When Shari Redstone merged her two TV companies, Viacom and CBS, two months ago, a top priority was overcoming years of sibling rivalry between the two companies, once part of a single firm that split apart in 2005. Over the past few weeks, she and her CEO, Bob Bakish, have taken a major step in that direction by assembling a management team composed of top executives from both sides.
The bigger challenge now for ViacomCBS Executive Chair Redstone, Bakish and the new team is reviving growth at the company. As the owner of cable channels like MTV and Nickelodeon, ViacomCBS has been hit hard by the shift of viewers away from cable TV toward streaming. To turn ViacomCBS around, Bakish is pursuing a risky balancing act: He wants to sell programming to Netflix, Amazon and whoever else will buy it, even as he tries to expand ViacomCBS’ own small streaming services, CBS All Access and Showtime. Wall Street has been skeptical about whether Bakish’s strategy can work: ViacomCBS’ stock is down 15% since the merger.