Viacom

by Nalae White
726px-Viacom_logo.svgViacom Inc.                                                                                                                 1515 Broadway
New York, NY 10036
United States
Phone: (212)-258-6000
http://www.viacom.com [1]

Key Executives:

Philippe Dauman, CEO

Sumner M. Redstone, Founder & Executive Chairman

Thomas E. Dooley, COO

Wade Davis, CFO

Company Overview:

Viacom Inc. is an American mass media company that mainly produces films and cable television shows. Viacom is the fifth largest broadcasting and cable company in the country. Their network reaches approximately 700 million subscribers internationally, throughout about 160 countries and territories. It is estimated that Viacom owns and operates roughly 170 networks, in addition to Paramount Studios, America’s oldest film studio and distributor. Viacom’s networks are largely content based, satisfying more niche markets. Viacom operates hundreds of online, mobile, and app experiences across a wide range of media platforms, including both traditional and new forms of media. [2]

Viacom Owned Networks

Viacom Owned Networks [i]

Viacom’s history as an independent company has been complicated. Viacom began as a spin-off network from what was then CBS, Inc., establishing itself as a public company in 1971. In 1987, National Amusements acquired the controlling shares of Viacom, owning 83% of the company. However, in 2000, Viacom formed a $39.8 billion merger with CBS Corporation, uniting the two companies once again. Then, in 2005, the companies parted ways again and Viacom rebranded itself as Viacom Inc. Along the way, Viacom had acquired and created over 100 channels through MTV Networks and otherwise. The company has experimented with joint ventures like EPIX, partnerships with music groups like Warner Music Group, feeding into more targeted markets with channels like mtvU, and of course new and innovative ideas for creating and distributing content. [3]

Current Ongoings:

Rendering of Columbia Square

Rendering of Columbia Square [4]

Viacom recently made the decision to relocate and consolidate several of its big name networks to one building in Columbia Square on Sunset Boulevard. MTV, Spike TV, Comedy Central, and BET will all operate out of the $420 million complex within 180,000 square feet of space. The move will put the networks closer to Paramount Studios, which operates a mile from the building. Viacom’s 12-year lease states that the company will capacitate nearly the entirety of a 6-story building within the complex. The lease is the largest to be signed in Hollywood in the last 10 years. Viacom is expected to poster sizable graphics that will be visible from far distances on the building. The purchase is instrumental in what is seen as a revamping of Hollywood, with the complex being the largest “media-tenant” since the construction of the Capitol Records Tower in the 1950s. [4]

Viacom’s network continues to expand, opening new channels to satisfy new markets. This year, Viacom renewed an existing distribution deal with Hulu, an online media streaming service. The contract allows Hulu to use Viacom’s existing repertoire of cable networks to substantiate Hulu’s own library. The renewal will also allow Hulu a wider range of material to choose from, including networks that were not previously available to the streaming service before, such as MTV, VH1, Comedy Central, and Nickelodeon. The deal will contribute largely to the “Hulu Kids” section of the website, reviving older series accompanied by a sense of nostalgia like “Ren & Stimpy” and “Hey Arnold!” which currently air on Viacom’s TeenNick channel. The deal also greatly amplifies the number of Viacom’s past reality shows that will be featured on Hulu. It is speculated that the deal is an attempt by Hulu to compete with Amazon Prime’s Instant Video Inventory. However, the deal barely rivals the existing subscription-streaming deal between Amazon and Viacom, which was the largest sum Amazon has paid for a streaming deal thus far.[5]

Channel 5 Logo

Channel 5 Logo [ii]

Viacom has, additionally, closed a  £450 million deal, acquiring UK’s Channel 5 Broadcasting Limited from Northern & Shell Media Group. Channel 5 and Viacom’s existing networks have begunexperimenting with joint programming, airing Nickelodeon originated shows on Channel 5, as well producing new content with children’s shows like “Nella the Knight” and a reality show called “10,000 B.C.”[6]

Recent Legal Incidents:

In 2007, Viacom filed a $1 billion lawsuit against YouTube, claiming that the website was perpetuating Copyright Infringement. The judge ruled in YouTube’s favor in 2010, and Viacom filed for an appeal. The suit litigated for a total of 6 years until in 2013, the judge ruled again that YouTube “did not have to police itself”, and that it was Viacom’s responsibility to find infringing videos and alert YouTube to their presence. In March of 2014, Viacom made the decision to cut their losses, reaching an undisclosed settlement in which no money was exchanged with Google, YouTube’s parent company. Since the settlement, the two companies have been in contact about “seizing opportunities”, with the allusion of possible collaborations and close interactions between them.[7][8]

Promotional still for VH1's TLC Biopic, CrazySexyCool

Promotional still for VH1’s TLC Biopic, CrazySexyCool [11]

In April of 2014, Viacom was sued by Perri “Pebbles” Reid, former manager of 90’s R&B group TLC, for claims of defamation. In 2013, the 2-hour biopic “CrazySexyCool”, following the lives and fame of the popular R&B group, premiered on VH1, a channel owned by Viacom Inc. The biopic was reported to have given VH1 its highest ratings in 5 years. The lawsuit calls for $40 million in compensatory and punitive damages, as well as a request to ban the movie or associated promotional materials from being publicized. Reid believes that the movie disparaged her reputation both as an entertainer and businesswoman, and that “Viacom abandoned journalistic and literary integrity and ignored fundamental canons of journalistic and literary conduct by publishing false and defamatory accusations with actual malice.” The former manager claims that she was presented as “conniving and dishonest”, as it demonstrated that she deceived her clients and robbed them of their royalty money. Reid claims that she had no control over the group’s lawyer’s or accountants. Viacom has refused to comment. [9][10][11]

In February of 2013, Cablevision filed an antitrust lawsuit against Viacom, alleging illegal channel tying during program negotiations; Cablevision claims that Viacom threatened a “10 figure penalty” if Cablevision did not agree to carry smaller suites in addition to must-have cable programming. Viacom counters that the “10 figure penalty” in question is the difference between standard rates and a negotiation between Viacom and Cablevision as the result of “good-faith negotiations” since the two have worked together in the past. The lawsuit was filed three months after a carriage deal between Cablevision and Viacom. Viacom moved to have the case dismissed, however the judge ruled that there was viable evidence on Cablevision’s behalf to review an antitrust claim. There is no trial date set.[12]

Financial Information

Fiscal 2014 Report:

Revenues: $13.78B

Adjusted Operating Income:  $4.13B

Adjusted Net Earnings: $2.38B

Adjusted Diluted EPS: $5.4M

Viacom’s fiscal year came to a close on September 30th, 2014.  The company demonstrated an impressive fiscal year. While Viacom’s total revenue showed a negligible change in comparison to the previous year, other factors were notable. Both the company’s Adjusted Operating Income and Adjusted Diluted Earnings Per Share reached all time highs, rising 5% and 15% respectively. The company’s Adjusted Net Earnings also increased by 3.8% from the previous year.[13]

Sources:

1 Yahoo! Finance: Viacom Financial Profile Date Acquired: December 1st, 2014

2 Viacom Website: About Viacom Date Acquired: December 1st, 2014

3 Viacom Timeline: History of Viacom Date Acquired: December 1st, 2014

4 LA Times: Viacom Signs 12-Year Lease at Columbia Square in Hollywood Date Acquired: December 1st, 2014

5 LA Times: Hulu Extends Streaming Deal With Viacom, Expands Library Date Acquired: December 1st, 2014

Viacom News: Viacom Closes Acquisition of Channel 5 Date Acquired: December 1st, 2014

Bloomberg BusinessWeek Technology: Viacom Gives Up On Its YouTube Copyright Lawsuit Date Acquired: December 1st, 2014

Bloomberg BusinessWeek: Viacom and Google Settle YouTube Lawsuit Date Acquired: December 1st, 2014

Bloomberg BusinessWeek: Former TLC manager sues Viacom For Defamation Date Acquired: December 1st, 2014

10 The Root: Pebbles Files $40,000,000 Lawsuit Against Viacom Over TLC Biopic Date Acquired: December 1st, 2014

11 Eurweb: TLC Biopic Gives VH1 Its Highest Ratings in 5 Years Date Acquired: December 1st, 2014

12 The Hollywood Reporter: Viacom Can’t Escape Cablevision’s Antitrust Lawsuit Date Acquired: December 1st, 2014

13 4th Quarter ’14 Earnings Press Release: Viacom Reports Record Profit For Fiscal 2014 Date Acquired: December 1st, 2014

Photo Sources:

Stop the Cap: Viacom Demands 100% Rate Increases Date Acquired: December 1st, 2014

ii Deadline.com: Channel 5 Sale Speculations Date Acquired: December 1st, 2014

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