Philippe Dauman, Viacom’s chief executive, has accused Nielsen of failing to keep up in the way people watch TV.
Quoted in the NYT, he said that a significant amount of viewing Viacom networks was through mobile apps, gaming devices and other platforms that Nielsen do not include in their research. As a result, ratings for those networks fell by 15% in the quarter ended September 30, according to Nielsen.
On the other hand, Nielsen has now announced a series of initiatives to measure digital viewing.
Although this is not the first time Viacom has criticised Nielsen – a similar thing happened three years ago – Viacom could at least console itself in what were good results.
Revenues in the quarter ended September 30 were, at $3,991 million, 9% up on a year earlier. Adjusted net earnings were 1% lower at $729 million.
Commenting on the results, Sumner M. Redstone, executive chairman of Viacom, said: “As we conclude another fiscal year, Viacom remains well-positioned as a creative leader with many of the world’s most innovative media properties and best entertainment brands.”
Philippe Dauman added: “Viacom’s record financial results in 2014 demonstrate the strength of our brands and continuing momentum for our strategy of investing in creativity, with a relentless focus on growing demographic and geographic markets and embracing new distribution platforms. Our Media Networks achieved continued growth in the fourth quarter and the fiscal year. Viacom’s affiliate distribution business remains a reliable engine for high-margin revenue expansion and provides significant opportunities to build new consumer experiences with long term distributors and emerging technology partners alike. Despite ratings challenges and uncertainty in the scatter advertising market at the close of the year, Viacom’s advertising revenues grew in fiscal 2014, as our creative and marketing teams rolled out innovative new offerings. We also continue to take the lead in defining the next generation of measurement tools that will more fully capture the growing multiplatform engagement of our audiences. Our September acquisition of Channel 5 has already made a positive impact on our business, and points the way to further significant long-term growth of our international business. Paramount delivered the top movie of 2014 and the largest-ever theatrical release in China – Transformers: Age of Extinction – and the studio successfully launched another long-term franchise with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
“This performance allowed us to continue the strong delivery of value directly to investors. Over the past five years, Viacom has returned $16.1 billion to shareholders.”