A long time ago, television was simple. There were 3 channels and you sat on the couch and watched what they showed you.
It’s all different now and much more complicated. More complicated is identifying the media or technology conglomerate that owns the rights to the show or movie you want to watch. We write about this for a living and it still confuses us.
So I created the map below. It sketches the relative size, power, and relationships between the companies that create, own, and distribute what you see in your home, your cell phone, and possibly the theater.
We have been making this for 4 years. We have promised that the map will continue to change with each new edition, and this time it certainly has.
But things haven’t changed as much as we imagined just a few years ago. Yes, media companies continue to merge and absorb each other. But the main change is that Wall Street, which used to love Netflix, is now more obscure about streaming, so Netflix’s value has dropped dramatically.
And all the media companies that have pursued Netflix to create their own high-growth, low- or no-margin streaming services are also seeing their value decline. In 2016, for example, Time Warner was worth his $85 billion plus debt to AT&T. The company formerly known as Time Warner has been handed over to the Discovery cable network, which is only worth about $30 billion in total.
Another major change was made in response to many of our readers who claimed that giant technology platforms such as Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google were media companies. So there are big differences in how these companies approach media, but we’re including them in this year’s edition. It’s a way to persuade people to subscribe to Amazon’s Prime Shopping service. YouTube, on the other hand, is a key component of Google/Alphabet’s core advertising business. Bottom line: These giants dwarf the biggest media companies. (And maybe next time he should include TikTok.)
By the way, our warnings/advice/promises are still valid. More changes are planned for this map, mainly due to integration. For example, current industry wisdom is that Warner Bros. Discovery will merge with Comcast’s NBCUniversal within the next few years. And smaller players such as AMC Networks and Paramount are consistently listed as acquisition targets.
That said, it’s not entirely clear who will make the acquisition, as any acquisition of a tech giant for a major media outlet would be subject to a lot of regulatory scrutiny. (For example, Amazon’s acquisition of MGM may indicate that it is a media company that does not own a television network and is not well known to consumers. I raised a few eyebrows about the deal before approving .) And when you combine two smaller media companies, you get a slightly larger media company.
Yes, this map will change… somehow, sooner or later.prediction is over how it will change.
Click here to view a version of this graphic optimized for mobile.