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.

RuPaul Wins Best Reality TV Host Critics’ Choice Award for VH1’s Drag Race

After the 23rd annual Critics’ Choice Awards, RuPaul Charles can add Best Reality TV Host to his ever-growing trophy collection.

RuPaul’s Drag Race – The VH1 show that he hosts – was also nominated for Best Reality Competition Series. Since moving to VH1 from sister network Logo last year, Drag Race has amassed an even larger and more diverse fan base—driving it from cult LGBT favorite to mainstream darling.

Viacom’s other Critics’ Choice nominees included TV Land’s Younger (Sutton Foster, Best Actress in a Comedy Series) and MTV’s Teen Mom (Best Unstructured Reality Series).

Check out this video by Viacom Catalyst:

The Critics’ Choice win follows a string of recent successes for RuPaul. In September, he won his second Emmy at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards—for top host, with Drag Race earning an additional two Emmys for its Oh. My. Gaga. episode.

Watch the award-winning episode, Oh. My. Gaga:

The Emmys were for Outstanding Costumes for Variety, Nonfiction or Reality Programming; and Outstanding Picture Editing for a Structured or Competition Reality Program.

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MTV Keeps the Party Going from Shore to Shining F***ing Shore

When Floribama Shore came whirling out of MTV in November as a barrage of binge drinking, bar brawls and bedwetting, it included a surprise announcement: the cast of the original Jersey Shore, which launched a global franchise and transformed “GTL” into widely understood shorthand, was reassembling for a new series: Jersey Shore Family Vacation.

Fans’ appetite for more Shore seemed to match the network’s enthusiasm – that first episode of Floribama Shore was MTV’s highest-rated premiere in more than three years.

There’s plenty more to come. After a raucous season that embedded itself deeply enough into the national conversation to earn the honor of a hilarious Saturday Night Live skit, MTV announced that Floribama Shore would return for 20 episodes starting this summer. The net also dropped another Family Vacation promo, this time asking viewers to help decide where the f*&% the OG cast will go by using the hashtag #JSFamilyVacation.

To understand the show’s popularity, it helps to examine its layers.

Watching an episode of Floribama Shore is akin to hopping into a time portal, transporting you to a bygone era of hot pin Polo T-shirts with the collar popped and “going-out tops” (aka the early aughts) that is somehow fused with 1950s sensibility.

It’s a world where a 23-year-old divorcée is fraught with anxiety over potential spinsterhood, and a gorgeous 24-year-old woman frets over aging. The male contestants at once act hyper-macho and are quintessential Southern gentleman. Imagine living life on the set of A Streetcar Named Desire, surrounded by the scent of Hollister cologne.

Of course, this group of twentysomethings partied as hard as their predecessors, but they also prayed before dinner and had thoughtful, seemingly unscripted conversations about their lives—one cast member had been homeless before the show, and another was reeling from the end of a 10-year relationship after her boyfriend cheated on her with her cousin. (This was, according to her, an “Alabama thing.”)

These deep conversations about real-life issues are perhaps what won over fans and critics, enough to earn the show a second season. In a Rolling Stone review, writer Kory Grow said Floribama Shore revealed “soul” and lauded MTV for showing “a group of eight red-state denizens, who, despite their personal flaws, did not espouse any outward Trumpism (or for that matter, Hillary hating). They all found common ground with each other easily – praying, discussing their Christianity and talking about their families.”

While you’re waiting for season two of Floribama Shore, watch season one on MTV, or cast your vote for the crew’s destination on Twitter, because the party hasn’t stopped.

Check out these tweets from our fans:

Viacom Scores Five 2018 Critics’ Choice Nominations

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Congratulations to Viacom’s TV Land, MTV, VH1 and Paramount Pictures, each of which scored at least one nomination for the 2018 Critics’ Choice Awards.

A Manhattan striver who shaves 15 years off her age to advance her career, a raw look at the often shaky lives of teenage mothers, the greatest drag spectacle on television, and a what-if world where humankind shrinks itself to spare the planet’s resources – here’s a closer look at the properties that earned Viacom five nominations:

Best Actress in a Comedy Series – Sutton Foster, Younger – TV Land

Best Unstructured Reality Series – Teen Mom – MTV

Best Reality Competition Series – RuPaul’s Drag Race – VH1

Best Reality Show Host – RuPaul, RuPaul’s Drag Race – VH1

Best Supporting Actress – Hong Chau, Downsizing – Paramount Pictures

The Critics’ Choice Awards will air Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018 on The CW Network.

Legends Return and Stars Unite as Viacom Nets Stuff the Content Pipeline

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

It’s a time of great energy and invention at Viacom, with our networks announcing new shows, series extensions, and reboots weekly.

“Content is what Viacom is,” Viacom CEO Bob Bakish told CNBC’s Julia Boorstin last week. And this robust content pipeline underscores that point as ratings continue to creep up at core channels and fourth-quarter and full-year earnings map upticks in revenue and other key financial metrics.

The return of those crazy kids of Jersey legend, a beloved host helms an all-new concept, a fan-favorite franchise expands south, an unlikely onstage pairing produces a dazzling country-pop concert, a pair of season renewals drop, and a comedy legend is honored – here’s a look at previews for some our most anticipated programming, all of which MTV, VH1, CMT and Spike have released in just the past week:

MTV:

When Floribama Shore hit with the highest ratings of any network premiere in three years, it underscored fans’ hunger for the return of the Shore franchise. Perhaps foreseeing this enthusiasm, MTV queued up the return of the original series cast with a spot announcing Jersey Shore: Family Vacation during Floribama’s debut.

We don’t have many details or even a premiere date yet, but we know the important stuff: Deena, Pauly D, JWOWW, Vinny, Ronnie, Snooki and The Situation will all be back on our screens, together:

After headlining a pair of MTV classics in Rob & Big and Rob Dyrdek’s Fantasy Factory,  skateboarder and reality star Rob Dyrdek returns to the network headlining Amazingness. Human towers, a hands-free archer, stepladders balanced on teeth – check out what will be – in Dyrdek’s words – “the talent show like no other talent show in the world” beginning this Friday, Dec. 8.

VH1:

VH1 has a New Year’s present for its rabid base of Love & Hip Hop fans – the premiere of the latest complement to the hit shows set in New York, Atlanta and Hollywood: Love & Hip Hop: Miami. Here’s a first look at the series and its ensemble cast, featuring Trick Daddy, Trina, Gunplay and Amara La Negra, among others:

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Shore Franchise Catches a Wave as Floribama Debuts to Big Ratings and Original Jersey Shore Cast Returns

Winter is just a few weeks away. In New York, this means hearing excessive amounts of holiday music while listening to weather reports with the ominous buzzword “polar vortex.”

Luckily, we can count on MTV to help us through the winter doldrums. The network announced Monday the return of beloved franchise Jersey Shore, which ended in 2012.

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MTV Heads South for Floribama Shore

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Over the course of a six-season run from 2009 to ’12, MTV’s Jersey Shore delivered an audacious brand of entertainment so compellingly addictive that it spread around the world in the form of spin-offs Geordie Shore (UK), Gandia Shore (Spain), Warsaw Shore (Poland), and Acapulco Shore (Mexico).

Now, the franchise is spinning right back to the United States, where eight twentysomething Southerners will inject the Shore spirit along a stretch of beach and party straddling the Florida-Alabama state line known as Floribama Shore.

The return of the Shore franchise to the United States comes as MTV continues to mine its heritage to fine tune its programming into an ongoing celebration of youth culture: TRL returned last month, following a resuscitation of My Super Sweet 16, Unplugged, and, on Snapchat, Cribs and Beach House.

Here’s a peak at the eight Floribama Shore cast members:

Jeremiah Buoni: 22, Amelia Island, FL

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MTV’s Reality Show 90’s House Will Be All That and a Bag of Chips

As millennials, we like to think we know the 90s. If playing Pokémon on a Gameboy Color, taking trips to Blockbuster to rent VHS tapes and listening to the Spice Girls are among your fondest childhood memories, chances are you grew up to call yourself a “90s kid.”

We’re nostalgic for this time—and not just because it was our childhood. As it turns out, the 90s was a fly time to be alive, no matter how old you were.

The New York Times columnist Kurt Andersen (who is not a millennial) posits that this is due to political, technological and socio-economical advances during the last ten years of the 20th century in an op-ed called “The Best Decade Ever? The 1990s, Obviously.”

Our awareness of current events as adults makes this 90s nostalgia even more acute. Now we know that the world back then truly was, by our standards, pretty chill.

If given the chance to go back in time and experience this glorious epoch of tattoo chokers and Legos with the knowledge we have as adults, how would we fare? If a millennial lives in the ultimate 90s fantasy world but can’t share the experience via Snapchat, did it even happen? Ugh, as if!

MTV’s new reality-competition show 90’s House lets us witness what our lives would be like in the 90s, without time travel.

Here’s the 411:

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MTV Rides Programming Resurgence to First Summer Ratings Increase in Six Years

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Fueled by a programming renaissance, MTV scored its first summer ratings increase in six years for the three months ending August 31.

That’s cause for celebration:

via GIPHY

The surge follows the steady re-introduction of several legacy MTV programs that have been recalibrated to appeal to the social-, mobile- and digital-oriented youth of today: My Super Sweet 16, Unplugged and, on Snapchat, Cribs and Beach House. And, coming soon: the hugely anticipated returns of early aughts mainstay TRL.

(Take a look at the Shawn Mendes performance that relit Unplugged – you’re not seeing things – there are no cell phones in the audience; the producers prohibited fans from bringing them into the theater, so they could simply enjoy the concert, 1990s style):

The ratings resurgence has not been entirely tethered to nostalgia, however, as a rejiggering of the network’s The Challenge and the launch of unscripted original Siesta Key (below) also fueled large audiences.

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P!NK Will Get the Party Started As Video Vanguard Winner for the 2017 VMAs

Michael Jackson earned his title as King of Pop for his mosaic of entertainment talent and ingenuity—especially when it came to creating iconic music videos. With Thriller, Jackson introduced cinematography into music videos, turning what used to be simple live recordings into fully-fledged short films. The 13-minute video (which I performed in a summer camp talent show as a teenager, and still remember most of the moves) was MTV’s first world premiere.

Courtesy of GIPHY.

Jackson’s musical mosaic of R&B, rock, pop, jazz and funk coupled with a repertoire of iconic dance moves made him the benchmark for artistic excellence in the entertainment industry.   The Weeknd, Beyoncé, Mariah Carey and Justin Bieber are just some of today’s most prominent stars entertainers who cite Jackson as inspiration.

The MTV Video Music Awards pay credence to this legacy with the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award.

The award celebrates “forerunners in the music video sphere,” according to Slate.

“MTV is legitimately the definitive arbiter on such matters. And their track record with the Vanguard has reinforced their authority: The first recipients of the award, in 1984, were the Beatles and Richard Lester, for the trailblazing A Hard Day’s Night, and David Bowie, for his groundbreaking films from the late ’60s and ’70s.”

This year, pop star P!NK will receive the honor, joining the pantheon of esteemed winners from previous years. The gutsy songstress established a close relationship with MTV and the VMAs over the course of her 17-year career.

Watch some of P!NK’s greatest VMA moments:

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