M&E Daily

Viacom CEO: Company Made Progress With OTT, Paramount in Q2

Viacom made strides in its second quarter (ended March 31) on multiple fronts, including Paramount Pictures and expansion of its TV network distribution across traditional, digital and mobile platforms, according to company CEO Robert Bakish.

During the quarter, Viacom made “significant progress” on “execution and evolution” that included expanded distribution and new distribution agreements, he said May 10 on an earnings call. There was also “continued momentum” at Paramount, which had its “ninth straight quarter of improvement,” he said.

Viacom’s film studio was helped by the strong performance of the movie “Bumblebee” and, based on its current theatrical film slate for the rest of this year, the company still expects Paramount will return to full year 2019 profitability, he said.

Viacom, meanwhile, “secured several important wins” in Q2 in the over-the-top (OTT) arena, on the virtual multichannel video programming distributor (vMVPD) and “skinny” bundle front, including a deal with AT&T that includes “ongoing carriage on all legacy” DirecTV Now packages in addition to inclusion on the new DirecTV Now Plus and DirecTV Max offerings, he said.

Viacom networks were also added to fuboTV’s live TV streaming service and Charter Spectrum TV Essentials, he noted.

As part of Viacom’s growing momentum in mobile, the company announced a content distribution deal as the cornerstone of T-Mobile’s coming mobile video service, while adding MTV, Nick and TV Land to AT&T Watch, he pointed out. Viacom International Media Networks (VIMN), meanwhile, launched MTV Play on U.K. mobile provider EE and Paramount Plus, a cross-brand streaming video service, on Telia in Finland. VIMN now has 22 mobile-only content deals with 18 operators in more than 30 countries, Viacom said.

Pluto TV integration, meanwhile, is “moving swiftly and going exceptionally well, and Pluto’s growth is showing strong early momentum,” according to Bakish. Viacom announced April 30 that it was adding BET, Comedy Central, MTV and Nickelodeon to the Pluto TV streaming service.

As of late January, Pluto TV had 12 million monthly active users and that grew to about 16 million by April 30 – “a 31 percent increase in three months,” with more growth expected, Bakish said, adding: “We have tens of millions of additional Pluto TV-enabled devices coming online over the next few months, so there is strong growth ahead.”

Since being added to Pluto TV May 1, Viacom is also “already making demonstrable progress on advertising monetization,” he said, explaining: “Pluto TV has instantly added billions of ad impressions per month to the Viacom portfolio – and these are high-value impressions” from a diverse, young audience.

Viacom’s presence on Pluto TV is also helping to “differentiate” Viacom from rivals, he said, noting his company has now expanded its reach, especially with young viewers. With the addition of Pluto TV, “we now reach 80 percent of all” 18-34-year-old U.S. viewers “across our linear, digital and social products,” which represents “the broadest reach we have ever had,” he said.

Viacom’s Q2 profit grew to $376 million (93 cents a share) from $266 million (66 cents a share) a year ago. But total revenue dipped 6% to $2.96 billion from $3.15 billion as ad revenue fell 7% to $1.03 billion and affiliate revenue dropped 6% to $1.14 billion.