Bakish: Mobile Is Viacom’s Future

Viacom CEO Bob Bakish said that while he expects to see modest growth at its traditional linear networks over time, mobile will be the real engine for the content company.

Bakish, speaking at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom conference in San Francisco, pointed to Viacom’s recent deal with wireless carrier Telefonica to license its content brands to the telco’s Movistar Play mobile video offering in Latin America.

“That’s a look at things to come,” Bakish said. “We’re also in a very interesting conversation in the U.S. about bringing our brands to mobile and I believe that will happen in 2018 a well.”

Bakish also hinted at a direct-to-consumer offering that leverages more than 10,000 hours of library content in a “differentiated way” and is complimentary to its MVPD relationships that could come later in the year. He declined to give further details.

“I realize that sounds kind of cryptic, but it’s an opportunity we’re very excited about and you will hear more about later in the year,” he said.

On the linear front, Bakish said Viacom lost about 2.5% of its subscriber base in Q4, an improvement over the 3.5% loss of two quarter ago. Deals with OTT providers like DirecTV Now and Sling TV made the difference and he said Viacom is in talks with additional OTT companies for carriage of its networks.

Bakish said he has “modest expectations,” for its domestic linear TV networks – he predicted mid-to-high single digit percentage growth at its Media Networks in fiscal 2019. But that growth will be mostly driven by advanced advertising, film and TV production, international and social media opportunities.