Viacom employees open up about their hopes and fears after the CBS merger, and what they think will happen next (CBS, VIAB, VIA)

CBS and Viacom have agreed to merge — after 13 years apart and two stalled merger attempts in recent years — bringing TV channels like MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, and BET under the same roof as CBS, Showtime, and CBS’s sports and news networks, the companies announced on Tuesday afternoon. The proposed all-stock deal…

Viacom employees open up about their hopes and fears after the CBS merger, and what they think will happen next (CBS, VIAB, VIA)

CBS and Viacom have agreed to merge — after 13 years apart and two stalled merger attempts in recent years — bringing TV channels like MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, and BET under the same roof as CBS, Showtime, and CBS’s sports and news networks, the companies announced on Tuesday afternoon. The proposed all-stock deal would create a combined company with about $28 billion in revenue, the companies said. For employees at the two New York-based companies, especially longtime staffers who have been with CBS or Viacom since before the 2005 split that established the companies as separate entities, the tie-up brings a close to years of will-they-or-won’t-they drama. The feeling at Viacom internally, based on interviews with a half dozen current and former employees, is relief that the deal is finally done and anxiety around what comes next. “There is much angst about more layoffs and consolidation, which must be frustrating since Viacom as a standalone business has been making some good progress,” one former Viacom executive told Business Insider. “People in the sales and marketing jobs are worried about their upward mobility.” Is Viacom gaining the upper hand? How individual Viacom staffers are responding to the merger depends largely on where they sit within the organization. Layoffs are common in any merger, and recent tie-ups between media companies like Disney and Fox, and AT&T and WarnerMedia, have led to staff changes. While some teams at Viacom, such as the ad-sales and marketing groups, and other staffers who work across Viacom’s networks, are concerned about layoffs, others believe Viacom has the upper hand over CBS. A CBS acquisition of Viacom was previously seen as better for Viacom than CBS, one former CBS employee said. Viacom had been the weaker of the two companies in recent years because its large portfolio of cable-TV channels had struggled as more people abandoned traditional pay-TV bundles in the US. But Viacom, which has been overhauling its TV networks to focus on fewer but more impactful brands, has started to show improvements. The company grew domestic advertising revenue for the first time in 20 quarters during its third quarter of 2019. Its deal this year to acquire the ad-supported streaming-TV service Pluto TV, which has 18 million monthly active users, also helped boost ad revenue. “They’ve actually got shows that are doing well on TV,” one current Viacom employee said. “The Pluto thing was massive because it’s TV viewing with commercials that’s 18 to 34[-year-olds].” One big question facing the ad-sales team that could affect layoffs is whether Viacom’s Sean Moran
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