Viacom-CBS Pair-Up Makes for Programming Colossus

The Viacom-CBS marriage has come to fruition, as the pair announced a $30 billion all-stock partnership. Every TV player is focused on being one of the handful of streaming networks consumers choose to pay for, as WarnerMedia and Disney prep their direct-to-consumer offerings. On that front, Viacom acquired Pluto TV for $340 million back in January, while CBS has CBS All Access.

Viacom’s holdings include cable networks MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, BET, Paramount Network, CMT and VH1. It also has Paramount Pictures. CBS has the CBS network and owned stations, Showtime, Pop TV, half of The CW and CBS All Access.

Bob Bakish will head up ViacomCBS, and Joseph Ianniello is chairman and CEO of CBS.

More: CBS and Viacom to Combine

Here’s what Viacom said of the marriage: “The combined company will include the largest television business in the U.S., with the highest share of broadcast and cable viewing across all key audience demographics, and strength in every key category, including News, Sports, General Entertainment, Pop Culture, Comedy, Music and Kids – making it a first-choice partner to distributors and advertisers.”

Viacom and CBS had split in 2006, the thinking being Viacom’s cable networks were in growth mode, and CBS’ broadcast network not so much.

But now all are focused on streaming.

CBS All Access launched in 2014, and has been stepping up its original productions. CBS All Access said last week it will offer children’s programming for the first time, including originals Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs and Danger Mouse.

New corporate partner Nickelodeon has a few hot children’s properties.

CBS also announced last week that direct-to-consumer news service CBSN Local will roll out in all 13 owned markets by early 2020. New York and Los Angeles have launched, and Boston is next.

CBS All Access has attracted big-name producers to the platform, including Marc Cherry, Jordan Peele and Kevin Williamson. It is home to a variety of current Star Trek series, including Star Trek: Discovery.

Marc DeBevoise, president/COO, CBS Interactive, spoke of the then-versus-now of streaming at TCA Press Tour a couple weeks ago. “Device proliferation and business model expansion has driven new services to launch, existing ones to expand, premium networks to become unbundled, basic networks to create standalone services,” he said. “And there has been a lot of talk of things to come. With all this growth and change in our industry, All Access has thrived.”

We shall see how the new ViacomCBS shakes up the streaming world soon.

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.