Viacom Revenue Up 15% In Q1

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Viacom -- driven by double-digit gains for its cable networks, films and sales of the video game Rock Band -- saw revenue increase 15% in the first quarter, to $3.12 billion, the company reported Friday.

Revenue for Viacom’s Media Networks unit – which includes its cable channels such as Nickelodeon and MTV -- saw a 16% gain in the first quarter, to $2.02 billion, versus $1.73 billion the year-ago period.

For Filmed Entertainment, Paramount Studios and DreamWorks Pictures, revenue was up 12%, to $1.15 billion from $1.04 billion a year ago.

The company said that its Media Networks revenue rose in the first quarter “principally driven by strong sales of the music video game Rock Band.” Worldwide ad revenue was up 8%, to $1.05 billion, driven by Nickelodeon, Comedy and TV Land, Viacom said in a release.

Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman also made reference to the premium TV service Paramount Pictures is launching with Metro-Goldwyn Mayer Studios and Lionsgate next year. “We have announced an innovative new premium service that combines the significant creative fire power of Paramount, MGM and Lionsgate,” Dauman said in a statement. “We are reinventing the pay television window, taking control of our content and how it is being distributed and marketed – offering maximum flexibility for us and for our audiences.”

He was also upbeat about box-office prospects for Paramount’s big release today, IronMan.

“Paramount’s Cloverfield was a solid hit in the first quarter and we’re looking forward to a strong slate of releases during the remainder of the year, including today’s premiere of Iron Man,” Dauman said.

Viacom’s net earnings rose 33% to $270 million in the quarter, and operating income increased 29% to $567 million. Operating income for the Media Networks increased 15% to $694 million, including a 9 percentage point benefit related to a prior-year restructuring. Filmed Entertainment narrowed its operating loss by 42%, to $63 million. 

“Successful new programming across our networks during the first quarter included MTV’s Randy Jackson Presents: America’s Best Dance Crew, TV Land’s High School Reunion and BET’s Iron Ring among others, which joined 2 new seasons of several proven audience favorites,” Dauman said.

“Audiences are also responding to our digital content, which is moving beyond our own branded sites through smart distribution deals with leading online and mobile partners,” he said. “Additionally, our Rock Band video game is continuing its successful tour and is emerging as a valuable long-term franchise. We expect to further that success with the upcoming release of Rock Band on the Wii home video game system and our launch in Europe.”

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