Viacom topper talks animation, consumer products push

Philippe Dauman sez toons adds 'heft' to overall businesses

Nickelodeon has no plans to retire “SpongeBob SquarePants” even as it refreshes long-in-the tooth Nickelodeon franchises with new shows such as “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.”

Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman Monday called the shrill animated sea sponge “a perennial.” Along with “Dora The Explorer” it’s also the top international seller in Viacom’s consumer products stable, which the company is pushing hard to expand. And Dauman wants a new focus on animation at Paramount to feed the pipeline, ergo “The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie 2” in 2014.

Dauman was responding to a question at the UBS Media conference in Gotham by an investor who apparently missed the stop-motion “It’s a SpongeBob Christmas” special on CBS Nov. 23.

“Animation ads heft to products,” Dauman said, which in turn make studio economics stronger. “To continue to be successful we have to continue to add more properties and (add) more shelf space,” he said.

Dauman said he’s confident struggling MTV will rise again, citing the success of its latest reality skein “Catfish.”

“MTV is a network that’s always had to reinvent itself for its entire history so it’s very used to it,” he said.