Happy New Year!
A reminder I wrote three essays before the holidays:
I also offered five predictions for 2023 in this month’s opinion essay for The Information “2023 Will Be Another Difficult Year for Traditional Media”.
Some housekeeping for the next two weeks:
One of the odder developments over the past few years has been the emergence of maritime metaphors to describe the future of the streaming marketplace.
The first time I heard it was in May 2021, when IAC Chairman Barry Diller told CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin that he was bullish on Comcast’s strategy in streaming because they “have a route to the sea”. He added:
"Brian Roberts and $CMCSA have a route to all markets. They are the perfect hedge of all [media companies] because they are the only ones with both feet on both sides” of the streaming marketplace with its Xfinity Flex streaming platform and its streaming service Peacock."
I read a similar metaphor this year in the HBO history “Tinderbox”, where Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav described his February 2021 discussions with AT&T CEO John Stankey to author James Andrew Miller:
“When I was a kid, I went to camp, and the girl’s side of the camp was on the other side of the lake. Here’s the analogy: Netflix had been so successful, they’ve already gotten to the other side of the lake and built a cabin. Disney’s a formidable company, and none of us expected they would be impactful so fast, and they’re on the other side too. I said to John, ‘Each of us are in the middle of the lake right now, looking over our shoulder at a bunch of others and wondering if we’re going to make it to the other side. If we’re together, not only do we make it to the other side, but we become the best.’”
They both refer to this “complex industry transformation” that the media marketplace is undergoing, as returning Disney CEO Robert Iger recently described it. Both are also two different takes on traditional media’s best business models for scarcity in 2023, which I wrote about in Monday’s essay.
The technological, operational and financial structures required to be a gatekeeper to scarcity no longer seem to have an obvious business logic to them. It's no longer clear what the role of a gatekeeper is in media outside of Amazon's and YouTube's business models.
Total words: 1,700
Total time reading: 7 minutes
Scarcity is the linear distribution model’s historical moat — the linear model enabled multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) to aggregate millions of households locally, regionally and later nationally. In turn, that enabled cable networks to capture millions of households at ...