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Could BET Networks Keep Driving Viacom’s Media Business?

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Growth in BET followers

BET Networks, which belongs to Viacom’s (VIAB) flagship brand of networks, continues to gain popularity with the success its TV shows, music, and news. The channel, which mainly targets the urban African-American community, gained nearly 227 million television subscribers in fiscal 2017.

The graph above shows advertising revenue growth for Viacom’s Media Networks segment. Improving ratings across all major channels has aided growth in the last two quarters.

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BET channels have gained huge popularity on different social media platforms, which has helped the network operator achieve nearly 42 million followers. Moreover, hit shows such as Real Husbands of Hollywood and Being Mary Jane, coupled with the BET Hip Hop Awards, continue to bolster ratings. The channel operator has also roped in award-winning writers, directors, and producers to air 90 episodes per year of original drama and comedy programs for BET and other Viacom channels, starting in 2019.

Domestic advertising business growth

For its overall channel portfolio, Viacom’s Media Networks’ ratings improved 3% YoY (year-over-year) in 4Q17, driven by double-digit growth in MTV and BET ratings. The company’s flagship channels’ ratings for the quarter grew 6% YoY.

This ratings growth has boosted the company’s domestic advertising revenue, which was flat in 4Q17 after falling for three years. The overall advertising business remained soft in 3Q17. Both TNT Network (TWX) and CBS (CBS) reported a ~3% YoY fall in advertising revenue, and Comcast (CMCSA) reported a 13% YoY fall.

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