Viacom boasts of higher web traffic after YouTube clash

Viacom said yesterday that traffic to its MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon websites rose sharply over the past month,validating its decision to force YouTube, the video sharing site bought by Google, to remove all Viacom video clips.

The media group said it had been "heartened by the broad industry support" for its move against YouTube last month to force it to remove more than 100,000 video clips from the site. The action followed a break-down in negotiations between Viacom and YouTube to license video content that was being widely watched withoutcopyright permission on YouTube.

Old and new media companies are vying for as big a slice as possible of future digital revenues. Negotiations with YouTube, for which Google paid more than $1.6bn last year, are seen as a key test owing to the video site's dominant position.

Much of the content on YouTube is created by individuals but it remains unclear whether such user-generated content can attract the large amounts of advertising dollars that are shifting to the web.

Professionally produced content may attract more advertisers.

Since Viacom's move last month, NBC Universal and CBS have also taken a more aggressive stance towards YouTube.

"Video streaming traffic on our sites has increased dramatically, an important validation of our strategy," said Philippe Dauman, president and chief executive of Viacom, owned by media mogul Sumner Redstone.

Traffic to Comedy Central's website was up more than 90 per cent; had increased by more than 50 per cent; and Nickelodeon had a more than 30 per cent increase in traffic in the past month, Viacom said.

The media group, which released fourth-quarter results yesterday, said quarterly profit nearly quad-rupled to $480m, partly reflecting the acquisition of the DreamWorks film studio.

The company has cut jobs and is restructuring to improve its ability to capture more digital revenues from both the web and mobile handsets.

Recent deals include a video content deal with Joost, a new online video service.

Mr Dauman said Viacom would generate $500m from digital sales this year, mostly from online advertising.

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