TV-Movie Companies Keep Considering Consolidation

Worries about media consolidation continue. But perhaps this is more about just TV network-based companies buying similar groups.

A merger of movie studios --  one big and one mid-size -- might be less of a big deal, raising fewer red flags. Speaking at the  Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference in San Francisco,  Jeffrey Katzenberg, chief executive of DreamWorks Animation, said he “fantasizes” about merging his company with that of Paramount Pictures.

Recently Viacom, owner of Paramount Pictures, said it was exploring opportunities to selling a stake in the movie studio.

We have seen this before -- in part. Over a year ago Time Warner fended off a possible takeover from 21st Century Fox. Time Warner owns the Warner Bros. studio; 21st Century Fox, the Fox Filmed Entertainment unit.



But those deals would have combined two broad-based media companies where TV networks contribute a much bigger share to its overall revenues.  

TV production has been of greater emphasis for Dreamworks recently, since it provides movie studios a steadier stream of revenue and profit. Typically movie studios business can have wild ups and down in revenue/profit quarterly financial reports.

While the powerful Dreamworks had some major flops last year with “Turbo” and “Penguins of Madagascar” -- it has done better since. “Home” pulled in nearly $400 million in worldwide box office revenue; this January it did about the same with “Kung Fu Panda 3."

Paramount has had its own troubles. Still, its stronger film business would support DreamWorks’ animated theatrical efforts.

One might have thought Paramount Pictures resources should have been a bigger help for fueling Viacom’s TV networks -- MTV, Nickelodeon, VH1, Spike, and others.  But this Paramount is virtually all about movies. CBS owns the former Paramount Pictures’ TV business -- now CBS Television Studios.

Where might Paramount Pictures find a home? Naturally, CBS would seem to be a good fit.  That said, CBS is more cautious when it comes to the theatrical business. Its CBS Films distributes modestly budgeted movies. Paramount’s swing-for-the-fences, mostly wide-release films would be a different business culture for CBS.

But media mergers may still be in the air -- even as there are some obstacles from media/entertainment shareholders in terms of expected growth. Greg Maffei, chief executive officer of Liberty Media Corp., said at the same Morgan Stanley conference: “There’s a lot of value to be created through that kind of consolidation.”

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