What's Up This Spring For Sumner?

Viacom reports before the bell and analysts are eager for insight into Sumner Redstone's media giant's future.

The company is sure to be hit by the economic downturn, namely the decline in ad spending at its cable networks. On the upside, higher sales of Viacom's "Rock Band" video game could provide a boost.

In the earnings conference call Wall Street will be eager for guidance on the future of the MTV Networks division as well as DVD sales. And expect questions about Viacom's recently renewed deal with Time Warner Cable — Viacom had demanded 12 percent higher carriage fees, but it's unclear what they ended up getting.

In the movie division Viacom's Paramount division made headlines with "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," nominated for most of the big Oscar categories. Now the question is what Paramount looks like without Steven Spielberg's DreamWorks SKG, whose deal with the studio ended in October. Paramount should save about $50 million in annual production expenses and will have six fewer movies to distribute. Does that change DreamWorks' strategy? And is Viacom suffering from the downturn in DVD sales as its competitors are?

With Viacom, the issue of Chairman Sumner Redstone's succession is always looming in the background. We'll see if he has any announcements on that or digital strategy — his pet fascination.

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