CBS & Viacom Strike Deal To Recombine After 13 Years As Separate Companies
CBS and Viacom are set to reunite. Mergers in Hollywood are nothing new. The biggest one lately was Disney buying all of 21st Century Fox’s entertainment properties. Mergers can be positive in a licensing sense, as things can now happen that were previously impossible (like the X-Men sharing a screen with the Avengers, for example). On the other hand, a merger means one less place for things to get pitched and picked up.
CBS and Viacom were once the same company, but were split in 2006 by Sumner Redstone. It made financial sense to do so then, but also made licensing of certain properties trickier. They got through the red tape, and CBS became "the most watched network", while Viacom had many successful blockbusters through Paramount Pictures.
THR reports that the transaction is expected to close at the end of the year, pending all of the necessary approvals. Both companies struck a deal on Tuesday to recombine. Redstone’s daughter, Shari, will serve as chair of the newly minted “ViacomCBS Inc”. Being merged means together they have a 22% share if the TV audience in the US, which is larger than Disney, Comcast, Fox, and WarnerMedia among others. ViacomCBS will have over 140,000 TV episodes and 3,600 films at their disposal. Deadline adds that Bob Bakish, who will run the merged company as CEO, mentioned on an investor call that the two big properties that will benefit from this merger are Star Trek and Mission: Impossible.
Star Trek: Enterprise in 2005 was the last thing in the franchise before the split. After the split, it was ruled that any characters that were to be used in the movies by Viacom (Paramount) could not be used on the TV side of things. With the movie universe seemingly up in the air, CBS was allowed to bring Spock to Star Trek: Discovery on their streaming service. Now with Star Trek: Picard gearing up to start early next year, the world of Trek can expand even more.
The Spock situation seems similar to how Supergirl on The CW is allowed to use the character of Superman every now and then, but he is mostly reserved for the big screen. With the merger, it now seems like Star Trek can do the same thing Marvel is gearing up to do: Tell the same story over many different mediums. As for Mission: Impossible, the blockbuster movie franchise started as a television show before it became Tom Cruise’s vehicle to do insane stunts. While it is doubtful that Cruise would do a series, there is now the potential for a series of spinoff missions starring some of the many co-stars Cruise has accumulated over his 23 year stint as Ethan Hunt. CBS and Viacom produced great entertainment as a singular company, and there is no reason to think that won’t happen again.