Mr. Dolan was known among analysts as a more conservative financial chief, a trait that might have led to his leaving under a new, more aggressive management team. In September, Philippe Dauman replaced Tom Freston as Viacom's CEO and Mr. Dooley joined as senior exec VP-chief administrative officer.
Onetime Y&R CEO
Mr. Dolan, who had a long career in advertising, prior to Viacom, as the CEO of Young & Rubicam, said third quarter was weaker but that Viacom believes it as "significantly, as we always do, out performed the market in this regard." He said strength in fourth quarter scatter advertising has helped the company pace 16% ahead in scatter.
"Managing the transition of our business from the traditional linear world to one that embraces the digital world is my No. 1 priority," said Mr. Dauman, as he opened the call with analysts. He pointed the company had a 73% increase in digital advertising sales in the quarter and said he expects that to continue to grow at high double digit rates, adding that there's a "good chance" Viacom could rack up $500 million in annual digital sales in 2007, a year earlier than the company had previously predicted it would reach that number.
He also vaguely addressed the issues Big Media has with YouTube: "A significant amount of the rapid growth of some of the recent stars of the web was driven by content from Viacom's networks. Our job is to ensure that Viacom is appropriately rewarded for that success."
When Viacom pulled several of its video clips from the site, much of the consumer uproar focused around Comedy Central clips -- and many fans lamented on message boards that they didn't like Comedy Central's Motherload broadband player. Mr. Dauman said the company is working on updating its digital offerings and adding more capability for richer video content where it doesn't have it.
During the third quarter, Viacom's net earnings dropped to $356.3 million, or 50 cents per share, from $423.30 million, or 60 cents per share, in year-ago period. However, revenue was up 7%, led by 10% growth at the cable networks division (12% increase in revenue from affiliate fees; 7% increase in ad revenue), which includes MTV Networks and BET. Most of the profit hit came from the Paramount film studio.