PARQOR is the handbook every media and technology executive needs to navigate the seismic shifts underway in the media business. Through in-depth analysis from a network of senior media and tech leaders, Andrew Rosen cuts through what's happening, highlights what it means and suggests where you should go next.
In Q4 2022, PARQOR will be focusing on four trends. This essay focuses on the themes, "Linear channels seem doomed. What happens next?" and "There is no such thing as a CTV household, what happens next?"
I have had good debates on Twitter this week about recent comments from Disney CEO Bob Chapek, Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav, and Warner Bros. Discovery CFO Gunnar Wiedenfels on the next NBA deal.
Zaslav came out strong at the RBC Capital Markets Technology, Internet, Media and Telecommunications Conference 2022 : “I like the NBA. We have another couple of years on the NBA. And Adam is a friend of mine for 20 years. But we're going to be very disciplined. We don't have to have the NBA.”
That was followed two days later by Wiedenfels telling Morgan Stanley's European Technology, Media & Telecom Conference: “ whether it's sports or any other content investments, we'll always make decisions on the basis of the best available information and with the best interest of our shareholders in mind. That's how we're going to be approaching deals. We're not going to go after trophy assets or pay ridiculous prices just because we want to have something.”
Both contrasted with the more measured take from Chapek on Disney’s earnings call: “We would love to be in business with the NBA. But again, we are going to do it in a fiscally responsible way and seeking multi-platform rights. So, we feel really good about our position going forward with the rights that we have already got and the one or two that are still in play.”
The negotiation with the NBA is set to be concluded a year or two from now. So interpreting these statements is concededly speculative. But, at the same time, Warner Bros. Discovery has some real financial and strategic challenges: in the RBC interview, Zaslav also said that the soft ad market means “it's going to be hard” to its $12B earnings forecast if the ad market “stays this soft for next year.”
My contrarian read — the one which led to the debates — is two-fold.
Warner Bros. Discovery management sound like they are preparing shareholders for an outcome with the NBA of “we're breaking up with them before they break up with us.”
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First, there is a difference between managing investor expectations by being “fiscally responsible” (Disney) and or by promising to go after “trophy assets or pay ridiculous prices just because we want to have something” (WarnerMedia). One is a measured promise that ...