Ooh! A story about corporate mergers and acquisitions! I can’t wait! This is going to be so …. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
I know how you feel. I spent several years as a business-to-business newspaper reporter, where I can read through SEC filings faster than an investor. And the last thing I would want to read on a site designed to celebrate geekdom is the boring world of accountants, stockbrokers and the Starbucks baristas that never let them sleep.
Yet, if you haven’t been paying attention to recent reports that CBS Corp. and Viacom Inc., I beg you to at least give me a couple more paragraphs to make it worth your while. Because it’s not just about stock prices and profit margins, it’s also about one of the largest science-fiction properties we could ever love, adore and worship.
You know what I’m talking about … Star Trek.
Right now, the rights to Star Trek are split between CBS and Viacom’s Paramount Pictures division. To simplify it, Paramount has the movie rights (which is why you see the Paramount logo ahead of films, like last summer’s Star Trek: Beyond) while CBS has the rights to just about everything else – television, home video, merchandising, books, you name it.
Of course, it hasn’t always been like this. In fact, until 2006, Star Trek was owned by just one company: Viacom. They acquired the rights through a long chain of ownership beginning with Lucille Ball’s Desilu Productions in the 1960s, which was later acquired by Paramount (owned at the time by Gulf + Western), which was later bought out by Viacom … you don’t need me to go through the whole thing.
However, 2006 was a crazy year for Star Trek. Viacom, for whatever crazy reasons, decided to spin off CBS. And instead of either deciding to keep Star Trek with the old Viacom or the new CBS, the companies literally split the baby.