CBS & Viacom Merger: Companies’ TV Production Entities To Remain Separate For Now

Because they were once part of one media company that was split into two, the newly reunited CBS and Viacom’s assets fit together with little overlap.

That little overlap includes TV production entities on both sides, CBS TV Studios (CBS Corp.) and Paramount Television (Viacom). For now, I hear the two studios will continue as separate outfits, CBS TV Studios under CBS CEO Joe Ianniello, and Paramount TV under Paramount CEO Jim Gianopulos who reports to ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish.


The long-term prospects are unclear. Paramount Television was started by former Paramount Pictures chief Brad Grey, who came from a strong TV background, with the goal of producing series for the premium/streaming marketplace and exploit the Paramount movie library. While premium content remains the main focus,  Paramount TV recently broadened the scope of its development to also include broadcast, and it also added a current department as part of a ramp-up. .

Meanwhile, CBS TV Studios has transformed itself from a main supplier to CBS and the CW to a studio with a formidable a growing cable/streaming portfolio, in large part driven by the programming needs of streamer CBS All Access.


CBS TV Studios’ most popular series include the NCIS franchise on CBS and the Star Trek franchise on CBS All Access, Paramount TV’s hits include 13 Reasons Why on Netflix and Jack Ryan on Amazon.

There is chatter that, down the road, when the two companies start examining carefully all their assets looking for the projected $500 million in savings, folding Paramount Television into CBS TV Studios would be an option. However, sources caution that for the moment, everything is status quo with no immediate plans for changes.

TV production is a major growth engine right now as need for original content intensifies. While Disney shut down a film label, Fox2000, after the recent acquisition of Fox assets, the company kept all TV production entities intact — 20th Century Fox TV, Fox 21 TV Studios and ABC Studios/ABC Signature, now part of Disney TV Studios, as well as FX Prods. and FX Searchlight’s TV division.

If CBS TV Studios and Paramount TV end up together, we will have history repeating itself.

After CBS and Paramount had originally merged, they consolidated their TV production divisions, Paramount Network Television and CBS Prods., into CBS Paramount Network Television. After the 2016 split, the combined television studio, along with the Paramount TV library, remained at CBS, renamed as CBS TV Studios, while the movie studio, Paramount Pictures, stayed with Viacom.

Over the past 13 years, CBS launched its own film studio, CBS Films, while Paramount Pictures started a TV studio with Paramount Television. CBS Films earlier this year pulled out of the theatrical business, focusing on streaming content.

In addition to CBS TV Studios, at the 2006 split CBS Corp. also kept the broadcast network, CBS, and pay cable network, Showtime, while Viacom also got the suite of basic cable networks, led by MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and BET. CBS Corp had since acquired a basic cable network, Pop, which today was moved to Viacom’s cable group, along with Showtime. 

Because of the proliferation of original content, a couple of Viacom’s cable networks over the past year launched their own production arms, most notably MTV Studios.

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