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CBS and Viacom Deal Approved By Majority Shareholders, Set to Merge in Early December

Jason Gurwin

CBS and Viacom shared today that National Amusements, the company’s majority shareholder owned by the Redstone family, has approved their merger. This means that the two companies, which announced their merger in August, will likely close the deal in early December.

The $28B deal will see Bob Bakish, Viacom’s CEO, serve as President and CEO of the combined company called ViacomCBS, while Interim CBS CEO Joe Ianniello as the Chairman and CEO of CBS. Combined the companies library comprises 140,000+ TV episodes and 3,600+ film titles, and reunites fan-favorite franchises such as Star Trek and Mission: Impossible.

CBS owns the most-watched broadcast network in the United States, 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 the upcoming BET+. In February, CBS disclosed that they had surpassed 8 million direct-to-consumer subscribers of CBS All Access and Showtime. The company originally projected that it would take another two years to reach that number of subscribers. The company has now set a new goal to reach 25 million domestic subscribers of both of their OTT services by 2022.

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