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Viacom Chief: Digital Strategies Key

19 Sep, 2006 By: Jessica Wolf

New Viacom president and CEO Philippe Dauman sees acceleration of digital strategies and small acquisitions as the future for the pure-play entertainment company.

Dauman spoke at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference in New York Tuesday, in his first time in front of investors as Viacom CEO. Dauman had been with the company for nearly 20 years and moved into the top spot at the beginning of the month with the departure of Tom Freston.

“In the digital arena, I think we've had a good strategy,” he said. “What I want to do is accelerate it.”

Viacom's all-entertainment-content Web sites get 37 million unique visitors a month, and consumers already have strong attachments to the company's staple brands such as MTV and Nickelodeon, as well as up-and-comers such as BET, Comedy Central and Logo.

Viacom's MTV Networks programs are everywhere on the Internet these days, available for download via iTunes, Google and AOL Video, to name a few. The company is also on the cutting edge of exclusive branded Web-based content such as MTV Overdrive, Dauman said.

Dauman said he fully believes Viacom will be able to integrate and monetize the company's brands and contents in the digital market, which, he noted is still obviously in the “early days.”

“You start with the creative excellence, which we already have and which I plan to reinforce, and marry that with operational excellence,” he said. The company is focused building an operational infrastructure that will allow its content to be profitably flung out to the far corners of cable, the Internet and mobile devices, he said.

Dauman said he feels no threat to the company's cable advertising business with the emergence of digital distribution because it will work virally to create “deeper connections” to Viacom's core audiences in a swath of niches.

“We will be where consumers want to find us,” he said. “And as we go forward we won't be talking about different strategies, we will be talking about one, unified strategy, and we can sell our advertisers on that.”

Dauman pointed to the company's recent acquisition of DreamWorks as part of the ongoing turnaround for Paramount Pictures.

Viacom will also look to the acquisition market in its effort to “expand content and reach,” scouting out small companies and deals under $100 million, that fit with what Viacom is already doing, he said.

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