Viacom CEO Says ‘TV Everywhere’ Must Be More Than a Buzzword

Philippe Dauman Viacom Channel 5 Purchase
Larry Busacca/Getty Images

Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman wants the media company’s networks to invest in more original programming geared towards younger viewers.

The media chief told an investor-heavy crowd at Monday’s UBS Global Media & Communications Conference that Viacom has been overhauling its schedule on cable networks such as TV Land, Spike TV and MTV, while also investing in digital programming geared at viewers who prefer to watch shows on mobile devices.

“We have a lot of real estate that we can build beautiful new homes on,” said Dauman.

Some of that new construction will include programs such as “Younger” on TV Land with Hilary Duff and “The Gaffigan Show” with stand-up comic Jim Gaffigan. It’s a departure from the network’s previous shows such as “Hot in Cleveland,” which starred Betty White,” and is evidence that the channel is trying to appeal to a different and more youth-centric demographic. Dauman also touted new Spike programs such as “Tut” with Ben Kingsley and MTV’s web series “Always On” as evidence of Viacom’s investment in new shows.

The desire to control its content and find new outlets for the shows it produces helped spark Viacom’s $757 million purchase of the U.K. television network Channel 5 earlier this year.

“It was a uniquely well-suited opportunity,” said Dauman, promising that Viacom will increase the amount of original programming Channel 5 offers once it takes over.

Reaching younger audiences will require cable providers to spend more time perfecting “TV everywhere,” Dauman argued. The buzzy term essentially boils down to allowing cable subscribers to access pay-TV channels on a variety of devices, any time and anywhere they want to watch shows. If not, he implied that younger subscribers will cut the cord, opting for internet based forms of entertainment and imperiling the cable bundle that helps sustain media companies. As currently constituted, cable providers pay enormous licensing and retransmission fees for access to content providers’ suites of channels — something that benefits a company like Viacom that boasts popular brands such as Comedy Central and MTV.

“You have to deliver ‘TV everywhere,’ you cant just say you have ‘TV everywhere,'” Dauman said, noting that if cable providers offer more value from a cable subscription, “young people will flock to it.”

On the film front, Dauman said that Viacom’s Paramount Pictures is backing a number of film franchises such as “Star Trek,” “Mission Impossible” and “Transformers.” The studio, however, has been more conservative than some of its competitors when it comes to mapping out release dates for its sequels and spin-offs — Warner Bros. and Disney, for instance, have plotted out debuts for many of their major film series for five or six years into the future.

Franchises travel, Dauman said, and given that the overseas market can account for more than 70% of a film’s revenues, that’s critical. “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” for instance, did more than $300 million worth of business in China compared with the $245 million it made domestically.

“We increasingly look to franchises to tap the global market,” said Dauman.

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  1. Allison says:

    I totally agree w/Jay. There are so many shows that TVLand could re-play. I think everyone would never tire of Mash, Andy Griffith, Hogans Heroes, Cosby, Cosby show with the little kids, Reba, and a ton of others that I think of right now. Better & newer movies like comedy’s, there is too much reality T.V. & scifi (sp) junk out there. NFL should be keep on a local channel where all sports fan can watch. Suddenlink told me I didn’t need to have to pay for the NFL channel, that most all of the would be local channels. I would jump at a chance to switch providers if I had one that bundled & provided better T.V. Suddenlink has a superiority complex.

  2. Jay says:

    Does it make sense to focus cable programming on the generation most likely to find a way to watch it without paying and without consuming the ads that pay for it? And stop creating shows that appeal to the “old” people (is that over 39 in Hollywood??), who are willing to pay for TV content and even watch a few ads? Do they really think that if they make shows with only young actors and “young” content, the “TV Everywhere/Mobile Phone TV Viewers” will “flock” to cable. Spock would fail to see the logic in that belief. It’s more likely they’ll lose us “old” people, and the “young” people will keep watching sneezing cats and sexting on their phones.

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