Viacom CEO: Paramount Not Looking at Premium VOD Film Releases

Philippe Dauman reiterates that the studio is not for sale and says he loves Snooki and "Jackass 3D."

NEW YORK - Viacom president CEO Philippe Dauman said here Monday that his company's Paramount studio is not currently planning to offer films in an emerging premium VOD window that other Hollywood players expect to test next year.

"We are not looking at a premium window," he told the Global Media and Communications Conference.
Instead, his company wants to satisfy the needs of theatrical distribution partners, many of which have been concerned about a premium VOD release window.

Studios have generally looked at making movies in that window available for $20-$30 some time after the theatrical release, with release timing still a matter of discussion.

Dauman also once again reiterated that the Paramount studio is not for sale. Is it a core asset? "Yes, for us it is," he said. "Paramount is really working well." Some Wall Street folks have in recent years repeatedly suggested that Viacom should sell the studio unit. But Dauman said it helps the firm be a premier entertainment company, which is why its film unit has also continued to put out around 14-15 movies a year.

Dauman also told Aryeh Bourkoff, joint global head of Technology, Media and Telecoms banking at UBS, in their Monday afternoon keynote conversation that while he loves every contributor to his company's recent TV renaissance at MTV, Comedy Central, BET and other networks, he particularly likes Jersey Shore and Snooki.

Asked which show is his favorite, Dauman said Jersey Shore. "I love it," he told the UBS crowd. "I love Snooki."

He also shared that Jackass 3D, which did well for the company, is his favorite 3D movie so far.

Asked about the impending Comcast-NBC Universal merger, Dauman only said his firm's strong brands should put it in a strong position and that Comcast is looking for vertical integration at a time when most sector players have focused on core businesses. "Comcast has got a totally different direction from the rest of us," he said, reiterating that investors shouldn't expect any significant acquisitions from Viacom.

Asked about the advertising market, Dauman said given ratings strength at his firm's networks, he is looking forward to next year's upfront market, with his team already working on upfront presentations. The general ad market has been "strong," and he reiterated expectations for another quarter-over-quarter improvement in U.S. ad revenue in the current quarter.

Dauman said auto and financial have been rising, even though they aren't a traditional strenghth for Viacom networks. "We're growing our share there," he said.

Dauman also predicted Viacom will wrap up the sales process of music video game producer Harmonix "soon" and will prevail in its litigation with YouTube. "We hope we'll get a resolution some time in the not so distant future," he said.