Viacom Reports Higher Fourth-Quarter Earnings

Viacom reported higher profit in its fiscal fourth quarter as international revenue rose and domestic ad sales stopped shrinking. Domestic subscriber revenue fell.

Net earnings were $674 million, or $1.67 a share, up from $254 million, or 64 cents, a year ago. The increase included a gain on an asset sale, while a year ago the company reported restructuring charges.

Revenue rose 3% to $3.3 billion

Adjusted operating income for Viacom’s media networks division, which includes Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and BET, fell 8% to $693 million as programming expenses increased.

The division's revenue rose 3% to $2.55 billion, ad revenue was up 6% to $1.22 billion, and affiliate revenue was down 1% to $1.15 billion.

Domestic revenue decreased 2% to $1.96 billion. Domestic affiliate revenue was down 3% to $948 million because of a decline in subscribers, the company said.

Domestic advertising revenue was flat at $936 million, ending a long string of declines. The fourth-quarter ad sales reflected ratings growth offset by what the company called a “strategic reduction of unit loads.”

Related: Viacom Says Ad Revenue Growth Will Come After Loads Are Reduced

Viacom’s filmed entertainment unit reported an adjusted operating loss of $43 million, which was an improvement over the year-ago quarter.

“In the fourth quarter and full year, we made strong progress against our plan to fundamentally stabilize and revitalize Viacom, with top-line gains in both Media Networks and Filmed Entertainment segments driven by continued execution on our strategic priorities,” said CEO Bob Bakish.  “We saw significant ratings increases across the portfolio, which drove sequential improvement in domestic advertising; our international business continues to expand, delivering double-digit revenue increases; and Paramount is demonstrating growth across multiple revenue streams as it rebuilds the theatrical slate and continues to grow its TV production business.”

Bakish added that Viacom had renewed several major distribution contacts, including one with Charter Communications. The agreements “secure broad, long-term carriage of Viacom's networks for subscribers and expand our relationships with distributors through new, forward-looking advanced advertising and content production partnerships,” he said.

Related: Viacom, Charter Announce Distribution Deal Renewal

“To accelerate our transition to long-term, sustainable growth, we are ramping up the evolution of Viacom's media business to better serve next-generation platforms and solutions while continuing to diversify our business and strengthen our global portfolio of flagship brands,” Bakish said.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.