Viacom’s Bob Bakish Praises “Creative Momentum” In Staff Memo As CBS Merger Intrigue Swirls

Bob Bakish

As merger negotiations with CBS hit a patch of turbulence today, Viacom CEO Bob Bakish delivered a memo to the troops praising Paramount Pictures and MTV for recent success and saluting the company’s “creative momentum.”

For the past two months, committees at each company — which operate separately and have independent boards despite having National Amusements as controlling shareholder — have been exploring a possible merger. They have been separate companies since 2006 and last considered a reunion in 2016. Shari Redstone of National Amusements has strongly backed Bakish, creating friction with CBS over the management structure of the combined company, on top of stark differences in valuation. A report this morning from CNBC indicated that Redstone could get rid of CBS CEO Leslie Moonves and the entire board of directors should a merger fail to be consummated.

No merger details were mentioned in Bakish’s upbeat memo. Instead, he praised Paramount’s opening weekend for A Quiet Place, which “blew away industry expectations — and our own!” He also saluted MTV for the debut of Jersey Shore Family Vacation, which he said was the network’s highest-rated debut in six years. The former head of Viacom’s international arm, Bakish also took note of the show launching simultaneously around the world, in 180 territories.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the creative momentum across this company, and I hope you are, too,” Bakish wrote. “Thanks again for everything you’re doing to contribute to it – let’s keep it up!”

Here is the full memo:


We know how hard everyone is working, and it’s incredible to see that work pay off.

I’m happy to say Paramount blew away industry expectations — and our own! — with the opening of A Quiet Place this weekend. An innovative concept, with great talent both behind the camera and in front, and a savvy distribution and marketing plan led to Paramount’s biggest opening since 2016. The film – which was the talk of SXSW and beloved by critics and audiences alike (a 97% “Fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes!) – brought in $50.2M domestically for its opening weekend, and added $21M internationally, with most major markets still to come. Given the movie was made for just $17M, it’s a monster hit by every measure. I want to congratulate Jim and the entire Paramount team for their tireless work on this film, and on the studio’s turnaround more broadly. We all feel the renewed energy and creative and strategic focus, and couldn’t be more excited for what’s ahead.

I also want to congratulate Chris and the MTV team for their huge Jersey Shore Family Vacation premiere last week. With a 3.0 rating in its key demo, it was the network’s highest rated series premiere in six years, broke cable records as the most watched unscripted launch since 2012, and was the most social show of the day. This caps off MTV’s third consecutive quarter of prime growth, and jumpstarted the new quarter with high triple digit increases. I also love that Jersey Shore was the network’s first global premiere, with the show debuting in nearly 180 countries and territories.

I couldn’t be more proud of the creative momentum across this company, and I hope you are, too. Thanks again for everything you’re doing to contribute to it – let’s keep it up!


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