Viacom

Last updated
Viacom Inc.
Public
Traded as
Industry Mass media
Predecessors Viacom (1952–2006)
Gulf+Western
Paramount Communications
FoundedJanuary 2, 2006;13 years ago (2006-01-02)
Founder Sumner Redstone
Headquarters
Area served
Worldwide
Key people
Products
RevenueIncrease2.svg US$13.263 billion (2017) [1]
Decrease2.svgUS$2.489 billion (2017) [1]
Increase2.svgUS$1.874 billion (2017) [1]
Total assets Increase2.svgUS$23.698 billion (2017) [1]
Total equity Increase2.svgUS$6.035 billion (2017) [1]
Number of employees
11,200 (2017) [2]
Parent National Amusements (80% voting power)
Divisions
Subsidiaries
Website www.viacom.com

Viacom Inc. ( /ˈvəkɒm/ VY-ə-kom or /ˈvəkɒm/ VEE-ə-kom) is an American multinational mass media conglomerate with interests primarily in film and television. It is currently the world's ninth largest broadcasting, cable, and media company in terms of revenue, and has headquarters in New York City. Voting control of Viacom is held by National Amusements, Inc., a privately owned theater company controlled by billionaire Sumner Redstone, [3] [4] [5] [6] who also holds a controlling stake in CBS Corporation. [7]

Multinational corporation large corporation doing business in many countries

A multinational corporation (MNC) or worldwide enterprise is a corporate organization which owns or controls production of goods or services in at least one country other than its home country. Black's Law Dictionary suggests that a company or group should be considered a multinational corporation if it derives 25% or more of its revenue from out-of-home-country operations. A multinational corporation can also be referred to as a multinational enterprise (MNE), a transnational enterprise (TNE), a transnational corporation (TNC), an international corporation, or a stateless corporation. There are subtle but real differences between these three labels, as well as multinational corporation and worldwide enterprise.

A media conglomerate, media group, or media institution is a company that owns numerous companies involved in mass media enterprises, such as television, radio, publishing, motion pictures, theme parks, or the Internet. According to the magazine The Nation, "Media conglomerates strive for policies that facilitate their control of the markets around the world."

Contents

The present-day Viacom was created as a spin-off from the original company, which was renamed as CBS Corporation afterwards, on December 31, 2005. The latter currently retains control of the over-the-air broadcasting, TV production, subscription pay television, and publishing assets, which were previously owned by the original Viacom. Comprising BET Networks, Viacom Media Networks, and Paramount Pictures, Viacom operates approximately 170 networks, reaching approximately 700 million subscribers in approximately 160 countries. [8]

The original incarnation of Viacom Inc. was an American media conglomerate. During the 1970s and 1980s, Viacom was a prominent distributor of syndicated CBS television series. They also distributed syndicated shows which originated during the 1980s, with the biggest examples being The Cosby Show and Roseanne. On December 31, 2005, Viacom split into two new companies, resulting in the creation of CBS Corporation and the current incarnation of Viacom.

Viacom Media Networks American mass media division and company owned by Viacom

Viacom Media Networks, formerly known as MTV Networks, is an American mass media division of Viacom that oversees the operations of many of its television channels and Internet brands. Its sister international division is Viacom International Media Networks.

Paramount Pictures Major film studio in America, specializing in film and television production, and distribution.

Paramount Pictures Corporation is an American film studio based in Hollywood, California, that has been a subsidiary of the American media conglomerate Viacom since 1994. Paramount is the fifth oldest surviving film studio in the world, the second oldest in the United States, and the sole member of the "Big Six" film studios still located in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Hollywood.

History

Early years

In March 2005, the prior Viacom announced plans of looking into splitting the company into two publicly traded companies because of a stagnating stock price and the rivalry between Leslie Moonves and Tom Freston, longtime heads of CBS and MTV Networks respectively. In addition, the company was facing issues after MTV was banned from producing any more Super Bowl halftime shows after the Super Bowl Halftime Show controversy of 2004.

Tom Freston American television executive

Thomas E. Freston is an American entertainment industry executive.

CBS is an American English language commercial broadcast television and radio network that is a flagship property of CBS Corporation. The company is headquartered at the CBS Building in New York City with major production facilities and operations in New York City and Los Angeles.

Super Bowl Annual championship game of the National Football League in American football

The Super Bowl is the annual championship game of the National Football League (NFL) where the champion of the National Football Conference (NFC) competes against the champion of the American Football Conference (AFC). The game is the culmination of a regular season that begins in the late summer of the previous calendar year. Normally, Roman numerals are used to identify each game, rather than the year in which it is held. For example, Super Bowl I was played on January 15, 1967, following the 1966 regular season. The sole exception to this naming convention tradition occurred with Super Bowl 50, which was played on February 7, 2016, following the 2015 regular season, and the following year, the nomenclature returned to Roman numerals for Super Bowl LI, following the 2016 regular season. The upcoming Super Bowl is Super Bowl LIV, scheduled for February 2, 2020, following the 2019 regular season.

After the departure of Mel Karmazin in 2004, Sumner Redstone, who served as chairman and chief executive officer, decided to split the offices of president and chief operating officer between Moonves and Freston. Redstone was set to retire in the near future, and a split was seen as a creative solution to the matter of replacing him. It was also intended to provide alternative investments that would be more appealing to investors: one a high cash flow, lower growth company that could afford to pay a substantial dividend and the other a growing company that would have greater investment opportunities and therefore would not be expected to pay a dividend.

Mel Karmazin American executive

Melvin Alan "Mel" Karmazin is an American executive. He co-founded and was the president of Infinity Broadcasting and eventually became the president and CEO of CBS television. From 2004–2012, he was the CEO of Sirius Radio. In October 2012, Karmazin announced that he would be stepping down on February 1, 2013. Upon his departure, John C. Malone took over Karmazin's role at SiriusXM.

A new company, the present Viacom, was created and was headed by Freston. It comprises BET Networks, MTV Networks, and Paramount Pictures Corporation. [9]

2000s

In June 2005, Viacom announced its purchase of Neopets, a virtual pet website, along with GameTrailers, GoCityKids, and IFILM. That December, Paramount announced it would acquire DreamWorks. All indications were that the whole of DreamWorks—both live-comedy film and TV studios, albeit not the DreamWorks archive (which was sold to a group led by George Soros in March 2006) nor the animated unit (which was not part of the deal)—would remain owned by Viacom, even though CBS acquired Paramount's television studio.

<i>Neopets</i> virtual pet site

Neopets is a virtual pet website. Users can own virtual pets ("Neopets"), and buy virtual items for them using one of two virtual currencies. One currency, called Neopoints, can be earned within the site, and the other, Neocash, can either be purchased with real-world money, or won by chance in-game.

DreamWorks Pictures is an American film production label of Amblin Partners. It was founded in 1994 as a film studio by Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen, of which they owned 72%. The studio was formerly distributing its own and third-party films by itself. It has produced or distributed more than ten films with box-office grosses of more than $100 million each.

George Soros Hungarian-American business magnate, investor and philanthropist

George Soros, Hon is a Hungarian-American investor and philanthropist. As of February 2018, he had a net worth of $8 billion, having donated more than $32 billion to his philanthropic agency, Open Society Foundations.

On February 1, 2006, Paramount completed its acquisition of DreamWorks. On April 24, Viacom obtained Xfire. In August, just hours before announcing its most recent quarterly earnings, Viacom announced that it had acquired Atom Entertainment for $200 million. In September, Viacom acquired game developer Harmonix for $175 million.

In February 2007, Viacom ordered leaked copyrighted video clips be taken off the video-sharing service YouTube for copyright reasons. [10] On February 21, Viacom publicly announced they would be offering free online access to their own material through Silicon Valley's distributor Joost.

On May 21, 2007, Viacom entered into a 50–50 joint venture with Indian media company Network 18 to form Viacom 18 which will house Viacom's existing channels in India: MTV, VH1 and Nick as well as Network 18's Bollywood movie business. All future Viacom content for India and new ventures such as a Hindi entertainment channel and a Hindi movie channel would be housed in this joint venture.

On December 19, 2007, Viacom signed a five-year, $500 million contract with Microsoft that included content sharing and advertisement. The deal allowed Microsoft to license many shows from Viacom owned cable television and film studios for use on Xbox Live and MSN. The deal also made Viacom a preferred publisher partner for casual game development and distribution through MSN and Windows. On the advertisement side of the deal, Microsoft's Atlas ad-serving division became the exclusive provider of previously unsold advertising inventory on Viacom owned websites. Also, Microsoft purchased a large amount of advertising on Viacom owned broadcasts and online networks. Finally, Microsoft would also collaborate on promotions and sponsorships for MTV and BET award shows, two Viacom owned cable networks.

On December 4, 2008, Viacom announced layoffs of 850 personnel, or 7% of their workforce. [11] At the end of the year, Time Warner Cable (along with partner Bright House Networks) and Viacom's MTV Networks could not come to terms for the renewal of any Viacom channel beyond the end of year. [12] [13] Time Warner Cable's operations include New York City and Los Angeles, with Bright House including the Tampa Bay and Orlando markets, both top-20 markets. This blackout was narrowly avoided when a zero-hour deal was reached shortly after midnight on January 1, 2009. [14]

On December 7, 2009, Viacom sold its stake in MTV Brasil to Grupo Abril along with rights to the brand. Details on the deal were not disclosed. [15]

2010s

In February 2011, Hulu and Viacom announced the return of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report to Hulu, along with shows from the Viacom library. Nickelodeon's shows are not part of this deal. [16] Also that month, Viacom invested in Rainbow S.r.l., an Italian children's animated and consumer products company best known for the Winx Club franchise. [17]

Later, in October 2011, Viacom purchased a majority stake in Bellator Fighting Championships. Spike TV started to air Bellator in 2013, after the rights to the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) library ended in 2012. [18]

On December 1, 2011, the company stopped trading on the New York Stock Exchange and began listing its securities on NASDAQ instead. The stock ticker symbols are the same as that used while the company was on the NYSE. [19]

On July 10, 2012, during contract negotiations over raising carrier rates the U.S. satellite TV provider, DirecTV's executives approached Viacom with a new proposal and a request to continue broadcasting 17 of Viacom's television networks (including Nickelodeon, MTV, Logo, and Comedy Central) during talks, but received no response and thus Viacom ceased transmission to DirecTV's 20 million subscribers. [20] On July 11, in a counter response to DirecTV advising its subscribers to view original programming from the affected networks online, Viacom scaled back access to recent episodes of Viacom-owned program content available to the websites of its networks. Viacom described this as a "temporary slimdown" until a new carriage deal with DirecTV was reached. [21] Viacom and DirecTV reached an agreement on July 20 to return the interrupted programming. [22] In 2012 CEO Phillip Dauman began to report Viacom's intentions to bundle past programming and make it available on-demand via services like Hulu. [23]

On April 1, 2014, Cable One removed 15 channels owned by Viacom (MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon, and TV Land) off after the two companies failed to reach an agreement. Channels were replaced with other networks, including BBC America, Sprout, SundanceTV, IFC, Investigation Discovery, TV One, CMP/TV, National Geographic Channel, and TheBlaze. The change has been deemed permanent.

On May 1, 2014, Viacom announced it had agreed to take over the British broadcaster Channel 5 from Northern & Shell, the media group owned by the British newspaper publisher Richard Desmond. Viacom becomes the first American media company to take over a British broadcaster with a public service remit. [24] The purchase of Channel 5 closed on September 10, 2014. [25]

On October 1, 2014, Suddenlink Communications, removed channels owned by Viacom off after the two companies failed to reach an agreement. Channels were replaced with other networks including Sprout, FXX, Pivot, Uplifting Entertainment, Investigation Discovery, OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, Women's Entertainment, and TheBlaze. On August 20, 2016, a settlement between Sumner and Shari Redstone and Philippe Dauman has been reached that will have him resign as chief executive officer and be replaced with Thomas E. Dooley as interim CEO. Dauman will continue to serve as chairman until September 13. [26] On May 25, 2017, Viacom channels returned to Suddenlink after nearly 3 years of absence. [27]

CBS Re-merger contemplated era

On September 29, 2016, National Amusements sent a letter to the company and CBS Corporation, encouraging the two companies to merge back into one company. [28] On December 12, the deal was called off. [29]

In November 2016, Viacom bought Argentine television network Telefe. [30] In December 2016, the Viacom board appointed Robert Bakish as acting CEO. [31] His appointment as President and CEO was made permanent on December 12, 2016. [32] [33] [34]

Following the Weinstein effect, Viacom was listed as one of 22 potential buyers that were interested in acquiring The Weinstein Company. [35] They have lost the bid, and on March 1, 2018, it was announced that Maria Contreras-Sweet will acquire all of TWC's assets for $500 million. [36] [37]

In November 2017, Viacom announced the opening of a new digital content division named Viacom Digital Studios. The company has hired former AwesomenessTV chief business officer Kelly Day to lead the studio. Day began her duties on November 20. [38] In February 2018, Viacom announced their plans to acquire the internet video conference VidCon in an effort to reach out to youth audiences (in a similar way to Viacom's Nickelodeon and MTV channels). [39]

In the same month, Viacom announced that they would launch an official Viacom streaming service in fall 2018, in another effort by Bakish to revitalize the company. This streaming service will support ads (similar to Hulu) and is expected to include TV series from Viacom Media Networks that haven't been available on other services, such as Hulu or Amazon Prime Video. [40] [41] [42] [43] Bakish has stated that the streaming service will serve as a "compliment" to OTT MVPDs, rather than a replacement. [44]

In April 2018, Viacom hosted its first presentation at the annual Digital Content NewFronts, where they announced new original content for sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat. They also announced the expansion of VidCon to London in 2019 at the same conference. [45] [46]

On January 12, 2018, CNBC reported that Viacom had re-entered talks to merge back into CBS Corporation, after Disney's proposed acquisition of 21st Century Fox assets and the heavy competition from companies such as Netflix and Amazon. [47] Shortly afterward, it was reported that the combined company could be a suitor for acquiring the film studio Lionsgate. [48] Viacom and Lionsgate were both interested in acquiring The Weinstein Company. [49]

On March 30, 2018, CBS made an all-stock offer slightly below Viacom's market value, and insisting that its existing leadership, including long-time chairman and CEO Leslie Moonves, oversee the re-combined company. Viacom rejected the offer as being too low, requesting an increase by $2.8 billion, and requesting that Robert Bakish be maintained as president and COO under Moonves. It was reported these conflicts had resulted from Shari Redstone seeking more control over CBS and its leadership. [50] [51]

Eventually, on May 14, 2018, CBS Corporation sued its and Viacom's parent company National Amusements and accused Shari Redstone of abusing her voting power in the company and forcing a merger that was not supported by it or Viacom. [52] [53] CBS also accused Redstone of discouraging Verizon Communications from acquiring it, which could have been beneficial to its shareholders. [54]

On May 23, Leslie Moonves stated that he considered the Viacom channels to be an "albatross," and while he favors more content for CBS All Access, he believes that there are better deals for CBS than the Viacom deal, such as Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Lionsgate or Sony Pictures Entertainment. Moonves also considered Bakish a threat because he does not want an ally of Shari Redstone as a board member of the combined company. [55]

On September 9, 2018, Leslie Moonves exited CBS after getting accused by twelve women of sexual assault. National Amusements has agreed to make no proposal of a CBS-Viacom merger for at least two years after the date of the settlement. [56]

On July 25, 2018, Viacom announced that it was in talks to acquire AwesomenessTV for a fraction of the company's $650 million valuation in 2016. [57] [58] Two days later on July 27, Viacom officially acquired the company for $25 million. Jordan Levin will leave his position as CEO of AwesomenessTV following the acquisition. [59] [60] In January 2019, it was announced that Viacom has acquired Internet television streaming service, Pluto TV for $340 million. [61]

In February 2007, Viacom sent upwards of 100,000 Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedown notices to the video-sharing site YouTube. Of the 100,000 notices, approximately 60–70 non-infringing videos were removed under the auspices of copyright infringement. [10]

On March 13, 2007, Viacom filed a US$1 billion legal claim ( Viacom International Inc. v. YouTube, Inc. ) against Google and YouTube alleging massive copyright infringement, alleging that users frequently uploaded copyrighted material to YouTube—enough to cause a hit in revenue for Viacom and a gain in advertisement revenue for YouTube. [62] The complaint contended that almost 160,000 unauthorized clips of Viacom's programming were made available on YouTube and that these clips had collectively been viewed more than 1.5 billion times.

In July 2008, the case generated controversy when District Judge Louis Stanton ruled that YouTube was required to hand over data detailing the viewing habits of every user who had ever watched videos on the site. [63] Judge Stanton rejected Viacom's request for YouTube to hand over the source code of its search engine system, saying that the code was a trade secret. [64] Google and Viacom later agreed to allow Google to anonymize all the data before handing it over to Viacom. [65]

On June 23, 2010, Judge Stanton ruled in Google's favour in a motion for summary judgment, holding that Google was protected by provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, notwithstanding evidence of intentional copyright infringement. Viacom announced its intention to appeal the ruling. [66]

On April 5, 2012, the ruling was overturned by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. [67] Writing for a two-judge panel (because Judge Roger Miner had died while the trial was pending) of the Second Circuit, Judge José A. Cabranes concluded that "a reasonable jury could find that YouTube had actual knowledge or awareness of specific infringing activity on its website". Eric Goldman, a professor at the Santa Clara University School of Law, expressed concern that the ruling would negatively affect startups, by making them "more hair-trigger on taking down news or content, for fear that failure to do so will be held against them by content providers". [68]

On April 18, 2013, Judge Stanton issued another order granting summary judgment in favor of YouTube. [69] An appeal was begun, but the week before the parties were to appear in the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, a settlement was announced, and it was reported that no money changed hands. [70] Viacom and their sister company B_Viacom have since taken to removing videos themselves.

Viacom International

As with the old Viacom, the current company owns Viacom International, which is the formal owner of copyrights associated with Viacom's corporate website and its cable networks. This division now owns the rights to a majority of Elvis Presley films made for Paramount Pictures, such as Blue Hawaii and King Creole .

It also continues to focus on its own in-house productions made for its various networks (MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon). [71]

Corporate governance

The previous board of directors of Viacom were George S. Abrams, David Andelman, Joseph Califano, Jr., William Cohen, Philippe Dauman, Alan C. Greenberg, Charles Phillips, Shari Redstone, Sumner Redstone, Frederic Salerno, William Schwartz, and Robert D. Walter.

Following the Viacom/CBS split, the Viacom board consisted of George S. Abrams, Philippe Dauman, Thomas E. Dooley, Ellen V. Futter, Robert Kraft, Alan Greenberg, Charles Phillips, Sumner Redstone (Chairman), Shari Redstone (non-executive Vice-Chair), Frederic Salerno, and William Schwartz. As of 2010, the Board consists of George Abrams, Philippe Dauman, Thomas E. Dooley, Alan Greenberg, Robert Kraft, Blythe McGarvie, Robert M. Bakish, Charles Phillips, Shari E. Redstone, Sumner M. Redstone, Frederic Salerno, and William Schwartz. [72]

Assets

Film production and distribution
Television production and distribution
Internet production and distribution
Television networks
Recording Labels
Streaming music service
Streaming video service

See also

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