David Lynn Touts Viacom’s International Growth


David Lynn, president and CEO of Viacom International Media Networks, told APOS delegates in Bali today about the company’s headroom for continued growth.

Lynn was interviewed by Media Partners Asia’s Vivek Couto, who opened the session asking Lynn about Viacom’s relevance in the “new world order” amid the increasing dominance of digital players.

“We’re as relevant as we have ever been,” Lynn said. “We invest $4 billion a year in content. We have some of the strongest brands in the world. In that environment, the amount we’re investing in our business, particularly in international, is increasing. We still see a lot of headroom for growth. If you look at the pay-TV industry outside the U.S., it’s around 40 percent penetration, versus 80 percent in the U.S. There are a lot of consumers who aren’t taking services at the moment. There’s a big opportunity to go after those consumers.”

Growth still exists with traditional MVDP operators, Lynn noted—“we’re growing the footprint of our brands, and our audiences, in that area. On top of that, we’re reaching out with new partnerships with new entrants in the industry.”

International has become “a prominent part of the Viacom story,” Lynn continued. “Revenues last year were $2.1 billion—12 percent growth on the topline—for international. We’re still seeing growth from rolling out brands and by investing more in content. We’re investing more in local content and now we have scale positions globally and locally. That’s driving our core business. On top of that, we have a strategy of looking at M&A opportunities,” notably Channel 5 in the U.K. and Telefe in Argentina. “They’ve been instrumental to giving us scale and position in those markets. On top of that we focus a lot on strategic partnerships, including joint ventures like Viacom18 and commercial partnerships. We have a lot of ad-sales partnerships around the world.”

Strategic partnerships have been key to VIMN’s Asia strategy, Lynn said. “On the M&A question, we’re always on the lookout for opportunities. The prism by which I look at those opportunities is three-fold. First, they need to game-change our scale in a market and across the region. Secondly, we look for content synergies. And the third factor is the right market context. We’re looking for markets that are high value or high growth and where we have the right regulatory and legal framework.”

On mobile opportunities, Lynn referenced the deal with Telefonica in Latin America that encompasses channels, apps and on-demand content for a potential audience of 30 million addressable subscribers. “We’ve been putting a lot of work into mobile over the last ten years.”

The Asian mobile opportunity is significant, given that the region is the “biggest 4G market in the world and there’s a lot of innovation happening here.”

On SVOD opportunities, Lynn said that further expansion is in the cards for Paramount+, which has rolled out in the Nordic markets.

While he couldn’t comment on ongoing discussions about a CBS and Viacom merger, Lynn noted the importance of scale “as a means of making sure that you control the best IP, develop the best products to roll out across the world and compete effectively with the FAANGs.”