Viacom’s Empire History


Viacom is one of the top entertainment companies in the entertainment industry. Viacom began as a spin off media entertainment company from CBS in 1971. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Viacom was becoming bigger and bigger with the strategy of merging with other programs. During this time, Viacom owned television and radio stations as well as cable franchises and was the tenth largest cable system in the United States.  Like other big entertainment companies during this time, Viacom was producing and distributing programming for their own cable systems.

By 1987 Viacom owned MTV, Nickelodeon, Showtime, The Movie Channel and VH1.

In 1993 Viacom took over Paramount through it’s parent company, Sumner Redstone’s National Amusements. Because of Paramounts lack of success in their films during this time, they became a promising takeover for Viacom. While it may have seemed like an easy target, QVC stepping in with the an $8.5 billion bid for Paramount where Viacom’s bid was under. They bid for Paramount for almost half a year. Eventually Viacom got Paramount in 1994 which named them the second largest media syndicate in the world. An empire was created touching upon all aspects of media which gave them more power within the industry. Also in 1994, Viacom got ownership of the well known retail store, Blockbuster for $8.4 Billion. Not only were they in control of their broadcast distributing of a great amount of TV and film, they were also getting revenue from VHS rental sales.


According to Holt, Viacom’s on content gain over pipelines, unlike Time Warner, enabled it’s success. They were able to group together over 8,500 films and even more televisions under one name along with a plethora of television series, not to mention their control over distribution and revenue from the distribution, ie. Blockbuster.

If we can learn anything from Viacom’s rise to an empire in the entertainment industry it is that success comes from working together. Although this may ring true, does the entertainment industry run efficiently when content and programming is under a few names? Do the different aspects of an empire receive as much attention as they should to be creating their best possibly work? Will the industry one day be run by one name only? How is Viacom responding to the internet as an yet another alternative format for entertainment?

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