Content creators, especially in the audio space, are hugely wasteful individuals. They spend all this time preparing, then executing, interesting, thoughtful or entertaining content and then after it’s been broadcast or downloaded, just move on to the next thing.
Content rarely gets repeated, re-contextualised or even archived. Indeed most never even sees the pixels of a Tweet or Facebook post. It is sent out into the great beyond never to be seen (or heard) again.
In the telly world, a surprise merger between AT&T’s WarnerMedia (CNN, HBO, Warner Brothers, TBS, TNT, DC) and Discovery (Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, TLC, OWN, Eurosport). It’ll result in a business that turns over $52bn with profits of $14bn.
Both are pretty big, and have been focused on rolling out their own streaming platforms – HBO Max and Discovery+ – and trying to compete with Netflix (revenue $25bn), Disney+ (Disney revenue $65bn) and more.
The deal is the result of AT&T realising that media is hard (and want to concentrate on telecoms) and Discovery’s desire to have more scale to compete.
Consumer behaviour is shifting and the TV companies are having to adapt their corporate structures and strategies to keep up.
Disney’s focus on Disney+ has meant killing off many of their broadcast kids channels and axing profitable third-party licensing deals. Netflix has enjoyed much success, with content paid for with debt – they’ve borrowed $16bn to ensure you’ve got something new to watch. It announced at the beginning of the year that it finally had enough subscribers – 200m of them – to pay for its content (and the loan interest) out of its cashflow. Their borrowing gamble seemed to pay off.
Of course for all of the streaming businesses the core elements are owning both the content and the distribution. As many of them have found licensing material is only good whilst the deal lasts.
I’ve covered a lot of different issues over the past ten months. Often there’s a topical hook and sometimes just an old soapbox is dragged from under the sofa. Occasionally a bit of both.
Looking back there’s a few trends that are starting to form that will define much of the next 18 months.
It’s hard not to think that subscription in some form will be tackled by more media companies. The rise of subscription options for prolific users on Facebook/Twitter, the recurring revenue opportunities to be deployed by Apple and Spotify, writers abandoning titles for Substacks and even Bauer rolling out a subscription option for their listeners. All of this is enabled by digital ubiquity for the vast majority of consumers. Digital TV, DAB, Smart-speakers, tablets, mobiles etc with the ability to cast and stream wherever. It’s never been easier to have your content consumable. Providing they know that it exists.
So, today, I wanted to do a few pick ups on stories I’ve written about with short, extra thoughts.
My predictions for GB News. It will have a good first week. Andrew Neil will ‘beat’ the news channels. It won’t be as right wing as people think. This will likely annoy the more gammon-y end of the market. Some of it will look a bit cheap. Some of the new presenters will find this stuff is pretty hard and the guests, outside of Andrew Neil, will be a bit average alongside loads of Tory MPs.
Its ratings will drop off pretty quickly. They’ll be lots of ‘according to BARB no one was watching these shows’ and they’ll come back with ‘look at all the retweets we’re getting’. Less people will watch Andrew Neil.
The resonating stuff will be all the right-wing malarkey and six months in they’ll have a mini re-launch and it’ll be all blowhards, all the time. The BBC imports will be moved to the edges. Andrew Neil will start to be a bit uncomfortable with the company he’s keeping and will end up doing a weekly show as he’ll say he needs to spend more time with his business interests and that this was always the plan.