Bakish claimed that the television production division is set to grow from a $400M in 2018 to a $600M in 2019 and has set plans to almost double this in a “few years”.
Speaking at the Royal Television Society London Conference, Viacom CEO Bakish said, “The rise of Paramount Television, which didn’t exist four years ago and this year is a $400M business and next year will be a $600M business going from nine series on air to 16. That rise was very much driven by the rise of the SVOD players with shows like 13 Reasons Why… and Amazon’s Jack Ryan.”
He revealed that it is looking for Paramount to collaborate closely with its existing production divisions at Nickelodeon and MTV to grow the business further. He highlighted Nickelodeon’s Pinky Malinky airing on Netflix and revealed that MTV was making a reality series for another digital SVOD platform.
“We see that [Paramount Television] business as the flagship brands join it being a $1B business in a few years as we leverage some of our international assets such as the production business in the UK and our Telefe unit,” he added.
Paramount Television has had a good run, fresh from launching Maniac on Netflix and is set to launch a raft of high-profile titles in the next twelve months including George Clooney’s Catch-22 for Hulu and a dramatic thriller from Academy Award-nominated director Andrey Zvyagintsev.
Its future will be under Nicole Clemens, who was named President of the company earlier this summer, replacing Amy Powell, who was fired in July over alleged racially insensitive comments.
During the keynote session, Bakish calmly avoided talk of a merger with CBS. When asked directly, he said, “Where I sit today, we have a very clear path to value creation in front of us.
“There’s a lot of discussions about scale in the industry… there is a quest for scale. We’ve been working hard being focused on running the company we have because we see more value there including scale that we had that we weren’t exploiting, such as on the film space with Paramount, we now have a global consumer products business. Thirdly, the opportunity we’re seeing is through what I call the creation of virtual scale, through partnerships,” he added.
While the terms of CBS Chairman and CEO Les Moonves’ exit and the settlement of duelling lawsuits between CBS and controller shareholder National Amusements stipulate that NAI can’t move to merge CBS and Viacom for two years, the companies’ boards could independent pursue deals. Bakish, however, wasn’t giving any hints.