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Viacom Biggest Loser as Mass Sell-Off Hits Media Companies

Disney, CBS, Time Warner, Discovery Communications, Scripps Networks Interactive and AMC Networks among victims of mass stock dump

Shares of Disney, 21st Century Fox, Viacom and other media company stock fell sharply on Thursday, following flat earnings reports and the creeping fear of death rattles in the pay-TV industry.

Comcast, CBS, Time Warner, Discovery Communications, Scripps Networks Interactive and AMC Networks were also subject to the sell-off.

Viacom was hit hardest after reporting disappointing ad revenue from its U.S. cable business, sinking shares more than 21 percent. Other companies hit hard were 21st Century Fox, which dipped 9 percent to $28.41; Disney shrank 5 percent to $104.60;  Time Warner also lost 5 percent, down to $75.77; CBS was down nearly 4 percent at $48.59; Comcast fell 4 percent to both$57.39; and AMC dropped 3 percent to $29.54

The catalyst for the media-stock plunge seemed to two-fold. On Wednesday, Disney CEO Bob Iger acknowledged cord cutting has taken a toll on the company’s properties, particularly ESPN, which saw subscriber losses recently.

That, combined with a poor forecast from Disney, which cut its outlook for pay-TV affiliate fee increases from “high singles” to “low end of high singles,” were major factors in the mass market sell-off. This gloomy forecast essentially acknowledged the increasing impact of cord cutters, who increasingly appear to be making pay-TV obsolete.