Monday, August 22, 2016

Viacom's Future

Did Sumner Redstone win back his own company?  Was former CEO Philippe Dauman not following the directions of its top shareholder?  Does the 93 year old billionaire know or even care what is going on?  And does forcing Dauman out give either Sumner or daughter Shari back the control they need?  Too many questions as we watch a company wrestle with under performing cable networks and a movie studio shooting blanks, including its latest release of the reboot of Ben Hur.  Is it possible to right this ship?

Of the many questions being asked, many wonder if this means that Viacom will combine with CBS again into one company.  Many believe that it is CBS and its CEO Les Moonves that want to stay clear of this merger although Redstone may have different plans.  The other more immediate question is whether to sell off pieces, especially Paramount, an idea said to be pushed by Dauman.  And then there is the more nuts and bolts questions surrounding each of their cable networks that require more hands on work to regroup and regrow.  Each channel, MTV, VH1, Comedy Central have lost sight of the adage that what gets you to the top doesn't keep you there.  Tastes, shows, hosts, technology, etc. all continue to change and networks need to constantly adapt to remain valuable to the cable line-up.  There is a lot to fix at these nets.

Certainly the leadership fighting at the top of Viacom may have led to a loss of focus at each business.  With that issue finally handled, the focus can be put back onto each business unit.  First things first, morale must be improved with all employees knowing that no jobs are at risk and that they are safe to suggest, challenge, confirm, and execute on strategic plans.  Innovation, experimentation, thinking out of the box, and staying open to new can possibly help Viacom re-emerge as an important media player.  Or it will all be merged with CBS and become another leader's problem.