Company Town

The business behind the show

« Previous Post | Company Town Home | Next Post »

Viacom likes the situation with MTV's 'Jersey Shore'

August 5, 2010 |  9:04 am


Looks like Viacom has "the situation" under control.

Speaking to analysts about its second quarter financial results, Viacom Chief Executive Philippe Dauman said last week's return of MTV's "Jersey Shore" for a second season will be a big boost to the company's bottom line.

Though some have wondered if the over-the-top content of the reality show about a group of Italian Americans running amuck on the shores of Jersey and South Beach is a tough sell with advertisers, Dauman said that is not the case.

"There were some issues when 'Jersey Shore's' first season launched," Dauman said, but "now we have advertisers scrambling to get on it." The show, which has been condemned by some Italian American advocacy groups and politicians, drew more than 5 million viewers last week as kids can't seem to get enough of the Situation, Snookie and the rest of the gang.

While "Jersey Shore" and Viacom's other controversial shows including "Teen Mom" and "16 and Pregnant" are drawing viewers, Viacom Chief Financial Officer Tom Dooley acknowledged that the resurgence of advertising that has boosted many media companies has been slanted more toward networks that attract older viewers. Networks that skew younger have had a slower recovery, Dooley said.

That hurts some Viacom channels such as MTV, Comedy Central and Spike, but the company also has channels that attract older viewers including TV Land and CMT, which is a country themed network. It is a similar story overseas, where shows that appeal to older viewers tend to generate more revenue, Dooley said.

The improved advertising market helped Viacom post profits of $420 million or 69 cents a share for the media conglomerate's second quarter ended June 30. That is a 52% improvement in profit from the same quarter a year ago. Revenues at Viacom, which besides its cable networks also owns Paramount Pictures, were flat at $3.3 billion.

The strength of cable, which had revenue growth of 6% to $2.1 billion, helped offset a tough quarter at Viacom's filmed entertainment unit. Revenues were down 10% to $1.25 billion as the success of "Iron Man 2" wasn't enough to weather a 435 decline in home entertainment revenues.

Viacom, which unlike several studios, has a deal with Redbox that allows the kiosk DVD company to offer Paramount movies for rental the same day they go on sale, said it has not seen any negative affect from that arrangement.

"Unlike some of our competitors who were in litigation with Redbox, we were in an agreement ... that showed us there was extremely little degradation of the DVD business," Dauman said, adding that Paramount's rivals are getting "much lower pricing from their Redbox deals."

-- Joe Flint

Photo: The cast of "Jersey Shore." Credit: Jason Kempin / Getty Images