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ViacomCBS Long-Awaited Merger Expected to Close on Dec. 4

Stephanie Sengwe

CBS and Viacom announced that their long-awaited merger is currently expected to close on Dec. 4. Immediately after the closing, the new combined company will be renamed “ViacomCBS Inc.” Just last month, the companies announced that National Amusements, their majority shareholder owned by the Redstone family, had approved their merger.

The $28B deal will see Bob Bakish, Viacom’s CEO, serve as president and CEO of the combined company, while interim CBS CEO Joe Ianniello will serve as the chairman and CEO of CBS. Combined, the two companies’ library comprises 140,000 plus TV episodes and 3,600 plus film titles, and reunites fan-favorite franchises such as “Star Trek” and “Mission: Impossible.”

CBS owns the most-watched broadcast network in the U.S., as well as the premium cable network Showtime and streaming service CBS All Access, but is small in comparison to many of its peers, who have all bulked up through deals of their own. For example, NBC is owned by the Comcast Corporation — worth about 10 times what CBS is — and ABC is owned by Disney, which is worth about 12 times more than the CBS Corporation currently is.

Viacom is the owner of Paramount, as well as the collection of cable channels like MTV, VH1 and Comedy Central. While they own free ad-supported streaming service Pluto TV, which they purchased for $340 million in January, they have primarily become an arms dealer for other streaming services. They’ve created “Jack Ryan” for Amazon, “13 Reasons Why” for Netflix and “Catch-22” for Hulu.

Both companies hope the deal will help continue to accelerate the growth of their direct-to-consumer streaming platforms — including CBS All Access, Showtime, and Pluto TV — and niche services like Noggin, CBSN, ET Live and BET+. Earlier this month, Pluto TV added three CBS Interactive channels — ET Live CBSN New York and CBSN Los Angeles.

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