Philippe Dauman always seems to see Viacom through rose colored glasses when he talks with analysts, and continued to do so in his presentation this morning to discuss the company’s latest earnings report. He’s excited about EPIX following Time Warner Cable’s recent agreement to offer the premium movie service beginning in May. That shouldn’t be affected if Charter Communications succeeds in its effort to buy the No. 2 cable company. “We look forward to seeing what happens,” Dauman says. Viacom and its partners, Lionsgate and MGM, plan to increase original programming including scripted series for the channel, which Dauman says has “the best line up [of movies] of any pay service in the marketplace.” He hinted that backers will step up promotion for the channel, saying that they will “make that work for TWC” as execs hope to also land distribution deals with Comcast and DirecTV. Meanwhile the CEO talked up overseas opportunities as Viacom prepares to launch Paramount Channels in Russia and Hungary in the current quarter. “We’re going to be opportunistic about expanding our footprint…We will take every opportunity we see to launch a new network.” Dauman’s encouraged by the ad market overall. “We’re seeing solid strength in the UK and through northern Europe, and we’re seeing stabilization in southern Europe.” Dauman also expanded on his eyebrow-raising comment in December that he expects to see an Internet-delivered pay TV service this year. There’ll be “at least one” in 2014, he now says. “That can only be good for a company like ours that produces a lot of content….They’re small when they launch but can build over time.” Meanwhile, he says he expects strong performances this year from Paramount’s Noah, Transformers: Age Of Extinction, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Hercules as well as “more announcements in the months to come” from the television production unit.
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