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

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

by Keach Hagey


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The remarkable story of Sumner Redstone, his family legacy, and the battles for all he controls.

Sumner Murray Redstone, who lived by the credo "content is king," leveraged his father’s chain of drive-in movie theaters into one of the world’s greatest media empires through a series of audacious takeovers designed to ensure his permanent control. Over the course of this meteoric rise, he made his share of enemies and feuded with nearly every member of his family.

In The King of Content, Keach Hagey deconstructs Redstone’s rise from Boston’s West End through Harvard Law School to the highest echelons of American business. Today the ninety-five-year-old mogul’s life has become a tabloid soap opera, the center of acrimonious legal battles throughout his vast holdings, which include Paramount Pictures and two of the largest public media companies, Viacom and CBS. At the heart of these lawsuits is Redstone’s tumultuous love life and complicated relationship with his children. Redstone’s daughter, Shari, has emerged as his de facto successor, but only after she ousted his closest confidant in a fierce power struggle.

Yet Redstone’s assets face an existential threat that goes beyond his family, disgruntled ex-girlfriends, or even the management of his companies: the changing nature of media consumption. As more and more people cut their cable cords, CBS, with its focus on sports and broadcast TV, has held steady, while Viacom, with its once-great cable channels like MTV and Nickelodeon, has suffered a precipitous fall. As their rivals merge, the question is whether Shari’s push to undo her father’s last big strategic maneuver and recombine CBS and Viacom will be enough to shore up their future.

A biography and corporate whodunit filled with surprising details, The King of Content investigates Redstone’s impact on business and popular culture, as well as the family feuds, corporate battles, and questionable alliances that go back decades—all laid bare in this authoritative book.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062654090
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 06/26/2018
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 1,065,791
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Keach Hagey is a reporter at the Wall Street Journal, covering television and large media companies. Her team’s reporting on the power struggle at Viacom won a “Best in Business” award from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers. Previously, she covered media for Politico, the National,, and the Village Voice. She lives in Irvington, New York.

Table of Contents

Prologue "I Don't Want to Sell Paramount" 1

Chapter l Rain at Sunrise 9

Chapter 2 The Conga Belt 24

Chapter 3 "The Whole Situation" 34

Chapter 4 The Next Generation 49

Chapter 5 National Amusements 67

Chapter 6 "From One Catastrophe to Another" 75

Chapter 7 "Artful Dealings" 88

Chapter 8 Forged in Fire 98

Chapter 9 Defeating the Viacomese 112

Chapter 10 Scaling Paramount 129

Chapter 11 Killer Diller 141

Chapter 12 Immortality 149

Chapter 13 "Remember, I'm in Control!" 158

Chapter 14 The Hotshot 170

Chapter 15 "Sumner in a Skirt" 187

Chapter 16 "This Is Crazy!" 201

Chapter 17 "Good Governance" 212

Chapter 18 Strange World 220

Chapter 19 "Our Family" 237

Chapter 20 "Sharp as a Tack" 245

Chapter 21 Sex and Steak 261

Chapter 22 Pandemonium 276

Chapter 23 "Cleaning House" 285

Epilogue The First Female Media Mogul 298

Acknowledgments 307

Author's Note 311

Notes 313

Bibliography 349

Index 351

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