M&E Connections

Merged CBS, Viacom Will Be ‘Well-Equipped to Take Advantage’ of Evolving Marketplace: CBS Exec

The recombined CBS and Viacom will have a massive content library that will be able to take advantage of an entertainment marketplace that continues to evolve, according to David Nevins, CBS chief creative officer and Showtime Networks CEO and chairman

The content that CBS and Viacom currently offer separately is “highly complementary” with “not a lot of overlap,” he said Sept. 12 at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2019 Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference in Beverly Hills.

“We’re pretty well-equipped to take advantage as the marketplace evolves and that’s one of the big drivers of this recombination” that he said has been “a long time in coming.”

These are two “great content factories that will supply both our own platforms and other peoples’ as well,” and, “on a fundamental level, that scale helps us address a rapidly evolving but very hungry market,” he told attendees.

This is an “interestingly evolving ecosystem” in which “the traditional … bundled world is not going away and I think it’s probably going away slower than some people think and there’s a lot of opportunities” out there for the merged company, he said. If anything, he predicted: “There’s going to be a lot of rebundling going on.”

The merged CBS and Viacom will have the “flexibility” to partner with other companies and its content will be featured in “bundles that other people aren’t going to want to be in” because it will be a “largely platform agnostic” company, he said.

The company’s strategy will be to “maximize the value and the revenue that we can generate out of our content, be that on our platforms or others,” he told attendees, adding that as competing media companies “sort of pull back behind a walled garden, I think that’s a sort of huge opportunity for us.” The merged media and entertainment giant’s “competitive advantage is we are a pure-play content company [and] we’re not trying to drive a telephony business or a hardware business, or a retail business,” he said, clearly referring to rivals including Amazon, Apple and AT&T’s WarnerMedia

The “two obvious holes” in the CBS content mix, meanwhile, have been feature films and kid programming, and the addition of Viacom will be “very helpful at addressing that,” he said.

Meanwhile, “cross-promotional possibilities are very enticing,” he said, providing as one example, the fact that CBS and Viacom each have its own music awards TV shows.

The possibility of Paramount or Nickelodeon content on the All Access streaming services, meanwhile, is “kind of exciting … we’ll see if we can deploy [that] in the near future,” he said.

CBS continues to try building the Star Trek brand, he also said. “We want it to get younger and we want to get it more relevant to people,” he told attendees, adding Viacom and CBS together can form a “virtuous eco-system” and, “if you’re smart about it, you can create a lot of value.”

On the over-the-top (OTT) streaming video front, he said CBS has had a “good foray where we’ve made big strides into a more streaming world – direct to consumer – over the last almost five years now” with CBS All Access and Showtime OTT subscription service. “Those efforts are incredibly bolstered by the content and platforms of Viacom,” he said.

Of the company’s international OTT opportunities, he noted All Access already launched in Canada and Australia. “We’re thinking about all the global markets,” he said, adding: “There’s nothing I’m really ready to talk about today. But I would expect that pretty quickly, once the integration happens, that will be one of the early things that we announce because I think … we have the ability to offer a very robust offering with a lot of diversity and speaking to a lot of different segments.”