March 1, 2018
Look for Viacom and its key brands – Paramount Pictures, MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and BET – to go increasingly mobile in the United States.
Speaking at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom confab in San Francisco, CEO Bob Bakish said recently announced moves partnering with Spain’s Telefónica making Viacom’s brands available on the telecom’s Movistar Play platform, underscored a need to “export” that strategy in the United States.
“We’re also in a very interesting conversation here in the U.S. right now about bringing our brands to mobile, and I believe that will happen in 2018,” Bakish said.
The executive said the year revolves around growing margins in established businesses, new distribution channels as well as improving synergies among internal brands through consumer products, live-events and incremental studio opportunities.
“We see a clear path toward top-line growth,” Bakish said, adding he expects Paramount growth to materialize in 2019.
The executive said Paramount is transforming from an underleveraged “fiscal mess” in 2016 that “ate over” $1 billion in cash, to a unit with a content library growing more than $300 million in value annually.
Half the studio’s release slate will be franchise sequels, with the remaining branded around Nickelodeon.
Viacom in January rolled of the Paramount Network (formerly Spike TV), an ad-supported service distributing original (“Waco” miniseries, starring Taylor Kitsch as cult leader David Koresh) and catalog content.
Future original series include, “Yellowstone,” starring Kevin Costner; “American Woman,” a single-camera comedy set in the 1970s amid the sexual revolution and the rise of feminism, starring Alicia Silverstone and Mena Suvari; and “Heathers” an hour-long pitch-black comedy anthology set in the present day, based on the 1988 cult classic film of the same name.
“[Paramount] is an iconic brand, known all around the world. It’s on a clear path to return to profitability,” Bakish said.