Viacom, CBS to merge and become one company (again)


It’s been a long time coming, but media conglomerate CBS Corporation and Viacom will reunite after operating independently for 13 years. This new monstrosity will be renamed ViacomCBS Inc., apparently competing with NBCUniversal for the title of Least Appealing Post-Merger Name. Both companies were formerly both chaired by media mogul and extremely old person Sumner Redstone.

To get into the nitty-gritty here, CBS shareholders will own 61% of the company while Viacom shareholders will own 39%. The corporation will have a $30-billion market value, smaller than rivals such as Disney, Netflix, and Comcast, but still quite formidable. Viacom CEO Bob Bakish will act as president-CEO, while Joe Ianniello, president and acting CEO of CBS for the past year, will be chairman-CEO of CBS. Finally, Shari Redstone, Sumner Redstone’s daughter will become chairman of ViacomCBS. No, I don’t understand the different between these positions.

Shari Redstone is the president of National Amusement, the parent company of both corporations and a theater chain company, and probably a nefarious and evil organization. Said Redstone in a statement, after the successful merger (attempts for which have failed three times since 2016): “My father once said ‘content is king,’ and never has that been more true than today.”

In terms of content, CBS assets include the CBS television network, CBS All Access, CBS News, and Showtime, and they will be reunited with Viacom’s offering of channels including Paramount, MTV Networks, Nickelodeon, and Comedy Central. Not too many exciting properties, but at least Stephen Colbert can legally use his The Colbert Report character in The Late Show now. Perhaps the now Viacom-owned Garfield will become the new mascot of this combined company.

I have to wonder that with all of these recently-merged corporations pursuing streaming services if ViacomCBS will try to expand the semi-successful CBS All Access, seeing how Viacom probably won’t make their own like they wanted to anymore. Disney’s purchases have begat Disney+, Comcast of course owns NBCUniversal and will make a streaming play, and AT&T acquired WarnerMedia and will be pushing out HBO Max early next year.

Instead of breaking down corporations and media conglomerate, they’ve instead becoming bigger, with each merger seeming to be a response to another one from rivals. Pretty soon, we’ll be living in a future where everything you watch and enjoy will be owned by one of three or four companies. Go Go Corporations!

CBS, Viacom reach deal to reunite Sumner Redstone’s media empire [Reuters]