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BREAKING: After Months of Speculation, CBS and Viacom Finally Announce Long-Awaited Merger

Jason Gurwin

CBS and Viacom are together once again. The companies were previously one, but split in 2006, when former Chief, Sumner Redstone, thought they would grow faster as separate entities. Now, the companies have entered into a definitive agreement to combine in an all-stock merger, creating a combined company with more than $28 billion in revenue.

Bob Bakish, Viacom CEO will serve as President and CEO of the combined company and 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.

In a statement, Bob Bakish said, “Today marks an important day for CBS and Viacom, as we unite our complementary assets and capabilities and become one of only a few companies with the breadth and depth of content and reach to shape the future of our industry. 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.”

CBS owns the most-watch 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.

Last week, CBS All Access announced an expansion into original kid content, which could be supplemented by content from Nickelodeon. Pluto TV, which just reached 18 million monthly active users — launched ad-supported linear channels of library Viacom content, which could now see CBS shows come to the platform.

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