10 anonymous media executives predicting industry-shaking events in 2022

Disney President Michael Iger arrives for the Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference on July 6, 2021 in Sun Valley, Idaho.

Kevin Dietsch | beautiful pictures

The New Year prediction sections are a journalistic standard. But instead of making my own predictions, I asked 10 media executives, who promised to remain anonymous, to give me their best predictions for what to expect in 2022.

The rules are simple: A prediction can be anything related to the media and entertainment business, but it must make sense and cannot be obvious.

Here’s what they told me.

I’ll revisit the predictions at this point next year to see how they play out, and then poll 10 new executives for their 2023 predictions.

Executive #1: Roku buys Lionsgate’s studio

An executive said Roku would buy Lionsgate’s film and television production studio.

Roku reinforced its original content in the Roku Channel, buy Quibi .’s Content Library and “This old house“in 2021. Founder and CEO Anthony Wood told CNBC in June he spends most of his time mapping out the content strategy for the company.

“This reminds me of Netflix in its early days,” said media analyst Michael Nathanson told CNBC earlier this year. “I’ve interviewed [Netflix Co-CEO] Ted Sarandos at conventions 10 years ago, and he would say, ‘Oh, we’re happy with just one or two original shows.’ Meanwhile, they’ll be gearing up for better content. “

Lionsgate signaled to the investment world it plans to spin out or sell Starz, the premium streaming service, and the cable network it owns. That would make the rest of the company – Lionsgate’s film and television production studio – ready to find buyers as well.

While traditional content companies like Comcastof NBCUniversal, ViacomCBS, Netflix and Disney All looking to add more content to their streaming services, Roku is a wild card buyer with a market valuation — close to $30 billion — to make the move.

Still, Roku stock is down more than 50% since hitting an all-time high in late July. Buying Lionsgate’s studio could make investors consider the company’s content ambitions more seriously. .

CEO #2: Bob Iger Returns to Disney as CEO

It’s been two years since Bob Chapek took over as CEO of Disney. But one executive told CNBC that there were bets inside at Disney about Iger’s return.

Iger, 70, multiple contract renewals after plans to retire in 2015, 2016 and 2018 before abruptly stepping down in 2020. He remains Disney’s executive chairman until the end of the year.

It’s unclear if Iger wants to return. He is worked on a second book, according to The Hollywood Reporter, after publishing one in 2019.

However, Disney’s stock has stumbled this year, down nearly 20% year-over-year. Iger own a lot of those shares. The board and Iger could become restless if Disney+ growth falters and the company resumes there is tension between the executives.

Moderators #3 and 4: ViacomCBS will merge or sell

Two votes for this one.

“I love Shari [Redstone], but ViacomCBS didn’t last as long in this world as it does today,” one of two media executives predicts 2022 will be the year ViacomCBS no longer exists as an independent company.

Comcast held preliminary negotiations with Redstone, the company’s controlling shareholder and non-consecutive chairman, earlier this year to discuss various ways of working together. The merger of NBCUniversal and ViacomCBS would be messy from a legal point of view, potentially requesting divestment of NBC or CBS and their related local affiliates.

Over the past two years, Redstone has internally contemplated other alternatives, such as Lionsgate’s purchase of Starz and a merger with Sony Pictures Entertainment, according to people familiar with the matter. An agreement with Warner Bros. Discovery, if that merger ends, meaningful. But so far, ViacomCBS’s send a message to Wall Street that it’s content to continue as it is.

Shari Redstone, president of National Amusements and Vice President, CBS and Viacom, speaks at the WSJTECH live conference in Laguna Beach, California, October 21, 2019.

Mike Blake | Reuters

Executive #5: The ‘free radicals’ will sell

It was back to 2015 when billionaire media mogul John Malone coined the term “free radicals” to define pure content production companies that didn’t have the scale to compete for the top movies and TV shows against media giants like Netflix, Disney, Amazon and Apple.

Some free radicals have been fortified. Viacom and CBS merged. WarnerMedia and Discovery agree to merge. Amazon is awaiting regulatory approval to buy MGM Studios.

But others, such as Lionsgate, Network AMC and fox, continue to exist. The CEO predicts no company will go solo after 2022, either selling to larger competitors or merging with each other.

Executive #6: Deputy will sell himself in parts

Shane Smith, co-founder of Vice.


Executive #7: Vox Media will go public

Vox’s choice to merge with Group Nine positions itself as the next logical digital media candidate to go public after BuzzFeed. It just happened like that Group of Nine formed a SPAC can be used by the company for mass release, combined with merging with another digital media player for more scale.

If SPAC remains tainted from an investment perspective, the executive said Vox could also pursue a standard IPO. Timing could be similar to this year’s BuzzFeed – announcing an IPO in late June and going public in late 2022, the executive said.

8th Executive: A large sports betting company will go bankrupt or sell for ‘peanuts’

CEO #9: Apple will buy a movie studio and TV

Apple’s video streaming ambitions have been muted, due to the enormous size of the company. “Ted Lasso” was a hit for Apple TV+, but the service has largely worked on the periphery of the streaming wars.

That will likely change, the executive said, in 2022, and it will be driven by the acquisition of a content studio. A new team of people who can create hit shows will not only make Apple a more serious player in creating original content. It will also give Apple a library of TV shows and movies that it can offer to customers. It’s something Apple doesn’t yet own, but it’s probably essential to its long-term streaming ambitions.

Ted Lasso on Apple TV +

Source: Apple Inc.

Executive #10: Free ad-supported streaming services will merge

Another pillar of the streaming wars that tends to be overlooked is the world of free ad-supported services, notably Fox’s Tubi, ViacomCBS’s Pluto TV, Amazon’s IMDb TV, and Amazon’s IMDb TV. Sinclair . Broadcasting TeamNECKLACE. The Smart TV OS also offers free streaming networks, such as Samsung TV Plus and the Roku Channel.

The CEO predicts free-to-stream TV will grow strongly in 2022 but will also consolidate. Too many of these services are offering the same thing – a bundle that offers a free network with lots of old movies and TV shows and offers.

According to CEO No. 10, some of these services are likely to be rolled out in 2022.

(Disclosure: Comcast owns NBCUniversal, the parent company of CNBC. Comcast and NBC Sports are investors in FanDuel)

WATCH: The winner of online wars will be the one with the most hits, says ViacomCBS exec 10 anonymous media executives predicting industry-shaking events in 2022

Sarah Ridley

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