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Viacom earnings down despite revenue growth in Q4

Global media conglomerate Viacom reported on Thursday (Nov. 16) lower fourth-quarter net earnings despite a boost in revenue led by its film division. The company – which owns and operates such unscripted-friendly networks ...
November 16, 2018

Global media conglomerate Viacom reported on Thursday (Nov. 16) lower fourth-quarter net earnings despite a boost in revenue led by its film division.

The company – which owns and operates such unscripted-friendly networks MTV, Logo, VH1 and BET in the U.S. – saw its net earnings fall to US$386 million, or 96 cents a share, from $674 million, or $1.67 per share, in the previous year quarter. Still, the numbers came in higher than Wall Street estimates.

Operating income also dipped from $705 million in last year’s fourth quarter to $645 million in the same quarter of 2018.

Despite the drop in net earnings, Viacom saw a 5% boost in revenue – $3.49 billion – over the same quarter last year driven by double-digit gains at Paramount Pictures, the company’s film studio.

Viacom Media Networks saw its operating income grow 2% to $708 million. However, revenues dropped 1% to $2.52 billion.

Viacom held the No. 1 share of U.S. basic cable viewing across key audiences in Q4, with a strong showing at cable nets MTV, BET and Comedy Central.

The media co’s brands in the fourth quarter had six of the 10 highest-rated original cable series among Adults 18-34, including season two of MTV’s Jersey Shore: Family Vacation, which Viacom refers to in its report as “the most-watched unscripted show on cable in the demo.”

Global affiliate growth in Q4 helped offset lower worldwide advertising revenues. Meanwhile, domestic revenues remained flat, while the impact of foreign exchange resulted in lower international revenues.

Elsewhere, Viacom-owned Paramount Pictures brought in double-digit gains in total revenue (25%) to $984 million. This boost in revenue at Paramount was due in part to the nearly triple increase in worldwide theatrical revenues ($337 million) and growth in worldwide licensing ($435 million).

Paramount Television, meanwhile, delivered nine series to screens in 2018 with fourth quarter premieres, including scripted series Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan on Amazon and Maniac on Netflix. The division is “anticipated to grow revenues +50%” in 2019 with 16 series ordered for production.

“Our strong performance in the fourth quarter capped off a pivotal year for Viacom,” said Bob Bakish (pictured), president and CEO at Viacom, in a statement. “We successfully turned around our core business, with dramatic improvements across our networks, at Paramount and in distribution. We also took important steps to evolve Viacom for the future – investing in our portfolio of advanced marketing solutions, digital and experiential offerings and global studio production business. As we head into 2019, we are excited about the company’s evolution and expect to return to topline growth.”

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