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Viacom CEO Bob Bakish Says Non-Sports Bundles Are Future of Pay-TV

Bakish also sheds light on Viacom’s dramatic reshuffling of senior executives

Viacom CEO Bob Bakish has presided over a dramatic reshuffling in his nine months atop the media conglomerate, saying the personnel was not up to par when he took over the owner of storied entertainment brands including Paramount, MTV and Nickelodeon

“Candidly, I thought we could have a much stronger team,” Bakish told investors at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference in New York Wednesday.

But after replacing executives at nearly every Viacom company, most notably tapping former Fox film chief Jim Gianopulos to run struggling Paramount, Bakish said the company now has a “first-rate team” — singling out Gianopulos for extra praise.

“He’s everything I hoped he’d be,” Bakish said.

With cord-cutting continuing to accelerate, Bakish also weighed in on Viacom’s plans to thrive in the changing pay-TV world. He said U.S. pay-TV was traditionally based on a large bundle, and the smaller $35 to $40 products that have emerged recently, like Sling TV and YouTube TV, haven’t yet gained significant traction.

Bakish said that’s the case because those products are largely built around broadcast networks and sports, “and if you really like sports, you want a bigger bundle.”

However, he said sports-less “entertainment packs” have done well overseas, and he sees them coming to the U.S., which will be a “positive catalyst” for Viacom.

“There’s clear data to suggest that a lower price point that does not include sports has consumer appeal.”