What now for Star Trek after CBS/Viacom merge?

CBS and Viacom two of the world’s leading entertainment companies, today announced they have entered into a definitive agreement to combine in an all-stock merger, creating a combined company with more than $28 billion in revenue.

The union means their will be a greater focus on “Star Trek”, what with the franchise now back under one roof.

What that means is that things will be more streamlined – much like Marvel Studios, where their TV offerings and feature features aren’t two totally separate entities. Great news for “Trek” fans, as it means we’ll likely see some exciting new “Trek” films come to fruition – and some that might be connected to CBS’s small-screen “Trek” offerings, like “Discovery”.
It’s already been speculated that Alex Kurtzman will be anointed to oversee the entire “Star Trek” universe, meaning, with Romulan Ale in hand, he’ll be the one deciding what goes and what doesn’t as far as new “Trek” projects go.

So where does that leave Quentin Tarantino’s proposed “Star Trek” movie? Might the combined company ‘ViacomCBS’ – or more so, Kurtzman – be as keen for an R-rated “Trek” movie, one that goes against the grain of every instalment that preceded it, as the old guard seemingly were?

It’d be a shame if they didn’t go for it, if only because it’ll breathe new life into the franchise and also because it seems to be coming along quickly (there now exists a script and there’s even been the suggestion that Tarantino – who, as I said earlier this week, I’m predicting won’t direct but will produce the thing – wants Margot Robbie and Brad Pitt to star in it), but the coming weeks will likely shine a light on it’s prognosis.

At the same time, despite their efforts, Paramount haven’t been able to get a new “Star Trek” movie off the ground. For numerous reasons, but mainly cold feet (which explains Chris Pine exiting after being offered a lower fee than usual to reprise his Captain Kirk) after the lackluster performance of “Star Trek : Beyond”, the studio have essentially paused on everything big-screen Enterprise. At least, I feel, this new guard will be able to get the feature division going again.

So, to break this down, this combined company, ViacomCBS Inc., will be a leading global, multiplatform, premium content company, with the assets, capabilities and scale to be one of the most important content producers and providers in the world. The combined company will be a scale player globally, with leadership positions in markets across the U.S., Europe, Latin America and Asia. This includes the largest television business in the U.S., with the highest share of broadcast and cable viewing across all key audience demographics, and strength in every key category, including News, Sports, General Entertainment, Pop Culture, Comedy, Music and Kids – making it a first-choice partner to distributors and advertisers. In addition, the combined company will possess a portfolio of fast-growing direct-to-consumer platforms, including both subscription and ad-supported offerings. It will also include a major Hollywood film studio, Paramount Pictures, which has been a producer and global distributor of filmed entertainment for more than a century and continues to be a global box office driver. Taken together, these distinct strengths will accelerate CBS and Viacom’s ability to deliver an array of compelling content to important and diverse audiences across both traditional and emerging platforms around the world.

Bob Bakish, President and Chief Executive Officer, Viacom, will become President and Chief Executive Officer of the combined company. Bakish said: “Today marks an important day for CBS and Viacom, as we unite our complementary assets and capabilities and become one of only a few companies with the breadth and depth of content and reach to shape the future of our industry. Our unique ability to produce premium and popular content for global audiences at scale – for our own platforms and for our partners around the world – will enable us to maximize our business for today, while positioning us to lead for years to come. As we look to the future, I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunities ahead for the combined company and all of our stakeholders – including consumers, the creative community, commercial partners, employees and, of course, our shareholders.”

Joe Ianniello, President and Acting Chief Executive Officer, CBS, will become Chairman and CEO of CBS. Ianniello, who will oversee all CBS-branded assets in his new role, said: “This merger brings an exciting new set of opportunities to both companies. At CBS, we have outstanding momentum right now – creatively and operationally – and Viacom’s portfolio will help accelerate that progress. I look forward to all we will do together as we build on our ongoing success. And personally, I am pleased to remain focused on CBS’s top priority – continuing our transformation into a global, multiplatform, premium content company.”

Shari Redstone, Vice Chair of the Boards of Directors, CBS and Viacom, said: “I am really excited to see these two great companies come together so that they can realize the incredible power of their combined assets. My father once said ‘content is king,’ and never has that been more true than today. Through CBS and Viacom’s shared passion for premium content and innovation, we will establish a world-class, multiplatform media organization that is well-positioned for growth in a rapidly transforming industry. Led by a talented leadership team that is excited by the future, ViacomCBS’s success will be underpinned by a commitment to strong values and a culture that empowers our exceptional people at all levels of the organization.”

The combined company will possess a portfolio of powerful consumer brands, including CBS, Showtime, Nickelodeon, MTV, BET, Comedy Central and Paramount Network, as well as one of the largest libraries of iconic intellectual property, spanning every key genre and addressing consumers of all ages and demographics. This library comprises 140,000+ TV episodes and 3,600+ film titles, and reunites fan-favorite franchises such as ”Star Trek” and ”Mission: Impossible”. The combined company will also have more than 750 series currently ordered to or in production. In addition, it will include a major Hollywood film studio, Paramount Pictures, which creates and distributes feature-length entertainment around the world. The combined company will also be one of the largest content spenders, with more than $13 billion spent in the last 12 months.

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