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Viacom Earnings: ‘Star Trek,’ ‘World War Z’ Boost 3Q Results

Cable networks also contribute to rise in third-quarter net income

Viacom, the owner of MTV, Comedy Central and Paramount Pictures, said the release of tent-pole films like “Star Trek:  Into Darkness” and “World War Z” along with increased advertising and distribution revenue at its cable operations drove an increase in profit during the company’s fiscal third quarter.

Revenue rose 14% during the period, to about $3.69 billion from $3.24 billion in the year-earlier period.  Revenue from filmed entertainment rose 15% to $1.16 billion, up from about $1 billion in the year-earlier period.  Meanwhile, revenue at the company’s media-networks unit rose  13% to $2.57 billion, up from about $2.27 billion,  driven by increases in affiliate fees and advertising revenues.

Viacom said third-quarter net earnings attributable to the company came to $643 million, or $1.31 a share,  compared with $534 million, or $1.01 a share, in the year-earlier period.  Net earnings rose about 20% year over year.

Viacom is working to continue the performance, said  Philippe Dauman, the company’s chief executive, in a statement.  The company, he said, is  Viacom i”expanding partnerships with traditional cable operators and new digital distributors to deliver solid affiliate revenue gains,” while Viacom’s movie studio ” has a promising slate remaining through calendar 2013 and beyond.”

During a conference call with investors Friday morning, Dauman said kiddie-cabler Nickelodeon continued to improve its ratings, thanks to investment in new series. MTV is also preparing several new series set to debut in the weeks ahead, he said. Dauman cited ratings gains at CMT and Nick at Nite.

At the company’s cable-network operations, domestic ad revenue rose 6%, due to what Viacom billed as increased ratings. Worldwide ad revenue rose 5%.  Affiliate revenues grew 28% domestically and rose 26% worldwide, due to the benefit of digital distribution arrangements and rate increases.  Excluding the impact of digital distribution arrangements, which are affected by the timing of available programming, the domestic affiliate revenue growth rate was in the high single digits.

At Viacom’s filmed-entertainment division,, worldwide theatrical revenues rose 64% to $464 million, the result of reflecting substantial carryover revenues from releases in the company’s second quarter, as well as stronger results from current quarter releases ‘Star Trek: Into Darkness,’ ‘World War Z’ and ‘Pain and Gain.’  .  Worldwide home entertainment revenues declined 10%, largely due to lower carryover revenues, the company said.

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