Culture&Arts

Viacom merger will 'diversify the streaming landscape'

Viacom merger will 'diversify the streaming landscape'

The merger creates a company with roughly $30-billion market value, which is still small compared to rivals including Netflix Inc (NFLX.O), at $136 billion, ABC network owner Walt Disney Co (DIS.N), at about $245 billion, and NBC owner Comcast Corp (CMCSA.O) at $193 billion.

CBS Corp and Viacom Inc agreed to merge on Tuesday, creating a company with more than $28 billion in revenue, as an increasingly competitive media landscape prompted their controlling shareholder to reunify the US entertainment companies 13 years after breaking them up.

The deal brings together Viacom's Paramount movie studio and its cable TV networks - MTV, Nickelodeon, BET, among them - with CBS, Showtime, and the Simon & Schuster publishing house.

Viacom Chief Executive Bob Bakish will be the President and CEO of the combined company.

The deal recombines 2 entities that were under the same corporate umbrella until they were broken apart in 2006 by Sumner Redstone, chairman emeritus of National Amusements, which holds nearly 80 percent of both companies.

"Our unique ability to produce premium and popular content for global audiences at scale - for our own platforms and for our partners around the world - will enable us to maximize our business for today, while positioning us to lead for years to come", Bakish added. Joe Ianniello, interim chief executive of CBS, will be named chairman and chief of CBS.

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ViacomCBS can lure customers with free offerings from a service like PlutoTV, which it bought in January, then convince them to pay for a subscription service in another part of the empire like CBS All Access, Bakish said.

CBS and Viacom have ties that go back to the 1970s. It will have an iconic library of 140,000+ premium TV episodes and 3,600+ film titles and reunites fan-favorite franchises such as "Star Trek" and "Mission: Impossible".

The move is meant to enable the blended company valued at about $30 billion to fight off bulked-up competitors and a new threat from digital rivals with well-financed streaming services. In terms of content spend, CBS and Viacom have collectively spent more than $13bn in the last 12 months. There were previous attempts to merge the two companies but to no avail.

"I am really excited to see these two great companies come together so that they can realise the incredible power of their combined assets", said Shari Redstone, who will chair the new company, ViacomCBS. Then the CBS board went through a dramatic overhaul past year following the departure of longtime CEO Leslie Moonves over misconduct allegations. "At CBS, we have outstanding momentum right now - creatively and operationally - and Viacom's portfolio will help accelerate that progress", said Ianniello, who will oversee all CBS-branded assets in his new role. The latter was forced out in September 2018 amid accusations of sexual harassment.

In a long awaited announcement, CBS and Viacom announced today that they will merge into one company, or perhaps recombine since they were one company until splitting up in 2006. CBS, led by Moonves, fought in the boardroom and courtroom to dilute the voting stake of National Amusements to prevent her gaining control of the company.


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