NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - MTV has been denounced for its halftime show at this year's Super Bowl by everyone from the Federal Communications Commission chairman to the NFL commissioner to various groups against obscenity and sexual violence.
|MTV has been under attack for the Super Bowl halftime show, but it won't hurt the Viacom unit's earnings potential.
But the network isn't going to be shunned by investors any time soon.
MTV is a unit of Viacom Corp., as is CBS, the broadcast network which aired this year's Super Bowl. The exposure of singer Janet Jackson's breast at the end of the halftime show may bring fines totaling millions of dollars to CBS and its affiliates that aired the game, but analysts said those fines and the publicity won't do much to hurt either Viacom or MTV.
"If you calculate the maximum possible fine, you get about $5 million," said David Miller, analyst with Sanders Morris Harris. "That's less than a half-penny per share for Viacom. We're going to watch it, but until it affects the numbers, it's not worth writing about."
Miller said he doubts that MTV will lose any advertiser support from the controversy and could even see some indirect benefit.
"No such thing as bad publicity in media is the way I look at it," said Miller.
Advertisers are having a hard enough time reaching young viewers, age 18 to 34, who aren't watching the broadcast networks as much as they watch cable, according to analysts and a leading ad buyer.
"When you advertise on MTV, you know it's somewhat on the cutting edge," said Andrew Donchin, director of national broadcast for media buying firm Carat USA.
"Did they go too far in the Super Bowl? Of course they did. But for the advertisers that are there, they aren't going anywhere. They have a grip on the younger viewership, and they have a brand, an image they project to a younger viewer, and you're also buying that image and that brand."
In the most recent week, among cable networks, MTV is tops among viewers ages 18 to 34. Among those key viewers, it has the top three rated shows and five in the top eight. While the network made its reputation with music videos, today it's reality shows like "Real World," "Newlyweds Nick and Jessica" and "The Osbournes" that make it a must-buy for advertisers.
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MTV thus has become the leader among the group of cable networks that drive profits at New York-based Viacom. Viacom's cable networks as a group produce about 50 percent more operating profit than the company's broadcast operations, even though broadcast produces almost 50 percent more revenue than the cable networks.
Because of that, analysts said they can't see any damage to Viacom from the halftime show controversy.
"MTV's constituency is probably more accustomed to outlandish behavior than the prime demographic for a Super Bowl audience," said Jeffrey Logsdon, analyst with Harris, Nesbitt Gerard. "Wall Street would look at that (the controversy and any fine) more as a one-time event, not as a change in underlying earnings power."