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.