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Dauman: Netflix No Impact on Nick Ratings

5/03/2012 12:20 PM Eastern

Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman pushed back criticism that its streaming deal with online content provider Netflix was the main culprit in the falloff in viewership at its Nickelodeon network, adding that the media giant has plans in place to right the kids' channel.
Dauman said on a conference call with analysts to discuss quarterly results Thursday that Netflix represents less than one-fourth of total television households, and that time spent streaming Nickelodeon content via Netflix is about 2% of the time spent watching the Nick linear channel.
"Even if you viewed that as being completely cannibalistic - which of course it is not, it serves our customers in places where they might not otherwise be able to watch television and it serves some promotional value - there is minor impact here," Dauman said.
He added that Viacom will correct its ratings issues - MTV ratings declined about 19% in the quarter - as it has in the past, by stepping up audience research to determine viewers' tastes, creating new programming to meet those audience needs and tastes and effectively marketing and promoting its shows.
Dauman pointed out that in past ratings declines at networks like MTV and BET, Viacom managed, through the same process, to drive record ratings growth at those channels.
Dauman said the reasons for the declines include ratings measurement issues with Nielsen and
"We've seen this level of ratings impact on some other major networks in the past and we've overcome it," Dauman said. "The Nick issue is complicated There are some measurement issues, there cert has been some compelling programming which exists on some of our competitors, which we can clearly address."
Dauman said the strategy includes more diversity in programming and creating more genres.
"Nickelodeon is stepping up to the plate in a major way with the creative community, with its own programming teams," Dauman said. "Our marketing partners are very pleased with what they're seeing. There was a very good reaction to the Nickelodeon upfront presentation. It's a very exciting lineup.
"This is what we do," Dauman continued. "We expect over time as we accumulate the programs, as we market these new shows, we will gradually build on our ratings. We will not stop until Nickelodeon continues to get to bigger and better places."
In the past several days, analysts and CEOs alike have pointed to Netflix as the culprit in Nick's decline. In March, The Disney Channel ended Nick's 17-year run as the most watched basic cable network in the total day measure. That reign didn't last long - Nick reclaimed the total day crown in April, although Disney continued to lead with kids aged 2-11 in the full day measure.
Sanford Bernstein media analyst Todd Juenger pointed to subscription video on demand services like Netflix capturing audience from linear channels like Nick in a recent report. And on a conference call with analysts Wednesday, Time Warner chairman and CEO Jeff Bewkes put his two cents in, adding he suspected that SVOD services like Netflix cut into viewership. He noted that Time Warner's own Cartoon Network, which does not have a Netflix deal, saw its ratings climb 14% in the past quarter.
"We didn't have that [ratings] problem, and we think part of the reason is that we don't have our program sitting on an SVOD service where parents can park their kids in front of an SVOD," Bewkes said Wednesday. "And obviously, that's taking some viewing away from some of the other animated channels..."

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