Big media conference yesterday - the panel included
- News Corp. president Peter Chernin, Viacom chairman/CEO Sumner Redstone, Sony Pictures chairman/CEO Michael Lynton and Activision chairman/CEO Robert Kotick, on Wednesday at the Milken Institute 2004 Global Conference at the Beverly Hilton.
Chernin defended the network TV business, saying that despite audience erosion, the medium remains strong and is still the only way for advertisers to reach a mass audience. He also called flatness in movie attendance a "nonissue" since a studio like Fox looks at overall revenue streams, including DVD, TV sales and video-on-demand, when assessing a film's bottom-line performance.
Redstone said current DVR penetration is still very small and that regardless of its ultimate effect, "we will adjust." All the panelists agreed that there will be a continuing growth of product integration in response to the changing dynamics of audience viewing habits.
Kotick took the opportunity to plug video games as an attractive platform for advertisers. Calling his business "DVR proof," Kotick gave the example of a game based on skateboarder Tony Hawk in which the player has to drink a virtual Pepsi in order to get to the next game level.
Asked whether content or distribution is king, all agreed that the top crown should go to content, though "the king may be a little bit stronger if he has his distribution troops to enforce it," Chernin said.
Lynton, who worked at Time Warner and Disney before joining Sony last year, cautioned that owning both content and distribution could sometimes prove a double-edged sword for a company. "You sometimes end up robbing Peter to pay Paul. ... I've seen that happen," he said. [Hollywood Reporter]
So, when speaking amongst themselves, the media poobahs acknowledge their Chicken Little claims of impending disaster - for which they demand legislative relief - are mostly crap. Refreshing, if disconcerting.
Meanwhile, Comcast has given up on obtaining Disney:
- Comcast Corp. on Wednesday withdrew its unsolicited $48.4 billion offer to buy Walt Disney Co. after the entertainment conglomerate steadfastly refused to open negotiations.
...."Unfortunately, it has become abundantly clear that Disney does not share our interests," Comcast Chief Executive Brian Roberts said on a conference call. "I am very comfortable with our decision to withdraw even though it is not the outcome I had hoped for."