© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The Viacom logo is displayed on the doors of a building in midtown Manhattan in New York

(Reuters) – Viacom Inc, the owner of MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon, beat quarterly profit estimates on Friday, as costs fell and its Paramount Pictures division gained from the success of its movie “What Men Want”, sending its shares up 3.5%.

Since taking the helm in 2016, Chief Executive Officer Bob Bakish has focused on Paramount Pictures and the company’s cable TV business, which like its sister company CBS Corp (NYSE:) has been shaken in the face of competition from Netflix Inc (NASDAQ:) and Amazon.com (NASDAQ:) Inc’s Prime video.

Revenue from filmed entertainment division, which includes Paramount Pictures, fell 1% to $730 million in the quarter.

Total costs fell more than 11 percent to $2.39 billion.

Revenue from media networks, which includes advertising sales and affiliate fees, fell to $2.27 billion and missed estimates of $2.32 billion.

Domestic affiliate revenue, or the fees collected from U.S. cable and satellite operators and online distributors, fell 2% to $936 million and domestic advertising revenue fell 2% to $820 million.

Both Viacom and CBS, controlled by National Amusements, are expected to rekindle merger talks after CBS suspended the search for a permanent CEO and extended the role of its interim CEO Ianniello, sparking speculation about the company considering a tie-up with Viacom for the third time.

Net income attributable to Viacom rose to $376 million, or 93 cents per share, in the second quarter ended March 31 from $266 million, or 66 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, the company earned 95 cents per share and beat the analyst average estimate of 80 cents per share.

Total revenue fell to $2.96 billion from $3.15 billion, missing the analyst average estimate of $3.06 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

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2019-05-10