counter create hit The King of Content: Sumner Redstone's Battle for Viacom, CBS, and Everlasting Control of His Media Empire - Download Free eBook
Ads Banner
Hot Best Seller

The King of Content: Sumner Redstone's Battle for Viacom, CBS, and Everlasting Control of His Media Empire

Availability: Ready to download

Sumner Murray Redstone, once feared as the “mad genius” of media who would dump his CEOs for mere wobbles in his companies’ stock price, had built one of the world’s greatest media empires through a series of audacious takeovers constructed to ensure that he always maintained control. Today he controls 80% of the voting shares of both Viacom and CBS, meaning that on a whim Sumner Murray Redstone, once feared as the “mad genius” of media who would dump his CEOs for mere wobbles in his companies’ stock price, had built one of the world’s greatest media empires through a series of audacious takeovers constructed to ensure that he always maintained control. Today he controls 80% of the voting shares of both Viacom and CBS, meaning that on a whim he could replace the entire boards of two public companies with a combined value of $40 billion. He spent decades performing meticulous estate planning so that his control would extend beyond the grave (which he loved telling reporters he would never lie in), constructing trusts designed to make it impossible for his heirs to sell his companies after he died. “Unless they start doing terribly,” he told the Wall Street Journal in 2012, “which they will not.” As readers will discover in The King of Content, Redstone’s confidence at the time was not misplaced. His life up to that point had been a story of exceeding expectations, climbing from the son of a linoleum peddler in the Jewish immigrant tenements of Boston’s West End to Harvard Law School, from the president of his father’s regional drive-in movie chain to the owner of Viacom, from a cerebral lawyer who shopped at Filene’s Basement to the owner of a coveted Hollywood studio, and ultimately, after the Viacom-CBS merger, to the controlling shareholder of the largest merged media entity in U.S. history. The credo that he coined and repeated for decades—“content is king”—turned out to be more true in the digital world than he could have ever guessed. Through exclusive interview and hundreds of pages of legal documents, Keach Hagey reveals the story behind the rise and fall of this remarkable figure, and the details of the family members fighting for control of his vast empire. At the heart of all the dueling lawsuits running through the Redstone family is Sumner Redstone’s tumultuous love life —particularly the fallout from his 2002 divorce from Phyllis, his wife of 52 years. More recently, Redstone’s life has become a tabloid soap opera thanks a lawsuit brought by one of his ex-girlfriends, Manuela Herzer. If the judge finds him incompetent, it will greatly increase the pressure on his trustees to begin the process of placing his controlling stakes in the hands of a seven-person trust who are expected to duke it out over what will become of the companies. Yet the appetite for Redstone’s assets is not what it would have been just a few years ago. While CBS—bolstered by its sports rights and the programming prowess of its former actor CEO, Les Moonves—has experienced modest declines in the age of cord-cutting, Viacom’s fall has been dizzying. Ratings at its biggest cable networks, which include MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, BET, and Vstrong, have been falling double-digit percentages for years. A few small cable companies, annoyed at Viacom’s demands for price hikes for their entire package of dozens of channels when ratings were so weak, dropped them altogether last year—a move widely viewed as a canary in the industry coal mine. There’s a corporate whodunnit here, as well as a series of mysteries that has captivated both the business and tabloid press. The answers lie in family feuds, corporate battles and alliances that go back decades, and will be laid bare in this ambitious book.


Compare
Ads Banner

Sumner Murray Redstone, once feared as the “mad genius” of media who would dump his CEOs for mere wobbles in his companies’ stock price, had built one of the world’s greatest media empires through a series of audacious takeovers constructed to ensure that he always maintained control. Today he controls 80% of the voting shares of both Viacom and CBS, meaning that on a whim Sumner Murray Redstone, once feared as the “mad genius” of media who would dump his CEOs for mere wobbles in his companies’ stock price, had built one of the world’s greatest media empires through a series of audacious takeovers constructed to ensure that he always maintained control. Today he controls 80% of the voting shares of both Viacom and CBS, meaning that on a whim he could replace the entire boards of two public companies with a combined value of $40 billion. He spent decades performing meticulous estate planning so that his control would extend beyond the grave (which he loved telling reporters he would never lie in), constructing trusts designed to make it impossible for his heirs to sell his companies after he died. “Unless they start doing terribly,” he told the Wall Street Journal in 2012, “which they will not.” As readers will discover in The King of Content, Redstone’s confidence at the time was not misplaced. His life up to that point had been a story of exceeding expectations, climbing from the son of a linoleum peddler in the Jewish immigrant tenements of Boston’s West End to Harvard Law School, from the president of his father’s regional drive-in movie chain to the owner of Viacom, from a cerebral lawyer who shopped at Filene’s Basement to the owner of a coveted Hollywood studio, and ultimately, after the Viacom-CBS merger, to the controlling shareholder of the largest merged media entity in U.S. history. The credo that he coined and repeated for decades—“content is king”—turned out to be more true in the digital world than he could have ever guessed. Through exclusive interview and hundreds of pages of legal documents, Keach Hagey reveals the story behind the rise and fall of this remarkable figure, and the details of the family members fighting for control of his vast empire. At the heart of all the dueling lawsuits running through the Redstone family is Sumner Redstone’s tumultuous love life —particularly the fallout from his 2002 divorce from Phyllis, his wife of 52 years. More recently, Redstone’s life has become a tabloid soap opera thanks a lawsuit brought by one of his ex-girlfriends, Manuela Herzer. If the judge finds him incompetent, it will greatly increase the pressure on his trustees to begin the process of placing his controlling stakes in the hands of a seven-person trust who are expected to duke it out over what will become of the companies. Yet the appetite for Redstone’s assets is not what it would have been just a few years ago. While CBS—bolstered by its sports rights and the programming prowess of its former actor CEO, Les Moonves—has experienced modest declines in the age of cord-cutting, Viacom’s fall has been dizzying. Ratings at its biggest cable networks, which include MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, BET, and Vstrong, have been falling double-digit percentages for years. A few small cable companies, annoyed at Viacom’s demands for price hikes for their entire package of dozens of channels when ratings were so weak, dropped them altogether last year—a move widely viewed as a canary in the industry coal mine. There’s a corporate whodunnit here, as well as a series of mysteries that has captivated both the business and tabloid press. The answers lie in family feuds, corporate battles and alliances that go back decades, and will be laid bare in this ambitious book.

30 review for The King of Content: Sumner Redstone's Battle for Viacom, CBS, and Everlasting Control of His Media Empire

  1. 5 out of 5

    Erik Benjamin

    A backdoor biography of Shari Redstone, this is a gripping biography of a true empresario of our time

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lucas

    This book takes on multiple themes, from gangster novel, to the history of the American media industry, to the sordid tale of gross people being gross to each other. It is rare for the subject of a biography to be barely in focus for the first 20% of the book, and then suddenly 60 years old when the story begins to truly revolve around them. But in Sumner Redstone's case this seems appropriate. He really became a genuine media mogul around this age, and the juicy details of his falling outs with This book takes on multiple themes, from gangster novel, to the history of the American media industry, to the sordid tale of gross people being gross to each other. It is rare for the subject of a biography to be barely in focus for the first 20% of the book, and then suddenly 60 years old when the story begins to truly revolve around them. But in Sumner Redstone's case this seems appropriate. He really became a genuine media mogul around this age, and the juicy details of his falling outs with family members and co-workers kick into high gear at that point as well. He is such a living stereotype of a billionaire (many marriages/divorces with much younger women, endless lawsuits, unbelievably rude to wait staff, thinks he can live forever) that almost nothing about him is really surprising. Despite his unsavory personality, he is clearly victimized by others around him in old age. He is taken advantage of by several people who manipulate his declining mental capacity to incur money or favor. At one point this book seemed similar to HBO's Succession show in that basically none of the characters are protagonists and it's just a bunch of unlikeable people jockeying for self interest. The author puts forth daughter Shari Redstone as a protagonist at the end of the book, although a great deal of her legacy and the future of Viacom/CBS is obviously still to be written as of 7/8/18. There were also some interesting stories about the ups and downs of Viacom in this book. I found it interesting to learn how much of a deathblow to MTV it was to sue YouTube for playing copyrighted music videos, essentially ruining a relationship with the future platform of music videos. Author Keach Hagey does a great job telling a very twisted and complex story. I'm not totally clear why this book needed to be written at this time, since Sumner Redstone is still alive and there's a lot to be decided still. Any reader with subject matter interest will likely enjoy this book although it may at times feel off putting, since the main subject of this book is also the main antagonist and he's often surrounded by other antagonists.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Tomas Vyskocil

    Studio Paramount patří mezi nejslavnější hollywoodská studia, ale posledních 10 až 15 spíše živoří, chybí mu velké hity i vize, kam se posunout. A tato kniha ukazuje proč. Paramountu totiž dlouhá léta vládl Sumner Redstone, agresivní mediální mogul, typ Ruperta Murdocha. Vypracoval se z problematického dětství (jeho otec byl spojován s vrcholným organizovaným zločinem) až na samotný vrchol a patřil mezi nejbohatší lidi USA v 90. letech. Původně provozoval pouze autokina (ty založil už jeho otec), Studio Paramount patří mezi nejslavnější hollywoodská studia, ale posledních 10 až 15 spíše živoří, chybí mu velké hity i vize, kam se posunout. A tato kniha ukazuje proč. Paramountu totiž dlouhá léta vládl Sumner Redstone, agresivní mediální mogul, typ Ruperta Murdocha. Vypracoval se z problematického dětství (jeho otec byl spojován s vrcholným organizovaným zločinem) až na samotný vrchol a patřil mezi nejbohatší lidi USA v 90. letech. Původně provozoval pouze autokina (ty založil už jeho otec), posléze klasická kina a nakonec multiplexy. Už jako mocný kinař koupil v 80. letech televizní síť Viacom (MTV, Nickelodeon, později Comedy Central) a posléze hlavní stanici CBS a studio Paramount. Kniha se sice jmenuje The King of Content a Redstonovi je připisováno autorství výroku “Content is King”, ale samotný Redstone se o filmy či televizi moc nezajímal. Částečně proto, že většinu svého vládnutí musel tvrdě bojovat o vlastnictví, kde se postupně zbavoval smluvně a soudně všech rodinných příbuzných. Tragické osudy a úmrtí členů rodiny jen dokreslují fakt, že čím více byl úspěšný v obchodu, tím méně se mu dařilo osobně. Posledních 10 probíhaly masivní spory o nástupnictví a zbavení svépravnosti Redstone, který trávil už většinu času jen napojený na lékařské přístroje. Z Kmotra se tak příběh více přepne do Dallasu. Pořád to ale není nikterak zábavné, o filmové branži se toho prakticky nic nedozvíte, naopak soudní spory už jdou do zbytečných detailů. Sumner Redstone zemřel letos v srpnu, kniha končí ale už v roce 2017 a chybí ji tudiž i nějaký významnější konec.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Rishabh Srivastava

    A biography of Sumner Redstone – who is the single largest owner of Viacom-CBS and was instrumental in growing his father's drive-in theatre business into a multi-billion dollar empire. Was hoping for insights about how he grew the company and nuggets of content strategy. Got salacious, personal details about the Redstone family instead. My main takeaways from the book were: 1. According to Redstone, litigation is a tool that can be used to target business adversaries. Litigation isn't for saving A biography of Sumner Redstone – who is the single largest owner of Viacom-CBS and was instrumental in growing his father's drive-in theatre business into a multi-billion dollar empire. Was hoping for insights about how he grew the company and nuggets of content strategy. Got salacious, personal details about the Redstone family instead. My main takeaways from the book were: 1. According to Redstone, litigation is a tool that can be used to target business adversaries. Litigation isn't for saving the world; it's just business 2. Taking a scorched earth, no ground-given approach to strategy is important. There can be significant compromise and lee-way in operations, but a half-here half-there strategy is recipe for disaster 3. Feign ignorance to draw out the truth. When you ask basic questions like “what’s CPM? Why is it important? How do you know ads are working?”, you draw out assumed knowledge of a management team — much or which might be built on wrong or outdated assumptions 4. Strategic nimbleness is important. Big companies almost always have the in-house talent to identify the right deals and trends in the market, but not the corporate nimbleness to execute quickly for buying into/executing on these

  5. 5 out of 5

    Erik Surewaard

    This book is especially relevant due to the current speculation on what will happen with Viacom and CBS. I always though that Sumner Redstone still was in important factor in the discussions, but this book will give you better insights on what is ongoing. I read the autobiography as authored by Sumner Redstone himself a couple of years ago. I must says that “The King of Content” is a way better alternative. This since it also includes the nasty things and is also complete until today (2018). Since This book is especially relevant due to the current speculation on what will happen with Viacom and CBS. I always though that Sumner Redstone still was in important factor in the discussions, but this book will give you better insights on what is ongoing. I read the autobiography as authored by Sumner Redstone himself a couple of years ago. I must says that “The King of Content” is a way better alternative. This since it also includes the nasty things and is also complete until today (2018). Since it is not often that a good biography of an important media player is released, I decided to immediately buy it. And it was a good choice:) I give this book a four star rating. Note: I don’t understand why FT/McKinsey did not include this book in the long list for the Best Businessbook of 2018. This book is a way better and relevant read than the book of Philip Green.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Eric

    Such a timely history of the Redstone dynasty that it is already out of date, barely missing the swirling legal and #MeToo drama of NAI vs. CBS and Shari Redstone vs. Leslie Moonves. I first encountered Sumner Redstone in law school, as the embodiment of the perils of perpetual dual-class stock. Hagey's impeccably researched narrative shows how Sumner earned his position as media mogul and controlling shareholder of Viacom and CBS, then displays how it fell apart as he grew medically incapable.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Karl

    Surprisingly up to date and current. A complete business biography of Sumner Redstone with great insights into the histories of Viacom, Paramount and CBS. This was balanced and did not dwell on the more sordid tabloid news of Redstone’s later life. I feel better informed to understand developments in the ongoing evolution of various Viacom entities.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Michel

    Interesting tale of corporate and family drama The book does a great job of telling the story of Sumner Redstone's ascent to media mogul status and the corporate and family drama surrounding the rise and fall of Viacom. The writing itself is not amazing but the story is rich and riveting.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Priit Rohumaa

    Not a bad book to sneak behind media moguls bedroom/boardroom curtains. Story started like a business book case study and ended like hard-core soap opera! There is a lot to think, after reading a book. Wish I could have such a sex life ar age 90+ years :)

  10. 4 out of 5

    John

    Very well written. Sumner Redstone is one sick puppy and this book does a great job deconstructing his life and career. Came out of it with a ton of respect for Shari Redstone.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Diego Leal

    Interesting story.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Luisa Cobb

    Interesting

  13. 5 out of 5

    John

    Great look at Sumner Redstone's important life story, the entertainment industry over decades of time, and CBS and Viacom.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Peter Sterne

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

  16. 4 out of 5

    John Comfort

  17. 5 out of 5

    René Lankenau

  18. 4 out of 5

    Twister Murchison

  19. 5 out of 5

    Dd

  20. 5 out of 5

    Mike Burch

  21. 5 out of 5

    Web Barr

  22. 4 out of 5

    Paul Vogelzang

  23. 5 out of 5

    Halle

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kerry

  25. 4 out of 5

    Megan Ketterer

  26. 4 out of 5

    Christopher

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jingwei Shi

  28. 5 out of 5

    David W Sewart

  29. 5 out of 5

    Randy fisler

  30. 5 out of 5

    Brittany

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.