Mulling A New CBS/Viacom Company: What Would Make It Work?

For many, the tussle over Viacom seems self-contained between Viacom senior executives/directors and National Amusements, its controlling shareholder.

But now one analyst believes, more than ever, CBS needs to be pulled into the picture -- as buyer.

Questions remain: What would be the true long-term vision of this combined company -- one part (CBS) that has had success in targeting older TV audiences, while the other (Viacom) still works in the kids, young millennial, Gen-Xer arena?

Michael Nathanson, media analyst for MoffettNathanson Research, believes the future of traditional media companies will be even more dependent on stronger leverage and clout -- something a combination of Viacom and CBS could create.

This would make sense especially when it comes to carriage issues with pay TV providers. For example, Viacom doesn’t own any broadcast TV station assets, something that CBS has in spades.  



Media analysts believe new digital media TV service platforms -- over-the-top services -- will need the basis of broadcast TV networks and stations. CBS has been the leading TV network in terms of overall viewers for years.

For its part, Viacom still commands a large share of overall TV viewership -- 14% share, when looking at live program plus seven day time-shifted viewing for their 15 TV networks, according to MoffettNathanson Research. Viacom is just behind Disney-ABC’s 18% and NBCU’s 17%; that’s a plus.

For sure, CBS is prudent when it comes to investments, such as buying into Pop -- a joint venture cable network with Lions Gate Entertainment, the former TV Guide cable TV network -- as well as cutting costs by partnering with Turner when it comes to the NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament.

On the downside, CBS believes when it comes to shifts in advertising, cable networks, more than broadcast, have been hugely affected by ad dollars moving to digital media platforms. So why move more heavily into cable?

Many will point to Viacom, still with its major TV brand, MTV, having lost a bit of its luster among millennials and Gen-Xers, as those consumers have shifted some media attention to the likes of social media and other digital content.

What could CBS do to pull back some of those young TV viewers for Viacom TV-media properties? CBS is great at what it does when it comes to producing broad-scale, premium TV content.

Since CBS has a decent record for producing TV programming, perhaps it could pivot Viacom for better talent and creatives in making younger-skewed content.

Good news: CBS has found -- along with other traditional producers -- that TV success isn’t always a black or white thing.  

Creative can take a different road with different angles. For example, when CBS-owned content moves to digital media platforms, it gets -- yes, you guessed it -- more young TV viewers.

1 comment about "Mulling A New CBS/Viacom Company: What Would Make It Work?".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, June 20, 2016 at 4:47 p.m.

    Ironic as Viacom was once the CBS syndication arm, isn't it?

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