Viacom Shares Get Needed Boost from Altice Cable Deal

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Graph of Viacom stock price trend on Friday, May 26, the day after the deal was made public. (Source: FinancialContent and Zack Investment Research)

On Thursday, May 25, just two days before Sumner Redstone’s 94th birthday, the media mogul received an early gift.

Redstone and his family’s company, media giant Viacom, made a deal with Altice, to remain on its cable system that runs in 2.41 million households, according to a statement by both companies. 

The Post reports, “The news removed a major overhang on Viacom’s shares, given fears that the media conglomerate’s brands — including MTV, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central — could be dropped as its deal comes up for renewal next year.”

Thursday afternoon, after the deal was announced, within 10 minutes Viacom’s Class B shares climbed 4.5 percent.

Viacom agreed to use Altice USA’s audience data company Audience Partners to assist in the sales of advertising in the Metro New York area and across the country, as part of the deal. Also, Viacom’s own advertising data will be pooled as part of the agreement. 

According to The Post, “Altice owns the former Cablevision systems as well as Suddenlink in Missouri. The Netherlands-based firm said earlier this week it would rebrand all systems with the Altice name. One question not answered in the afternoon announcement of the deal is just how many Viacom channels will stay on Altice’s basic systems and how many will be moved to premium tiers. At Suddenlink, Viacom channels have been absent since they were dropped in 2014. Under the new deal, an unspecified number of them will return.”

Whether or not an increase in affiliate fees paid to Viacom is part of the agreement has not been revealed by Viacom or Altice. A select group of channels are going to be what resources will focus against, said Chief Executive Bob Bakish. These select channels are referred to as its “flagship six,” and include MTV, BET, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr. and Paramount.

By Charles Bernstein

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