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Earnings Call: Viacom’s Dauman: About Done With Upfront, Epix Signs Verizon

MTV Networks (NYSE: VIA) is “about done” with the upfront, Viacom CEO Philipe Dauman told analysts on the company’s Q2 earnings call this morning. “Given current conditions, we’re very pleased,” he added. As for those current conditions, domestic ad revenues declined 6 percent in Q2, which may sound tough but is better than the 9 percent drop in Q1.

Dauman also announced the first distribution deal for new joint-venture premium channel Epix: Verizon (NYSE: VZ) FiOS</b which just broke 2.5 million and passes more than 10 million households. It's not going to make the channel a success but it breaks the ice. (I'd expect AT&T's U-Verse to follow and then possibly a satellite operator next.) It's also not a pure premium deal.

Dauman elaborated a little during Q&A: "Our agreement with Verizon gives them a lot of flexibility to package Epix in many different ways — linear, VOD, broadband, mobile." Verizon also can sell a la carte. Epix will work with Verizon on a mobile version for V Cast. Epix was a popular topic as analysts try to get a better sense of how the new enterprise will make money. Dauman stressed the flexibility Epix has in making deals and what he says are lower costs than similar networks: "We really don