Viacom is Cutting Back Its Focus to Just Six Cable Channels




Viacom has been a struggling brand for some time. Recently there was a shakeup in leadership and now the new Chief Executive Bob Bakish is expected to announce a major reworking of its cable channels in 2017.

The Wall Street Journal reported that according to sources close to a Viacom Board meeting on Monday the company will shift its focus to just six channels: Nickelodeon, Nick Jr, MTV, Comedy Central, BET, and Spike. All other channels such as CMT and TV Land will be cut back, and while Viacom doesn’t plan to shut them down at this time the option is on the table.

“We must do everything we can to keep [our brands] strong and distinct as audiences fragment and content options proliferate,” Mr. Bakish told shareholders on Monday. Total day ratings for all of Viacom’s core channels, except for Nickelodeon and Nick Jr., are down over the past year among total viewers.

Viacom is expected to make this all official next Tuesday during its quarterly earnings call.

Ratings and revenue for Viacom channels have been hard hit recently. Viewership is down and its channels have even been dropped from services such as PlayStation Vue. There was a recent effort to sell to CBS but that deal fell apart last December.

Viacom currently has more than 20 cable networks including TV Land, VH1, CMT, and MTV. It seems the effort to focus on just the main six is a drastic departure from the network that rolled out many different versions of popular channels such as MTV, MTV2, MTVU, and MTV Classic. What will happen to smaller channels such as Centric and NickMusic?

In a day and age of Netflix and Hulu the idea of a network that does nothing but reruns is increasingly becoming less profitable.

We will have full coverage of the Viacom earnings call next week.

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