2018 in media — the mouse, the fox, and the elephant in the room.
One of the biggest themes of 2018 in the media industry, was consolidation. In particular mergers between already massive media companies, in an effort to build a global defence against the rising competition of Netflix, and Amazon.
Netflix and Amazon both make and distribute content with unrestricted, global distribution rights. This fully end-to-end business model gives them significantly more power in the value chain than companies focusing solely on content or distribution.
This is just the start. 2019 is where the real battle takes place.
It started in December 2017 when Disney made a proposal to buy Fox for $52bn. Disney and Comcast battled it out in a bidding war which culminated in Fox accepting a (to be approved) offer from Disney for $71.3bn. This gave Disney a 30% stake in Hulu, the rights to popular Marvel properties it didn’t already own (X-Men, Fantastic 4), and (at the time of the deal) a 39% share in Sky UK. Strengthening Disney’s position against Netflix and Amazon, as it prepares to launch a competing streaming service in 2019.
Following this was a battle for the rest of Sky, this time between Comcast and Fox. In a tough bidding competition for the UK broadcaster, Comcast emerged as the winner in September, valuing Sky at a cool £30bn. This deal gave Comcast 23m pay-TV subscribers in Europe, an existing broadband business, and Premier League football rights. After the deal took place, Fox then sold its 39% stake in Sky to Comcast for £15bn.
Meanwhile, in June the AT&T / Time Warner merger received its long-awaited regulatory approval. AT&T now has content including HBO and CNN, with which it can take on Netflix and Amazon.
This chart from Recode, which is updated periodically, is a fantastic visualisation of the 2018 media landscape.
2019 is going to be a very interesting year for the media industry, as giant companies prepare to launch direct to consumer streaming offerings to rival Netflix and Amazon.
While all this market consolidation has been distracting its competitors, Netflix has been steadily implementing its strategy of gaining global market share, and building a library of its own great shows. During Q3, Netflix added 7 million new customers globally (1.09 m in the U.S., and 5.87 m internationally), bringing its total subscriber base to approximately 140 million.
The question remains, who will buy Netflix?
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