Comcast CEO Brian Roberts and ViacomCBS Chair Shari Redstone reportedly met in late June to discuss how their two media conglomerates could work together on international streaming expansion.
According to a Wall Street Journal report, citing "people familiar with the matter," the New York meeting also involved ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish.
An actual meeting will only fuel gestating rumors that Comcast is up to something big.
Just prior to when that meeting was said to have taken place, WSJ quoted unnamed Comcast sources indicating that the company was considering several bold M&A moves, acquiring Roku and merging with ViacomCBS among them.
The Information also reported earlier that Comcast and Viacom had been in touch regarding an international collaboration of some kind. Also, WSJ's more credibility challenged corporate sibling, the New York Post, also reported that Redstone and Roberts met at the elite Allen & Co. confab in Sun Valley earlier in July. Although, at that event, it's routine for all the media moguls to talk to one another.
When they were first reported, analysts were quick to pour cold water on Comcast's alleged machinations--specific to ViacomCBS, they cited a ramp of antitrust regulatory activity by the federal government.
But again, the discussions are said to involve non-U.S. territories, an area in which Comcast--beyond the equities it enjoys with Sky in the UK--could probably use more of.
ViacomCBS has said that Paramount Plus will be in 45 markets by 2022. But like Comcast, it's far away from achieving the kind of massive global user scale enjoyed by Netflix and Disney, and it will probably need help from another company to get there. The company said in May that it had 35.9 million customers for its subscription streaming services, a grouping that includes Showtime in addition to Paramount Plus.
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Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!