×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

ViacomCBS Leaders Talk NFL Negotiations, Streaming Wars and Merger Focus

Viacom and CBS aim to prosper in the streaming arena by covering both ends of the marketplace, blending Viacom’s focus on ad-supported platforms with CBS’ strong head start on subscribers for CBS All Access and Showtime.

ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish and incoming ViacomCBS chief financial officer Christina Spade outlined the combined company’s vision for how it will best monetize the $13 billion in content spending across the two companies that are expected to complete the merger agreement announced last month by year’s end. The two spoke Tuesday at Goldman Sachs’ annual Communacopia investor conference in New York.

“We both have experience executing” in the streaming arena, Bakish said, pointing to Viacom’s acquisition this year of the Pluto TV platform and the more than 8 million subscribers that CBS has drawn to All Access and Showtime’s standalone offering since 2014 and 2015 respectively.

“Now that we can bring them together, we can bring people in through the free service and some will only stay in free. Others we will have the opportunity to upsell them to the pay product,” Bakish said. “We can return them to the free eco-system if they decide to pause (subscription services) and re-market to them when their situation changes. We think that is a powerful idea.”

Spade touched on what she sees as the timing of the next round of NFL TV rights negotiations. Bakish addressed the overheated rumors about ViacomCBS’ appetite for additional acquisitions after the $13 billion stock-swap agreement is complete.

CBS expects to begin talks in earnest with the NFL after the league completes its tricky negotiations on a new collective bargaining agreement with the NFL Players Assn., Spade said. Those talks are underway now for a contract to succeed the deal that expires after the 2020 NFL season.

“Would they like a large check? Of course they would,” Bakish added. He said ViacomCBS heads into the NFL talks with a strengthened hand thanks to the merger opening possibilities for promotion and marketing across a broader portfolio of channels. “We bring broadcast reach, first-class creative capabilities, young market reach to complement the older reach and international reach,” Bakish said. “That’s a very substantial package as we move forward.”

Bakish poured cold water on speculation that ViacomCBS would jump back into the merger and acquisition fray in a big way soon for a target such as Discovery Inc. or Lionsgate.

“We just did our transformational deal,” Bakish said. “There’s no other deal in the market that we see that we have to do. Of course we’ll look. But we’ll only do a deal that fits with the strategy.” He cited the company’s interest in assets that would bring more international reach, or a significant library of content and IP or technological assets for Viacom’s Advanced Marketing Solutions ad sales unit.

“We don’t need to do any other deal. We’re very focused on integrating these assets,” Bakish said. “We’ll only be opportunistic in a highly disciplined way.”

More Biz

  • Katie Couric Sheryl Sandberg

    Katie Couric Steamrolls Sheryl Sandberg in Roving Vanity Fair Summit Interview

    Sending a jolt through a luxurious and excessively polite afternoon in Beverly Hills, veteran journalist Katie Couric delivered a relentless series of hardball questions to Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg on Tuesday. Speaking in conversation at the sixth annual Vanity Fair New Establishment summit at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, Couric’s [...]

  • Jussie Smollett

    Judge Refuses to Dismiss Chicago's Lawsuit Against Jussie Smollett

    A federal judge on Tuesday refused to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the City of Chicago, which is seeking to recoup investigative costs from former “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett. Judge Virginia M. Kendall rejected Smollett’s contention that he should not be made to pay $130,000 in police overtime costs, plus $260,000 in damages, because he [...]

  • It Is 'Unlikely’ That PledgeMusic Artists

    It Is 'Unlikely’ That PledgeMusic Artists and Creditors Will Be Paid, Receiver Says

    PledgeMusic, the direct-to-fan marketplace that went out of business earlier this year, was more than $7.4 million in debt when it entered liquidation, and its receiver says it is “unlikely” that artists and others owed money by the company will be paid, according to a report from the bank-appointed receiver. “I do not anticipate that [...]

  • Lori Loughlin

    Lori Loughlin Charged With Bribery in College Admissions Case

    Actress Lori Loughlin and her husband, designer Mossimo Giannulli, were indicted on a charge of conspiring to commit federal programs bribery on Tuesday, in connection with allegations that they paid $500,000 to get their daughters into the University of Southern California. Loughlin and Giannulli already faced charges of conspiring to commit mail fraud and money [...]

  • Gary Newman

    Fox TV Group Alum Gary Newman Joins Attention Capital as Executive Partner

    Former Fox TV Group chairman Gary Newman has joined Attention Capital, the startup venture launched earlier this year by another Fox alumnus, Joe Marchese. Newman and another media biz veteran, Lisa Gersh, were named Tuesday as executive partners of Attention Capital. Newman will focus on acquisition and investment opportunities. Marchese, who previously headed advertising sales [...]

  • Clio-Brand-Storytelling-Award

    Clio Awards, Brand Storytelling Team to Launch 'Storytelling for Good' Award

    Clio, the international advertising awards competition, announced Clio Brand Storytelling, a new program in partnership with Brand Storytelling, a media company exclusively built to support and inspire investment in the practice of brand-funded content. The inaugural Storytelling for Good Award will celebrate branded entertainment and content that promotes or creates awareness for a cause, foundation, [...]

  • Matt Lauer Kurt Sutter

    From Sutter to Lauer, Hollywood Sees a Flurry of Letters From the Edge (Column)

    Let’s talk about the whacked-out letters that hit the media sphere in the past eight days. One was that bizarre mea culpa dropped Oct. 17 by the no-holds-barred showrunner Kurt Sutter in response to getting canned from his series “Mayans MC.” No stranger to complaints of unprofessional behavior on his sets over the years, Sutter [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content