CBS Unveils New Brand Identity Across All Divisions and Platforms

With ViacomCBS readying the reboot of SVOD platform CBS All Access to Paramount+ in 2021, CBS Oct. 8 unveiled a new brand identity aimed at simplifying the look and feel of all its divisions across platforms.

In an announcement by chief marketing officer Mike Benson, the updated brand identity for entertainment programming debuted on the CBS Network this week in advance of the upcoming fall TV show season. Viewers can expect to see it rolled out across CBS News leading up to the 2020 election and for CBS Sports for Super Bowl LV on Feb. 7, 2021.

Similar iterations are being developed for CBS Television Stations and CBS Television Distribution. For example, CBS Television Studios has been renamed CBS Studios.

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The branding is designed to create stronger “continuity and clarity” from the core CBS brand to subsidiaries, while driving attribution for CBS’s content, whether on the brand’s traditional platforms or others such as live, on-demand or streaming video.

“CBS has long been one of the most unifying brands in media,” Benson said. “We needed to make that clearer and more consistent at every consumer touchpoint.”

Benson, who worked with ad agency Gretel on the rebranding, said the improvements draw upon CBS’s 91-year history, with key visual and audio elements from the past integrated into the new aesthetic. The ubiquitous CBS Eye logo remains central to the new identity in a unique animated way. The voiceover “This is CBS,” which was used for decades on the company’s radio and television broadcasts beginning nearly a century ago, is another example of legacy elements playing a strong role moving forward.

New elements of the CBS brand strategy include:

  • The iconic CBS Eye will be used across the brand identity in a flexible style that elevates it as a standalone logo and leans into the shapes and elements that make it up.
  • Brand attribution will be applied to programming and promotion that drives better connection between the CBS core brand, its sub-brands and our premium content available across CBS-owned and third-party platforms.
  • Content on CBS and CBS-owned platforms will be tagged with “CBS Original,” “CBS News,” “CBS Sports” or “CBS Presents” to reinforce its role as a leading creator and content provider for its platforms and many others. For example: “CBS Presents The 56th Academy of Country Music Awards.”
  • Content produced by CBS Studios will also include “A CBS Studios Production” and CBS Studios branded marks.
  • An audio expression of the updated brand identity comes to life in a five-note mnemonic written by assigning musical notes to the historic “This is CBS” voiceover slogan, creating a new melody and animation that will appear at the top of the hour during primetime programming on CBS.
  • Unified logos and graphics that simplify and closely identify CBS as the core brand across divisions.
  • Updated avatars and watermarks to be used across all CBS social media handles.

‘Irresistible,’ ‘Rogue’ Top Slate of New Disc Releases, While ‘Beetlejuice,’ ‘Goonies’ Bow on 4K Ultra HD

The political satire Irresistible, from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, and Lionsgate’s action thriller Rogue, with Megan Fox as a battle-hardened mercenary, top the slate of new disc releases available Sept. 1.

Written and directed by Jon Stewart, Irresistible features a cast headed by Steve Carell, Rose Byrne, Chris Cooper, Mackenzie Davis and Topher Grace. Carell portrays a campaign strategist who runs a Democratic mayoral candidate (Cooper) in a small right-wing town.

The film, from Focus Features, was rerouted from a May 2020 theatrical release by the coronavirus pandemic and instead debuted in June on premium VOD. It became available through regular digital channels on Aug. 18.

Read John Latchem’s review of the Irresistible Blu-ray Disc here

Rogue finds Samantha O’Hara (Fox) leading a team of soldiers-for-hire on a daring mission to rescue hostages from their captors in rural Africa.  They wind up stranded and have to battle not only brutal rebels but also a horde of enraged lions.

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Also out Sept. 1 are 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray editions of the Tim Burton ghost movie Beetlejuice and the 1980s cult favorite adventure The Goonies, both from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

Beetlejuice (1988) stars Michael Keaton as a ghost who helps a recently deceased couple played by Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis haunt their former home. The Goonies (1985),  based on a story by executive producer Steven Spielberg, follows a band of kids from the blue-collar “Goon Docks” neighborhood who set out to save their homes from foreclosure by following an old treasure map.

On the TV front, consumers as of Sept. 1 can buy, on disc, the complete third season of “Young Sheldon” (from Warner Bros.), the second season of “Magnum P.I.” (from Paramount/CBS), and the first season of “Blood & Treasure” (also from Paramount/CBS).

New digital releases include Guest House, from Lionsgate, and Breaking the Chain, from Virgil Films, the company headed by industry veteran Joe Amodei. Guest House is a comedy about an engaged couple whose new dream home comes with a slight drawback: a party animal who lives in the guest house. Breaking the Chain is an animal-rescue documentary that follows fieldworkers with PETA’s Community Animal Project as they visit impoverished areas of Virginia and North Carolina to give care to mistreated animals.

A complete list of new disc and digital releases, compiled each week by the Media Play News market research team, can be found here.

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.