Longtime veteran media and TV executive Barry Diller says traditional TV is in “survival” mode when it comes to potential harmful prospects of cord-cutting and general media disruption.
So content has value -- but perhaps not as much as it had. Proponents say pay TV distributors still depend on TV program/movie creators -- that content needs to be “king” for cable, satellite, telco, and even new OTT distribution to continue to survive.
In part, this is what Diller is talking about -- all vested parties in the current TV ecosystem have a stake to ensure there are strong survivors. “Everyone who is in that closed system is going to be challenged,” he told CNBC on Tuesday.
Current media company stock prices may not be much help in reading where things are going. For example, Time Warner has seen good growth, with its stock price up 22% higher so far this year. But Viacom? Not so much. Stock down 14% year to date.
Walt Disney Co. has a number of big growth years stemming from a four-year big run up, starting in mid-2012 through the end of 2015. But now questions persist over its big ESPN brand -- specifically in relation to cord-cutting. Year to date, Disney’s stock is down 13%.
For many, that would seem to be the proverbial tip of the iceberg. Other major channels/networks -- broadcast and cable alike -- should fall into the same ESPN cord-cutting category, resulting in some depressed stock market moves.
For Viacom it isn’t about one network, but its entire stable of network brands, including MTV. Isn’t Viacom’s content still valuable? Sure is. But at what price?
It may be perspective -- at least from its business partners point of view. MTV doesn’t command the big carriage fees that sports networks like ESPN do and thus, doesn’t get the big glaring sometimes negative attention from pay TV providers.
All this has many cheering a possible re-combination of a CBS-Viacom company, which could yield a stronger more broad-based media company.
And that begs the question: Will even bigger diversified media companies such as Comcast Corp. -- which includes both content and distribution assets -- be the true wave of the future?