Paramount was a no-show on Oscars Sunday with just two nominations (sound and visual effects for “Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning”) and no wins, but for president and CEO Bob Bakish, Monday is no better.

This morning, media analyst Rich Greenfield of LightShed Partners published a blistering open letter to Paramount controller Shari Redstone: “Dear Shari: Why You Must Fire Bob Bakish to Save Paramount.” Here we go.

Greenfield said Bakish was the man for the job… in 2016, when Viacom and CBS were still split (and Les Moonves had the top job at CBS a job). But with the creation of Paramount Global (fka ViacomCBS), Bakish made the “critical mistake” — Greenfield’s words — of getting wrapped up in the streaming wars.

The mistake, according to Greenfield, was creating Paramount+. By attempting to reinvent niche service CBS All Access as a Netflix competitor, Paramount+ may have created a “mountain of entertainment.” When a mountain of subscribers did not follow, (it now has 68 million), Bakish did what others have done: He put most of his best stuff on streaming.

Like other newer entrants, Paramount+ needed to scale quickly to compete. With that in mind, Bakish allowed CBS’ NFL games to live stream on the service. This had the undesired effect of devaluing Viacom: CBS held the NFL rights, which also served to protect the cable channels bundled with the network.

Screw that noise, Greenfield (basically) wrote. Instead, Paramount could have led a nice dual existence as 1) an arms-dealer studio that sells content to the highest bidder (think: Sony), and 2) a linear TV company that leveraged NFL rights to aid its little brothers MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, etc.

Instead, Bakish focused on making Paramount desirable for acquisition (oh, the irony) and worried that buyers might be turned off if they could not access Paramount’s (licensed) content, Greenfield wrote.

A spokesperson for Paramount declined comment on this story.

So here we are. Paramount+ is a middling streamer, now expected to be profitable in the U.S. in 2025. Paramount’s cable channels are dying, and its NFL games are available for the entry-level Paramount+ price of $5.99/month.

“Paramount+ is simply not a daily use streaming platform,” Greenfield wrote, and Paramount Global probably lacks “the financial capacity to get there.”

Perhaps it should have sold Showtime for $3 billion when it had the chance. Greenfield blamed that bad call on Bakish, too. And that’s fair, the ($3 billion) buck stops with the CEO.

Shari Redstone and Tom Cruise at the premiere of "Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One" held at Rose Theater, at Jazz at Lincoln Center's Frederick P. Rose Hall on July 10, 2023 in New York, New York. (Photo by Lexie Moreland/Variety via Getty Images)
Shari Redstone and Tom Cruise at the premiere of “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One”Variety via Getty Images

“It may already be too late to save Paramount,” Greenfield wrote — but “step one” is to “dramatically” scale back Paramount+ to “protect” Paramount Global’s relationships with cable providers. (On a recent earnings call, Bakish said he has “many levers to pull in these distribution deals” to keep the MVPDs — Multichannel Video Programming Distributors — appeased.)

Step two?

“We believe Shari Redstone and National Amusements must terminate Bob Bakish and seek new leadership at Paramount immediately,” Greenfield wrote. “It may already be too late to save Paramount, but a new strategic direction is the best hope Redstone and National Amusements have for saving what is left of the company.”

Redstone may never have to make that decision. She is currently in talks with David Ellison’s Skydance for a potential merger of their two companies, with the most-likely scenario seeing Ellison buying Redstone out of NAI (as opposed to purchasing Paramount Global outright). And should Paramount be taken over and Bakish fired, his fall will be cushioned by a $50 million golden parachute.

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