination for professor ratings, has launched a new app just in time for class. Users can access more than 17 million student comments, and a range of exciting new features, including:

1. A new compare tool that offers side-by-side analysis of multiple professors’ ratings, difficulty level, and classroom style:

VIMN Velocity Is International Media Brand of the Year

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

The 27th M&M Global Awards, held in London last week, are a pretty big-deal event.

How big? Ask Viacom International Media Networks President Bob Bakish.

“The M&M Global Awards are the Media, Marketing & Advertising event in the UK,” he wrote in a note to employees earlier this week.

The occasion for Bakish’s note was simple: to congratulate the Viacom Velocity International group for taking International Media Brand of the Year at this hugely important event.

The Viacom Velocity Team Poses With Their M&M Global Award for International Media Brand of the Year

The Viacom Velocity Team Poses With Their M&M Global Award for International Media Brand of the Year

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BET Goes Worldwide

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

BET is all over the place these days. They’re taking over the Los Angeles Convention center and L.A. Live this weekend for the BET Experience. They’ll be honoring Jesse Williams and Samuel L. Jackson at the BET Awards on Sunday night. The entire network launched in France late last year.

But it’s about to be really all over the place.

The BET Play app drops today, and it’s going to bring English-language BET content to smartphones, tablets, and AirPlay-enabled television sets in 100 countries.

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