Viacom CEO Bob Bakish ran a well-earned victory lap during the company’s earnings call as the company posted 2.5% growth in U.S. “affiliate” revenue—fees from cable and satellite operators—in its fiscal fourth quarter. It was the first quarter to show growth in this part of Viacom’s business since mid-2017 and suggests Viacom is making headway in improving its bargaining position with pay TV operators. Viacom also said it expects revenue growth in 2019, after a 2% dip in fiscal 2018 which ended Sept. 30.
However, the road to turning around the company remains difficult. U.S advertising was down more than 4% in the quarter and Viacom said it doesn’t expect it to start growing again until the second half of 2019.
The owner of such networks as MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon as well as Paramount Pictures, Viacom is focusing on becoming a content supplier to digital and mobile platforms. Today, for example, it announced that Paramount had signed a multi-picture film deal with Netflix. Whether that strategy works won’t be clear for some time.