Thursday, August 25, 2016

What Will Viacom Do With Paramount

If you haven't guessed after reading my blogs, I am a huge fan of content.  But content does not live in a vacuum and the yin and yang between content and distribution, adding a dash of marketing to the mix, makes the difference between success and failure.  Good content can help distribution and good distribution can help bad content; ideally, great content, easily discoverable and accessed matters.

So today we have Viacom, a media company with an ailing CEO, infighting of the relatives, a changing board, and other leadership issues struggling to fix all the wholes, from falling ratings at their cable networks to poor movie making choices at Paramount.  Its latest box office dud being Ben Hur with very little box office hits to mention.  What should Viacom do with Paramount, where once The Godfather, Indiana Jones, and Titanic all were released?

There has been some speculation that Viacom should sell some if not all its ownership in Paramount.  But I love content and believe it is the driver to growth for Viacom.  I believe selling makes little sense unless the plan is to give up and sell all of Viacom.  Paramount, with the right talent on board, can make great content again.  And great movies are currency to be sold over and over again across different distribution windows. 

But what is in the pipeline of future Paramount releases following the awful Ben Hur film starts to question the internal leadership and the choices they are making.  October is the release of the next Jack Reacher with Tom Cruise, a possible hit, but they are also banking on a number of other sequels including Transformer, Friday the 13th, and Terminator.  What happened to originality?  Even their latest release of Star Trek Beyond felt like an overly long TV plot rehash.  If there is change to make at Paramount's film unit, it starts at the top.

As to their TV department, Paramount also produced Grease: Live,  Criminal Mind, NCIS, and others.  And hopefully they will have more upcoming hits to mention.  With so much demand for TV content in the streaming world from Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon, Paramount should have no problem finding homes for their product, as long as the quality is there.  Like my concern with movies, rehashing old series and classic movies at the expense of originality does not seem like the best route to take. 

So what should Viacom do with Paramount?  I say keep it.  If your plan is to sell Viacom, it is more valuable as part of a bigger deal.  if the plan is to reinvigorate Viacom, Paramount is a perfect complement to their media empire.