×

Viacom Chief Philippe Dauman Predicts Paramount Deal by End of Next Quarter

Calling Paramount Pictures a “crown jewel,” Viacom chairman and CEO Philippe Dauman said Monday that he hoped to have an agreement to sell a minority stake in the studio behind “Star Trek” and “Transformers” by the end of the next financial quarter.

Analysts have speculated that deep-pocketed Chinese investors such as Alibaba might be interested in buying a position in Paramount, but Dauman refused to say who was circling the studio.

“I feel very good about the kind of players that we’re talking to,” said Dauman on Monday at the Deutsche Bank media, Internet and telecom conference, adding, “It will help drive Viacom forward as well as bring out some of the value that’s not being recognized.”

Paramount cut the number of films it releases in recent years, which has taken a bite out of its market share. However, Dauman touted the studio’s library, its move into television production, and the expanding global market for film and television, while talking up Paramount’s appeal. Those attributes will enable Viacom to get a premium when selling the stake, Dauman predicted, and will allow it to “come out from the low point its been in.”

“We’re replenishing the cupboard and we’re looking to a good performance and I want to accelerate that,” said Dauman.

At another point, he argued, “Paramount as a whole is a real growth business.”

The remarks came as Dauman is feeling pressure from activist investors such as Mario Gabelli, the second-largest shareholder in Viacom behind Sumner Redstone, over the media conglomerate’s shaky performance. The stock has been battered amid concerns about the long-term health of the pay-television sector. Viacom’s holdings include MTV and Comedy Central, once dominant cable brands that have suffered ratings declines. That, in turn, has depressed Viacom’s stock — shares were trading at nearly $70 a year ago, but they were hovering above $45 on Monday.

That’s not giving Viacom enough credit, Dauman implied, saying, “You’re getting a lot of things for free when you buy our shares.”

He noted that VH1 and Nickelodeon’s viewership numbers have climbed back, and the company has strengthened its international presence.

Beyond the balance sheet, Redstone’s fading health has also been a source of drama. The Viacom founder’s former companion, Manuela Herzer, has filed a lawsuit that challenges Redstone’s mental competency. A trial is scheduled for May.

Dauman was bullish about the prospects of a new deal with Dish to carry Viacom’s cable channels. Renewal talks had been expected to be potentially rocky, but Dauman predicted a deal would be in place next quarter.

“We have a long and strong relationship,” said Dauman. “I’m very confident we’re going to get to a mutually beneficial outcome.”

New digital players are threatening the business model for cable providers and could imperil lucrative sources of revenue for content creators such as Viacom. Dauman acknowledged that the television industry has been slow to adapt to the on-demand age, but he suggested the creators are well positioned to thrive in the new environment.

“The value of content, the value of brands has not diminished,” said Dauman.

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • Hasan Minhaj

    Hasan Minhaj on ‘Winnable’ Student Loan Issue, 2020 Presidential Candidates

    Fresh off testifying at the first-ever US House Committee on Financial Services hearing on the student loan crisis, Hasan Minhaj used his platform at the Tribeca TV Festival on Sunday to continue the discussion around the issue that he says affects 44 million people in America. “This is a huge problem,” the comedian and host [...]

  • Beyonce Knowles'The Lion King' film premiere,

    ABC Announces Behind-the-Scenes Special for Beyoncé's 'Lion King' LP

    ABC has announced a new behind-the-scenes look into the making of Beyoncé’s “The Lion King: The Gift” LP, which is set to air September 16 on ABC at 10 p.m. EST. Titled “Beyoncé Presents: Making the Gift,” the new hour-long special will allow viewers to “experience the process” behind the “Lion King” companion album, according [...]

  • 71st Emmys Governors Ball

    Why the Television Academy Plans to Donate Furnishings From the 71st Emmys Governors Ball

    The Emmys’ official after party is set to impress — and to leave a permanent impression. At the annual press preview of the 71st Emmys Governors Ball, the Television Academy announced a partnership with Living Spaces, Habitat for Humanity and the Hollywood Community Housing Project that will provide more than 80 custom sofas, chairs and [...]

  • 'No Good Nick' Canceled After One

    'No Good Nick' Canceled After One Season at Netflix

    “No Good Nick” has been canceled at Netflix after only a single season, which was split into two parts, Variety has confirmed. Created and executive produced by David H. Steinberg and Keetgi Kogan, the multi-camera comedy starred Melissa Joan Hart and Sean Astin as Liz and Ed, a hyper-competitive career mom and lovable but dorky “fun dad,” [...]

  • Hailee Steinfeld Sets New Single Tied

    Hailee Steinfeld Announces New Single Tied to Apple TV Plus' 'Dickinson'

    Actress, singer and producer Hailee Steinfeld is set to release a new single entitled “Afterlife” on Sept. 19, a track she created for her upcoming Apple TV Plus series,”Dickinson.” “This is a song I’m incredibly proud of, and I feel like after embodying this character, I have a more fearless approach to my writing,” Steinfeld [...]

  • Rachel Bloom

    Rachel Bloom Announces Pregnancy After Emmy Win

    “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” star Rachel Bloom made a special announcement after winning her Emmy for best original music and lyrics — she is pregnant. Bloom announced the news backstage on Saturday at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards. She joked she had planned to reveal the news on Instagram but that doing it at the Emmys was even [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content