Choosing to renovate content and not backtrack on digital strategy, Viacom on Friday announced a major programming overhaul to its popular kids cable network, Nickelodeon.
The network said it has put into production 14 new cartoons, live-action shows and youth-oriented TV movies, all aimed to spark ratings on cable TV’s most widely viewed channel, which has seen steep ratings declines over the last three quarters.
By doing this, Viacom seems to be dismissing a popular theory put forth by media business analysts and pundits that viewing of Nickelodeon shows on Netflix has been siphoning away audience share from the channel.
In short, Viacom believes its Nick ratings drop had little to do with a mass migration of youthful audiences to subscription video-on-demand platforms. The kids just got tired of Spongebob.
Not that it helps Viacom in the near term.
Also on Friday, the media conglomerate — which operates other popular cable channels, including Comedy Central and MTV, as well as movie studio Paramount Pictures — reported a 14 percent drop in revenue to $3.24 billion for its fiscal third quarter. Profits were down 12 percent to $512 million.
All in all, the traditional media business underperformed for the conglomerate.
Ad sales for Viacom’s cable channels — which have been impacted by Nick’s double-digit ratings dive — were down 5 percent in revenue to $2.27 billion.
Global movie ticket revenue at Paramount, meanwhile, was down 29 percent to $1 billion, with distribution of DreamWorks Animation-produced title Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted, The Dictator and Titanic 3D unable to live up to last year’s industry-leading slate.
Home entertainment revenue slid 8 percent and global TV licensing declined 24 percent.
The good news: ancillary revenue, which includes digital distribution, was up 44 percent to $104 million.
The impact from Viacom’s one-week absence from No. 2 pay TV service DirecTV will not be accounted for until the conglomerate’s fiscal fourth quarter report. However, speaking to investment analysts Friday, Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman said the financial hit will roughly equal the ad revenue bonanza the company received for its BET Awards, which aired July 1.
You win some, you lose some.