×
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.”

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

  • Hulu With Live TV Full Channel

    Hulu Hikes Price of Live-TV Bundle to $45 Monthly, Drops VOD Plan With Ads to $6

    Hulu wants to drive more customers to its ad-supported streaming package — lowering the official price from $7.99 to $5.99 per month — while it’s trying to turn a profit on the live-TV bundle with a price hike. Starting next month, Hulu With Live TV will increase by $5 per month, rising from $39.99 to [...]

  • patreon logo

    Patreon Now Has Over 3 Million Patrons, Expects to Pay $500M to Creators in 2019

    Membership services platform Patreon now has more than 3 million patrons who pay to support any of its over 100,000 creators every month, the company announced Wednesday. It’s also on track to pay more than $0.5 billion to creators this year. Patreon’s business is growing at a healthy rate. Payouts have been nearly doubling year-over-year [...]

  • YouTube TV

    YouTube TV Expanding to Cover Entire U.S., No International Launch Plans Right Now

    Soon, virtually anyone in the U.S. will be able to subscribe to YouTube TV, Google’s $40 monthly over-the-top internet television service aimed at cord-cutters. First launched in five cities in April 2016, YouTube TV has been available in the top 100 markets in the U.S., covering around 85% of households, for about a year. Starting [...]

  • BTF Media, Vince Gerardis Pact Sign

    NATPE: BTF Media, Vince Gerardis Pact for Six Projects (EXCLUSIVE)

    MIAMI — BTF Media, producer of breakout series “Hasta Que te Conocí” and “El Secreto de Selena,” is teaming with Vince Gerardis, a co-executive producer with George Martin on “Game of Thrones,” on a six-project co-production alliance. Spearheaded at BTF Media by founder-partner Ricardo Coeto, the agreement takes in the development and co-production of the [...]

  • Bob Bakish Variety Cover Story

    Viacom Has Acquired Pluto TV Streaming Service for $340 Million

    Viacom has acquired Los Angeles-based video streaming service Pluto TV for $340 million in cash, both companies confirmed Tuesday. “Today marks an important step forward in Viacom’s evolution, as we work to move both our company and the industry forward,” said Viacom CEO Bob Bakish in a statement. “Pluto TV’s unique and market-leading product, combined [...]

  • Bob PittmanVariety Entertainment Summit at CES,

    iHeartMedia Bankruptcy Plan Approved, CEO Bob Pittman's Contract Renewed

    A U.S. court has approved the bankruptcy plan of iHeartMedia, the biggest radio broadcaster in the U.S., which will shave down its crushing debt load and separate iHeartMedia from Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings. The company said chairman and CEO Bob Pittman and Rich Bressler, president, COO and CFO, have extended their contracts by four years. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content