Tuesday, February 9, 2016

If Content Is Not King, Then What Is

It seems that content is no longer deemed so kingly.  Viacom shares are down, as are CBS, Time Warner, Fox, and Disney.  The future TV viewer cares little for linear TV channels and we are all growing tired of intrusive and too many commercials.  Even this year's Super Bowl ads, usually the cream of the creative crop, were duds.  And given how fragmented viewership is these days, harder than ever to determine what successful content is.  It seems that content may have lost its crown. So who is King of Media?

In the tug of war between content and distribution, the distribution side has to now be carved out into different verticals.  Cable operators saw a reversal in their subscriber numbers, showing growth and a hopeful long term trend away from cord cutting.  But that will take a few quarters to decide.  The cellular companies have been pulling no punches in their ad messaging, with T-Mobile going hard against Verizon.  And digital content platforms like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu may need to find more revenue streams when subscriber growth wanes.  Of the three, Amazon may be more stable given its diversified business that goes beyond content distribution. 

So who is King?  If content has given up the crown, distribution has yet to show that it has more power.  Perhaps Comcast had it right all along; be both content and distribution, NBC Universal and Xfinity, and stay the course.