The media business is a complete clusterfuck

edited 2019-03-21 11:38:29 in Talk
You may recall that my nearly five-year-old loopythread wherein I claimed that the Walt Disney Company had just reached a deal to purchase 21st Century Fox ended up presaging actual events. This deal combined two of Hollywood's six major studios and, adding the more adult fare of 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight Pictures, seems to shore up Disney's few obvious weaknesses on the theatrical side. And of course, they gained FX and its critically-acclaimed, daring forte.

It also consolidates ownership of vast amounts of film and TV content, reaching back to the earliest days of both mediums, in the hands of a company with a notoriously officious attitude towards its content.

A combination of two studios with the size and stature of Disney and Fox is unprecedented. It may be a referendum on the declining health of the motion picture business. It has definitely been characterized as a defensive move against the likes of Netflix, locking up the copyrights and distribution rights to vast amounts of content to bolster Disney's own streaming offerings.

This is not the only major media transaction of recent times. Last year, Discovery closed on its purchase of Scripps Networks Interactive, the owner of the Food Network and HGTV, giving them control of one-fifth of all ad-supported television in the US. And of course, AT&T bought Time Warner and renamed it WarnerMedia, gaining ownership of a gigantic library of movies, TV shows, and the most historic collection of animation not belonging to Disney. It brings all this, and cable channels like TBS, TNT, CNN, Cartoon Network, and HBO, under common ownership with DirecTV.

What I'm saying is that I'm not sure what the fuck is gonna happen. Bundled pay television, which has been buttering Hollywood's bread for the last two decades or more, is collapsing, as people cut the cord, and skinny bundles have made little progress in picking up the slack. DVD and Blu-ray appear to be fading. And if you don't have name-brand IP, you may well be sunk at the box office.

I'm a bit of a believer that smaller, nimbler players can find ways to thrive in this new world, whatever it brings. But few of such have really emerged. People see "giants" like Viacom, CBS and even Comcast (whose NBCUniversal, I'd argue, is the only huge, Hollywood-centric media company other than Disney with strong management) as vulnerable. What do I know?


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