There is no way a pure-play, advertising-dependent CBS can escape more deadening economic blows based on where things are headed. The company needs a new game plan. Now.
Despite the grim warnings, lower earnings and massive layoffs, it appears the worst is yet to come for big, lumbering media companies. It all rides on what we don't know. We don't know how deep or how long the advertiser and consumer spending pullback will be. There is no historical precedent, given the powerful unraveling of the global economy.
Many media, advertising and Internet players underestimate the extent to which interactive consumers, their social networks and their fluid connections can provide a silver lining to the lingering economic morass. The difference between their conventional wisdom and the more compelling reality of digital consumer behavior could be billions in new revenues.
Can media Twitter its way to prosperity? It appears that it must find a way. It's purely by chance that a handful of reports have crossed each other in recent days--underscoring a way out of the economic quagmire, with one scenario pointing to an oversimplified use of technology built around the notion that what consumers (especially young ones) care most about is the here and now.
Consumers are happy to access their content of choice as streaming video on the Internet, an iTunes download or cable video on demand. There is the real prospect that many of the 9% of U.S. households whose TV sets go dark Feb. 17 will stay that way.
All companies are braced for dismal forecasts, but Apple and Amazon are not like everyone else. Their universal brands are second nature for many consumers worldwide. While not completely recession-resistant, they are not hugely reliant on marketing and advertising. They have the halo of relevance and value.
Yahoo is writing the book on how not to manage a company in times of adversity. After a year of chaos, it has responded to the recession-led dive in display advertising with a 10% workforce cut. Its planned Google ad alliance to boost sagging revenues is threatened. And it gets worse.
Unusual circumstances, painfully low stock prices and a latent need to rearrange the media landscape could contribute to a new wave of deal-making. The self-funded opportunists are beginning to gun their engines.
The loan covenant issues threatening Viacom and CBS underscore the unexpected, devastating impact the credit crisis and the recession will have on even the biggest media concerns, some of whose repayment and cash flow issues have not yet come to light. The resulting realignment of media players could alter the competitive landscape on the upside of the economic recovery 18 months from now.
Parallels between the "television advertising crisis" and the credit crisis are too stark to ignore, says TiVo CEO Tom Rogers. The ad and TV industries are running out of time to capitalize on rather than to be victimized by digital technology.