Viacom 4Q

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Though profit for 4Q rose to $470mln vs. $212mln last year, Viacom‘s revenue slipped to $3.3bln from $3.95bln in the year-ago quarter. Citing short-term challenges in 4Q, pres/CEO Philippe Dauman said lower revenue’s impacted by fewer home entertainment releases and a less favorable mix of theatrical releases from Viacom’s film entertainment arm. And the "lingering effects of the ratings softness" at Nickelodeon "masked a solid performance by our media networks overall," he said during a conference call Thurs. Excluding Nick, Viacom’s nets returned to positive ad revenue growth in the quarter, he noted. Though affil fees grew YOY, revenue fell 2% at the nets overall, hurt by lower ad revenue (down 6% YOY and due entirely to the shortfall at Nick). He said Nick is regaining strength thanks to greater emphasis on event programming. In the short-term, Nick is focused on 3 priorities: reclaim and retain its Sat morning leadership, strengthen its weekday afternoon block, and strengthen its preschool viewer-ship to feed long-term viewer-ship of its big kid audiences, said Dauman. As for MTV, the company is looking at post-"Jersey Shore" programming. The show was "game-changing" for MTV but also precipitated an overemphasis on one night, Dauman said. "We are now successfully building out additional nights," whether it’s the "Teen Mom" and "Catfish" reality block on Mons or female comedies like "Snookie and JWOWW" on Tues nights. Wells Fargo analysts agreed that Viacom nets other than Nick saw positive ad growth, with MTV "de-risking its schedule through smaller hits over the entire week." Viacom’s deal with its biggest digital licensing partner Netflix comes for renewal in May, Bernstein Research analysts noted. Given the current audience and revenue trends, "we certainly expect Viacom will push for the biggest deal they can get," they said.

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