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Sony, Apollo to sell Paramount-owned TV networks if deal approved

CBS, MTV and Paramount Plus could be divorced from the Paramount Pictures, according to a report.

CBS, MTV and Paramount Plus could be divorced from the Paramount Pictures, according to a report.

Paramount Plus with Showtime will offer streaming access to March Madness tournament games aired by CBS. (Graphic by The Desk)
Paramount Plus with Showtime offered live access to March Madness games on CBS. Paramount Plus and CBS could be sold off by Sony and Apollo if their acquisition of Paramount Global is approved. (Graphic by The Desk)

Sony and Apollo Global Management intend to sell of Paramount Global’s linear broadcast and television networks if its offer to acquire the company is approved, according to a report.

On Wednesday, the New York Times said Sony and Apollo would “auction off” the CBS broadcast network and co-owned cable channels like MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon, TV Land, CMT and BET if Paramount’s board and shareholders approve its $26 billion takeover offer.

The report said Sony and Apollo are likely to keep the famed Paramount Pictures studio and Paramount’s intellectual content, including shows like “Spongebob Squarepants,” “Paw Patrol,” “Star Trek” and “Mission: Impossible.” But it would sell off Paramount Plus with Showtime, the direct-to-consumer streaming service that relaunched from CBS All Access several years ago, the Times said, citing sources familiar with the matter.

Less clear is what Sony and Apollo would do with Paramount’s other streaming platforms, including its free, ad-supported streamer Pluto TV and its controlling stake in BET Media, which operates BET Plus. It also wasn’t clear what Sony and Apollo would do with Paramount’s international TV networks like Britain’s Channel 5 and Australia’s Network 10.

Sony and Apollo, jointly, are one of several parties interested in acquiring some or all of Paramount. Until last week, the Paramount board was entertaining a proposed merger with the production company Skydance Media, one that some institutional and retail investors opposed. Paramount’s board and representatives from Skydance held pre-merger discussions on an exclusive basis for several weeks; the window of exclusivity closed last Friday with no concrete deal in place.

Allen Media Group founder Byron Allen has also expressed interest in acquiring Paramount, primarily for those linear broadcast and cable networks that Sony and Apollo want to sell off. Allen previously submitted a $14 billion bid for Paramount, one that the company’s board shrugged off over concerns about Allen’s ability to finance the offer. Allen also made several unsuccessful bids for BET Media.

Executives from Paramount and rival entertainment giant Warner Bros Discovery (WBD) also discussed a potential tie-up between their two brands, but those conversations did not materialize into a formal offer from either party. WBD stopped pursuing a merger or partnership with Paramount earlier this year, according to CNBC. Paramount CEO Robert Bakish, who was part of those discussions, left the company last month.

Like other entertainment companies, Paramount’s broadcast and cable networks have been a pain point for the company. The company’s television segment — which includes domestic and international linear networks — generated $5.231 billion in revenue during the first three months of 2024. The amount represented an increase of just 1 percent compared to the $5.193 billion earned during the same period last year. The TV business was buoyed from Paramount’s telecast rights to Super Bowl LVIII, which aired on CBS and Nickelodeon and streamed on Paramount Plus.

During 2023, Paramount’s TV earned in $20.085 billion in revenue, or 8 percent less than what the TV segment earned the company one year prior. Advertising revenue dropped 12 percent to $8.188 billion in 2023, according to the company’s financial earnings report, while operating expenses climbed 12 percent to $15.294 billion.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 10 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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