Much has been made about digital media overtaking TV -- at least when it comes to advertising revenues. But look deeper -- there are not clear battle lines.
Magna Global says digital ad spending will reach $209 billion worldwide -- 41% of the market -- in 2017. TV will total $178 billion for a 35% share in the same year.
While headlines talk generally about where the overall market is moving, it is a bit more nuanced. Which specific players stand to gain from those ad revenues?
The digital media heavyweights -- Google, Facebook and a growing Amazon -- continue to gain power. But they still envy the big traditional TV-media players -- Walt Disney, Comcast Corp, NBCUniversal and 21st Century Fox -- which command valuable brand-centric entertainment franchises.
Google, Facebook, and Amazon seek TV-related business efforts -- virtual services of live, linear TV networks, on-demand video platforms, as well as streaming big TV franchises, like the NFL.
For its part, traditional media sees the danger -- long-term.
While they still control much premium TV/movie content, newbies like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and Apple are finally realizing that even with major risks in the creative process, it is necessary to get into the game in a big way.
And that means spending billions -- year after year.
Netflix, for one, looks to rival -- if not exceed -- traditional TV companies' production efforts.
Maybe that’s why Fox has decided to take a different path -- focusing on live TV, news and sports, as well as its big broadcast and cable networks. Maybe it’s an arena it can no longer play in -- especially when it comes to billions in entertainment TV production/programming.
For its part, Walt Disney seems to feel -- in the long-term -- that it needs to bulk up many different pieces of the entertainment puzzle. That means more studio content, regional sports networks and general-interest cable networks (FX Networks) to diversify from ESPN.
Ultimately, it’s not that digital media grows as a competitor to legacy media players, but how much of the digital media dollars will go to traditional media -- either through license fees to Netflix or in selling ad time on new digital platforms/apps.
Us versus them? Maybe just us.