Viacom CEO Talks Epix-Netflix, Paramount, Snooki at Investor Conference

Asked about kids network The Hub, Philippe Dauman says Viacom's Nickelodeon has seen no impact as the new competitor is "getting no ratings."

NEW YORK - Echoing many media CEOs who have said the digital age provides all sort of upside for content companies, Viacom president and CEO Philippe Dauman said Thursday that premium TV venture Epix could stay exclusive to Netflix - or not - once a current exclusive period ends in the middle of next year.

While other online distributors could bid for programming from Epix, in which Lionsgate and MGM, Netflix may well want further exclusivity, he said here at the Nomura U.S. Media Summit.

"We are up for that as well," Dauman said in leaving all options open and signaling that his company will get paid either way.

Discussing Viacom's film unit, Dauman once again lauded Paramount for its recent creative successes and business turnaround. But amid continued sluggishness of DVD sales and the ever-changing needs of the business, the film unit will keep evaluating its cost base, he said.

Dauman once again gave a shoutout to one of the stars of MTV hit show Jersey Shore, whose latest season is currently filming in Italy, and her ability to draw attention.
"Snooki managed to get busted again in Florence for [running into a] police car," he told the investor conference for those who hadn't heard. "So, I feel very badly about the police car, but you can't make this stuff up or buy [that kind of] publicity."

Dauman also said that while there may be enough critics of the reality series, "every advertiser wants to be on the show."

Asked about Hasbro and Discovery Communications joint venture The Hub and its impact on Viacom's Nickelodeon, Disney said there has been none. "It's getting no ratings," he told the Wall Street crowd.

Earlier in the day, Discovery CEO David Zaslav had said his team was pleased with The Hub's performance so far, citing, for example, the success of R.L. Stine show The Haunting Hour.


Twitter: @georgszalai