Viacom Earnings Call Nuggets: Ad Sales and New Hires

On Thursday, Viacom, Inc. Class B (NYSE:VIAB) reported its fourth quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call. Take a look.

Ad Sales

Anthony Diclemente – Barclays Capital: I think investors are in some ways pleasantly surprised by the lack of correlation between the level of some of your ratings declines in the past quarter and the level of your domestic advertising decline which hasn’t been as dramatic of a decline, so just wondering if maybe Tom and Philippe, if you could remind us some of the reasons why ratings haven’t correlated as directly with advertising trends – why advertising hasn’t quite been as bad as linear ratings declines and you guys have been more aggressive on TV Everywhere particularly with currently leased windows than your peers and so clearly that’s probably one of the reasons they don’t correlated and Tom you mentioned measurement and you look forward to a day that those digital viewers can be measured more accurately, so any update on measurement in that way for TV Everywhere would also be helpful.

Philippe Dauman – President and CEO: I’ll start answering, but there’s never been a linear correlation between ratings and add sales in discrete periods of time. Naturally over the long-term we have to rebuild your ratings. Where we focus on is working very closely with our major marketing partners. We do get a pick up from the C3 measurements in many cases and that’s a question of mix. We have the ability to shift units from DR to paid advertisement. So, we operate at all times to maximize the available (add-on). The good news for us is that as ratings improve we can pretty quickly monetize those improved ratings because of the under delivery that we have experienced over the period of weakness that is starting to lift. As far as TV Everywhere and measurement, we believe that in the long term in order for our industry to succeed, we have to provide consumers, particularly our young audiences with the content they want on their gadgets and platforms and the places they want it and we’re going to do it in a way that intelligently manages the windows and work with our marketers to ensure that we monetize that viewing, a part of it is measurement and we’re working with Nielsen and others to ensure that that measurement improves over time and I’m convinced that we are going to see gradual improvement in that. (A lot) as fast as we would like but it will improve and in the meantime we are demonstrating to our major marketers the kind of additional viewing we are getting on the content that they are in partnership with and so on. As they understand that that’s the (mentor) relationship we have with them and going back to the beginning of your question allows us to maximize our advertising revenues even in the face of weak ratings in some of our networks.

Anthony Diclemente – Barclays Capital: Then my understanding was that you and Nielsen and some of your peers are working mobile device measurement in the home, that’s in beta for Nielsen and there’s some talk that it would be operational perhaps early part of the calendar year. Is that possible and can you give us a specific update on that?

Philippe Dauman – President and CEO: Yes. There are conversations on that and that is one timeline that’s on the table whether that will be met is (up in the eye). I can’t comment on how aggressive or unaggressive that timeline might be. But Anthony we also look forward to the day, Facebook and Google actually bill based on delivered impressions and I think there is opportunities down the road for traditional media to begin to go down that road and that would be an exciting new day. That’s the possibility of dynamic commercial insertion where commercials are inserted at the time when the content is consumed which in today’s day and age based on Video-on-Demand and all the technology that are available to deliver our content discreetly to the consumer, you got to get very excited about that power of that concept and delivery capabilities. When is that going to take place? That’s over the next 12 to 24 months that those technologies really begin to hit the market place very quickly and that changes a lot of the dynamics in the advertising marketplace and the content measurement marketplace. We’re really excited about that, because we know our content is being consumed aggressively by the younger audiences that we deliver across many devices where measurement isn’t completely captured.