Peter Kafka

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Viacom’s Philippe Dauman Has a Bundle, Will Travel: The Full Dive Into Media Interview

If you’re a tech/new media company that wants to distribute cable TV shows, Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman is happy to chat with you.

Provided you’re willing to get your head around a couple of ideas:

  • If you want to buy old shows that now have limited value to the cable programmer, it’s happy to part with them for the right price. Ask Hulu, Netflix and Amazon, among others.
  • And if you want the new stuff that cable subscribers get, Viacom will sell you those, too. As long you’re willing to pay for the entire bundle of Viacom’s channels, just like cable subscribers do.

From Dauman’s perspective, Viacom — and by extension, most of the big cable programmers — are in pretty good shape right now. Even though people like me like to write about cord-cutting, he says he’s not seeing any real evidence of it. Meanwhile, new digital players are giving him what amounts to found money — checks for shows he wasn’t really selling, anyway.

Exceptions? Sure. Disney’s ESPN charges a whole lot for its programs, and Dauman (and other cable guys who don’t sell sports) think that’s a problem.

Then there’s the whole SOPA/PIPA thing, which Dauman says was well-intentioned and misunderstood. And it will stay that way for a while — he says there’s no chance that the entertainment guys get new legislation through in 2012.

Dauman laid all of this out during his interview with me — preceded by a spirited, R-rated introduction by Viacom employee Snooki — at Dive Into Media last month. You can watch the entire video here:


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There was a worry before I started this that I was going to burn every bridge I had. But I realize now that there are some bridges that are worth burning.

— Valleywag editor Sam Biddle