Dauman Lauds Decision to Pull Clips from YouTube

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Viacom’s decision to pull more than 100,000 video clips from viral-video site YouTube resulted in increased traffic to the media giant’s own Web sites and, more important, enabled the company to further monetize that content, chairman Philippe Dauman told an audience of investment bankers and investors Tuesday.

Viacom ordered YouTube to take down more than 100,000 clips of its content in February. At the Bear Stearns Media Conference in Palm Beach, Fla., Tuesday, Dauman said that while YouTube honored that request for the most part, it was a move to protect its brand and its advertisers.

“We found that when we sent out the take-down notice to YouTube ... we found traffic increasing back to our own sites. We are able to monetize that increased traffic; this is high-value traffic,” he added. “The premium-branded advertisers aren’t, in my opinion, going to spend a lot of money for the YouTube viewers who are looking at the user-generated content of a cat going to the bathroom.”

Dauman said Viacom’s recent deal with Joost shows that the media company is not averse to its content appearing on other sites as long as it is adequately compensated. He added that Viacom is open to establishing a relationship with YouTube in the future, but it is not critical to Viacom’s business.

“We may do a deal with [YouTube] someday on terms that meet our criteria, or we may not,” Dauman said. “In the meantime, we’re pursuing our own initiative, and we’re doing business with those who will respect our content and create an environment that works for us.”

He added that while online is an important part of the business and is growing, it isn’t the only part of the business.

“People consume entertainment in many different ways and many different formats,” Dauman said. “They may want to go to your main environment … but you may also want to catch it on the run on your phone. I think you have to have the flexibility to serve customers where they are.”

He added that there are substantial opportunities in building Viacom’s international presence, as well as bolstering existing domestic networks. Shortly after becoming CEO last year, he authorized a three-year plan to develop more original programming at BET.

Dauman also restructured affiliates sales at Viacom’s flagship MTV Networks and tied executive pay to meeting business-performance targets.

“Candidly, there were people in some parts of our company who had gotten way overpaid for what they were doing in a really changed world,” he said. “Affiliate sales is one good example. We restructured it, we’re going to save a lot of money we can put into programming and, guess what, we’re going to do a much better job for our affiliates. Because we have restructured the organization to meet today’s needs, not yesterday’s needs.”

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