Viacom’s Gambles Have Led to Major Gains

At Adweek’s Convergent TV Summit, Sean Moran said the company is embracing cord-cutting

Sean Moran talks at Adweek's Convergent TV Summit.
Viacom's risks over the past two years have paid off for the company, per Sean Moran. Sean T. Smith for Adweek

Viacom is proving that it’s anything but stale. Sean Moran, who spearheads ad solutions for the broadcaster, said Viacom is just getting started. Moran spoke at Adweek’s Convergent TV Summit on Tuesday, walking through the company’s two-year journey in pivoting from a linear-based broadcaster to one that embraces cord-cutting—and all things addressable.

According to Moran, change is in Viacom’s DNA.

“We’ve always been serving this young, valuable, hard-to-reach audience,” he explained. “And they’re telling you what they want.”

Those voices, he noted, came to a head roughly two years ago, when Moran noticed audiences across the country cutting cords and canceling cable subscriptions at unprecedented rates. To top it all off, the young, diverse audience that loved Viacom was “digesting” the company’s intellectual property elsewhere, he said.

The key to keeping that younger demographic, as it turns out, was the company’s acquisition of the free-to-stream platform Pluto for $340 million this past March. Thanks to partnerships that see Pluto’s offerings baked into Samsung and Vizio’s own smart TV hardware, Viacom is still able to pride itself on being able to target more than 50% of the coveted 18-to-34-year-old age bracket nationwide—and 22% of all the television broadcasted in the country.

@swodinsky Shoshana Wodinsky is Adweek's platforms reporter, where she covers the financial and societal impacts of major social networks. She was previously a tech reporter for The Verge and NBC News.