Viacom might not be a household name, but its famous entertainment brands are welcomed into most living rooms on a daily basis. The company is a leading media conglomerate with an extensive portfolio of cable TV and film production assets. Its MTV Networks unit runs such cable networks as Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, and the family of MTV channels (MTV, MTV2, VH1). Viacom also owns Black Entertainment Television, which airs programming on BET, BET Gospel, and BET Hip Hop. In the film business, Viacom operates through Paramount Pictures, which includes imprints Paramount Pictures and Paramount Vantage. Chairman Sumner Redstone controls a majority of Viacom through his National Amusements movie theater chain.
Headquartered in New York City, Viacom has a presence in 160 countries and territories primarily in North America, Europe, and Asia. The US contributed about 71% of the company’s revenue and Europe accounted for about 17% of the company’s sales in fiscal 2013.
Viacom operates through two reporting segments: Media Networks, which includes MTV, Nickelodeon, and BET; and Filmed Entertainment. The company's filmed entertainment division is responsbile for hits such as the big budget movies.
Sales and Marketing
Flagship channel MTV focuses on younger viewers and popular culture, and continues to draw one of the largest television audiences in the 18-34 age group. Nickelodeon, meanwhile, has become a popular destination for children's programming. Comedy Central appeals to young adults with programs such as as The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and its offshoot The Colbert Report, while BET dominates the important urban demographic with entertainment, music, and special interest programming.
Viacom does not have the broad complement of media assets that characterize integrated conglomerates such as Time Warner and Walt Disney, but the company still realizes some potential by integrating its TV and film businesses, such as through DVD sales and cross-promotion. Viacom itself incurred total advertising expenses of $1.2 billion in fiscal 2012.
Viacom’s revenue decreased by 7% to $13.9 billion in fiscal 2012 from $14.9 billion in fiscal 2011, while its profits also decreased by 7% in fiscal 2012 over 2011. Its Filmed Entertainment segment's sales decreased 19% reflecting lower theatrical and home entertainment revenues, which was offset by a 1% increase in its Media Networks segment's sales due to higher affiliate revenues more than offsetting a decline in advertising revenues.
Viacom’s strategy includes expanding its relationships with advertising, cable, satellite, digital, mobile, and licensing partners to develop new ways to deepen its connection with audiences through insightful research and the development of content that resonates with targeted audiences.
The company is primarily focused on its television operations, which account for about 65% of sales. Generating most of their revenue from a combination of commercial advertising and carriage fees paid by cable system operators, the TV networks provide a steady anchor for the the company, balancing against the uneven feature film business and the sometimes fickle tastes of movie goers.
What particularly drives Viacom's business is its success in building entertainment brands. The company is notable for creating and promoting such names as MTV and Nickelodeon into easily recognizable banners that stand for a particular form of entertainment.
Viacom has been looking to expand its reach into digital media in an effort to reach its young and increasingly online target audience.