Viacom-CBS Would Deliver Most Viewers Of Any TV Company

A merger of Viacom and CBS would lift the combined companies' stats — earning more total viewership than all major TV-based companies. However, Viacom-CBS would still be behind in other areas, such as national TV advertising revenues and affiliate fees.

News of a possible re-merging of the two companies arose from reports last week.

MoffettNathanson Research says a Viacom-CBS combination would give the new company a 23% share of all Nielsen live program-plus-seven days of time-shifted viewing. That's more than second-place Disney-ABC Television at 18% and NBCUniversal at 17%.

For U.S affiliate revenues — cable carriage fees and retransmission fees — Viacom-CBS would control a 14% share, tied for fourth place with Time Warner. Disney leads all media companies here with a massive 31% stake — in large part due to high carriage fees at ESPN. 21st Century Fox is at 16%; NBCU at 15%.

National TV revenues would place the new Viacom-CBS company in second place — 21% of all U.S. national TV advertising dollars, with NBCU at 26% and Disney is at 19%.

In September 2016, Shari Redstone, vice chair of both Viacom and CBS, pushed for a re-merger of both companies, which split up in 2005. Reports suggested Les Moonves, chairman/CEO of CBS, who initially resisted the plan, is now open to the idea.

Michael Nathanson, senior media analyst at MoffettNathanson, writes: “This should be no surprise, given his comments in November on CNBC about the need for scale in the fast-evolving media landscape ... For the past decade, we have believed that CBS and Viacom would be more valuable if they were combined.”  

In the past, says Nathanson, CBS has argued that owning just two main networks is more valuable in a skinny bundle world of TV network distributors, and that cable networks — such as the ones with Viacom — have been victims of digital ad dollar migration.

But times have changed — especially given massive media consolidation —  in the face of growing digital video competitors.

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