Viacom Sees Content As Key to Global Expansion

Viacom is looking to create additional original content in order to build more international channels.

The company is accelerating the launch of a Spike network in England in the spring, a year earlier than previously planned, according to CEO Philippe Dauman.

Speaking at the 42nd annual UBS media conference in New York Monday, Dauman said the acquisition of U.K. broadcaster Channel 5 was a big factor in moving up the Spike launch and will help monetize other Viacom content in England and Europe.

The company just started a Paramount Channel last month with 16 million households. Viacom’s MTV and Nickelodeon are already well established in international markets.

“Everything gets better by having multiple brands. By having more networks in your portfolio you’ve got a better position in dealing with affiliates, with the advertising market and it helps the consumer product business,” Dauman said.

In addition to Europe, Dauman saw growth opportunities for Viacom in India, Latin America and Africa. “We see Channel 5 as a content engine giving us more original programming,” he said.

“The value of acquired programming to us is diminishing. Audiences have access to a lot of content,” Dauman said. He added that Viacom has “a history of producing programming at a low cost . . . we can do it more efficiently [than working with other studios] because we have been doing it for a while and we’ve perfected our process.”

Dauman added that “as we get bigger globally that increases our portfolio of original programming.”

At the conference, Dauman was asked about the state of the ad market. Dauman said Viacom had some ratings issues in the July-September quarter that held down ad revenues. “It’s not a demand problem that we see. We had a C3 ratings supply issue last quarter. As we move past that we expect to see improvement as the year progresses,” he said.

Viacom is also looking for ways to increase revenue while Nielsen and the rest of the industry deal with measuring non-television viewing of its content. During Viacom’s last earnings call, Dauman said about 30% of Viacom’s ad revenue comes in deals that don’t depend on Nielsen ratings—such as app based sponsorships—and that he’d like to get that number up to 50% in three years.

The company wants its young viewers to be able to view Viacom content on the digital and mobile devices they prefer. “We want to be there. We want our partners to be there to measure and monetize it,” he said. “We’re doing everything we can control, but streaming, even in-home streaming that’s allowed under most affiliate agreements, currently isn’t captured and included in Nielsen’s C3 currency.”

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.