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ViacomCBS Withdraws 2020 Financial Guidance, Plans Cost-Saving Moves

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ViacomCBS on Friday became the latest media giant to warn investors about the grave threat to its business operations posed by the fallout from the global response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The newly merged company said it has undertaken proactive “cost-saving initiatives” to offset the sudden loss of revenue from advertising and other sources as the U.S. and other key markets implemented aggressive social distancing mandates. Disney, Comcast and Sony Corp. have issued similar statements addressing the material impact to operations caused by the global turmoil over the fast-spreading COVID-19 virus.

“The magnitude of the impacts will depend on the duration and extent of the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact of federal, state, local and foreign governmental actions and consumer behavior in response to the pandemic and such governmental actions,” ViacomCBS said in a statement. “Due to the evolving and uncertain nature of this situation, we are not able to estimate the full extent of the negative impact on ViacomCBS’ operating results, cash flows and financial position – including advertising and filmed entertainment revenues – particularly over the near to medium term.”

At the same time, ViacomCBS affirmed its previous guidance to investors that the company would achieve $750 million in synergy saving in the three years following the closing of the deal, which was clinched in early December. The company also said it was on track to have 16 million subscribers for CBS All Access and the standalone Showtime app, as well as 30 million active monthly users on its Pluto TV ad-supported streaming platform.

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