Shari Redstone said CBS, Viacom are right to explore merger

Shari Redstone
Todd Williamson Archive | Contributor | Getty Images

Shari Redstone, vice chair of the board at CBS and Viacom, said it makes sense for the two companies to explore ways they can merge.

"Scale will matter to your advertisers, who more than ever have to reach the consumer on a number of platform," Redstone said. It's going to give us leverage with some of our partners."

Redstone spoke from the DealBook Conference in New York City, moderated by CNBC anchor and New York Times columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin and the editors of Times. The conference focuses on "playing for the long term" in a business environment that's shackled to quarterly returns and compressed news cycles.

Viacom, the parent company of MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and others, has been embroiled in a battle over the control of the company. Redstone's father, Sumner, the controlling shareholder of Viacom and CBS, escalated an ouster of Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman earlier this year.

"I can't say it was great year, or the most fun year I've ever had, but if I look back from last year, the battles are over," Redstone said. "We have a great CEO at Viacom who I'm super excited about. He does a great job of our international business, embraces change and innovation, understands its all about the brand…we have a great board…it's been a tough year, but a year ago, to be sitting here today and talk about all we have accomplished, I don't think I would have believed it."

Shari Redstone's involvement in the company has deepened as of late, Variety reported this week. It comes as the media industry has faced increasing pressure to consolidate, as traditional cable bundles increasingly compete with over-the-top services.

While Viacom and CBS are strong enough to stand on their own, she said the paths of the two companies, once merged, "could have gone differently." Still, she was limited in what she could share, as she's being intentionally left out of the independent review of any merger possibility.

Redstone said that CBS's Les Moonves is one of the best in content – and content is still king. She gave the potential AT&T –Time Warner merger agreement as an example.

"We're continuing to see the combination of content and distribution," she said. "[Consumers]'re going to find it where they're going find it."

The emphasis on content is part of why she and her father fought for Paramount Pictures, she said.

"When you look at being in the business of creating content, you really want to have a studio for creating content," Redstone said. "The studio of the future is creating content across multiple platforms. Want to look at content as a way to create television … for Snapchat."

Despite criticism from rivals, Redstone said that data is increasingly important for advertisers and to know where viewers are going next.

"It's great to have data, but at the end of the day, you have to surround yourself with people that know content," Redstone said.