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.
Headquartered in New York City, Viacom has a presence in 180 countries and territories primarily in North America, Europe, and Asia. The US contributed about 75% of the company’s revenue and International markets accounted for about 25% of the company’s sales in fiscal 2015.
Sales and Marketing
The company's Music & Entertainment group (including Comedy Central, MTV, VH1 and Classic, Spike, and Logo) focuses on music-lovers, youth, and young adults. The Kids & Family group (Nickelodeon and Nick at Nite, Nick Jr, TeenNick, Nicktoons, CMT, and TV Land) targets kids ages 2-17 and their families, 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 $748 million in fiscal 2015.
The company’s revenue was $13.3 billion in fiscal 2015. That was a decrease of 4% compared to its fiscal 2014 revenue. The drop was mainly due to decreased sales from the Filmed Entertainment unit partially offset by an increase in media network revenue.
Viacom's net income was $1.9 billion in fiscal 2015, which was a decrease of $469 million compared to the prior fiscal period. The decrease was largely caused by the combination of decreased revenue and increased operating expenses.
However, even with decreased revenue and net income the company ended fiscal 2015 with $2.3 billion in cash on hand from operations.
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.
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.
Mergers and Acquisitions
In 2015 Viacom acquired Channel 5 Broadcasting Limited from Northern & Shell Media Group for £450 million (about $650 million). The acquisition increased Viacom's investment in British content.