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Viacom Earnings Fall on Fewer Films

Revenues fall 6 percent, but cable advertising rebounds

Paramount Pictures has scaled down the number of films it releases and the lack of winter and spring blockbusters proved a drag on parent company Viacom's quarterly earnings.

Revenue at the entertainment giant fell 6 percent for the three month period ending in March, which the company attributed to weaker earnings from its theatrical film releases. That just missed Wall Street's expectations; analysts had projected the company would record revenues of $3.19 billion, according to Thomson Reuters.

Net earnings fell 18 percent from the same period a year ago to $481 million. The company reported earnings of 96 cents per share compared with  $1.08 per share in the same period last year.

The culprit was a smaller slate of releases that contributed to a 20 percent drop in filmed entertainment revenues to $941 million.  Home entertainment revenues slid 38 percent for the period.

Lacking a global hit on the scale of 2011's "Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol," Paramount's film releases were only augmented by a modest hit with "Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters," which racked up over $200 million worldwide. "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" was a stronger box office performer, but much of its $349 million gross was earned after the quarter had closed.

Unsurprisingly, Viacom chose to accentuate the positive when it came to its film side by looking ahead to its summer film slate.

"Paramount is also executing on its strategic plan, and successfully positioned 'G.I. Joe: Retaliation,''Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters' and 'Pain & Gain for global success, and the year ahead remains strong, with audiences eagerly awaiting our upcoming tentpole releases
– 'Star Trek Into Darkness' and 'World War Z,'” Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman said in a statement.

A bright spot for Viacom was a modest turnaround in its cable properties such as MTV and Nickelodeon. Both have had ratings challenges, but the Viacom division reported a rebound with advertising revenue rising 2 percent domestically. Overall, the division's revenues climbed 2 percent to $2.23 billion.

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