After seeing its profits decline 71% in the most recent quarter, Viacom last week presented CBS with its dowry: a list of companies under the Viacom umbrella and their programming performances.
The presentation detailed how MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and other Viacom companies have been performing recently, CNBC reported, and now Viacom is waiting for CBS to get on its knee and propose. Last month, both companies hired investment bankers and legal consultants to advise on a potential merger, which will undo the decision the companies made to split a decade ago.
Bob Bakish, Viacom’s new acting president and CEO, declined to provide details about how he plans to improve the culture within Viacom and with affiliates, Reuters reported. The company has struggled recently with declining advertising revenue and ratings.
In a statement earlier this month, Viacom’s former interim president and CEO Tom Dooley said the company ended the 2016 fiscal year “well into our transition,” pointing to the growth of Viacom’s data program, stabilized ratings and ongoing rebuild at Paramount.
“In addition, our international media networks business is stronger than ever, and we will continue to broaden our footprint and apply our successful strategies to additional territories in attractive markets,” Dooley said. “With new leadership across the company, continued investments in new content, technologies and targeted acquisitions and an expanded Board of Directors, I have great confidence in Viacom’s next phase, as the company explores the exciting possibilities ahead."
Combined, the two companies have a market capitalization of around $40 billion.
In the online video realm, CBS has enjoyed noteworthy success with its U.S. direct-to-consumer streaming business. The company counts about 2 million subscribers on its CBS All Access and Showtime OTT services combined.
BET Play, Viacom’s first direct-to-consumer offering, is not quite up to speed with CBS. If CBS moves forward with a merger bid, Viacom stands to gain significant expertise in launching direct-to-consumer options.
“Viacom is definitely behind the curve on OTT when compared with some of its peers,” Michael Goodman, director of digital media strategies for Strategy Analytics, told FierceBroadcasting earlier this month. “From a programming standpoint, it actually does give [Viacom] viable over-the-top properties. Certainly CBS, I would argue, is a success. Showtime is a success. So [CBS] could give [Viacom] that blueprint that would help feed into that marketplace.”