Headquarters: 1515 Broadway
New York, NY 10036
Phone: (212) 258-6000
CEO: Philippe Dauman
Stock Symbol: VIA
Viacom is a leading media company owning some of the world's best-known cable networks including MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, BET, CENTRIC, Spike, TV Land and CMT. The company reaches over 700 million households in more than 160 countries around the world and also owns movie studio Paramount Pictures.
MTV is best-known for its youth-oriented programming and Video Music Awards even thought the network no longer airs music videos anymore.
Viacom is led by 91-year old Sumner Redstone, who became Chairman when his company National Amusements acquired a controlling interest in Viacom in 1987. National Amusements is the parent company of Viacom and operates 1,400 movie screens in the U.S.
Viacom generates revenues from advertising, cable network fees and licensing fees.
In fiscal 2014, the company reported revenues of $13.78 billion, essentially same from the previous year, and net income of $2.39 billion.
The company reportedly laid off 400 workers in 2015 due to declining ratings at various cable networks.
Viacom originated as CBS Films, the television syndication division of CBS. In 1971, the division was renamed VIACOM (Video & Audio Communications), and in 1973 it was spun off, amid new FCC rules forbidding television networks from owning syndication companies (the rules were later repented).
In 1985, Viacom bought Warner-Amex Satellite Entertainment, which owned MTV and Nickelodeon, renaming the company MTV Networks. Viacom also received Showtime Networks, Inc. (which included Showtime and The Movie Channel), which has retained its original name, Showtime Networks, Inc. In 1986, Viacom was bought by movie theater owner National Amusements, which brought Sumner Redstone to the company. Redstone made a string of large acquisitions in the early 1990s, announcing plans to buy Paramount Communications, parent of Paramount Pictures, in 1993, and buying the Blockbuster Video chain in 1994.
The Blockbuster acquisition gave Viacom access to large television holdings controlled by Aaron Spelling's company, Spelling Entertainment; along with his own productions (such as The Love Boat and Beverly Hills 90210), Spelling controlled the pre-1973 ABC and NBC back catalogs by way of Worldvision Enterprises and Republic Pictures. After these acquisitions, Viacom owned many movie and television production and syndication units, which were slowly integrated into Paramount; many TV shows previously distributed by Viacom, Republic or Worldvision have since gained Paramount closing logos.
In 1999, Viacom made what has been its biggest acquisition so far, by announcing plans to buy its former parent CBS. The merger was approved in 2000, bringing cable channels TNN (now Spike TV) and Country Music Television (CMT) under Viacom's wing, as well as CBS's production units and TV syndicators Eyemark (formerly Group W) and King World. As of this writing, CBS's production unit and King World (which has since absorbed Eyemark) are operating under their own names, as parts of CBS, and no attempt has been made thus far to move them around in Viacom's corporate structure; however, TNN and CMT were merged into MTV Networks almost immediately.
Viacom spun off CBS on January 1, 2006.
Updated July 1, 2015