Following speculation by industry analysts, a new report indicates that media giant Comcast is considering making a bid for ViacomCBS to shore up its streaming strategy. While at the same time, ViacomCBS is making some internal moves to prioritize streaming at Paramount+, home of the Star Trek Universe on TV.
Comcast CEO looking at ViacomCBS in bid to become streaming giant
Comcast may be the third-largest media company in the world (trailing Netflix and Disney), but the 2020 launch of Peacock has failed to put it into the big leagues in terms of streaming. Today, the Wall Street Journal reports that CEO Brian Roberts wants to change that and is considering a number of options, including mergers and acquisitions. According to WSJ sources, Roberts is considering bids for Roku and ViacomCBS as possibilities. The stocks of all three companies jumped today due to the report.
As we reported last month, media analysts see more big deals coming following the AT&T deal to merge Warner Media with Discovery and Amazon’s acquisition of MGM. Bringing ViacomCBS and its Paramount+ service into Comcast “would make Comcast a contender for the No. 3 spot in the streaming industry, behind Netflix and Disney,” according to Bloomberg Intelligence analysts.
In addition to bringing together Peacock and Paramount+, a merger would also potentially combine Universal Pictures and Paramount Pictures, with all the entities having more resources available. These kinds of moves would likely have an impact on the Star Trek franchise both on Paramount+ and in terms of theatrical releases. Although any deal bringing ViacomCBS into the same entity as NBCUniversal would create regulatory challenges and likely require some assets to be spun off.
For now, it’s just speculation, but Wall Street is taking it seriously. While the re-merger of Viacom and CBS did bring some more scale, the company is still dwarfed by the likes of Comcast. With the market clearly indicating bigger is better when it comes to media companies and streaming, even if nothing happens with Comcast, it’s likely some kind of deal is in ViacomCBS’ future.
ViacomCBS restructures for streaming
In our last business brief, we reported that Julie McNamara – who had overseen programming for CBS All Access since the beginning – had left ViacomCBS. Today, ViacomCBS announced a restructuring, including making changes within its executive ranks. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the moves are “in a bid to better prioritize streaming.”
In a memo to staff ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish said:
“The strong launch and early months of Paramount+ have demonstrated the power and potential of our platform, as well as audiences’ appetite for a broad and diverse array of content, all in one place. The moves we are making today will accelerate that mission by putting ViacomCBS’ most powerful assets — world-class content, iconic brands, global infrastructure and expertise, and the best talent in the business today — behind our platforms as we pursue the global opportunity in streaming. Together, our leaders will ensure that we’re delivering to audiences the very best our streaming platforms have to offer, with must-watch content across every genre and market we operate in.”
The restructuring creates focused groupings, each headed by an executive with the power to greenlight projects for Paramount+. Showtime CEO David Nevins is taking on the new role of Chief Content Officer for Scripted Originals at Paramount+. He will continue to report directly to ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish. This puts Nevins in charge of the future of the Star Trek Universe shows on Paramount+.
There is no indication currently that there are any planned changes for the Star Trek Universe, with five Star Trek shows continuing to be in production, including two new shows: Star Trek: Prodigy coming this year and Star Trek: Strange New Worlds coming in 2022. But new management can always create changes, as Noah Hawley learned last year when Paramount’s new head of motion pictures halted his Star Trek film shortly before production. And speaking of movies, THR also reports that Paramount Pictures will be adding a content chief to oversee movies for Paramount+, who in theory would also have the power to greenlight a Star Trek movie made exclusively for streaming.
Keep up with all the ViacomCBS corporate news at TrekMovie.com.