Viacom says no to same-day movies on cable

NEW YORK Mon May 14, 2007 7:31pm EDT

Viacom Chief Executive Philippe Dauman speaks at the Reuters Global Technology, Media and Telecoms Summit in New York, May 14, 2007. REUTERS/Keith Bedford

Viacom Chief Executive Philippe Dauman speaks at the Reuters Global Technology, Media and Telecoms Summit in New York, May 14, 2007.

Credit: Reuters/Keith Bedford

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Viacom Inc. VIAb.N Chief Executive Philippe Dauman said on Monday his company has no plans to allow cable operators to air its movies on the same day of their release at theaters.

Dauman, speaking at the Reuters Global Technology, Media and Telecoms Summit in New York, said there was little chance of his company giving up the traditional "window" between the theatrical release and cable television airing.

"I don't see that happening any time soon," said Dauman.

Viacom, parent of MTV and Paramount, one of Hollywood's major movie studios, is home to franchises like "Mission Impossible" and "Shrek."

Dauman said Viacom is half-way through a test with Comcast Corp. (CMCSA.O), the No. 1 U.S. cable operator, on the impact of offering movies on-demand on the same day of its release on DVD in limited trials.

Though it was too early to draw conclusions, there had been no impact on DVD sales or rentals in the two Comcast test markets of Denver and Pittsburgh, he said.

"So far it's pretty interesting," said Dauman. "To the extent that it doesn't hurt it, it can be additive."

Speaking at the industry's Cable Show earlier this month, Comcast said it held discussions with Hollywood studios about a premium-priced on-demand movie service that could allow users to watch movies on the same day as they debut in theaters.

Comcast Chief Operating Officer Stephen Burke said such a service could be priced between $30 and $50 on a pay-per-view basis.

Theater owners have staunchly resisted any effort to cut the time between theatrical and DVD releases for fear that cinema attendance would drop.

Movie companies, meanwhile, which get most of their profit from DVDs, want a narrower window that would bring earnings forward and reduce the need for a second advertising campaign when a film is ready for home viewing.

Dauman said movie studios would not be in a rush to shrink windows, which had played an important role in helping to boost the film companies' revenues.

"We need to be very careful about changing windows," said Dauman. "Windows have been a very important part of the success of our company and our industry. We do not want to tread too heavily on a system that works so well."

(For summit blog: summitnotebook.reuters.com/)

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