GM Thought Of The Week: CBS and Viacom merger creates new content powerhouse
The combined brands of Viacom and CBS will include CBS, Nickelodeon, MTV, Comedy Central, Paramount and Channel Five. The merger will result in the joint venture owning 750+ series and over 43,000 hours of episodic content, airing in 183 countries, in 45 languages and with production capabilities spanning 5 continents.
The content world has changed significantly since the separation of the two giants Viacom and CBS back in 2006. There is increased competition faced from mergers between key players, coupled with the emergence of new platforms such as Netflix and Apple. The re-merger will allow the newly formed business to compete more effectively with increased breadth of content, more weight in negotiations and cost savings across the back office of the business.
But what will the increased breadth of content deliver and how will the children’s space be affected?
The news comes just a week after CBS announced that their digital subscription service in the US, CBS All Access, will carry children’s content for the first time. In addition to CBS All Access children’s content, Viacom CBS will now have the opportunity to host new content from Nickelodeon and Channel 5′s preschool block Milkshake!. This will further strengthen their family offer alongside deals made with Boat Rocker and DHX Media. With children’s content renowned for keeping people paying for SVOD services this will be a welcome addition to increase the breadth of children’s content on the platform. Will the deals with content creators DHX Media and Boat Rocker also be extended to broaden the content portfolio on the Viacom children’s station set, Nickelodeon, Nick Toons and Nick Jr?
With the content market continuing to evolve at a rapid pace it would appear only a joint venture approach provides the scale required to compete effectively in the ever-expanding array of subscription services. Later this year we are promised a subscription service launch from the TimeWarner and AT&T merger. Maximising on content from both Disney and Fox, Disney+ has a scheduled launch date of 12th November 2019. Even the UK counterparts are getting in on the action with ITV and BBC working towards a joint streaming service launch of BritBox. So, will ViacomCBS continue to focus their efforts on All Access or will a new joint venture streaming platform be on the cards with a more global strategy?
On the note of mergers and acquisitions we must also consider how this relationship may affect the ad sales deal in place between Viacom and Sky in the UK. Comcast bought Sky in 2018 and whilst little has changed to date Comcast and ViacomCBS are certainly in competition with each other in the US. To prevent a conflict of interest long term we could see removal of the ad sales rights from Sky and movement back in house to Viacom with a more varied portfolio of stations/websites at their disposal.
The merger certainly provides opportunities for ViacomCBS to compete more effectively. We may see new content appearing alongside our old favourites on Nicklodeon and NJR, CBS All Access may rebrand extending its reach across seas and Sky has the potential to lose their dominance in the UK Children’s ad market if sales are taken back in house. Only time will tell where they decide to exert their joint power.