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Viacom sees weak affiliate sales, shares plummet

(Reuters) - Viacom Inc, the owner of MTV, Comedy Central and Paramount Pictures, forecast a low single-digit dip in sales to U.S. pay-TV companies and streaming video services this quarter, sending its stock down almost 8 percent after hours.

The media company beat Wall Street's average estimates for fiscal third-quarter revenue and profit, helped by an unexpectedly strong 4 percent jump in such affiliate sales, but investors focused on the downbeat projection for the current quarter.

"As good as the affiliate fee number was in this quarter, it looks really bad in the next quarter," said Brian Wieser, an analyst at Pivotal Research Group. "You won’t be able to see investors having overly aggressive expectations after this call."

Shares of Viacom, controlled by mogul Sumner Redstone and his daughter Shari, fell 7.7 percent to $32.37 in after-hours trading.

For the latest quarter, Viacom said U.S. sales to pay-TV affiliates and online video firms such as Netflix Inc, which pay to screen its shows, rose 4 percent to $1.01 billion, largely due to the timing of some deals with streaming video services.

On a post-earnings conference call executives said that bump would not be repeated this quarter, and instead said they expected...


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