12. Viacom Inc./CBS Corp.
Revenues 2018: € 23.250 billion
On August 3, 2019, CBS and Viacom announced the merger (completed on December 4, 2019) of the media groups which have been listed separately since 2006. The Chairwoman of the Supervisory Board of the new ViacomCBS Inc. is Shari Redstone, previously Vice Chairwoman of the Board of Directors of the two individual companies and for years the driving force behind the merger. The catalogue of the new ViacomCBS includes 140,000 series episodes and 3,600 film titles. 22 percent of the total US television consumption runs via ViacomCBS channels/platforms.
Head office CBS Corp.:
51 W. 52nd St.
New York, NY 10019-6188
Telephone: 001 212 975 4321
Branches of trade: TV stations (free TV), radio, TV broadcasting stations, TV production, rights trading, leisure parks, outdoor advertising, book publishers
Legal form: corporation
Financial Year: 01.01. - 31.12.
Founding year: 1912 (Paramount Pictures), 1927 (CBS: first Columbia Phonograph Broadcasting System, later Columbia Broadcasting System)
|Revenue (US$ m)||14,514||13,692||13,166||13,886||13,806|
|Net profit (US$ m)||1,960||357||1,261||1,413||2,959|
|Share price (US$, year end)||36.99||46.66||61.18||46.59||46.31|
Head office Viacom Inc.:
New York, NY 10036
Telephone: 001 212 258 6000
Branches of trade: Film, Television, Licensing
Legal form: corporation
Financial Year: 01.10. – 30.09.
Founding year: 1970 (Viacom Inc.)
|Revenue (US$ m)||12,943||13,263||12,488||13,268||13,783|
|Net profit (US$ m)||1,668||1,871||1,436||1,922||2,392|
|Share price (US$, year end)||27.81||34.90||38.50||43.99||75.50|
Executives and Directors
Management CBS Corp.:
- Joseph R. Ianiello, President and CEO
- Jonathan H. Anschell, Executive Vice President, Deputy General Counsel and Secretary
- David Byrnes, Senior Vice President, Controller and Chief Accounting Officer
- Laura Franco, Executive Vice President, General Counsel
- Richard M. Jones, Executive Vice President, General Tax Counsel, Chief Veteran Officer
- Hazel-Ann F. Mayers, Executive Vice President, Chief Business Ethics & Compliance Officer
- Dana McClintock, Executive Vice President, Chief Communications Officer
- David Nevins, Chief Creative Officer
- John Orlando, Executive Vice President, Government Affairs
- Laurie Rosenfeld, Chief People Officer
- Christina Spade, Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer
- Josie Thomas, Executive Vice President, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer
Board of Directors CBS Corp.:
- Sumner Redstone, Chairman Emeritus
- Shari Redstone, CBS
- Candace K. Beinecke
- Barbara M. Byrne
- Gary L. Countryman
- Brian Goldner
- Linda M. Griego
- Robert N. Klieger
- Martha L. Minow
- Susan Schuman
- Frederick O. Terrell
- Strauss Zelnick
- Robert Bakish, President & CEO
- Kent Alterman, President Comedy Central, Paramount Network and TV Land Group
- James Bombassei, Senior Vice President, Investor Relations & Treasurer
- Christa D. D'Alimonte, General Counsel and Secretary
- Wade Davis, Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer
- Kelly Day, President, Viacom Digital Studios
- James N. Gianopulos, Chairman and CEO of Paramount
- Bruce Gillmer, Executive Vice President, Music/Talent Programing and Events, Viacom International Media Networks; Head of Music/Talent, Global Entertainment Group
- Tom Gorke, Executive Vice President, Head of Distribution & Business Development
- David Kline, Executive Vice President, Chief Technology Officer
- DeDe Lea, Executive Vice President, Global Government Affairs
- Sarah Kirshbaum Levy, Chief Operating Officer, Viacom Media Networks
- David Lynn, President, CEO, Viacom International Media Networks
- Chris McCarthy, President, MTV, VH1, CMT & Logo Group
- Scott M. Mills, President, BET Networks
- Sean Moran, Head of Ad Solutions
- Fukiko Ogisu, Executive Vice President and Chief People Officer
- Julia Phelps, Executive Vice President, Communications, Culture and Marketing
- Brian Robbins, President, Nickelodeon
- Tom Ryan, CEO, Pluto TV
- Kern Schireson, Chief Data Officer and Executive Vice President
- Marva Smalls, Executive Vice President and Global Head of Inclusion Strategy, Viacom; Executive Vice President, Public Affairs and Chief of Staff, Nickelodeon Group
- Jose Tolosa, Chief Transformation Officer
Board of Directors Viacom:
- Sumner Redstone, Chairman Emeritus
- Thomas J. May
- Shari Redstone
- Robert Bakish
- Christiana Falcone Sorrell
- Judith McHale,
- Ronald Nelson
- Deborah Norville
- Charles E. Phillips
- Nicole Seligman
In retrospect a long history. It began with CBS, the radio company founded in 1928, first owned by the Columbia Phonograph, then by the cigar baron Sam Paley. When CBS entered the TV business in the 1940s, it was nicknamed "The Tiffany Network" because of its high quality programming and for a long time in the 1950s and 60s it was the number one of the three major commercial US television networks (NBC, CBS, ABC). Despite many turbulences in the management, CBS was able to maintain its top position until the 1970s, but in 1973 it had to spin off its content syndication branch for antitrust reasons. Viacom was created, which was to take over the distribution of CBS programmes from then on.
Viacom subsequently acquired other TV and radio stations and in 1978 founded the pay TV station Showtime, which merged with the Warner Bros./Amex station The Movie Channel to form Showtime Networks (in 1986 Viacom also bought Warner's shares in Showtime). The package included the acquisition of a then insignificant, small music channel called MTV, which was to revolutionize the music industry and television over the next 25 years.
Then in 1987 Sumner Redstone appeared. He had recognized the potential of Viacom's investments at an early stage and acquired with National Amusements, Inc. (NAI), his nationwide cinema chain, 83 percent of Viacom shares. Under Redstone's leadership, Viacom set out on an expansion course. In 1990, the company initially bought King Entertainment (theme parks). This was followed in 1994 by the video distribution chain Blockbuster for 8.4 billion dollars and thus shares in the high-profile TV production company Spelling Entertainment, and in the same year, after a tough bidding war with Barry Diller and a consortium led by QVC, the Hollywood studio Paramount Pictures for 10 billion dollars. After the Paramount takeover, Viacom had to pay tribute to the high investments and, in order to reduce the debt, had to sell off companies, including the cable network and ten radio stations.
The missing link in the exploitation chain was only a nationwide TV network. In 1995, Viacom, together with Chris-Craft, first launched the United Paramount Network (UPN), and in 2000 took over the former parent company CBS. The takeover was preceded by the transformation of CBS into a pure media company: In one of the largest mergers in American broadcasting history to date, the electronics group Westinghouse acquired CBS in August 1995 for 5.4 billion US dollars. Westinghouse CEO Michael Jordan then began to restructure the group by divesting interests in the construction of nuclear power plants, turbine generators, and cooling and ventilation systems. Continuing old radio traditions, Jordan acquired Infinity Broadcasting Corporation, the leading radio chain in the United States. He also invested in the cable TV business, acquiring The Nashville Network and Country Music Television, among others. In 1997, Westinghouse became CBS Corp. which was then swallowed by Viacom for approximately $45 billion.
In the 1990s Viacom had to contend with massive problems. After a bitter legal dispute with Universal, it had to sell its shares in the most popular US cable station USA Networks. In addition, Blockbuster, the video chain bought as a cash cow, did not live up to the promise of its name. In 1997 the share price reached a record low. In the following years, the company recovered and went on another shopping spree. The acquisition of CBS created a corporate empire that, with a turnover of over 24 billion dollars, was one of the largest media groups in the world. The merger continued the common past of the two companies (Viacom, that was founded as a CBS spin-off).
After numerous investments in the Internet, Viacom acquired Black Entertainment Holdings (BET), a broadcasting group aimed at viewers of African-American origin, for three billion dollars in 2001. In 2004, Viacom spun off the faltering blockbuster video stores, whose core business was increasingly threatened by competition from new media. At the beginning of 2006, the group was again split into two. By the beginning of 2015 at the latest, however, falling viewer ratings, lower advertising revenues and looming disputes with cable network operators forced Viacom to take action. In contrast to the TV market leader CBS, the company was in a tangible crisis. There was already speculation about another CBS/Viacom merger.
It was Les Moonves, the long-standing chairman of the board of CBS Corporation and designated successor to Redstone, who was the main opponent of all merger plans. Moonves, however, was "out of the picture" after accusations of sexual harassment in a report in the New Yorker (July 2018) and his departure from CBS on 9.9.18. After that, nothing more stood in the way of another merger.
Sumner Murray Redstone (born 1923) liked to present himself as the embodiment of the American founder myth. His father moved from house to house as a linoleum dealer in Boston until he decided to run a drive-in cinema and changed the family name from Rothstein to Redstone. The son first went to Harvard, to law school, worked at the Department of Justice, and then settled as a lawyer before finally taking over the family business – the seed of his media empire. It was his tenacity, Redstone says in his autobiography, that ensured his survival during a hotel fire, hanging out of the window – the same tenacity with which he stood up to all odds in building his media empire. In 2020 Sumner Redstone is still here, now 96, decrepit ("severe cognitive deficits") and with an unpaid honorary presidency.
Sumner Redstone's daughter Shari (born 1954) is President of National Amusements Holding, under which CBS and Viacom are organized. She is in some ways the antithesis to her male colleagues in the media industry. Instead of Manhattan, the billionaire prefers the Boston suburbs. When she attends New England Patriots football games, she prefers to watch the game alone outside rather than together with celebrities in the VIP box. She has never been to an Oscar or Golden Globe award ceremony either. Instead, she prefers to pull the strings in the background, as she did in 2018 as the strong woman behind the mega-media merger.
Viacom divides its TV channels into three segments: Music & Entertainment (MTV, VH1, Comedy Central, CMT, the Paramount Channel and the British private channel Channel 5), Kids & Family (various Nickelodeon channels) and the Black Entertainment Television channel chain.
Film and TV production
With Paramount Pictures (and its daughters Vantage, Classics and Animation as well as Insurge Pictures, Nickelodeon Movies, MTV Films and Paramount Television) Viacom owns one of the largest Hollywood studios. Paramount's most commercially successful titles include "Titanic", the "Transformers" series and "Shrek".
With 30 television and 117 radio stations in 26 regions of the USA and various production companies, CBS is one of the largest US broadcasting chains. In the pay TV market, the company is present with Showtime, The Movie Channel and Flix, and operates the CBS Sports Network and the cable channel Smithsonian Channel.
CBS controls Simon & Schuster, one of the largest book publishers in the world. The publishing house includes the subsidiaries Pocket Books, Scribner, Gallery Books, Touchstone and Atria Books.
Commitment in Europe
ViacomCBS Networks International EMEA is a subsidiary of ViacomCBS with headquarters in London and Warsaw, active in 31 European countries. The company was founded in 1987 as MTV Networks Europe. Today VCIMN EMEA consists of the branches ViacomCBS International Media Networks UK, Northern & Eastern Europe and ViacomCBS International Networks Southern & Western Europe, Middle-East and Africa.
4.12.2019: Completion of the merger of CBS and Viacom, the amalgamation of the media groups listed separately since 2006. A premium content powerhouse is created. When it became known on 13 August 2019, Variety wrote of "the latest twist in the saga of the media giants". The chairman of the supervisory board of the new ViacomCBS Inc. will be Shari Redstone, previously vice-chairman of the board of both individual companies and for years the driving force behind the merger. According to the Guardian, she is now, at the latest, "a major force in male-dominated Hollywood".
As with all major mergers in recent years, the aim here is to strengthen the own position against the background of the streaming power of Netflix and others, resulting in millions of cable TV customers to leave cable networks ("cord-cutters"). Shari Redstone: "My father once said 'content is king,' and never has that been more true than today. 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.” The catalogue of the new ViacomCBS will include 140,000 series episodes and 3,600 film titles. 22 percent of all US television consumption would be channelled through ViacomCBS channels/platforms. Which would put it well ahead of Comcast (18%) and Disney (14%).
But that's not all. nbcnews.com, for example, writes about rumors that Shari Redstone has even bigger plans in the near future. "This merger is her start, not the finish line," says one insider. Compared to top corporations like AT&T and Disney, even the new "CBS/Viacom combo" is still relatively small. And Redstone could imagine "other sizable media operations". Potential takeover targets (according to CNBC): Sony and Discovery.