Affiliate Fees Drive Viacom Q4

Ad Sales Dip 5% Amid Ratings Pressure

Viacom reported a 9% rise in fiscal Q4 revenue, driven mainly by a big boost in affiliate fees as domestic ad sales fell 5% in the period.

Revenue for the media giant came in at $3.99 billion, and adjusted net earnings from continuing operations attributable were $729 million ($1.71 per share), an increase of 10%.

Revenues for the full fiscal year were $13.78 billion, substantially unchanged from the previous year, as higher Media Networks revenues were offset by lower Filmed Entertainment revenues. Full-year adjusted operating income grew 5% to a record $4.13 billion and adjusted net earnings from continuing operations attributable to Viacom rose 3% to $2.38 billion. Full-year adjusted diluted earnings per share from continuing operations increased 15% to an all-time high of $5.40.

“Viacom's record financial results in 2014 demonstrate the strength of our brands and continuing momentum for our strategy of investing in creativity, with a relentless focus on growing demographic and geographic markets and embracing new distribution platforms,” CEO Philippe Dauman said in a statement. “Our Media Networks achieved continued growth in the fourth quarter and the fiscal year. Viacom's affiliate distribution business remains a reliable engine for high-margin revenue expansion and provides significant opportunities to build new consumer experiences with long term distributors and emerging technology partners alike. Despite ratings challenges and uncertainty in the scatter advertising market at the close of the year, Viacom's advertising revenues grew in fiscal 2014, as our creative and marketing teams rolled out innovative new offerings. We also continue to take the lead in defining the next generation of measurement tools that will more fully capture the growing multiplatform engagement of our audiences. Our September acquisition of Channel 5 has already made a positive impact on our business, and points the way to further significant long-term growth of our international business. Paramount delivered the top movie of 2014 and the largest-ever theatrical release in China - Transformers: Age of Extinction - and the studio successfully launched another long-term franchise with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles."

Media Networks revenues grew 8% to $2.66 billion, principally due to growth in affiliate fees. Domestic and worldwide affiliate revenues increased 21% and 22%, respectively, primarily due to rate increases and higher revenues related to the timing of available programming from certain distribution agreements. Excluding the impact of these arrangements, the domestic affiliate revenue growth rate was in the high single digits. Domestic advertising revenues declined 5%, reflecting ratings challenges. Worldwide advertising revenues decreased 2%, reflecting the domestic decline partially offset by a 33% increase in international advertising revenues. International advertising revenues benefited from the acquisition of Channel 5 on Sept. 10.

Filmed Entertainment revenues grew 12% to $1.36 billion, due to growth in theatrical revenues. Strong results from current quarter releases and the carryover performance of Transformers: Age of Extinction drove Theatrical revenues up 226% to $557 million. Home entertainment revenues declined 38%, reflecting two fewer releases in the current quarter.

Full-year revenues were $13.78 billion, substantially flat compared to the prior fiscal year. Media Networks revenues rose 5% to $10.17 billion, reflecting a 10% increase in affiliate fees and a 2% gain in advertising revenues driven by higher international advertising revenues. Filmed Entertainment revenues decreased 13%, principally due to lower revenues across the distribution windows reflecting the number and mix of films.