Viacom Makes Videos Available Online

Viacom’s MTV Networks Group has signed deals to make videos available on five online video services and Comcast’s broadband site, as the company aims to increase its presence on the Web.

Dailymotion, GoFish, iMeem, MeeVee and Veoh Networks entered agreements, MTV Networks said on Tuesday at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

The show where the industry trots out its newest gadgets and gizmos has been short on seismic changes this year, but Viacom Chief Executive Philippe Dauman told Reuters in an interview that even small developments have made big differences for consumers.

“We’re at a phase of the development of the Internet when we are seeing the accumulation of a lot of incremental changes that makes it easier for consumers and users to navigate information and entertainment online,” Dauman said.

Unlike prior years when top media executives took to the CES stages, this year a handful, including Dauman and News Corp. Chief Operating Officer Peter Chernin, have kept low profiles.

What is not certain is whether deals like the ones MTV has struck, aimed at finding consumers wherever they spend time on the Web, have generated financial returns.

“We’re eager to get our content out there,” Greg Clayman, MTV Networks’ executive vice president of digital distribution, said on the sidelines of the show. “Our fans are already there.”

Early results have shown that its online distribution of clips or in some cases entire episodes of some of its shows have helped boost television ratings, which rebounded in the fourth quarter.

Unlike its big media peers, which mostly saw their stock fall in 2007, Viacom shares rose 7 percent.

Future of HD DVD

Viacom’s Paramount is one of the minority of Hollywood film studios that currently release DVDs using Toshiba Corp’s HD DVD next-generation format.

Toshiba suffered a blow last Friday after Time Warner’s Warner Bros studios decided to release movies only on Sony Corp.’s rival format Blu-ray, which now has the backing of studios representing about 75 percent of U.S. DVD market share.

“We made a good decision, which I endorse,” Dauman said, responding to a question about whether Viacom would reconsider its support for HD DVD.

However, he stopped short of expressing strong support for the HD DVD standard in particular.

“We’re focused on making sure high-definition technology succeeds,” he said. “It will sort itself out.”

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