×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Viacom CEO Bob Bakish: Mobile Will Be a Catalyst for the TV Industry

Viacom CEO Bob Bakish isn’t ready to celebrate victory just yet. “I wouldn’t ever say mission accomplished, and certainly not in the changing world we are living in,” Bakish said during his keynote conversation at Variety’s CES Summit Wednesday.

That’s despite the fact that Bakish has overcome quite a few challenges since taking over the helm of the media company in late 2016. “The company was in the need of a turn-around,” he recalled. Two years ago, Paramount lost a whopping $0.5 billion, and Viacom was struggling on other fronts as well.

Two years in, the company’s movie business is doing a lot better. “Paramount is in a fundamentally better place,” he said. This is also manifesting itself in the bottom line: “We’ve had seven straight quarters of earnings improvement,” Bakish said.

So what’s next for Viacom? A major merger perhaps, possibly the long-rumored partnership with CBS? Bakish seemed dismissive. “Our plan is fundamentally based on the assets we have,” he said. “We don’t need a transformational deal.” Instead, Viacom was focusing on smaller deals through acquisitions of companies like Vidcon and Awesomeness.

Instead of merging to compete, Viacom is looking to diversify its distribution. “We are active in the OTT space,” he said. “We are also active in the SVOD space through our third-party production business.” A growing part of this strategy will be to lean into mobile, said Bakish. “Mobile distribution really is the catalyst that will turn this whole decline of television argument on its head.”

Popular on Variety

One of the factors that will drive mobile forward will be 5G, but Bakish also looked further ahead to driverless, 5G-connected cars. “The last vestige of video-free consumption is the automobile,” he said. In the future, cars could add many more viewing minutes, just like the bedroom TV did many years ago. “That’s coming,” quipped Bakish.

Bakish added that the company was also looking to strike new distribution deals, including its partnership with Facebook to stream MTV shows, to keep the company’s brands “top of mind” for consumers.

And finally, Bakish also hailed the new platforms as a frontier for advanced advertising, calling out Dish and Sling TV as examples. Dish was still mostly serving up ads the traditional way, whereas Sling’s ad business is a lot more targeted. “All the Sling ads are dynamic,” he said.

More Digital

  • IRM_DAY032_110117_0719538.raf

    'The Irishman' Was Watched by 26 Million Households in First Week, Netflix Says

    Netflix has dribbled out some viewing data on Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman”: The epically long mobster film was watched by 26.4 million Netflix households worldwide in the first seven days — to at least 70% completion, according to content chief Ted Sarandos. In the first 28 days, Netflix expects about 40 million account holders to [...]

  • United States Attorney for the Southern

    'Jeffrey Epstein Didn’t Kill Himself' Is Peak Meme After Art Basel Prank 

    From Bye, Felicia to The Dress, memes have provided the ideal discursive forum for our ever dwindling attention spans. On this side of the century, most memes have been byte-sized digital novelties that fizzle away without manifesting in the meatspace. But as the gap between URL and IRL draws closer, memes are spilling into real [...]

  • History peter sagal curiosity stream

    Curiosity Stream Grows Subscriber Base to More Than 10 Million

    In five years’ time, cable pioneer John Hendricks has assembled a subscriber base of more than 10.5 million for Curiosity Stream, the niche factual programming streaming service that has been successful in getting picked up by cable operators in the U.S. and abroad. Hendricks, the founder of Discovery Channel, and Curiosity Stream president-CEO Clint Stinchcomb, [...]

  • portal tv

    Facebook's Portal TV Gets Amazon Prime Video, FandangoNow, Sling TV, Deezer

    Facebook is bringing additional media services to its Portal TV device: Portal owners got access to subscription video content Amazon’s Prime Video service and Sling TV Tuesday. Portal now also offers access to FandangoNow’s on-demand movies and TV shows, and Deezer’s music subscription service. Facebook launched Portal TV in September; the TV-attached streaming device with [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content