Is CBS the next media acquisition?

CBS is perhaps the most obvious media company to be the next target for larger acquirers. The $21B company has the leading TV network in the US and over 5M subscribers between two OTT platforms (CBS All Access and Showtime) in addition to a leading book publisher (Simon & Schuster), deep content libraries, numerous digital media properties, and a global presence.

Controlling shareholder Shari Redstone seems interested in that outcome (as does CBS leadership) and it would resolve the open conflict between her National Amusements and the CBS board. The loser of the Comcast and Disney bids for Fox would be a natural choice here, but with regulatory risk since the combination of ABC or NBC with CBS would dominate US airwaves (but the FCC is working to remove limits of TV ownership anyway).

Apple and Amazon make sense from the tech side; $13B Discovery and/or $4.8B Lionsgate might offer a valuable merger to become a bigger force in content; Verizon seems to have lost ambitions in content M&A but could return, or John Malone could approach it via Charter Communications (the #2 cable operator in the US).

…fuboTV looks like an attractive M&A target too (on a far smaller scale…its subscriber base is in the low hundreds of thousands). It’s quickly become a go-to OTT service for sports. It would help Apple, Amazon, and Facebook with their push into streaming sports; it would be a natural extension of Discovery’s global sports and reality TV focus; it could augment or merge with ESPN+ to ensure Disney has the dominant OTT sports platform; or it could be a valuable add-on by other media players to counter ESPN+; FOX and Sky are already investors in fuboTV too…if they combine maybe they offer to pull fuboTV into the combination.

2018 FIFA World Cup

Today is the start of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia (ending July 15). In the US, FOX has the English-language TV rights while Telemundo has the Spanish-language TV rights; fuboTV is streaming the games via its FOX partnership. Here’s the list of all the broadcast, streaming, and radio rights by country: link.

Team USA didn’t qualify for the first time since 1986, which is a big blow to FOX since casual viewers are unlikely to watch. It paid $400M to outbid ESPN in 2011 for the 2018 & 2022 rights plus the 2015 & 2019 women’s World Cup rights. Telemundo also outbid Univision at the time. The 2014 World Cup brought an avg TV audience of 4.3M to ESPN (+50% from 2010) and 3.4M to Univision.

In 2014, 3.2B people (45% of the world population) tuned in over TV for at least 1 minute and 280M tuned in online. 2.1B people watched for at least 20 minutes. The average audience per match was 187M. Those numbers exclude out-of-home viewing. (source)