What was one had since become two, but now these two must again become one. This has been the story of mass media conglomerates Viacom and CBS Corporation. Both were born from the 2005 breakup of the original Viacom Inc. as overseen by its founder Sumner Redstone. While the two have tried to go their own way in providing mass media entertainment, they have struggled with much larger and powerful competition lately, especially in the wake of major corporate mergers. The two companies announced in August their plans to reconsolidate by the end of the year, and now they have.
The Hollywood Reporter has it that following months of negotiations, the second Viacom and CBS officially closed on their merger talks by the time of the stock market closing on Wednesday, December 4. Now they are ViacomCBS, and in one fell swoop all their media assets – CBS network, Showtime, Paramount Pictures, MTV, Nickelodeon, BET, Comedy Central, and streaming platforms CBS All Access and PlutoTV – are now under a reunified umbrella. The merged entity’s leadership is looking at the consolidation to give them targeted cost earnings over $500 million in worth, along with some revenue synergy.
On merger day this Wednesday, Viacom (and now ViacomCBS) CEO Bob Bakish issued a statement regarding the merge, which he described as a historic moment. “Through the combination of CBS’ and Viacom’s complementary assets, capabilities and talented teams, ViacomCBS will create and deliver premium content for its own platforms and for others, while providing innovative solutions for advertisers and distributors globally,” Bakish said. As part of the reorganization, Shari Redstone has become chairman of the combined entity after serving as vice chair of the then-separate companies. CBS acting CEO Joe Janiello is now confirmed at his office and also named chairman of the CBS arm, while the network’s CFO Christina Spade now does the role for ViacomCBS as a whole.
Post-merger, ViacomCBS arguably carries a large portion of the US TV audience share (22 percent), an international market footprint, as well as their own impressive media library and exclusive streaming services like other media giants have now. It is still not enough to sell investors on Wall Street, even as the combined network started trading on Nasdaq Thursday, December 5, as “VIAC” and “VIACA.” Their general opinion is that ViacomCBS first needs to demonstrate that their reunion can bring them benefits as the year turns.
Image courtesy of CBS News