Big Media Mergers And Key Executive Exit Point To Possible Changes At Paramount+

The late 2019 re-merger of Viacom and CBS resulted in this year’s re-launch of CBS All Access as Paramount+, a broader offering to compete in the growing streaming wars. But new developments in the last weeks point to the possibility of more changes for the home of the Star Trek Universe on television.

Analysts see merger possibilities for ViacomCBS and Paramount+

May saw a new round of big media mergers. Last week Amazon finalized an $8.5B deal to buy MGM, giving the company ownership of a catalog of 4,000 films and 17,000 television episodes to add to its Amazon Prime Video service. It also puts the media and retail giant in control of a lot of franchises including Stargate, Rocky, and James Bond. And this comes one week after AT&T announced a deal to merge WarnerMedia with Discovery which will include bringing together HBO Max and Discovery+ to create a “stronger competitor in global streaming,” according to AT&T’s CEO.

And this latest wave of merging is leaving Hollywood and Wall Street wondering who is next for making a big deal. Many analysts are looking at the various studios and streaming wars combatants not named Netflix or Disney as possible candidates for more mergers and/or acquisitions. A Bank of America analyst sees ViacomCBS as a possible takeover target, including suggesting Comcast (who own NBCUniversal and Peacock) as a possible buyer, with some assets being spun off to avoid regulatory issues.

And in a report issued Tuesday, a Wells Fargo analyst concluded that streaming “is a content arms race, and scale is most necessary… More is better and we expect more Media deals that favor content scale.” The same report looked at the possibility of ViacomCBS joining Warner/Discovery, or a multi-merger with ViacomCBS, Sony Studios, Lionsgate and AMC Networks. Of ViacomCBS the analyst wrote:

“Even if curtailing licensing and folding in Showtime OTT, the recent mergers of Discovery and WarnerMedia and Amazon and MGM means tougher competition ahead. In our view it’s worth considering all the options especially since scaled studios are now proven to be rare gems.”

As for ViacomCBS, last week the CFO told a media conference the company is currently happy with its competitive position and didn’t see any must-have partnerships, adding “we’ve been very focused on transitioning our assets to help drive streaming.” But don’t be surprised if ViacomCBS gets involved in more mergers, which of course could have a big impact on Paramount+ either by growing the service, or possibly even having Paramount+ absorbed into another.

Head of programming exits Paramount+

In other news, last week Julie McNamara exited ViacomCBS as EVP and head of programming for Paramount+, ending her 15-year stint which started at CBS Studios. McNamara’s name may be familiar to fans as she has been involved since the beginning with the development of Star Trek on CBS All Access. McNamara has since worked closely with executive producer Alex Kurtzman to develop the five Trek shows currently in production. Just a couple of months ago, McNamara and Kurtzman were talking to the Hollywood trades about the future of the franchise on Paramount+.

In a statement, ViacomCBS President and head of streaming Tom Ryan said in part, “Julie’s work and strong relationships with creators and talent led the way for the very first originals on CBS All Access, many of which are still top performers for Paramount +, including Star Trek: Discovery and the beloved The Good Fight.

According to Deadline, talks over McNamara’s contract extension broke down over of “lack of clarity on the decision-making process at the streamer, including greenlight authority, which sources described as somewhat chaotic.” No interim replacement has been named. Deadline is also reporting that Paramount+ is now “eying content creation restructuring.” In his statement to staff on McNamara’s departure, Tom Ryan promised more details to come, saying: “I’ll have more to share in the coming weeks on our content structure and look forward to sharing further details about how we will continue to bring the best content from across ViacomCBS to Paramount+.”

With any management shakeup, it is always possible there will be a new look at the portfolio of shows coming to Paramount+, including all those Star Trek shows, both currently in production and in development.


Keep up with all the ViacomCBS corporate news at TrekMovie.com.

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Oh boy, here we go again….if there are changes, hope they improve the current productions.

Last edited 18 days ago by Jay

Sooner or later, everything is going to be owned by Disney.

At least then we’ll only have to subscribe to one streaming service.

Disney doesn’t have the money.

More like it will be Amazon and Apple.

I disliked what Disney did to gut Fox it damaged competition and cost thousands of jobs, but I also hate the idea of Hollywood getting completely carved up by big tech and big telecoms and used to sell their wares. At least Disney is still ostensibly an entertainment company. AT&T damaged HBO and Warner Bros., Comcast is a horrible parent company, Amazon’s an incredibly complicated combination of good and terrible at any given moment. Netflix pays well but basidally pioneered the practice of dismissing Hollywood’s art as just “content” and fodder for the churn.

I never thought I would root for a huge company like ViacomCBS to stay independent and fend off challengers. But now that it’s a scrappy underdog surrounded by giants… god, reading The NY Times today I almost found myself being glad they were able to squeeze $4 bn out of offshore tax loopholes since 2002. Almost.

At the end of the day, if Apple takes the plunge and buys them I wouldn’t complain like I would if Amazon swooped in and used it to further their shadier business practices. But it’s not good for Hollywood to sell its ability to chart its own course, no matter how much cash is dangled in front of it.

Honestly, I’m a little stunned the Comcast NBC merger was allowed to go through all those years ago. I felt it did not set a good precedent.

Naah. Not a likely scenario. Disney doesn’t have the cash for more acquisitions.

Then Taco Bell buys Disney.

I’m already looking for the strategy that says “Making it harder for the customers to be customers again…”

If Comcast is the buyer and thus NBC/CBS merge their streaming service, Paramount Peacock + would be a major name upgrade.

Paracock+

Peamount+

Cockmount+

Winner

CockCast+

I hope that Viacom stays viable enough to churn out some more good Star Trek during the upcoming streaming wars. For Star Trek it would be arguably better of Viacom stayed independent because it is one of the few major franchises the company owns. For the time being, they cannot mothball it because they need it to take part in this war.

But if Viacom were to merge with another bigshot like Apple, Comcast or Netflix, Star Trek would become one franchise out of many that this new company owns and it could be shelved again in no time.

On the other hand, Viacom not being able to take a stand in this war might result in bankrupcy and long-term demise of the franchise just as it had happened for Stargate…

On the long run, Trek has to deliver a lot more if it wants to remain a relevant franchise able to compete with Star Wars, DC or Marvel… But I don’t know whether this is even remotely possible.

It all comes down to SNW and PROD… Those two shows need to be game changers. SNW needs to invigorate interest within the old fanbase while PROD needs to attract a new generation of viewers… Winning over the “mature” crowds who are into TWD or GOT via adult drama (PIC) and animated comedy (LDS) hasn’t really worked out so far… but as much as I despise that move, it WAS worth a shot…

But honestly, the focus should be on the hardcore fanbase AND the kids! Because they can still be turned into a next generation of true Trekkies. The 30+ aged generation that grew up on NuBSG or TWD are a lost cause for Trek. Trek cannot go too far catering to them without ceasing to uphold a certain integrity and someone who wants blood, guts and T&A will look elsewhere if Trek doesn’t fully embrace that… It was a nice attempt but ultimately doomed to fail…

As much as this seems appealing to us Trek fans? It simply ain’t gonna happen. SNW will give homage to episodic Trek but it will be made for audiences of today, of specific demographics. Genre TV is INCREDIBLY expensive to produce. It takes a lot longer to film and get out to the viewers. When the suits are giving high 7 figures per episode to produce? The producers need to get eyeballs in front of TV screens, tablets, phones, computers and movie theatres. Producing a show that caters to legacy fans, AS GOOD AS IT MAY BE and how much we might like it, most likely will FAIL. Prodigy, hopefully, will attract new fans, attract new merch deals and reinvigorate the Trek cash cow. SNW, hopefully, will end with Kirk and Spock taking over the Enterprise. This will give us at least 10 years of Trek and Ethan Peck employed for 10 years. We die hard fans nitpick Trek to death. We can’t agree on what Trek is or isn’t. Leonard Nimoy was correct when he suggested that we not become a slave to canon. We need to be open to where Star Trek wants to take us, TODAY. Sage advice….

Last edited 17 days ago by dennycranium

“Genre TV is INCREDIBLY expensive to produce.”

What I see is lots of money spent on explosions and other what-is-supposed-to-be eye candy that I’ve seen before or is boring. I think The Expanse spends their money better.

Unfortunately the service still pretty much sucks. If you have HBOMax, you really see the difference on a major level. That site has a wide band of new movies and TV shows every week. I’m always impressed. With P+, I had the ‘new’ service since the change over and yet still very little new content. Thankfully it’s a big source for my Trek rewatch but it’s really barely worth keeping outside of that.

The service as a whole is definitely better than this time a year ago, but that’s still saying very little.

And these streaming wars are getting nuts. I remember all the arguing over putting Discovery on AA four years ago. I remember saying it was just the beginning of where it was going and I turned out more than right since we now have four major new services that have come since and two of them, HBOMax and Disney+ have become behemoths content wise and they are only expanding with all these new deals and takeovers that keep coming.

P+ will probably be fine but if it ever going to get to the adult’s table it really needs to do something bigger than what it’s doing because it’s very little outside of the 12 Star Trek shows we’ll probably get in the next decade.

Last edited 18 days ago by Tiger2

Twelve Star Trek shows? In addtion to the five already on or in prep? Tiger, this WOULD be awesome.

But even then, it’s virtually impossible to compete with the CBM franchises in quantity. The Arrowverse alone is bigger than Star Trek now and it’s barely ten years old. The MCU dominates the big screen and will churn out miniseries on Disney+ till kingdom come.

On the other hand… Do we have to win in numbers? It depends.

When I became a Trekkie back in 1993, the outstanding quantity used to be a major selling point for me. That was after 6 movies and 10 seasons :-) Today, I don’t know if I’d even find Trek amongst all the other huge media franchises. I’d probably be stuck in the Arrowverse if I was 13 now…

On the other hand… Trek has more to offer than numbers and quantity… But to make people find that, to discover that, you need something to stand out. Star Wars has box office numbers, we still have a lot more history and run time…But Marvel and DC are simply out of reach at this point…

Last edited 17 days ago by Garth Lorca

I’ve been of the mind that star trek needs it’s own streaming service with a combo of traditional space dramas, a whole host of discovery plus style shows, a host of trek.fm style tv talk shows, trek video game playing shows, behind the scenes shows, non trek documentaries and shows that would appeal to trek fans, tv movies, and all existing content that has anything to do with Trek.

I used to think that way too and that Star Trek should have its own dedicated streaming service but after seeing D.C. and Stargate streaming services both fail I’m starting to think maybe it’s just not enough people to really subscribe to a single dedicated franchise site.

Now to be fair the biggest problem with D.C. site was that you didn’t get any of the major current movies or shows. You mostly got cartoons and a lot of OLD TV shows like the original Wonder Woman show, 60s Batman and things like that. They put original new shows on it like Titans and Doom Patrol but clearly it wasn’t enough and now all of that was basically just thrown on HBOMax and where the main DC stuff already is.

For Stargate, it sounded like all the shows and movies were there but there was still not enough content to keep people on it all year. And the new stuff they made for it sounded like it was bad too.

Still I have a feeling Star Trek wouldn’t fare that much better even if every piece of content was on it from the shows, movies and documentaries. These services have to produce a LOT of new content to keep people coming back and why sites like Netflix stays on top because literally every week there is a new show or movie. I don’t think it’s just enough to have a new show run new episodes even if you have enough to last a year but you need new and varied content all the time.

Sure we would all subscribe but I think all the studios are learning with the current streaming wars is you have to vary the content as much as possible to not only keep interest up but to expand the base and why both Stargate and D.C. failed because probably only the hardcore ever subscribed in the first place and that’s not enough.

Last edited 17 days ago by Tiger2

LOL no I meant 12 TOTAL! And I’m thinking over a 20 year period like when Berman ran it. I usually joke about it, but no it’s not out of reach either. I mean we already have 5 shows now in just four years. TECHNICALLY six if you count Short Treks as it’s own show. And they actually said there are two other shows they are developing as well (which I’m guessing includes Section 31), those simply won’t see the light of day until one of the others are cancelled first.

Now it may not ever get to that many and especially if the future of P+ is still questionable down the road. And you’re also right, even in TV form Star Trek is still not on the level of popularity of what other franchise shows are like Arrowverse, TWD or even stuff like NCIS. And it still appeals to mostly older people (hence why everyone on this board seems over 40 lol). But that’s also why Prodigy is coming and why LDS is there now. Those are clearly designed for younger people in mind (although like LDS I have a feeling PRO will be fine for older fans too).

But they have to do something and when you think what Disney is doing (who has literally announced 12 different Star Wars shows AND 12 different Marvel shows) then they know they have to compete harder to survive or at least stay relevant. And Star Trek at the moment seems to be the ONLY show that gives that site any buzz as it is now. People thought others like Twilight Zone or even The Stand would do that and those just came and went.

But Paramount still has a few other franchises, some MUCH more popular than Star Trek (at least on the big screen) like Transformers and Mission Impossible. And Indiana Jones looks like its finally starting its fifth movie finally. But any of those could get shows in the future if Paramount thought big like the other sites seems to be doing. Nothing stops them from doing that as well. But we know new Trek shows should be around at least a decade at this point.

Last edited 17 days ago by Tiger2

By the way what happened to that new Twilight Zone show? Did they officially cancel it?

Paramount doesn’t own Indiana Jones, just it’s share of the films and shows made before Disney bought LucasFilm. It gets profit participation in future films, but will be lucky if it’s logo even appears in Indy 5, let alone turns into the first live action frame.

Paramount also doesn’t own Transformers, just the movie rights. Hasbro has made its own deals with other companies for TV there. I agree Mission: Impossible should get its own TV series again that would give the likes of Pegg, Rhames, Maggie Q etc a chance to shine, but it’s very much a Tom Cruise movie franchise and he calls the shots there – probably is like EON thinks of 007 – that it’s important not to dilute the movies’ appeal.

So that does leave Star Trek as an enduring crown jewel for them, and I agree with anyone who says ViacomCBS being absorbed by an entity that owns other big franchises would deprioritize it. It’s special and crucial to Paramount. It would be more of an afterthought to Warner Discovery or Disney.

I would love to know the genuine internal reaction to the numbers the Paramount+ rebrand. I’ve got a feeling it’s being seen as a bit of a disaster. They launched with no major new content, literally nobody seems to have a kind word for their service’s interface, and it’s going to be months before anything is going to happen to bring any real attention their way.

They feel a little bit defeated already, to be honest. But things can change, so who knows where it’ll end up?

They are probably hoping for a premium buy out like MGM. Some super rich tech company will be an idiot and massively overpay for them.

The rebrand was intended to take the service GLOBAL. Nothing really changed except the name is the US. It is now offered overseas, with more countries coming in the summer and fall of 2020. If you were already on CBSAA you weren’t going to see anything change.

Great strategy…

For us in Europe, yes.

Yes, I was rather intrigued that a powerful Kurtzman ally was jumping ship. I wonder if now might be an opportune time for Alex to purse other exiting content opportunities in the topsy-turvy world of oligopolistic media. In show biz, it’s always better to leave too soon than too late.

If she played a large role in developing the new Trek shows with SH, then it could be a blessing that she is gone. But I’m always leery of the saying, be careful what you wish for…

Lets just hope all these news of mergers don’t make the Star Trek shows end up like the Marvel shows Netflix used to have back in the day and had to cancel after Disney started its own streaming. I mean no matter how positive the critical response were for those shows, they still ended up being axed so I fear something similar might happen for Trek. I highly doubt it will, but there is always a possibility.

Hopefully not. But a major shake-up could be beneficial. It all depends on SNW’s performance. If that show helped to really boost subscription numbers in a major way – IF that happened -we might actually see a major return to classic Star Trek…

What could happen is that not only SNW becomes the new flagship but also that all other shows are either axed or revamped to go back to the roots. PIC might actually become TNG S8 at some point, set aboard the Enterprise E or F, and DSC could end up as a show about exploring other galaxies with the spore drive, truly going where no one had gone before…

My wet dream would be four shows set in five different eras, all set aboard a starship Enterprise…

These Are the Voyages – An ENT reboot set aboard the NX-01 refit post-Foundation…22nd century

Strange New Worlds – Pike and Spock… 23rd century

The Final Frontier – TNG reunion follow-up to PIC aboard Worf’s Enterprise E or F… early 25th century

To Boldly Go – DSC follow-up with Burnham taking over a futuristic Enterprise O after Discovery’s destruction… 32nd century

As a huge DS9 fan, I would love to see another show set on board a space station. My Star Trek wet dream of shows would be:

–A Surak show on ancient Vulcan. Stars a young Surak who helps bring change in the form of peace and logic to a very barbaric world. Would also include proto-Romulans.

–Deep Space Ten. Yes, the sequel to DS9. Set on a new space station built by the Bajorans. Stars a new host for Dax, a grown up Molly O’Brien as the Chief Engineer, and a bunch of new characters. Definitely involves the Prophets, but also some new aliens

–Time Trek. A Star Trek show but the main theme is time travel, but on purpose this time.

–Star Trek: Explorers. An animated Star Trek show of the original TOS crew. More action & adventure oriented.

Many great wishes :-) A totally agree that a time travel show is long overdue. There are so many eras this one could go. Human history is only the beginning. It could explore alien histories like Vulcan, Klingon, Romulan, Cardassian history, the origins of the Borg, the Dominion, the Xindi, the Voth… There are also those very exciting ancient empires like the T’Kon, the Iconians, the First Ones, pre-ascension Q. And of course the history of the future with its different eras would also serve as an exciting framework…

Your Surak idea would be a great two-parter or three-parter in that show but I wouldn’t base an entire series on it. Same with a Kahless arc. And man, I so much want my Klingon Shakespeare…

While I am not the biggest DS9 fan, I’m up for a new space station-based show. The Vanguard book series could be turned into a fully mapped-out series à la The Expanse. It would work as a darker SNW spin-off… They’d have to pay royalty to some authors but Trek NEEDS some literary adaptations. Far too many good novels unrealized for the screen.

But honestly, no DS10… The story of DS9 should be standalone. It’s not a legacy like the one of the Starship Enterprise :-) But if it happpens, I’d watch :-)

More animated TOS… Maybe, but I’d rather see them do Kirk’s second mission in live-action after SNW…

Last edited 17 days ago by Garth Lorca

This is an interesting discussion.

It brings to mind an old quote: content is king. And it is.

But the kingdom is made of voracious content users and content consumers. With that in mind, the core issue for companies now is ABCC – Always Be Conquesting Consumers and growing audience with high value content. That content can be TV, Films, Games, News, Sports, unending Hallmark Christmas movies… anything, as long as the end user will eagerly consume it.

The number of potential buyers who need more consumers is huge. This the number of potential buyers for the remaining smaller content producers is large.

Of course you have Apple, Comcast, etc.

MSFT, FB, YouTube, & even Twitter might get into buying studios as well. The goal for them, as started, is driving a larger audience.

There are not-so-obvious buyers as well. Video game and toy companies are creating film and TV studios to produce filmed content for their IPs (Blizzard, Lego, Hasbro). Certain Asian media companies are building live action studios to support their anime legacy activity (Sony-Crunchryroll).

Again, there are more potential buyers for the remaining content producers than are obvious at first glance. The issue is who needs to grow their audience size with greater urgency, and less about who would be a right fit for Star Trek.

Will Apple, Blizzard, Hasbro, Crunchyroll, YouTube, The NFL… will any of these buy V-CBS-P+ today?

NO.

If the IRS and the Justice Department conduct an embarrassing public trial of V-CBS-P+ and its executives which depresses the company’s market value, then it is possible that one of those might well decide to bite.

Keep in mind that there was a time when no one thought an online book seller would buy Whole Foods and would now be making a Lord Of The Rings TV show for half a billion dollars. But Amazon is doing this and more, not because it cares about food or LOTR. Amazon cares for growing its Prime membership base with any content (or food) that will hook the consumer.

Content is the hook. A huge consumer base is for Kings.

That said, this is what I would like to see from future Trek:

– Star Trek NCIS… a Trek procedural show would be nice. The “crime scene” investigation that was done in Undiscovered Country was just good. The blood on the gravity boot was was awesome.

– Star Trek 2nd Contact… what happens when the B-Team has to come in and set up shop for years to help worlds that have just joined The Fed to successfully assimilate into their new Fed family? What if this exposes more of the dirty underbelly of The Fed? Or what if it exposes graft and corruption within The Fed that links back to the bad actors at Fed HQ? Or what if it exposes the absolute effectiveness and greater good that the B-Team is able to accomplish when The Enterprise leaves for their next mission? These are the missions of the B-Team…

– Starfleet Academy… make this an entry program for the 2020’s young people who need a 90210 / Legacies / Gossip Girl style show.

– Starfleet Command… a terrestrial based show that deals solely with the politics and the Bad Admirals within Starfleet and The Fed. This is The WEST WING for Star Trek. This is not about space. Not about exploration. Not about ships and crews. This is about politics and intrigue. It is taking all the time and energy that was put into building out the drama and inner workings of the Klingon Empire in TNG and DS9, and doing the same things or how the Federation runs. There are more than enough factions and planets and people groups within The Fed who are all seeking political supremacy within the halls of Fed HQ, or a major Federation outpost such that a very compelling drama can be created from it.

Sorry for the typographical errors.

Fans have wanted a STAR TREK “NCIS” and/or a “JAG” type format show for years.

As for the whole “2nd Contact” thing – “Lower Decks has been doing that type of concept.

Fans have wanted a STAR TREK “NCIS” and/or a “JAG” type format show for years.

They have?

I’ve brought that up for years since CBSAA announced a Trek show. But only as a joke. Not serious about it.

The Surak show I would find intriguing. It’s interesting because back when TVH came out in ’86 I felt like it would have been better if our crew went back in time on Vulcan instead of Earth. Would have been really interesting to see Vulcans in essentially our time frame and see how the crew would be forced to blend in. I feel like there was potential for a much better film there. But to make a show out of that era… I would like to see that. But something tells me the overall interest just wouldn’t be there.

If there are changes — which there always will be — you can count on the dinguses of youtube to consider it proof of the franchise’s failure, furthering fanning the flames of angry fandom so as to reap the rewards of those sweet sweet monetized ad clicks.

Yes, here come the doomsayers. I suspect things will stay on course for the near future. Five years out…. who knows….

This is how projects get lost in Development Hell. All the current shows should be fine as long as they continue to bring subscribers. Section 31 just got more iffy.

I just want to say that some of these huge corporations really REALLY need to be broken down into smaller pieces. Amazon has their hands in far too many cookie jars and severely needs to be cut down. Ultimately it just isn’t good for the consumer. The fewer options there are the more you get a monopolistic structure.

The roll-up and analysis is very appreciated.

I’ve been noting the mergers and wondering what it will mean for ViacomCBS, Paramount+ and Star Trek.

The one thing that seemed odd in all of it was the suggestion in the financial press that NBC/UNIVERSAL might merge with ViacomCBS. I don’t think that there’s been a signal from US regulators that they would permit further concentration of the base linear networks — having NBC and CBS under the same conglomerate seems like a non-starter based on the outcome with Fox.

A merger with Warner/Discovery seems a more likely complementary and successful merger, but neither has the resources left to leverage a merger.

Shari Redstone apparently was cosying up to Verizon before the re-merger. After seeing AT&T stumble with Warner Bros, that might be one suitor who is out of the fight now.

If the plan is to bulk up rather than sell, she’s probably also annoyed Viacom lost a bid for Scripps to Discovery in 2017, and they weren’t able to entice Discovery to merge with ViacomCBS later – that would have been a better complimentary match than any other acquisition targets still left on the market. Lionsgate and AMC Networks don’t offer as much opportunity to add scale.

With this re-merger, I wonder if the fan film rules will change.

Well the next owners of Star Trek can’t possibly worse so I say all engines ahead full.