We've Got Hollywood Covered

Viacom Profits Pumped 53% by Paramount, ‘Jersey Shore’

Media giant’s earnings driven by revenues from MTV reality hit and film studio

Viacom's quarterly earnings shot up 53 percent on fist-pumping revenues from MTV's "Jersey Shore" and a box office boon at Paramount Pictures, the media giant said on Thursday.

Net income rose 53 percent to $376 million, or 63 cents per share, compared to $245 million, or 40 cents per share, during the same period last year. Viacom's revenue was $3.27 billion, a 20 percent increase. Adjusted operating income jumped 37 percent.

Viacom attributed the sparkling quarter, in part, to Snooki and the gang, who helped boost primetime ratings by 65 percent, Viacom said. Revenues for its media networks, which include MTV, rose 11 percent to $2.08 billion.

Revenues for Viacom's film unit, i.e. Paramount, were $1.23 billion — up 38 percent — as films such as "True Grit," "The Fighter," "Little Fockers" (three movies that came out in 2010 but padded Paramount's box office revenues during the awards season) and "Rango" boosted revenues by 50 percent on the theatrical side. Home entertainment revenues jumped 38 percent due to an increase in the number of DVD releases.

"Today Viacom is exactly where it needs to be," chairman Sumner Redstone said during a conference call with investors, "making the most-talked about TV shows and
bringing the most anticipated movies to the screen."

Overall operating income for Viacom's film unit was $39 million, compared to an $83 million loss during the first three months of 2010.

Philippe Dauman, Viacom's president and chief executive, praised Paramount's performance, including what he called an innovative marketing campaign for the release of Justin Bieber's "Never Say Never" in which the studio released a limited "director's fan cut" a week after the movie's theatrical release. "The fans turned out for more Bieber," Dauman said.

The company said it expects Paramount's strong start to roll into the summer, when the studio with release of "Thor" (which is out next week), "Kung Fu Panda 2," J.J. Abrams' "Super 8" and the third installment of its "Transformers" franchise.

Dauman said that Viacom — which has digital distribution deals Netflix and Hulu — is in licensing discussions "with many [more] players" to distribute its content and will announce more soon.

Click here for the full earnings release.