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Viacom CEO: Minimum 21-Day Delay for Current TV Shows on Hulu Plus

4 Jun, 2012 By: Chris Tribbey, Erik Gruenwedel

Viacom employs a minimum 21-day embargo on all current-season TV programming earmarked for repurposed distribution on subscription video-on-demand services such as Hulu Plus, the media giant’s CEO told an investor group.

Speaking last week at the Nomura U.S. Media & Telecom Summit in New York, Philippe Dauman, CEO of Viacom, said digital distribution channels such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon represent ongoing incremental growth vehicles for the company’s TV and studio assets (i.e. Paramount Pictures).

Hulu (and Hulu Plus) is co-owned by News Corp., The Walt Disney Co. and NBC Universal.

Dauman said SVOD platforms have helped Viacom and Paramount better analyze the timing of digital distribution of catalog and current movies and TV shows. 

With the exception of next-day availability of current episodes of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report” on Hulu due to their promotional value for future on-air broadcasts, Viacom mandates a 21-day delay on all current TV programming on the SVOD service in order to better monetize advertising opportunities surround the initial broadcast, according to Dauman.

“We’ve learned as we focus now on digital distribution of our video content to think very much about windows,” he said. “I think we have been on the forefront of the industry about thinking how we do that.”

Dauman said Hulu Plus, Netflix and Amazon Prime operate slightly different SVOD models, which has enabled Viacom to test varying release strategies on different genres that work best with its traditional syndication channels.

“Some of these companies have evolved their own models and we’ve been able to participate in those discussions,” he said. “And there will be more companies joining the mix.”

Dauman cited Netflix $1 billion, five-year license deal with Epix (a joint-venture between Viacom/Paramount, Lionsgate and MGM) for helping the pay-TV platform become profitable more quickly than any national network in history.

“We were really able to turbo-charge development of what is now a strong growing asset,” he said. “And it’s been very good for our studio business as well.”

With that deal expiring in September, Dauman reiterated comments by Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer that Netflix has been an excellent partner. That relationship could get more expensive for Netflix since Epix has pay-TV rights to The Hunger Games and The Avengers going forward.

“We’ll see where we go with that,” Dauman said.


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