Last fall I attended a Media & Entertainment Executive Panel and Networking Event at Grant Thornton. It was my first in-person networking event last year. I chose it because of my (i) long-standing professional relationship with the moderator (who invited me)*, (ii) appreciation for content marketing/networking, and (iii) the topic since I have expertise in the media, entertainment, and telecommunications industries.
* It’s been twenty years since I’d worked with the moderator, who was then the General Counsel of CNBC/MSNBC. We’ve remained in contact throughout the years, largely through reading and commenting on our respective blog posts, and from time to time he refers potential media clients to me.
I was quite astounded by the buildout of Grant Thorton’s office space, including the glorious sunset view from the outdoor terrace. (This place was designed to host events/panel discussions!) Further awed to learn that Warner Brothers and Discovery Channel had merged in April of 2022, and super excited to realize that one of the panelists was the Chief Strategist of Warner Brothers Discovery. It’s not easy keeping up with changes (i.e. consolidation) within the media industry, even during the pandemic.
The other panelist was the Chief Strategist at Chicken Soup for the Soul. Originally known for its book series, this American self-help, consumer goods, and media company acquired Redbox in August 2022, for $357 million ($36 million in stock and $321 million in assumed debt).
You may remember those red boxes at grocery and other convenience stores where you could rent and return VHS and DVDs. While $321 million in debt is real money, the play here is to utilize the video capacity on those boxes in order to stream content in areas throughout the country where wireless connectivity is sparse and wireless/streaming services aren’t readily available to residential customers. I love this problem-solving business strategy!
But when asked if streaming will take over cable, each of the panelists seemed to agree the answer is, no. One of the reasons primarily is because of sports.
Apparently, there are many avid sports fans out there! Due to our 24/7 media cycle, sports fans demand to watch games and other sporting events LIVE and at a reasonable cost! Because sports are broadcast regionally (i.e. locally), cable television providers enter into retransmission agreements to provide coverage of live sporting events so that fans situated throughout the country can have access to live sporting content in real-time. In order to facilitate this type of coverage, subscribers can purchase cable TV packages to maximize the sports content available to them at a significant discount from the cost of paying for multiple streaming services.
All that being said, the state of media and entertainment is (as it has been during the past 30 years of my professional career) in a state of flux!
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