Viacom International CEO touts progress in mobile strategy, distribution

BARCELONA, Spain--"There's no question that we are seeing changes in consumer consumption," said Bob Bakish, president and CEO of Viacom (NYSE: VIA) International Media Networks, during a keynote presentation here at the Mobile World Congress trade show.

Bob Bakish, Viacom

Bakish (Source: Viacom)

Bakish said Viacom employs 100 people to monitor consumers' consumption of TV content, including Viacom's. He said the company has found that 50 percent of millennials watch TV on the Web, and that two-thirds of tablet owners use their device to watch TV content.

Further, he said that 40 percent of millennials engage in TV-related activity through social media.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Bakish said that roughly 10 percent of MTV viewers consumed the channel via a mobile device in 2012--a figure that popped to 25 percent last year.

"Mobile is an extremely powerful door to the Internet," he said.

In response to this growth, Bakish said that Viacom is working diligently to engage mobile users with its brands and its content in a way that he said results in profits and exposure for Viacom, pay-TV providers and wireless carriers.

Among Viacom's various mobile activities, Bakish said that the company's standalone mobile apps for smartphones and tablets have been downloaded in total more than 100 million times since 2009. He said that one of the company's most popular apps, which is free to download and features the SpongeBob SquarePants character, has been downloaded fully 16 million times. He said the company has gained traction with its paid apps too, noting that several of its $4 apps have been downloaded over 1 million times each.

Bakish said that Viacom is also experimenting in a variety of areas in mobile, such as selling branded content through messaging apps like Line2 and WeChat. He said the company also offers branding and licensing partnerships to wireless carriers, pointing specifically to special MTV service plan sold through Eplus in Europe.

But perhaps the company's most noteworthy effort in mobile is its new Nick app, which provides access to a variety of content from Viacom's Nickelodeon channel. Bakish said that the app, which launched in the United States last year and is rolling out globally this year, allows users to access games, videos, full TV episodes, polls and other content from its kid-focused channel--and, importantly, it offers premium available only to authenticated users (those who subscribe to a pay-TV package that includes the Nickelodeon channel). Bakish said the app has so far been a success with 7 million downloads.

"Viacom is in fact evolving its content and distribution models," Bakish concluded.

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