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.
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“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.