CBS to Merge With Viacom in Long-Awaited $11.7 Billion Deal

CBS-Viacom Reunification Expected Soon

But the main initial growth focus of the new company - which will have a combined annual revenue of $28.2 billion through its all-stock deal - will be in streaming direct-to-consumer businesses.

CBS Corp and Viacom Inc agreed to merge on Tuesday, creating a company with more than $28 billion in revenue, as an increasingly competitive media landscape prompted their controlling shareholder to reunify the US entertainment companies 13 years after breaking them up. The new company, which will be called ViacomCBS, brings brands like CBS and Showtime together with the likes of Nickelodeon, MTV, BET, Comedy Central and Paramount.

After splitting in 2006, CBS and Viacom both remained controlled by National Amusements.

Joe Ianniello, now acting head of CBS, will oversee the CBS side of the business. Notably, in addition to content licensing, CBS and Viacom are developing must-watch programming for a broad range of third-party networks and platforms to feed significant demand for original, premium content. CBS already had its CBS All Access streaming service and Showtime has its own subscription service as well, but The Verge says ViacomCBS "will be able to offer a library of more than 140,000 TV episodes and more than 3,600 movies", including the Transformers franchise. CBS has a market value of $18 billion and Viacom about $11.7 billion.

The transaction is subject to regulatory approval, but is expected to close by the end of this calendar year.

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The newly combined ViacomCBS will invest in more movies and TV shows and try to sell more advertising as it seeks to become a bigger player in the growing business of streaming video. As one of the biggest premium content providers in the world, the combined company is positioned to deliver content to a diverse global customer base that includes MVPDs, broadcast and cable networks, subscription and ad-supported streaming services, mobile providers and social platforms.

That isn't stopping Viacom CEO Bob Bakish, who will lead the combined company, to declare that ViacomCBS will be "one of only a few companies with the breadth and depth of content and reach to shape the future of our industry".

National Amusements agreed not to push the CBS-Viacom merger for two years, but that didn't rule out leaders at either company from promoting it on their own. As it happened, CBS proved the more dynamic company under Les Moonves, then CEO and later chairman. It also acts as the holding company through which the Redstone family controls 80 percent of the voting shares in both CBS and Viacom. Previous merger talks had failed because of clashes between executives over divvying up top jobs and the companies' relative valuation.

Shari Redstone, vice chair of the boards of directors for CBS and Viacom, added: "I am really excited to see these two great companies come together so that they can realise the incredible power of their combined assets". The combined company will also have more than 750 series now ordered or in production. A merger was adamantly opposed by Leslie Moonves, the former powerful chair of CBS who was brought down in a sexual harassment scandal a year ago.

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