Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Finally, The Media Tipping Point

The share prices of many of the world's largest media companies took a serious hit over the last week. The reason seems to be that investors and shareholders have finally noticed that a seismic change has already taken place in the TV industry.

Of course, it has, it started twenty years ago and is yet to reach real critical mass, but is predictable.

Broadcast linear TV will see collapsing figures over the next five years.

Binge box set viewing will see continued growth, as will tips from girls in bedrooms on fashion and other faddish vlogging phenomena which will be tomorrow's mainstream TV shows.

The irony is that the TV industry is becoming more like the music industry. In the sixties, anyone with a guitar and talent had a chance to be signed, and this has been true ever since. Of course, they were exploited by big labels, but at least anyone had the opportunity.

Now the same is true of TV. If you get 100k YT followers you are a brand. With a million YT followers you are a valuable brand. And YT aggregators have taken over from record labels as the big cigar guys (check out your Pink Floyd).

We are seeing a sea change. The fact that a hugely valuable company like ITV does not have a Netflix like platform should be terrifying to its shareholders, but it does generate great programming, so has a mitigation.

HBO has its own player, but when all rights in the UK have been sold to Sky, this is never going to be global, which it needs to be. A cheap deal has stymied its ability to create a global brand.

Netflix largely has crap on its service, but it delivers media in the way that people want to consume it, on any device, any time, for a low monthly fee. And it ices its turds with a few very clever commissions.

Perhaps most telling is the signing of the ex Top Gear team by Amazon Prime with a massive budget. The BBC only produced a few shows in a series (quality, budget ??), but Amazon will look for 20-30 per season, every one with a multi million pound budget. If you have a service in the UK, US, Australia and Japan, the economics are a no brainer.

Meanwhile the morons at the EC are trying to create a single market for rights, with the sole effect of annihilating European production businesses and nurturing American companies such as Netflix, Hulu and Sky.

If, like Sky you have businesses in the UK, Ireland, Germany and Italy buying the rights to the Premiership becomes something only a few US companies such as Sky can afford to do. Of course, if Viacom buys Sky, we will have a 'domestic' champion, but at the moment we do not.

And waiting in the wings is Apple, which could buy most countries, let alone companies. It would make a huge amount of sense for them to acquire content, or content companies, something neither Google nor Microsoft will do (Samsung is another story and Sony are already in this market, albeit a busted flush..)

But the point is that the tipping point, the 'convergence' that we have been talking about for two decades is finally here because the markets tell us so.