As expected, Viacom and CBS are re-merging to form a combined entertainment company with more than $28 billion in annual revenue, the two entities said Tuesday. The two companies previously operated as a merged entity from 1999 to 2006.
Bob Bakish will lead the combined company as president and CEO, while Joe Ianniello will remain chairman and CEO of CBS.
The combined company, which will be called ViacomCBS Inc., will include CBS; Showtime Networks; CBS All Access and half ownership of The CW; Viacom and all of its cable networks, including BET, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Paramount Network, Pop and VH1; and Paramount Pictures. The combined Viacom-CBS library comprises more than 140,000 episodes of television and more than 3,600 movies, including popular film franchises such as Star Trek and Mission Impossible. It will reach more than 4.3 billion TV subscribers in more than 180 countries. Viacom also recently acquired free streaming service Pluto TV, which it is augmenting with content from Viacom’s networks.
“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,” said Bakish in a statement. “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.”
“This merger brings an exciting new set of opportunities to both companies,” said Ianniello, also in a statement. “At CBS, we have outstanding momentum right now - creatively and operationally—and Viacom’s portfolio will help accelerate that progress. … I am pleased to remain focused on CBS’s top priority—continuing our transformation into a global, multiplatform, premium content company.”
Looking ahead, ViacomCBS intends to accelerate its direct-to-consumer strategy with such offerings as subscription streaming service CBS All Access, free service Pluto TV and niche products CBSN, ET Live and Noggin. The company also expects to enhance its distribution and advertising opportunities across its larger platform, which reaches 22% of U.S. viewership, and continue to produce and license content for other platforms through its TV and movie studios and libraries.
“I am really excited to see these two great companies come together so that they can realize the incredible power of their combined assets,” said Shari Redstone, vice chair of the boards of directors, CBS and Viacom, also in a statement. Redstone will be appointed chair of the combined board once the merger closes. “Through CBS and Viacom’s shared passion for premium content and innovation, we will establish a world-class, multiplatform media organization that is well-positioned for growth in a rapidly transforming industry.”
Layoffs are likely at both companies in light of redundancies. Already Viacom Chief Financial Officer Wade Davis is departing, with CBS CFO Christina Spade moving into that role at the new combined company. ViacomCBS expects to have synergies of some $500 million and layoffs will factor into that amount.