Homepage / Technology / Forget Scripps: New CEO Bob Bakish has brought Viacom back from the dead
Amazon says this Prime Day was its biggest shopping event ever Kudlow says President Trump is 'so dissatisfied' with China trade talks that he is keeping the pressure on As stocks regain their footing, an ominous warning looms Goldman Sachs downgrades Clorox to sell, says valuation is 'unsustainably high' How Satya Nadella has spurred a tripling of Microsoft's stock price in just over four years Kudlow says economic growth could top 4% for 'a quarter or two,' more tax cuts could be coming The one chart that explains Netflix’s stunning comeback US housing starts plunge 12% in June to a nine-month low Aerospace titans Boeing and Airbus top $110 billion in orders at Farnborough Target uses Prime Day to its advantage, logging its 'biggest online shopping day' so far this year Billionaire Marc Lasry sees bitcoin reaching up to $40,000 as it becomes more mainstream and easier to trade These are the 10 US airports where you're most likely to be hacked Amazon shares slightly higher as investors await Prime Day results Wreck of Russian warship found, believed to hold gold worth $130 billion A bullish ‘phenomenon’ in bond market is weeks away from fading, top credit strategist says Stocks making the biggest moves premarket: MS, GOOGL, TXN, UAL, NFLX & more Twitter shares up 50% since late April means most upside priced in, analyst says in downgrade EU fines Google $5 billion over Android antitrust abuse Mortgage applications fall 2.5% as buyers struggle to find affordable homes America may not have the tools to counter the next financial crisis, warn Bernanke, Geithner and Paulson Investors are getting spooked as the risk of a no-deal Brexit rises EU expected to fine Google $5 billion over Android antitrust abuse Ex-FBI chief James Comey urges Americans to vote for Democrats in midterm elections Elon Musk apologizes to British cave diver following baseless 'pedo guy' claim Disney, Comcast and Fox: All you need to know about one of the biggest media battles ever Xiaomi shares notch new high after Hong Kong, mainland China stock exchanges reach agreement The trade war is complicating China's efforts to fix its economy European markets set for a strong open amid earnings; Google in focus Hedge fund billionaire Einhorn places sixth in major poker tournament The biggest spender of political ads on Facebook? President Trump Asian stocks poised to gain after Fed's Powell gives upbeat comments; dollar firmer Stocks are setting up to break to new highs Not all FAANG stocks are created equal EU ruling may be too little, too late to stop Google's mobile dominance Cramer explains how Netflix's stock managed to taper its drop after disappointing on earnings Airbnb condemns New York City's 'bellhop politics,' threatens legal retaliation Amazon sellers say they were unfairly suspended right before Prime Day, and now have two bad choices Investor explains why 'duller' tech stocks can have better returns than 'high-flying' tech names Elon Musk is 'thin-skinned and short-tempered,' says tech VC Texas Instruments CEO Brian Crutcher resigns for violating code of conduct Google Cloud Platform fixes issues that took down Spotify, Snapchat and other popular sites Uber exec: We want to become the 'one stop' transportation app 'What a dumb hearing,' says Democrat as Congress grills tech companies on conservative bias Amazon shares rebound, report says Prime Day sales jumped 89 percent in first 12 hours of the event How to put your medical history on your iPhone in less than 5 minutes Investment chief: Watch these two big events in 2018 Even with Netflix slowing, the market rally is likely not over Cramer: Netflix subscriber weakness debunks the 'sky's the limit' theory on the stock Netflix is looking at watch time as a new area of growth, but the competition is stiff Why Nobel laureate Richard Thaler follows Warren Buffett's advice to avoid bitcoin Rolls-Royce is developing tiny 'cockroach' robots to crawl in and fix airplane engines After Netflix plunge, Wall Street analysts forecast just tame returns ahead for the once high-flying FANG group Roku shares rise after analyst raises streaming video company's price target due to customer growth China is investing 9 times more into Europe than into North America, report reveals Amazon says US Prime Day sales 'so far bigger than ever' as glitch is resolved Netflix is on pace for its worst day in two years US lumber producers see huge opportunity, rush to expand San Francisco to consider tax on companies to help homeless Homebuilder sentiment, still high, stalls as tariffs, labor and land drive up costs Powell backs more rate hikes as economy growing 'considerably stronger' Netflix history is filled with big stock declines – like today – followed by bigger rebounds Intel shares get downgraded by Evercore ISI due to rising competition from Nvidia, AMD Petco aims to reinvent the pet store with something you can't buy online Genetic testing is coming of age, but for consumers it's buyer beware Tech 'FAANG' was the most-crowded trade in the world heading into the Netflix implosion, survey shows Netflix weak subscriber growth may indicate a 'maturity wall' that could whack the stock even more: Analyst This chart may be predicting the bull market's demise Wall Street says Netflix's stock plunge is a ‘compelling’ buying opportunity because the streaming giant ‘never misses twice’ Tesla sinks after Musk tweets, again Boeing announces new division devoted to flying taxis Stocks making the biggest move premarket: NFLX, UNH, GS, AMZN, WMT & more Deutsche Bank downgrades Netflix, but says big subscriber miss is not 'thesis changing' IBM is experimenting with a cryptocurrency that’s pegged to the US dollar North Korea and Zimbabwe: A friendship explained Virgin Galactic spinoff Orbit to launch rockets from the UK with space deal Artificial intelligence will create more jobs than it destroys? That’s what PwC says ‘Treasonous’ Trump and ‘Putin’s poodle:' Scathing headlines follow the Trump-Putin summit China’s fintech companies offer ‘enormous’ opportunity, investment manager says Trump's performance at summit with Putin was 'unprecedented,' experts say Walmart and Microsoft link up on cloud technology as they both battle Amazon European stocks seen mixed amid earnings; Fed’s Powell to address Congress How I knew I should quit my day job and run my start-up full-time: Viral website founder China's stocks have been trounced, but the trade war may ultimately be good news for those shares Billionaire tech investor Peter Thiel bets on crypto start-up Block.one Asian shares subdued open after mixed close on Wall Street; energy stocks under pressure Amazon cloud hits snags after Amazon Prime Day downtime Netflix isn't doomed by one quarter unless people start questioning the long-term investor thesis Tech stocks set to sink on Tuesday after rough evening for ‘FANG’ Netflix plummets after missing big on subscriber growth This wristband lets humans control machines with their minds The U.S. has a rocky history convincing Russia to extradite computer criminals Amazon suffers glitches at the start of Prime Day Jeff Bezos is now the richest man in modern history 'The United States has been foolish': Read Trump and Putin's full exchange Goldman Sachs recommends these 5 highly profitable companies — including Nvidia — to combat rising inflation Goldman Sachs releases 'tactical' stock picks for this earnings season Three red flags for Netflix ahead of its earnings report The bond market may be raising recession fears, but don't expect one anytime soon Cramer: Banks are 'making fortunes' but are still as hated as they were during the financial crisis Putin told Trump at summit: Russia never meddled in US election


Forget Scripps: New CEO Bob Bakish has brought Viacom back from the dead

When Bob Bakish was named acting CEO of Viacom last October, most media reporters and sell-side analysts saw him as a caretaker. They thought it was a signal that Viacom’s owner, Shari Redstone through National Amusements’ controlling stake, was gearing up to merge the company into CBS and let Les Moonves run it.

Nine months later, Bakish is not in fact selling Viacom off for parts. He actually had Viacom in the bidding to acquire Scripps Networks — with an enterprise value of $13 billion. According to The Wall Street Journal, Bakish made a late major push to acquire the set of networks controlling HGTV, the Food Network and the Cooking Channel. (Reuters first reported last week that Viacom was interested.)

Even though Discovery‘s David Zaslav prevailed to win Scripps, just to see Viacom in the mix was a bit of a media shocker.

How did Viacom go from being a laughingstock in the media world to being on the hunt for other acquisitions in nine months?

First, Redstone stepped up and pushed for changes at Viacom’s board level. She brought in Nicole Seligman, former president of Sony Entertainment, and Ken Lerer, the VC behind Huffington Post and Buzzfeed. These changes, in turn, led to the departure of former Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman.

Enter Bakish. The former head of Viacom International was not well-known outside the company but had built up a bunch of fast-growing and profitable international networks. Even today, few investors give Viacom full credit for its investments in India, the U.K.’s Channel 5 and a recent push into Latin America.

While media watchers sat back and waited for Moonves to ride in on a horse, Bakish got down to work on a turnaround strategy.

The rumor mill last fall said Moonves would consider taking on Viacom only if it came at a steep discount — and, perhaps, a meaningful bump to the CBS management team’s compensation.

While Redstone could have forced a merger to give National Amusements control of both CBS and Viacom, she found Bakish’s turnaround plan more appealing.

Since getting the training wheels removed and taking over as permanent CEO, Bakish has gone back to his international playbook and made several other big changes.

  • He’s cut the number of channels in the Viacom portfolio to the strongest ones.
  • He’s changed up management with a nod to people who have had success. Chris McCarthy had given a spark to the old adult contemporary video channel VH1 and was promoted to take over MTV.
  • The dividend was cut.
  • Its stake in Epix was sold for $600 million to pay down debt.
  • Offshore cash was used to make international investments like Argentina’s Telefe.
  • He made longtime Fox exec Jim Gianopulos head of Paramount.
  • He brought Brian Robbins from AwesomenessTV to Paramount to help attract more young adults.
  • He also was able to woo Tyler Perry away from the Oprah Winfrey Network to start producing content for BET starting in 2019.

A skeptic will say: What’s Bakish really done so far? He’s made a bunch of hires, as anyone would in his shoes. Viacom’s stock price is trading at levels it was at the start of 2017 after it became clear Moonves wasn’t riding in on a white knight. Where’s the beef?

But who would have seen Robbins leave the company he founded building YouTube-directed millennial content to come back to Viacom? Who saw Perry leaving Oprah? Who saw Viacom going toe-to-toe with Discovery to buy Scripps?

Viacom’s gone from being a laughingstock to competent. While it’s true that Bakish isn’t a shoe-in to be a first-ballot CEO Hall Of Fame candidate, few saw Viacom coming back from the dead. It still has to put some numbers on the board in the second half of the year and show that its new strategy of not shooting itself in the foot is paying off.

Give Redstone some credit as well. She’s not just attending Sun Valley for the photo ops. As she made clear in her Recode interview back in May, she deeply understands the media business and Bakish wouldn’t be getting a crack at his turnaround plan if it didn’t pass her sniff test.

The bottom line here is that Viacom is back on the offensive and Bakish is planting all the right seeds.

Nick is on a winning streak led by “Paw Patrol.” MTV is trying to follow the VH1 playbook. BET has Perry coming. Trevor Noah has found his footing at Comedy Central. Paramount will take longer to turn around but Gianopulos and Robbins seem the right ones to do it.

They say the key to investing success is to protect your downside and the upside will take care of itself. The last nine months at Viacom have seen a lot of plugging gaping holes. Bakish hopes the upside is soon to arrive.

P.S.: I did a debate with Rich Greenfield last week about whether Disney/ESPN is a buy versus a sell. Take a listen and see who you agree with.

Commentary by Eric Jackson, sign up for Eric’s monthly Tech & Media Email. You can follow Eric on Twitter @ericjackson

Source: Tech CNBC
Forget Scripps: New CEO Bob Bakish has brought Viacom back from the dead

Comments are closed.