Viacom Betters Ad Sales 'Situation'


Viacom’s got a Situation on its hands, as the media conglomerate’s domestic advertising sales rose 8 percent in the third quarter, beating analysts’ expectations.

Thanks in large part to the success of MTV’s mega hit Jersey Shore, which accounted for nine of the 20 most-watched programs on ad-supported cable among viewers 18-49, Viacom enjoyed a significant lift in ad sales dollars and affiliate fees. Worldwide, advertising revenues at the media networks unit grew 7 percent versus Q3 2009, adding up to $1.17 billion. Affiliate fees were up 10 percent on the quarter, to $799 million.

All told, the networks group posted an 8 percent improvement in total revenue, taking in $2.13 billion in the three-month period that ended Sept. 30.

Viacom president and CEO Philippe Dauman said he expects the scatter market will continue to churn along, leading to ongoing growth in the ad market. “From our vantage point the economy is improving,” Dauman said. “This gives me confidence for another quarter of improvement in ad sales.”

Scatter dollars in the current quarter are coming in at premiums of 25 percent over upfront rates.

MTV in Q3 boasted 14 of the top 20 programs among viewers 18-34, a roster that includes its Sept. 12 telecast of the 2010 Video Music Awards, nine episodes of Jersey Shore and one installment each of Teen Mom and the new series The World of Jenks. The VMAs beat all comers, averaging 5.81 million members of the demo, per Nielsen. Of the 12.1 million viewers who tuned in for the awards gala, 66 percent, or 7.9 million, were adults 18-49.

The second season of Jersey Shore was the No. 1 delivery vehicle for the core TV demo, drawing an average 4.55 million viewers 18-49 in Q3, per live-plus-seven-day data. With a week’s worth of time-shifting factored in, the antics of Snooki, JWoww and DJ Pauly D scared up an extra 1.51 million members of the demo each week, a boost of 49 percent from the show’s live-plus-same-day numbers.

On the whole, MTV put together a stellar quarter, growing its prime time deliveries 43 percent to 1.22 million viewers, while finishing the period tops among the 18-34 set. The network averaged 632,000 members of the younger demo, a boost of 53 percent versus the year-ago 413,000, and tied History for fifth place with an average nightly showing of 802,000 adults 18-49 (up 46 percent).  

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