After the closing bell on Wall Street, the leadership of the merged entity that will be called ViacomCBS held a conference call with the investment press where they touted the benefits of the merger of CBS and Viacom, announced earlier in the day. Mixed in with the corporate jargon was some talk of interest to Star Trek fans.
Leveraging Star Trek
As noted in the announcement, reuniting the TV and film rights for Star Trek and Mission: Impossible were both cited as rationales for the merger of CBS and Viacom. New ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish expanded a bit on this in his discussion with the investment press when touting the combined library of the newly merged company:
We will have one of the largest libraries of iconic intellectual property, including more than 140,000 premium television episodes and over 3,600 film titles. Notably, this library reunites TV and film rights for some of our most popular franchises, including Star Trek and Mission: Impossible. And we see significant potential to better leverage these and other properties across platforms and assets, including film, television, live events, recreation and consumer products.
And TrekMovie isn’t the only outlet taking note of the re-unification of Star Trek. This afternoon, Hollywood trade Deadline ran a post-merger announcement piece titled “‘Star Trek’ Poised To Become New Marvel As CBS & Viacom Merger Brings Franchise Under One Fleet,” which took note of Bakish’s mention of leveraging Trek. Deadline also offers this analysis:
The new multi-platform possibilities of corporate upsizing may mean Trek could soon be making a giant leap in its aspirations, not unlike the one in the 1980s and 1990s that elevated Star Wars from a blockbuster film franchise to the ubiquitous, wall-to-wall cultural force that it represents today. As we all know, money has a way of enhancing a proposition. In that vein, the Star Trek braintrust has already acknowledged that the animation push is viewed as a way to enhance the brand’s toy business and to win the hearts, minds and allowance money of kids – another page from a now Disney-owned that Lucasfilm used to masterful effect to build fan allegiance for characters that weren’t in the original film trilogy.
Viacom content could be coming to All Access soon
One beneficiary of the merger could be CBS’ subscription streaming services, including CBS All Access, home of Star Trek: Discovery and other upcoming Star Trek shows. During the same call CBS CEO Joseph Ianniello discussed how the deal will help plans for the growth of these services:
This deal will allow us to share our premium content and marque brands in order to drive growth… Just think about adding content from Nickelodeon, BET, MTV, and Comedy Central to CBS All Access, and Paramount movies to Showtime.
Adding content from those libraries could greatly increase the available content for CBS All Access, helping it compete in the “streaming wars,” especially with competition coming from new services from Disney, NBC Universal, and Warner Media. Nickelodeon content could be especially important facing off with Disney+. Just last week CBS announced they were adding kids’ content to CBS All Access with a new deal with DHX Media which would include 1,000 episodes of library content and new episodes of Danger Mouse and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. Ianniello noted that the merger puts them in a whole new league: “We were talking before about 1,000 hours of kids programming, well now we have the best in the world with the number one kid’s brand in the world.”
There is also a Star Trek connection to all of this since CBS is developing an animated kids’ Trek cartoon for Nickelodeon. Given what Ianniello discussed today, there is a good chance the yet-to-be-named Star Trek animated show for Nickelodeon may end up on All Access as well.
Bakish also noted that CBS library content is also expected to move to Pluto TV, the free ad-supported streaming service Viacom purchased earlier this year. The service has no original programming, however, Viacom has already started to leverage the platform with library content from its MTV and Comedy Central libraries. It’s possible that the back catalog of classic Star Trek shows could end up on Pluto as well.
While the announcement stated that the merger is expected to close at the end of the year, Bakish indicated some of this new leveraging of content back and forth could start sooner, saying:
There is nothing at all preventing us from moving forward in terms of beginning to unlock that opportunity in the very near future. Obviously, it is something we will build on over time, but there is some low-hanging fruit there that we will seek to pick quite soon.
This is a developing story; keep up with all the updates at TrekMovie.com.