When Sumner Redstone decided to split his empire into two media companies, CBS and Viacom, the initial thought was likely that broadcast was holding back the cable side of the business. But fast forward ten years and Les Moonves was able to take his portion, CBS Inc., and watch it grow and prosper while the cable arm called Viacom has not. Can synergy now save Viacom?
Well, now that Shari Redstone, daughter of Sumner, has gotten control, many believe that her next is to merge the companies together. Viacom certainly needs the help and perhaps an overhaul of talent making the current strategic decisions. Paramount has lost its mojo, and the cable nets are no longer relevant. Need proof, just watch the recent MTV VMA music awards. Not many tuned in from last year and the numbers had a major decline. It was a performance show, not an awards show, and the performances overall were meh. Yes to spectacle, no to real singing. Most seemed to be karaoke and less live.
And while merging CBS and Viacom makes sense, it also requires the buy-in of CBS CEO Leslie Moonves. If he is not onboard, then the odds against a positive synergistic combination seems low. I suspect if Moonves had his say, he would buy just Paramount and sell off the cable nets. Unfortunately, he may not have a choice and Redstone may force him to it. As to his power to push back or leave if his back is against the wall. That may also be an option.