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CBS remarries Viacom to become a media powerhouse

Ever since Netflix virtually decapitated the cable industry, mergers and acquisitions (M&A) within the media industry are becoming a means of survival. Now, there are more media power couples — AT&T and Warner Media; Disney and Fox; Comcast NBC Universal and Sky. M&A is helping them to regain and expand their media library, a crucial success factor in the new era of OTT offerings.

The second marriage between the two media giants CBS and Viacom bore similarities to the rest of the M&As, except that their combined market capitalisation is valued at US$30 billion — a dwarf compared to Disney’s $247 billion and Netflix’s $137 billion.

Once merged, the new entity will be renamed as ViacomCBS and it would be controlled by National Amusements, owned by Sumner Redstone and his daughter, Shari. In the joint statement released, it said that the synergy would result in cost savings of up to US$500 million and extend its global reach into Britain, Argentina and Australia.

Shari Redstone, vice-chair of the Boards of Directors of CBS and Viacom, said: “I am excited to see these two great companies come together so that they can realise the incredible power of their combined assets.

“My father once said ‘content is king’ — and never has that been truer than today.”

Indeed, quality content is a popular business model for traditional media companies; and the duo is also looking for tools to drive deeper consumer engagement and monetisation.

The company has created a three-part strategy to ‘growth hacking’ in the evolving media landscape: accelerate direct-to-consumer strategy; enhance distribution and advertising opportunities; and create a leading producer and licensor of premium content to third-party platforms globally.

For instance, CBS All Access will serve as an SVoD platform, while PlutoTV, a free streaming TV, will serve the demands of AVoD.

Redstone added: “Through CBS and Viacom’s shared passion for premium content and innovation, we will establish a world-class, multi-platform media organisation that is well- positioned for growth in a rapidly transforming industry.”

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