Ex-CEO Joe Ianniello Exited CBS With $125 Million Golden Parachute

Who said losing your job has to hurt financially? Joseph Ianniello, the acting CEO of CBS in 2019, was paid $125.4 million in total compensation on Dec. 4, 2019, after being shown the door following the Viacom re-merger, according to a regulatory filing.

To put Ianniello’s golden parachute into perspective, it is more than the $100 million Netflix and WarnerMedia Entertainment each set aside for employees and production personnel fiscally affected by the industry shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Joe Ianniello

It’s also just $25 million less than the $150 million fund Comcast established for employees and related personnel financially impacted by the virus.

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Viacom CEO Bob Bakish, who also assumed Ianniello’s title following the re-merger, earned $8.4 million in total compensation, which included a $230,769 base salary, $5 million in stock options and $3.1 million bonus. He is set to earn $31 million in the current fiscal year.

ViacomCBS CFO Christina Spade was paid $9.4 million, which included $2 million base salary, $4.9 million in stock options and a $2.5 million bonus.

Ianniello, who was CFO of CBS prior to becoming interim CEO following the ouster of Les Moonves for inappropriate workplace behavior, was paid 2.85 million in base salary, $37.4 million in stock options and another $84.7 million in “other compensation” largely due to severance.

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Ex-CBS General Counsel Laura Franco was paid $5.7 in compensation, while in pay, former CBS Chief Legal Officer Lawrence Tu earned $7.2 million.

George Cheeks Named New CBS Chief Executive, Replacing Joe Ianniello

As expected, ViacomCBS Jan. 31 announced that George Cheeks has been appointed president and CEO of CBS Entertainment Group, effective March 23, 2020. He succeeds Joe Ianniello, chairman and CEO of CBS, who will be leaving the company. Ianniello will work with the company to ensure a smooth transition.

George Cheeks

Cheeks joins ViacomCBS from NBCUniversal, where he most recently served as vice chairman, NBCUniversal Content Studios. In his new role, Cheeks will lead CBS-branded assets, including CBS Television Network, which encompasses CBS Entertainment, CBS News and CBS Sports, CBS Television Studios and CBS Television Stations and CBS’ first-run syndication business. He will also partner with the ViacomCBS digital organization on the CBS-branded digital assets, including CBS All Access. Cheeks will report to Bob Bakish, president and CEO of ViacomCBS.

“Throughout his career, George has built broad experience in broadcast and studio operations and brings a unique mix of skills – combining deep commercial expertise and industry relationships with strong creative and programming capabilities,” Bakish said in a statement. “With his finger on the pulse of culture and change and his strong grasp of strategy, brands, audiences and content monetization, George will help CBS build on its position as the most-watched broadcast network and drive results across the entire CBS portfolio.”

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Bakish praised Ianniello for his 22 years at CBS, which included stints as COO and negotiating the minefield following the ouster of previous CEO Les Moonves for inappropriate workplace behavior.

Joe Ianniello

“Thanks in no small part to his efforts, the CBS brand has a strong and loyal following across a variety of platforms – positioning it well for this important next chapter. The board and I wish Joe every success in his future endeavors,” Bakish said.

Ianniello doesn’t leave empty handed. The executive reportedly got a $100 million severance following the merger between CBS and Viacom. He got millions more as acting CEO of CBS Entertainment Group.

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“Throughout my 22-year tenure I have always said that the quality and integrity of the people of CBS are what make it great,” said Ianniello. “We have extraordinary employees at all levels of this organization, and I couldn’t be prouder of how they do their jobs day in and day out. Working with Bob, I now look forward to ensuring a smooth transition to the next phase of leadership of CBS, so that the Eye can continue to thrive, just as it has for so long.”

During his time as acting CEO, Ianniello successfully grew CBS into a global multiplatform premium content company. Prior to that as COO since 2013, he was responsible for establishing and executing company strategy across all businesses. In addition, Ianniello developed and spearheaded the company’s monetization strategy across platforms, including retransmission consent fees and reverse compensation from local television station affiliates, as well as the licensing of the CBS Corporation content around the world for digital streaming and broadband services.

He also oversaw the launch of CBS All Access, CBS’ digital subscription video on-demand and live streaming service, as well as Showtime’s “over-the-top” streaming service. He led CBS’  acquisition of Network 10 in Australia and the split-off of CBS Radio through a merger with Entercom. In addition, he led the conversion of CBS Outdoor into a real-estate investment trust, marking a first for an outdoor advertising business.

As Vice Chairman, NBCUniversal Content Studios, Cheeks helped run NBCUniversal’s television studios. Previously, he served as Co-Chairman of NBC Entertainment, where he was jointly responsible for the network’s primetime, late night and scripted daytime programming – including business affairs, marketing, communications, scheduling, West Coast research and digital operations and first-run syndication.

Prior to joining NBC in 2012, Cheeks served as EVP, Business Affairs and General Counsel for Viacom Music and Entertainment Group, while also serving as Head of Standards and Practices for Viacom Media. Before that, he served in legal roles at Nickelodeon, MTV, CMT and LOGO.

 

Pluto TV: CBS, Viacom Merger Puts AVOD ‘Light Years’ Ahead of Schedule

The re-merger of Viacom and former subsidiary CBS Corp. should help accelerate worldwide distribution of Pluto TV, according to the ad-supported video unit. Viacom acquired Pluto earlier this year for $340 million.

“Today, we are excited to celebrate the union of two major media powerhouses — Viacom and CBS. As a part of the newly established @ViacomCBS media empire, Pluto TV has now jumped light years ahead, accelerating our mission to entertain the planet.” Pluto TV (@PlutoTV) tweeted Dec. 5.

The union presents the combined companies with three branded over-the-top video services in CBS All Access, Showtime OTT and Pluto — the latter ad-supported.

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When CBS launched All Access ($5.99) and Showtime OTT ($10.99), it projected 16 million standalone subscribers by 2022. That tally was reached through the third quarter of the current fiscal year, ended Sept. 30.

Pluto TV in July claimed more than 18 million monthly viewers across more than 28 content channels.

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“As the video marketplace continues to segment, we see an opportunity to support the ecosystem in creating products at a broad range of price points, including free,” Viacom CEO Bob Bakish said in the statement earlier this year.

Last month, Pluto began incorporating new channels from CBS Interactive, including ET Live and CBSN.

“We’re thrilled to be bringing more of our ad-supported streaming channels to the platform with today’s launch of our entertainment news channel, ET Live, and CBSN’s local news channels for New York and Los Angeles,” said Sarah Jeon, EVP of business development at CBS Interactive.

Pluto is also launching curated video channels for third-party clients and events. In September at the Advertising Week confab in New York, Pluto delivered a custom channel that targeted the event’s 100,000 attendees.

The Advertising Week pop-up channel showcased Pluto TV’s ability to create custom channels, a feature that’s appealing to advertisers and publishers seeking to reach fragmented and niche audiences.

The channel underscored the versatility of streaming TV, which Pluto CEO Tom Ryan claims can be programmed for optimal utility without the restrictions of traditional linear networks.

“In many ways, [Pluto] drew inspiration from the things cable TV had done right in terms of creating these interest-based channels that take the work out of entertainment for customers,” Ryan told a separate media confab.

 

Viacom, CBS Close Corporate Re-Merger

ViacomCBS Dec. 4 formally announced the completion of the merger between CBS Corp. and former corporate parent Viacom — the latter also owning Paramount Pictures, MTV, BET, Nickelodeon, Pluto TV and Comedy Central.

On Jan. 1, 2006, Viacom spun off subsidiary CBS into a freestanding television company led by CEO Les Moonves, who was forced out in 2018 following allegations by several women of inappropriate workplace behavior.

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“This is a historic moment that brings together two iconic companies to form one of the world’s most important content producers and providers,” CEO Bob Bakish said in a statement. “Through the combination of CBS’s and Viacom’s complementary assets, capabilities and talented teams, ViacomCBS will create and deliver premium content for its own platforms and for others, while providing innovative solutions for advertisers and distributors globally.”

Building on a collection of franchises and partnerships, ViacomCBS will be home to more than 140,000 premium TV episodes and 3,600 film titles, with global production capabilities and more than $13 billion in annual content investment.

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The company will account for 22% of TV viewership in the U.S. and hold the highest share of broadcast and cable viewing across key audience demographics, with strength in all categories, including News, Sports, General Entertainment, Pop Culture, Comedy, Music and Kids.

Through the strength and scale of these assets, ViacomCBS claims it will be well-equipped to maximize the value of its content for its own platforms and for others, as it meets the growing global demand for third-party premium content. The company’s content scale will support a robust streaming strategy, including ViacomCBS’s own suite of advertising and subscription-based offerings.

In addition, the company’s broad reach, extensive intellectual property portfolio and expertise in advanced marketing solutions will enable it to strengthen its partnerships with distributors and advertisers globally.

CBS, Viacom Merger to Close Dec. 4

CBS Corp. and Viacom have announced that their pending merger is expected to close after market hours on Dec. 4.

Immediately following the closing, the combined company will be renamed ViacomCBS Inc., and it is expected to begin trading on the Nasdaq Global Select Market on Dec. 5 under the new ticker symbols “VIACA” and “VIAC,” according to the companies.

As part of the listing, ViacomCBS will also become eligible for future inclusion in the Nasdaq 100 index.

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Speaking last August with CNBC, Robert Bakish, current Viacom CEO and future head of ViacomCBS, said the combined media company would offer “unmatched scale” with 140,000 television catalog episodes and 3,600 movies, including content from Paramount Pictures and CBS Studios.

The broadcast network’s early move toward direct-to-consumer content distribution with CBS All Access and Showtime OTT and Viacom’s acquisition of ad-supported streaming service Pluto TV has well-positioned the new media company in the streaming video era, he said.

“[That’s] not something people have talked about a lot [regarding the merger],” he said.  “You unite those two together and you really have a D-to-C ecosystem — very compelling — both with substantial, millions of users.”

More ViacomCBS Execs Announced

CBS and Viacom Nov. 18 announced additional senior appointments to ViacomCBS corporate leadership, effective upon closing of the merger.

Alex Berkett, SVP, corporate development and strategy, Viacom, will become EVP, corporate development and strategy, leading ViacomCBS’ efforts to identify, pursue and execute strategic growth opportunities, including acquisitions, partnerships, investments and joint ventures, across all of ViacomCBS’ businesses and geographies.

Nancy Phillips will serve as EVP, chief people officer, and lead the ViacomCBS global human resources organization. Phillips joins the company from Nielsen, where she served as chief human resources officer.

Marva Smalls, EVP, global head of inclusion strategy, Viacom, will serve as EVP, global head of inclusion of ViacomCBS, driving initiatives and fostering partnerships that promote and advance diversity and inclusion for ViacomCBS enterprise-wide both with internal and external stakeholders globally. In addition, she will retain her public affairs responsibilities for Nickelodeon as EVP, public affairs, kids and family entertainment brands, ViacomCBS Media Networks.

Jose Tolosa, chief transformation officer of Viacom, will expand his responsibilities as EVP, chief transformation officer. In this role, he will continue to oversee integration efforts for the combined company, with a focus on accelerating the evolution of its businesses. Tolosa will also lead ViacomCBS strategic planning, helping to set the company’s strategic priorities and support cross-company projects for senior management. Additionally, he will oversee the Global Business Services and Global Sourcing divisions, which will expand their scope, providing enterprise-wide services and helping drive synergies.

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The leadership announcements follow the previously announced appointments of Christa D’Alimonte as EVP, general counsel and secretary; Anthony DiClemente as EVP, investor relations; DeDe Lea as EVP, global public policy and government relations; Julia Phelps as EVP, chief communications and corporate marketing officer, and Christina Spade as Executive Vice President, CFO.

“We now have in place the entire senior management team for ViacomCBS, ensuring we will hit the ground running when the transaction closes in just a few weeks,” stated Bob Bakish, Viacom president and CEO, who will serve as president and CEO of ViacomCBS upon closing. “Working together, these leaders will help us realize the full potential of our considerable assets and competitive strengths.”

The merger of Viacom and CBS remains subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to close by early December.

Pluto TV Adds News, Entertainment Channels

Viacom-owned AVOD service Pluto TV and CBS Interactive announced three additional channels launched Nov. 13 on the free streaming service.

Pluto TV viewers now have access to live news, updates, analysis and reporting from the entertainment news brand ET Live and live local news streams from CBSN New York and CBSN Los Angeles.

The new additions join existing CBS Interactive properties and longstanding Pluto TV media partners CBSN and CNET.

“CBS Interactive has long been an integral partner for Pluto TV. We are excited to continue to grow this relationship and extend new value to the Pluto TV audience together,” Jeff Shultz, EVP and chief business officer, Pluto TV, said in a statement.

“In addition to our previously launched CBSN and CNET channels on Pluto TV, we’re thrilled to be bringing more of our ad-supported streaming channels to the platform with today’s launch of our entertainment news channel, ET Live, and CBSN’s local news channels for New York and Los Angeles,” Sarah Jeon, EVP of business development, CBS Interactive, said in a statement.

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ET Live (channel 120) is a 24-hour streaming network dedicated to all things entertainment, tapping into the legacy of “Entertainment Tonight’s” brand.

CBSN New York (channel 237) was the first of CBS’s local direct-to-consumer streaming news services in major markets across the country. CBSN New York features live streams of WCBS and WLNY’s regularly scheduled newscasts and additional weekday one-hour newscasts at 7 a.m., 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. In addition, CBSN New York provides live continuous coverage of breaking news events with programming led by WCBS and WLNY anchors and reporters as well as an extensive library of local news content that will be available for on-demand viewing.

CBSN Los Angeles (channel 238) features 24-hour anchored programming, coverage of live breaking news events in the region as well as an extensive library of local news content that will be available for on-demand viewing. CBSN Los Angeles’ daily lineup includes live streams of KCBS (CBS 2) and KCAL (KCAL 9), regularly scheduled newscasts and additional weekday one-hour newscasts at 7 a.m. and 1 p.m. CBSN Los Angeles programming is led by CBS 2 and KCAL 9 anchors and reporters.

The new programming and channel collaboration with CBS Interactive joins Pluto TV’s more than 200 live, linear, curated channels and thousands of movies on demand from major studios, networks, publishers and digital media companies.

CBS Ups All Access, Showtime OTT Revenue 39%

Over-the-top video distribution is beginning to generate real money for CBS. The media company now re-merged with former corporate parent Viacom, Nov. 12 said third-quarter (ended Sept. 30) revenue from OTT ventures CBS All Access and Showtime OTT increased 39% compared to the previous-year period.

Indeed, retransmission compensation, reverse comp and virtual MVPD revenue grew 18%, and total affiliate and subscription fees grew 12%, representing more than a third of CBS’ overall revenue in Q3.

Entertainment revenue increased 4% to $2.29 billion from $2.19 billion last year. The growth was led by affiliate and subscription fee revenue, which were up 22%, driven by increases in station affiliation fees and revenue from online TV, as well as subscriber growth at CBS All Access.

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Content licensing and distribution revenue increased 7%, mainly from higher sales of series produced for third parties. Advertising revenue decreased 5% from the third quarter of 2018, primarily as a result of the timing of the broadcast of sporting events and lower revenue during the CBS’ 19-day carriage dispute with AT&T/DirecTV.

Entertainment operating income declined nearly 22% to $302 million compared with $384 million in the prior-year period. The decrease was driven by an increased investment in content, including a higher number of series produced for multiple platforms, as well as the company’s direct-to-consumer streaming services.

“We are building great momentum as we near our merger with Viacom and head into 2020,” Joe Ianniello, acting CEO, said in a statement.

Viacom reports fiscal results on Nov. 14.

Viacom and CBS Announce Leadership After Pending Merger

CBS and Viacom Nov. 11 announced senior appointments for content and digital leadership of ViacomCBS effective upon closing of the merger.

The combined company’s library will comprise 140,000-plus TV episodes and 3,600-plus film titles, according to a joint press release. ViacomCBS will also have more than 750 series ordered or in production, as well as a major Hollywood film studio, Paramount Pictures. The combined company will have a content spend of more than $13 billion — one of the largest in the industry, according to the joint release.

“ViacomCBS will be one of the largest premium content creators in the world, with the capacity to produce content for both our own platforms and for others,” Bob Bakish, president and CEO, Viacom, who will serve as president and CEO of ViacomCBS upon close, said in a statement. “This talented team of content leaders will work together to ensure we realize the full power of our brands, our deep relationships with the creative community and our intellectual property to drive our growth as a combined company.”

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Content leaders, who will manage the creative and business operations of the company’s brands and help assess how best to distribute programming include:

  • Jim Gianopulos, who will oversee Filmed Entertainment, continuing as chairman and CEO of Paramount Pictures, a role that includes oversight of Paramount Animation, Paramount Features, Paramount Players and Paramount TV;
  • Chris McCarthy, president of MTV, VH1, CMT and Logo, who will serve as president of entertainment and youth brands, ViacomCBS Domestic Media Networks — adding Comedy Central, Paramount Network, Smithsonian Channel and TV Land brands and their respective content studios to his current portfolio of MTV, VH1, CMT and Logo;
  • David Nevins, chief creative officer, CBS, and chairman and CEO, Showtime Networks, who will oversee CBS Television Studios, the CBS Television Network’s Entertainment division, the Showtime Networks and Pop, as well as the programming of CBS All Access (He will also have oversight of CBS’ interest in The CW, a joint venture between CBS and Warner Bros. Entertainment. In addition, Nevins will oversee BET, which will continue to be led by Scott Mills as President of BET);
  • Carolyn Kroll Reidy, who will lead the company’s publishing assets, continuing in her role as president and CEO of Simon & Schuster; and
  • Brian Robbins, president of Nickelodeon, who will oversee the company’s kids and young adult-focused offerings as president, kids and family entertainment, ViacomCBS Domestic Media Networks (In addition to Nickelodeon, Nick at Nite, Nick Jr., TeenNick, Nicktoons and Nickelodeon Studios, he will now oversee Awesomeness, which he co-founded and was acquired by Viacom in 2018).

 

Joe Ianniello, as previously announced, will serve as chairman and CEO of CBS, overseeing CBS-branded assets such as the CBS Television Network (including CBS Entertainment, CBS News, and CBS Sports), CBS Television Studios, CBS Interactive (including CBS All Access) and CBS Television Stations.

ViacomCBS will also form a new Content Council, comprising the content leaders across the company and chaired by Nevins, to ensure these leaders and other senior executives are working together to maximize the use of IP and talent relationships across the combined company.

ViacomCBS’ portfolio of streaming assets will include CBS All Access and Showtime, which deliver premium, branded content live and on demand to millions of subscribers; Pluto TV, the leading free, advertising-supported streaming TV service in the United States; and targeted niche products such as BET+, CBSN, CBS Sports HQ, ET Live and Noggin.

“Our content scale will support our streaming strategy, which will build on the rapidly scaling advertising and subscription-based products we already have in the market,” Bakish said in a statement. “The executives we announced today bring complementary and deep experience in both subscription and ad-supported streaming businesses, and will work together to create a differentiated streaming ecosystem in the market.”

ViacomCBS digital leaders include:

  • Marc DeBevoise, president and COO, CBS Interactive, who will serve as chief digital Officer, ViacomCBS, and president and CEO, CBS Interactive, providing overall leadership for the combined company’s technology and digital operations across its broad range of digital assets, including its subscription, live and vertical ad-supported direct-to-consumer streaming services and major internet properties (His team will also be responsible for Viacom Digital Studios as well as its partnerships with technology, digital video and social platforms. In addition, he will continue to lead CBS Interactive and its digital businesses, including those of the CBS Television Network and CNET Media Group and its portfolio of streaming services including CBS All Access, CBSN, CBS Sports HQ and ET Live.);
  • Kelly Day, president, Viacom Digital Studios, who will continue to lead the digital content strategy and initiative to create and expand original programming and branded content across leading and emerging social platforms (In this role, reporting to DeBevoise, she will look to expand this initiative from brands including MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and BET across the combined company’s content portfolio.);
  • Phil Wiser, CTO, CBS, who will serve as CTO for the combined company, reporting to DeBevoise, and will be responsible for the global technology strategy, shared services, operations and transformation for ViacomCBS; and
  • Tom Ryan, CEO and co-founder of Pluto TV, who will continue to lead Pluto TV and will oversee all facets of the company’s business;

 

The merger is expected to close by early December, according to the press release.

Paramount’s Dan Cohen Adds Duties With Viacom/CBS Re-Merger

ViacomCBS announced a series of senior executive changes to go into effect following regulatory approval of the $30 billion re-merger between the two media  companies.

Dan Cohen, president of worldwide home entertainment and television distribution, Paramount Pictures, has been named president, global content licensing at ViacomCBS when the merger is finalized.

Cohen was promoted to worldwide home entertainment and television distribution president in February, assuming the role previously held by Mary Daily, who had overseen international theatrical marketing and home entertainment for Paramount since 2017, but was promoted to co-president of worldwide theatrical marketing and distribution.

Previously, Cohen served as Paramount’s president of worldwide television licensing.

Before joining the studio in 2017, he spent more than 20 years at Disney-ABC, where served as EVP of pay television and digital for Disney-ABC worldwide home entertainment and television distribution. There, he licensed films and series, including across digital platforms, on behalf of Walt Disney Studios, ABC Studios and Disney Channel.

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Cohen reports to Armando Nuñez, president and CEO of CBS global distribution group, and chief content licensing officer of CBS, who will also serve as chairman, global distribution and chief content licensing officer at ViacomCBS.

Nuñez will oversee all content licensing, including worldwide distribution and domestic syndication, for ViacomCBS-owned programming to third-party platforms.

“These appointments mark an important step in the integration of CBS and Viacom,” Bob Bakish, CEO of Viacom and soon-to-be CEO of the combined companies. “The seasoned executives we announced today will capitalize on ViacomCBS’s must-watch programming, iconic library and franchises, as well as its global production capacity to drive important new distribution, content licensing and advertising opportunities all over the world.”