Byron Allen Is A True Believer

The syndicator, station owner, cable network empresario, force of nature has gotten some attention from Shari Redstone with his $30 billion offer for her Paramount Global. He’s got a lot going for him because Allen believes in the future of our business. Virtually every investment he has made, every deal he has reached for, has been about his belief in linear television.

Hank Price

A lifetime ago when I was a program director in Washington, D.C., Byron Allen was one of the people who often called to pitch new shows.

Unlike the major syndicators, whose huge budgets allowed them to wine and dine program buyers, Byron was an independent who produced, performed in and marketed his own product. Like most other independents, he never showed up in my office, but he sure knew how to use the phone.

I rarely bought any of Byron’s programs because we seldom had appropriate openings in our schedule, but that didn’t lessen his enthusiasm or slow his pitch. You would have thought I was his best customer, and I’m sure the other program managers in town felt the same way. You had to like the guy because he clearly believed in the value of his product, and he never seemed to give up.

Over the following years I’ve had little contact with Byron, but I have noted the growth of his company, especially his acquisition of television stations. His stations are not in major markets, but most seem to be solid operations. As best I can tell, he runs them well.

Why am I sharing this? Because Byron Allen believes in the future of our business. Virtually every investment he has made, every deal he has reached for, has been about his belief in linear television.


Of all the opportunities Byron Allen has considered, the acquisition of CBS would be the ultimate signal of his faith in the long-term value of terrestrial networks and television stations.

Yes, on-demand is now more popular than linear, but for network owners to give up on deeply established brands that continue to generate massive amounts of cash is just plain dumb; and in the world of dumb, Paramount Global is a leading player.

As any casual observer will note, Paramount is now all about Paramount+. Having seemingly lost respect for CBS, the company acts as if the network is nothing more than a disposable asset. Of course, the entire Paramount Global organization is also now a disposable asset.

Paramount has so little confidence in the future of the Tiffany Network that the company has been happy to transfer billions of dollars in affiliate program payments to the development of streaming product. If that means starving CBS, then so be it. After all, CBS is now merely a piggy bank to fund Paramount’s on-demand world.

Perhaps one could understand Paramount’s attitude if it worked, or even if Paramount had a strategy for the future that might work, but if there is one, it is well hidden from public view.

Since Shari Redstone put Paramount on the block, everyone from Skydance, to Redbird, to Discovery and even Apollo Global seem to be in the bidding mix. No one can say who the winner will be, or even if a workable deal can be put together, including Byron Allen’s public bid of $30 billion, but that $30 billion-bid had certainly gotten Redstone’s attention.

If Byron Allen is successful, it will put him in a full range of video businesses, from streaming to motion pictures. Balanced portfolios, including both streaming and linear components, are important to the future success of major media companies and the acquisition of Paramount offers all of that.

So, would Byron Allen be the best possible owner for Paramount Global? Does he have a strategy for the future? Can he successfully balance linear and streaming? I don’t know, but I do know he would bring something to the table that is missing from the current owners and most other bidders.

Byron Allen is a true believer.

I wish him well.

Hank Price spent 30 years leading television stations for Hearst, CBS and Gannett while concurrently building a career in executive education. He is the author of Leading Local Television and two other books.

Comments (2)

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AIMTV says:

February 5, 2024 at 9:56 am

No one loves a rag to riches and roots for the little guy to win than me. On the surface, Mr. Allen’s rise is at least impressive, but at what cost to broadcast TV, the business he supposedly so believes in?

His broadcast syndicated content (of which there are dozens) is often stocked with more than the industry standard of commercial and promotional interruptions (which are already far too many for any viewer to sit through- hence the growth of streaming). To add insult to the viewer’s (and his affiliates’) injury, the programming is often heavy on repeats, low on originals, and filled with cheap footage from repurposed Electronic Press Kits or stock footage with such slap-dash script writing that is sometimes unwatchable.

Throw in closing credits that can stretch to over a minute long (with nothing to entertain the occasional viewer who may have been bored enough to sit through his programming to that point), and you have a recipe for a lose/lose/win situation. The viewers and affiliates lose, but the producer, AMG, wins by banking more revenue and keeping expenses low. All at the expense of broadcast TV, with viewers fleeing to their platforms.

And with a reported pay level that is inordinately high for any CEO, even by today’s bloated standards, most of that money goes to one man. I’ll let you guess who that is.

If he were still that indie producer who could ill afford to travel to a significant market like Washington, D.C. (I, too, have been independent and somehow always found the budget to travel to most large markets personally), perhaps one could understand. But now he’s supposedly a billionaire with sights on buying CBS, a sports team, a streaming company, or many other things over the past few years.

If he’s a true believer in broadcast TV (or savior, as you seem to indicate), perhaps Mr. Allen should consider paying himself a bit less of a salary, reducing his content’s commercial loads to industry norms, and investing more money into improving his syndicated programming before branching off to other adventures.

I realize some will inevitably mark this commentary as “sour grapes” or “envy,” but I assure you nothing is further from the truth. I wouldn’t trade places with a billionaire if you paid me, well… a billion dollars.

This commentary is about the health and future of broadcast TV, which I and others also genuinely believe. But belief is not enough. One must have a vision and strategy beyond one’s narrow ambitions. Despite his supposed wealth, I do not see that with Mr. Allen or his company. Not yet, at least. For the sake of the underdog story and, more importantly, broadcast TV… I hope I’m wrong.

[email protected] says:

February 6, 2024 at 12:34 am

Byron Allen is a cheapskate with his syndication programs that are mostly repeats to begin with ES. TV show is always repeats can’t ever tell if there new and even if there new still seems some TV shows or movie is a repeat interview. Yeah, Byron needs to take a pay cut as a CEO he makes more than Perry Sook or David Smith and a lot would say they get paid too much as well.