January 29, 2015 / 12:40 PM / 4 years ago

UPDATE 2-Viacom to launch video streaming service for Nickelodeon

(Adds details from conference call, background)

By Arathy S Nair and Jennifer Saba

Jan 29 (Reuters) - Viacom Inc is jumping on the direct-to-consumer bandwagon with plans to introduce an online video streaming product for its children’s cable network Nickelodeon, the company’s chief executive said on Thursday.

Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman did not offer much detail including pricing about the subscription offering, but said more information will be revealed next month.

“We believe this innovative service, which will have a distinct brand and will target the fast-growing mobile market, will be very attractive for parents and children,” Dauman said during a conference call with analysts on Thursday.

Viacom is the latest media company to go “over-the-top,” the industry lingo for a service that does not require a cable or satellite subscription to watch programming. Time Warner’s HBO and CBS both announced video streaming initiatives last fall.

These offerings underscore a shifting landscape in the television ecosystem as more people ditch pricey cable subscriptions in favor of video streaming products offered by Netflix, Amazon and Hulu.

The news came as Viacom, owner of movie studio Paramount Pictures and cable networks MTV and Comedy Central, reported lower-than-expected quarterly revenue due to weak advertising spending in the United States.

Viacom said domestic ad revenue fell 6 percent on lower ratings, especially at its cable networks MTV and VHI.

Viacom has been plagued by weak ratings and Dauman said on the call that the company is considering other options to measure its viewership, which he feels does not accurately capture people watching its TV programs on various devices.

Nielsen has long dominated TV ratings, which are considered the currency used to determine ad rates for commercials.

“We are working with other major parties in the advertising ecosystem, bringing together data scientists and industry experts, whether at Nielsen or elsewhere, to create new measurement and monetization tools,” Dauman said.

Total revenue for the first quarter ending Dec. 31 rose 4.4 percent to $3.34 billion, below analysts expectations of $3.41 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Net earnings from continuing operations attributable to Viacom fell to $500 million, or $1.20 per share, from $547 million, or $1.20 per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, the company earned $1.29 per share, above the $1.28 per share analysts forecast.

Shares of the company were nearly unchanged at $66.36 in late morning trading on Thursday. (Reporting By Jennifer Saba in New York and Arathy S Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Joyjeet Das and Meredith Mazzilli)

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