About the Company
Viacom is an American global mass media company. The company and its content reach audiences in over 160 countries with content produced nationally and internationally . It is the sixth largest broadcast and cable company as far as revenue but has the largest portfolio of ad-supported cable networks in the United States. Viacom’s cable networks are among some of the most popular and most watched channels by families across the world. This includes BET, VH1, MTV, TV Land, Comedy Central, Spike TV, Nickelodeon including all of its spin-offs, amongst many others . In fact,Viacom has been rated the number one family cable network for numerous years.
Phillippe Dauman serves as President, CEO, and the Executive Chairman .
Wade Davis serves as Executive Vice President and CFO.
Thomas E. Dooley serves as Chief Operating Officer.
Sumner M. Redstone , is a majority owner of the company and also serves as Chairman Emeritus of the Board of Directors. However, his unstable health conditions  have decreased his ability to be present in the flesh during meetings as he is currently struggling with physical and speech mobility .
The Deal on Dish
Tensions between Viacom and Dish, a satellite-TV provider, had been brewing for quite a while before the issue was publicized nearing the Wednesday, April 20, 2016, deadline for a new carriage contract . The root of the problem was a supplier-distributor disagreement in which Dish felt the carrier fees being charged by Viacom was unreasonable and overpriced. They stated that they only wanted to sign a contract that took into account the significant changes in the TV landscape and the way media is consumed. The company threatened to drop Viacom’s channels if Viacom didn’t compromise on the new deal .
Viacom however, suggested that they had offered Dish a best-of-its-kind deal for its very popular channels and explained that they have extended the deadline multiple times for Dish . Refusal to come to an agreement would have resulted in a blackout of Viacom channels at midnight-eastern standard time. This would have been bad news for Viacom who has suffered low viewership with media being consumed in non-linear ways and would certainly impact ad revenue if it lost Dish’s 14 million viewers. The situation caused Viacom stock to drop nearly 10% on Tuesday with the fate of Viacom and Dish’s partnership still in the air . However, the share prices increased the next day after CEO Charlie Ergen hinted in a conference call on Wednesday, that he would be interested in pursuing a new deal with Viacom should the company adhere to their conditions .
In efforts to boost awareness on this issue, Viacom launched a website under the name www.keepviacom.com. The site broadcasted Dish’s plan to get rid of a total of 18 Viacom channels and allowed concerned visitors to learn more about the situation under a tab called “Get The Facts.” Other important tabs featured on the web page included “Shows You Will Miss” outlining viewer favorites and other shows that would have been gone forever.
One of the most important features on the site was a link titled “What People Are Saying” which provided a live feed from a discussion board of distressed Dish users and other Viacom supporters that spoke out against Dish threatening to drop the channels. Many Dish users openly expressed willingness to leave the cable provider should they drop the Viacom channels. The website also provided direct access to Dish’s Facebook page encouraging viewers to “make their voice heard” by posting on the page and urging them to join in the conversation on both Facebook and Twitter in which the hashtag #KeepViacom was trending. People of all ages used the hashtag to support Viacom and prevent Dish network from dropping the channels. The site made sure users of Dish network were able to voice their opinions by including Dish’s phone number on the digital protest site along with tips on how to get through to the company via phone .
Within the 24 hours leading up to the fate of Viacom and Dish’s relationship, hundreds of thousands passionate consumers reached out to Dish. Their voices proved to have been heard as the network did not drop the channels. Instead, Dish rose to the occasion meeting the deadline and renewing a multiyear deal with Viacom. The “keep Viacom” site has since been taken down, replaced by a message expressing gratitude and assuring users that an agreement with Dish had been met .
Fortunately, an agreement was reached putting both Viacom and Dish in a better position. The renewed multi-year deal includes plans for bringing select Viacom content onto Sling TV, Dish’s single and multi-stream service, as well as keeping all Viacom channels available for Dish subscribers .
Viacom in International Markets
Viacom has made an imprint in international markets through both acquisitions and expansions. Viacom’s acquisition of channel 5 in the United Kingdom has contributed to the company’s continued growth with a 20% growth in operating income in the country. With the acquisition of channel 5, Viacom was able to garner 23 others crucial networks allowing the company to gain access to 100% of the UK’s television audience. Viacom also has assets in India’s television market . With a recent launch of VOD digital streaming service VOOT that gives India exclusive rights to consume over 17,000 hours of content through the service that is available on Android, and iOS devices for free with lots of kid-friendly content from Nickelodeon and MTV readily accessible .
Despite ratings revealing that Viacom may be experiencing trouble with viewership, considering the decrease in ad revenue by 1% year over year and a decrease in overall revenue by 6% year over year, the CEO Phillippe Dauman assures everyone that Viacom will bounce back soon and see a growth in both ad revenue and overall ratings. They are making strides to accomplish this by using other tools of measurement aside from Nielsen in order to get advertisers acclimated with new ad formats. In addition to allowing them to make use of other platforms more frequently used to consume Viacom content such as laptops and tablets. One such tool is a service called Vantage which allows advertisers to place their ads more accurately along a variety of different platforms using varied consumer data as a catalyst .
Viacom maintains communication with fans and investors via social media outlets such as Facebook in which the overall company has close to 150,000 likes and Twitter where it has over 23,000 followers. These numbers do not include the subscriber base for Viacom’s individual channel networks such as MTV and Nick for example, in which the numbers would soar much higher.
Looking ahead Viacom’s future looks promising . Many of its networks have plans for renewing shows for additional seasons after audience viewership numbers soared. The networks have also green-lighted lots of original content that will be introduced that should certainly garner some positive feedback. As of Friday, April 22, 2016, Viacom’s share price is $43.78, an increase of 2.87% . Leading into May, the stock is now at the highest it’s ever been since the beginning of February.
Viacom’s 2nd Quarter Earnings Conference call is set to release on April 28, 2016, which will provide additional information into the company’s future and finances .
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Pictures (not cited above):
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