I have a new opinion piece up on The Information, The Upfronts Model Isn’t Dead Yet.
I wrote about how even the networks concede that the upfronts model is essentially obsolete in an increasingly digitized ad marketplace. But presentations and handshake deals still answer questions for advertisers that algorithms cannot.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that legacy media companies like Comcast are looking to diversify their portfolio of digital businesses in this rapidly changing marketplace.
It is a surprise that Comcast was looking at a gaming company, and especially one as successful as Electronic Arts, Inc. And it isn’t a surprise to me that the proposed deal “ultimately fell apart within the last month due to disagreements over price and structure”, as Dylan Byers reported for Puck.
I think a description of why Disney failed with its efforts to bring gaming in-house applies:
Disney knows how to make movies, TV shows, and theme parks. The company also knows how to run media businesses, from ESPN to ABC to Pixar.
When it comes to video games, Tech Insider was repeatedly told that a lack of institutional knowledge kept the company from ever really investing. "There wasn't really much — if any — institutional knowledge regarding video games there" [former Disney Interactive senior VP and general manager Alex] Seropian said.
A "lack of institutional knowledge" is my concern for the future of WB Games under incoming Discovery management, and if Disney’s past is precedent, it would be my concern if EA ended up within Comcast, too.
There is clearly mutual interest in this moment. But how do we think about how they fit together given the rocky precedent?
It's worth taking the lessons from the Disney Interactive precedent to better understand what Comcast may be seeing, and not seeing, in seeking to acquire EA.
A Business Insider piece on the shutdown of Disney Interactive offered an unusual amount of transparency into Disney’s operational and financial shortcomings:
"Any big company has a finance department, will have financial folks embedded in the product units, or ...