Viacom Launches Digital Studios at First NewFront, Ramping Up Online & Mobile Content Pipeline

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Laugh with Majah Hype, wake up with Nikki Glaser, cook with Snooki, get animated with JoJo – and do it all on your phone.

Viacom Digital Studios (VDS) is here, poised to deliver hundreds of hours of premium digital content that will transport digital native stars from BET, Comedy Central, MTV and Nickelodeon to the social and mobile platforms where their fans live.

This was the headline of Viacom’s spectacular first NewFront event earlier this week at Manhattan’s Chelsea Piers, where the company marched confidently into the digital realm by detailing dozens of new short-form properties to feed its massive online social footprint of more than 850 million fans, elaborating on new content deals with Snap and Twitter, and announcing an expansion of its recently acquired VidCon conference to London this February.

“The launch of Viacom Digital Studios is an amazing opportunity to reimagine our iconic brands for a new generation of young, mobile-first audiences,” said VDS President Kelly Day. “We’re bringing the power and scale of Viacom’s global content engine and storytelling capabilities to entertain and engage our fans whenever and wherever they’re consuming content.”

VDS has been steadily ramping up since Day joined Viacom late last year, jolting year-over-year social video views and minutes viewed in the U.S. upward by 70 (to 4.3 billion) and 78 percent (to 4.7 billion), respectively.

The digital studio is a lynchpin of Viacom CEO Bob Bakish’s revitalization plan, as the company moves deliberately to expand its core television business onto next-generation platforms.

“… if you can think about all the time spent on mobile and all those devices out there, I think you quickly realize what a powerful growth engine that will be for our business,” Bakish told a crowd of investors at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference in March.

While Viacom’s digital content will run across YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and other channels, the company’s NewFront highlighted new global original content deals with Snap Inc. and Twitter.

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Viacom Posts Strong Second Quarter 2018 Earnings, Revitalization Accelerates

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Viacom posted strong second quarter 2018 earnings this morning, outperforming projections with significant gains in both adjusted operating income and adjusted earnings per share as the company accelerates its pivot from stabilization and revitalization to growth.

Double-digit gains across all international Media Networks revenue streams, Paramount Pictures’ return to profitability, ratings increases at key flagship networks, significant benefits from cost savings, further diversification into live events and other adjacent businesses, and an increased focus on next-generation platforms and solutions all set Viacom on a trajectory toward a full fiscal year of growth.

“Viacom continued to accelerate progress against its strategic priorities, delivering improvements across key metrics in the quarter,” said Viacom President and CEO Bob Bakish. “Our flagship brands increased audience share among important demos for the fourth consecutive quarter, and we saw sequential improvements in domestic advertising and affiliate revenue performance. Internationally, Viacom continued its winning streak, achieving double-digit revenue and profit gains in the quarter while expanding its global footprint through new channel launches and innovative mobile distribution deals across Europe and Asia. Our cost transformation initiatives are well under way; we anticipate more than $100 million in cost savings in fiscal 2018, and now expect over $300 million in run-rate savings in fiscal 2019 and beyond.

“At Paramount Pictures, turnaround efforts have firmly taken hold as the studio improved margins and returned to profitability. This month’s outstanding box-office performance of A Quiet Place, the first film produced and released under the new team at Paramount, is a clear sign of our progress.

“Viacom also took strides to advance its participation into next generation platforms and solutions. We continued to benefit from growth in the vMVPD space, delivered revenue gains in Advanced Marketing Solutions, and significantly increased original content production through Viacom Digital Studios to drive off-linear consumption. Additionally, we continue to diversify into adjacent businesses by building on our live events strategy with upcoming tentpoles including Comedy Central’s Clusterfest, the BET Experience, Nickelodeon’s U.S. debut of SlimeFest and our first-ever VidCon.”

Viacom’s core business continues to strengthen

Improved performance throughout Viacom’s core business – domestic and international Media Networks and Paramount Pictures – allowed the company to meet or beat guidance on key metrics year-over-year for the quarter, producing five percent adjusted operating income growth and a 16 percent jump in adjusted earnings per share.

Domestically, both advertising and affiliate revenues increased. Viacom’s flagship brands (NickelodeonNick Jr.MTVBETComedy CentralParamount Network), grew audience share year-over-year for the fourth consecutive quarter, while the company continued to hold the top share of basic cable viewing in key demos, including adults 18-34, African-Americans, and kids 2-11. BET grew year-over-year ratings and share by double digits for the third consecutive quarter, while VH1, CMT and TV Land notched year-over-year growth in audience share and ratings. MTV’s programming resurgence continued, with a third straight quarter of year-over-year primetime ratings growth led by Jersey Shore: Family Vacation, which, with 10 million viewers on its opening weekend, was the biggest unscripted cable premiere since 2012.

Viacom International Media Networks is on pace for another record year after posting double-digit increases in profitability, as well as across all revenue streams.

Paramount Pictures returns to profitability

After notching a $75 million year-over-year improvement in adjusted operating income under its new management team, Paramount Pictures raised the curtain on the third quarter with the release of smash hit A Quiet Place. The film rode overwhelmingly positive critical response and deft marketing to the studio’s best opening since 2016 and the second biggest domestic opening so far this year, earning more than $200 million in its first three weeks alone on just a $20 million production budget. Additionally, the studio’s Paramount Television production business anticipates $400 million in revenues this year. Behind these and other catalysts, Paramount expects meaningful improvement to its full-year adjusted operating income for the full fiscal 2018.

Viacom is aggressively increasing its digital output on next-generation platforms

Anchored by 850 million social media followers, the newly formed Viacom Digital Studios is poised to create more than 600 hours of short-form original content this year. This quarter alone, social video views shot up 70 percent (to 4.3 billion), and domestic minutes viewed increased by 78 percent (to 4.7 billion minutes) year-over-year.

The addition of Nickelodeon’s Noggin app to Amazon and a renewed agreement that adds more Viacom content to Snap’s programming slate, in addition to recent and forthcoming mobile deals, will continue to expand the reach of Viacom’s increasing volume of on-the-go-content.

Growing ad revenue through Advanced Marketing Solutions

Viacom today detailed how its Advanced Marketing Solutions (AMS) portfolio would provide even greater opportunity to take advantage of new advertising platforms. The company also broke AMS – which increased its revenue 29 percent in the quarter – into two basic categories:

  1. Advanced addressable video inventory contains advertising units that Viacom can target to consumers, either through its brands’ apps, or by using set-top-box data from its advanced advertising partners, including Comcast, Charter and Altice USA.
  2. Brand solutions is a bundle of consulting, creative services and associated activations that includes social campaigns led by influence marketers WHOSAY, creative integrations with in-house integrated marketing and creative solutions team Viacom Velocity, and experiences at retail stores or Viacom’s growing portfolio of live events.

Viacom live events and consumer products lines continue to grow

Viacom continues to reinforce its brands and drive revenue through live events, recreation, consumer products and other business lines. This quarter marked a nearly 100 percent increase in live-event attendance over 2017, and there are plenty more events in the pipeline, including Comedy Central’s Clusterfest, the BET Experience, Nickelodeon SlimeFest, and the first VidCon since the online video conference joined Viacom – all of which should serve to double live-event and recreation revenue this year.

Viacom’s future looks strong

“Looking forward, we see continued momentum as we pivot from stabilization and revitalization of our business to a new phase of growth,” Bakish said.

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

“We’re Focused on a Return to Growth,” Bob Bakish Tells Deutsche Bank Conference

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Viacom President and CEO Bob Bakish sat with analyst Bryan Kraft at the Deutsche Bank Media, Telecom and Business Services Conference in Palm Beach, Florida last week. In an extended Q&A session, Bakish outlined Viacom’s wide-ranging growth initiatives, from sophisticated advanced advertising products, to the opportunities in mobile distribution, to the company’s strength outside of the United States.

“We spent 2017 really stabilizing the business, and now we’re focused on a return to growth,” Bakish said. “… We articulated a three-part plan associated with that, growing share and margins in our core business, accelerating our participation in next-generation platforms and solutions, and unlocking opportunities with synergies to the core that are outside of traditional media revenue streams.”

While Bakish looked firmly toward the future, he also summarized a few of Viacom’s many recent successes: MTV is in its 10th consecutive month of growth; BET’s ratings streak stands at three straight quarters; Paramount Network launched to both critical acclaim and ratings success in January; ratings at CMT, TV Land and VH1 continue to be strong.

Here are a few more highlights from Bakish’s conversation. You can listen to the full Q&A session here.

Viacom’s diverse demographics + diverse ad products = enormous opportunity

“… all our constituencies have embraced the flagship strategy and certainly that’s true in the ad community. We’re in a very enviable position in that we serve the full spectrum of demographics, really from preschoolers all the way up to, as I said, 25-54s. … But importantly, what you have to realize about our ad business is, yes, it’s partially ads or majority ads on linear television networks … but it’s also our advanced advertising business. And that’s around instilling data-driven approaches and alternate kind of orbits versus [potential] truck [purchasers] versus men 18 to 34 in a television-centric environment, and then all the way up through actual dynamic ad insertion, which is another element we’ve added as we’ve redone our MVPD deals this year [so that] we have access to insert at the consumer level.”

A cornerstone strategy drives growth internationally

“… [Viacom’s international cornerstone strategy] started with our creation of our joint venture in India, which we did in 2007, where we went on to launch a brand called Colors and sitting here today, it’s the number one. … We then went on to acquire Channel 5 in the UK about five years ago. That’s been a homerun and we acquired Telefe in Argentina, which is number one broadcaster in Argentina about a year ago and that’s been a homerun. So, you put that all together and you have a company that grew – our international division that grew, earnings, double digits ad revenue, double-digit affiliate revenue, double-digit ancillary revenue in the last quarter and earnings, let’s say very, very strong double digits in the last quarter and continues to be on a … strong track to additional growth.”

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“2018 Is About Reinvention” – CEO Bob Bakish on Viacom’s Growth Initiatives

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Viacom CEO Bob Bakish sat down with Morgan Stanley media analyst Ben Swinburne at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference last week. On a San Francisco stage in front of hundreds of members of the investment community, Bakish outlined how various growth initiatives in the international, mobile, direct-to-consumer, short-form video and live event spaces will complement Viacom’s existing business lines.

“So, if you think of 2017 really as a period of stabilization, revitalization in the company, as we look forward and we’re already hard at work at this and putting points on the board, 2018 is really more about reinvention and driving the company forward as a growth company in the future,” Bakish said.

Here are a few highlights from Bakish’s talk with Swinburne. Listen to the full conversation here. 

Viacom’s future is mobile

“And then the thing that’s really exciting really longer term, but not much longer term is the mobile space, and that’s the incremental category that will invert the whole argument. In the last quarter, we did a first of its kind deal with Telefónica in Latin America where we licensed all of our flagship brands that are in Latin America to their Movistar Play, the first-of-its-kind deal for them too, so that those services will be available to all their mobile television subscribers. … We’re also in a very interesting conversation in the U.S. right now about bringing our brands to mobile and I believe that will happen in fiscal 2018 as well. And if you can think about all the time spent on mobile and all those devices out there, I think you quickly realize what a powerful growth engine that will be for our business.”

Viacom’s content library is coming directly to consumers

“… later in the year, you’ll hear about the products we’re going to launch that leverages those assets … which we’re going to implement on direct-to-consumer basis in a differentiated way that we believe leverages not only our library assets, but also our ad sales capabilities and its complementary to what we’re doing in MVPD [Multichannel Video Program Distributors] space.”

Viacom’s growth initiatives could generate hundreds of millions of dollars in near-term value

“… we’re actively growing our participation in … the digital-native side, the Consumer Products side and the live events side, think of those as three different tracks, all complementary to the brand and to our financials. We think that is hundreds of millions of dollars of near-term value.”

Every flagship brand will have a live U.S. event

“Again, the events space in this fiscal year, every flagship brand [Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., MTV, BET, Comedy Central, Paramount Network], will have an events in the U.S. That is something that was not true before. So, that’s Nickelodeon, that’s Comedy Central … So, that’s an important incremental activity and one that consumers and advertisers and for that matter, talent, like.”

Viacom’s relationship with distributors continues to improve

“We’ve got this Advanced Ad product we can bring to the table to increase the value of some of your local avails, and we really did turn a new page,” Bakish said of settling on a deal to return Viacom to Altice. “So, we’re sitting here today in a much better place vis-à-vis distribution. We don’t have any large near-term – any large MVPD deal up in fiscal 2018. And by the way, we’ve been improving our product. … I think people are starting to understand that it’s differentiated and that it is valuable. … And you put those things together both in the U.S. and certainly globally, that will be a growth platform.”

International continues to grow rapidly

“[Viacom International Media Networks] is a business that in the last quarter grew ad sales, affiliate sales, ancillary sales, double-digits. It’s a business that grew the bottom line strong double-digits. And it’s not weighted to any one particular thing, it’s driven by our, let’s call it global or in this case ex-U.S. portfolio of brands, MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, Paramount Network and it’s driven by our local cornerstones, which include Channel 5 in the UK, which is an acquisition we did a couple of years ago, which transformed our business there. … That includes our other local cornerstone which we acquired. Last thing I did in International, Telefe, which is the number one broadcaster in Argentina, which is a story in its own way, which maybe we will come back to, but that’s an incredible asset and really makes us – positions us to be a major player in Spanish language content which we have not historically been, but we are quickly becoming. And so, the combination of those global brands and the local cornerstones is what’s driving the growth.”

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.

Nick Follows MTV OTT Success in Return to Japan

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Nickelodeon legends SpongeBob, Dora and Leonardo and his shell-clad gang are packing their passports. Their destination? Japan.

But they won’t be rolling up in the turtle’s party wagon or following Dora’s Map to get there – this crew and more Nickelodeon favorites will arrive in the Land of the Rising Sun via an over-the-top (OTT) and mobile channel on Japanese subscription service dTV-Channel.

via GIPHY

“Over-the-top and mobile offer an important growth path for Nickelodeon and our other flagship brands in mature subscription TV markets like Japan,” said Mark Whitehead, president and managing director of VIMN’s Asia Pacific region. “This is another strong example of Viacom forging deep and innovative partnerships with OTT and mobile distributors, like NTT DOCOMO’s dTV-Channel™ in Japan, to make our ‘must-see’ content available when, where and how consumers want to view it.”

When the new channel launches in the first quarter of 2018, it will bring Nick content back to the nation of 127 million for the first time since 2009. With its re-entrance into Japan, Nick will have a home in every major international market that it is able to enter, with the exception of China.

The launch of the Nick channel follows a strong run for MTV’s OTT product in Japan, where online viewership (on AbemaTV and MTV MIX on Hulu Japan), now surpasses that on linear versions of the channel.

Viacom’s Top Networks to Join AT&T’s Streaming-Only DIRECTV NOW Service

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Viacom just announced that fifteen of our top networks will join the more than 100 that will be available on AT&T’s DIRECTV NOW streaming service when it launches later this year. Here’s what you need to know:

No television necessary

DIRECTV NOW will be available entirely and only online. That means you can access it through those devices that you carry around with you and use for basically everything else. All you’ll really need is an internet connection. And if AT&T is your wireless provider, you will even be able to watch beyond the boundaries of the connected world without vacuuming up data.

Deadline quoted AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson on this unique setup recently: “The data required to stream [DIRECTV NOW] on your mobile device is incorporated into the price of the content … If you choose to use that in a mobile environment on AT&T [then] your data cost will be incorporated into your content cost.”

The gang’s all here

Viacom’s family of cable networks reach more viewers than anyone else. We’ve worked with AT&T to make sure DIRECTV NOW carried some of our most beloved, resonant, impactful properties, including MTV, MTV2, MTV ClassicVH1, CMT, BET, Logo, Nickelodeon, NicktoonsNick Jr., TeenNickComedy Central, TV Land, Spike and Centric. So, lots of stuff like this:

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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:

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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