Bob Bakish, CEO of Paramount, Resigns

Paramount Global CEO Bob Bakish Steps Down as Merger Talks Continue

Bob Bakish, the president and chief executive officer of Viacom, announced on Monday that he will be stepping down from his position at Paramount Global. This decision comes as the company continues negotiations with Skydance Media regarding a potential merger.

Bakish has been with Viacom since 1997 and worked his way up to become CEO in 2016. Following the merger of Viacom and CBS in 2019, he became CEO of the combined company, which was later renamed Paramount Global. Along with stepping down as CEO, Bakish will also be leaving the company’s board of directors.

The new leadership structure, called the “Office of the CEO,” will be led by CBS president and CEO George Cheeks, Chris McCarthy, president and CEO of Showtime/MTV Entertainment Studios and Paramount Media Networks, and Brian Robbins, the head of Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon. They will work closely with Paramount CFO Naveen Chopra and the board to develop a long-range plan to accelerate growth, develop popular content, streamline operations, strengthen the balance sheet, and optimize the streaming strategy.

In their statement announcing the changes, Paramount mentioned that the new leadership team is focused on developing a comprehensive plan to drive growth and enhance the company’s position in the market. They also reported their first-quarter earnings, which included strong results in the streaming segment.

Streaming Continues to Drive Growth for Paramount

Paramount reported mixed results for the first quarter, with earnings beating expectations but revenue falling slightly short. The company posted earnings of 62 cents per share, excluding items, compared to analyst estimates of 36 cents per share. Revenue came in at $7.69 billion, slightly below analyst estimates of $7.73 billion.

The company saw a 6% increase in overall revenue, driven in part by the growth of its direct-to-consumer streaming segment. Revenue from Paramount+, Pluto TV, and BET+ rose 24% to $1.88 billion, with Paramount+ adding 3.7 million subscribers during the quarter, bringing the total to 71 million.

Advertising revenue in the streaming segment also saw strong growth, particularly due to the Super Bowl, which aired on CBS, Nickelodeon, and Paramount+. This event also contributed to a 14% increase in advertising revenue for Paramount’s TV media unit.

Overall, revenue for TV Media was up 1% to $5.23 billion, with affiliate and subscription revenue falling 3% due to cord-cutting trends. Revenue for the filmed entertainment unit increased 3% to $605 million, driven by the success of films like “Mean Girls” and “Bob Marley: One Love.”

Bakish’s Departure Amid Merger Talks with Skydance Media

Bakish’s departure comes at a crucial time for Paramount as they navigate merger negotiations with Skydance Media. CNBC reported that the companies are in exclusive talks to pursue a deal until May 3, with a special committee in place to oversee the process.

While Bakish has privately expressed concerns about the merger, citing potential dilution of common shareholders, Paramount’s controlling shareholder, Shari Redstone, appears to be pushing for his removal to expedite the deal with Skydance. The departure also coincides with negotiations with cable company Charter Communications for the carriage of Paramount’s TV networks, adding further complexity to the situation.

As the company looks to the future under new leadership, the focus will be on accelerating growth, developing engaging content, and optimizing their streaming strategy to capitalize on the changing landscape of media consumption.

Overall, Paramount’s first-quarter results showcase the strength of their streaming segment and the potential for growth in the competitive media industry. With a new leadership team in place, the company is poised to navigate the challenges ahead and continue their evolution in the ever-evolving media landscape.

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