Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Wall Street Beats Up Sumner Redstone, Rupert Murdoch: Cuts Estimates for Viacom, News Corp.

You don’t need a particularly good crystal ball to foresee that big media are in for a bad year (at least). But Wall Street singled out Sumner Redstone’s Viacom (VIA) and Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. (NWS) for special treatment this morning, by whacking estimates for the next few quarters.

The short story: The lousy ad market will be even worse than people think.

The longer story: Pali Research’s Rich Greenfield has chopped his estimates for News Corp. (owner of Dow Jones, which owns this site). He expects operating income for the company’s fiscal 2009 (which wraps up this summer) to be down 22 percent; he’d previously pegged the number at -18 percent.

Dragging down the business: The company’s international newspaper and domestic TV operations; he thinks their operating income will drop a staggering 39.6 percent and 60.4 percent, respectively.

And Barclays Capital’s Anthony DiClemente takes a similar whack at Viacom: He had previously forecast that Viacom’s operating income would drop by 1.9 percent in 2009; now he figures the decline will be eight percent.

DiClemente predicts that advertising at Viacom’s cable networks, which power the majority of the company’s financials, will drop seven percent in the coming year. That’s worse than the three percent drop he thinks that cable TV in general will see, in large part because MTV’s target audience has been disappearing as of late.

Check out the following chart from Barclays, which tracks ratings for the core demographics at Viacom’s biggest cable channels (click to enlarge):

Notice that MTV’s 23.9 percent decline has happened amidst tons of press for its reality shows, notably “The Hills,” which is supposedly a sensation among the kids these days (that’s some of the cast, at the top of this post). (UPDATE: An earlier version of this post reproduced inaccurate data that Barclays sent out regarding Viacom’s Noggin channel; Viacom points out that the channel registered a 64 percent increase in its core demo from the fall of 2007 through the fall of 2008).

Meanwhile, did you know that MTV has followed up “A Shot At Love With Tila Tequila,” a reality show/dating game hosted by a bikini-wearing bisexual pin-up girl, with “A Double Shot At Love,” which is…well, you can probably guess.

If you need it spelled out, here’s a promo clip:


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work