Media giants CBS and Viacom have agreed to terms to conclude an on-again off-again merger, reuniting the pair after a 13-year split.
The combined entity called ViacomCBS, is valued at $30 billion, and will contain the entirety of the CBS production and distribution network, and all of Viacom’s properties including Paramount movie and television, all of the MTV properties, Nickelodeon, and much more. Bob Bakish will become the CEO of the combined entity.
Acting Chief Executive Joe Ianniello is expected run anything with a CBS brand on it. Shari Redstone, daughter of Sumner Redstone who executed the split, served as the vice chairman of both companies, and will become chairman of the board for the combined company.
The move has been positioned by insiders as a tactical one, to better compete with Disney and similar media giants who have invested billions in streaming —including Apple.
At present, it isn’t clear what will happen specifically to CBS All Access and to Viacom’s competing Pluto TV. The tentpole shows for CBS All Access are the “NCIS” franchise, and a host of “Star Trek” shows which will be reunited with the “Star Trek” Paramount movie productions under one roof. Pluto TV was purchased by Viacom in January 2019 for $340 million, and is mostly free with ad support, drawing from Viacom produced shows and 100 other live streaming cable channels distributed under license.
The combined deal is expected to close before January 2020. National Amusements holds controlling ownership in both companies, simplifying the merger.