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Dauman: Measurement is Key

Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman said moving into new markets like mobile video will require that antiquated methods of measuring audiences will have to change with the times, including the ability to track viewing on different devices and expanding the viewing measurement windows.

Viacom, which has been under considerable ratings pressure, had previously announced plans to focus more on non- Nielsen dependent revenue, i.e., revenue streams that depend on traditional C3 advertising windows.  At the UBS Global Media & Communications conference in New York, the Viacom chief added some details to its plans to capture and monetize more young viewers.

“We view mobile as a major opportunity for us and are going to be launching new products on mobile over the course of the next year and new brands in that arena,” Dauman said at the  conference.

Dauman had said in November that the plan was to grow its non-Nielsen dependent revenue from 30% to 50%.

“There is no question young audiences want to watch content on all devices they use, particularly on mobile devices,” Dauman said at the conference. “We want to be there, and we also want our partners to be there too.”

But getting to that audience will mean that measurement metrics, which currently only track viewership for three days after a show’s original air, have to expand to at least a seven day (C7) window. Dauman isn’t the only programming executive that has called for the C7 window to become standard – CBS CEO Les Moonves also has been vocal on the issue.

“We’d like to put a lot more of our content available,” Dauman said. “You should be able to watch our streamed channels anywhere you are if you subscribe to cable. We’d like to see it measured.”

Dauman said that because most of its viewers are younger – its flagship channels include MTV, Comedy Central which cater to teens and young adults while its Nickelodeon kids’ network attracts tweens and adolescents – Viacom is more vulnerable to changes in technology.

Dauman said that currently, viewing that is done in the home on tablets, video game consoles and other non-TV devices isn’t measured. That is expected to change next year.

“There are a lot of misnomers being used about ratings versus actual consumption of video. "Having better measurement and monetization tools will be good for the video being consumed and it will unleash our ability to put more content out there on an authenticated basis,” Dauman said.

Viacom’s domestic advertising revenue fell 5%  in the most recent quarter, which Dauman said was more due to ratings issues than demand.

“We have some issues as to delivering on what we sold,” Dauman said “It’s not a demand problem that we see. We have a C3 ratings supply issue. As we move past that we expect to see improvement as the year progresses.”

Dauman also sees opportunities outside the U.S., adding that while it continues to expand its presence in Europe – it recently purchased U.K. broadcaster Channel 5 – it also is eyeing markets in Latin America, Africa and China for potential growth. Viacom recently launched the Paramount Channel in Latin America to about 16 million homes and sees Africa, with a large young population as a key market, especially for mobile content. In China, which has been a huge market for its movie studio, the TV opportunity may be a few years from now, Dauman said.