The Streaming Media Wars

with Jeffrey Cole

The Streaming Media Wars

Jeffrey Cole

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Who owns your streaming TV service?  A computer maker, a retailer, or a search engine?  This week on The Futurists we learn about the never-ending cyclone of disruption that has been tormenting the media industry for years. Our guest is Jeffrey Cole of the Center for the Digital Future, a longtime advisor to the major motion picture studios.  More at

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this week on the futurist Jeffrey Cole we’d sit down at the internet not knowing where we were going so I mean that’s the real sign of success I think when it becomes not session but becomes soundtrack to your life

[Music] well hi there and welcome to the futurist I’m Rob turcic with my co-host Brett King hey hey this week we’ve got a great guest uh Jeffrey Cole Jeffrey is the founder and the and the director of the center for the digital future at USC’s Annenberg school and he’s an expert in media all things media and in particular digital media and we’ll get into the future of media and maybe the future of Television which is looking a little bit like it’s in doubt but before we jump into that uh let’s just go around and do some round of introductions here Jeffrey welcome to the show it’s great to have you here today thanks Rob thanks Brett great to be here so we are uh you are coming to us from New York at a hotel room uh we are all scattered to the winds uh reconvening here virtually to record the show hey Brett anything on the news radar this week well you know I did see Tim Cook debating you know being skeptical about the metaverse and um you know I do think the metaverse is a longer term play I I do think that I I you know I I think it has huge potential um and as you know we’ve talked about the potential for metaverse to distract from inequality combined with universal basic income and things like that but he made the point that we you know like we have our smartphones today and some of it’s wishful thinking but I think it’s um you know it got a basis in fact is that augmented reality we’re going to wonder how we lived without augmented reality in you know in in the future so but but this is very different from VR when we talk about design aspects because in VR you’re designing immersive you know virtual world experiences where in augmented reality you’re augmenting the existing experience and if you do that elegantly then it will be something that is uh you know that that we can’t live without right yeah it’s like our smartphones today but if you do it poorly then you know um you know we’ve all seen those depictions on YouTube and so forth so I think this is going to be an interesting debate obviously part of this messaging is getting the crowd ready for the I reality glasses or whatever they yeah that they end up calling them but uh I think what’s interesting about this is his confidence in the level of um disruption AR is going to bring to our lives and and you know how it’s going to enhance our lives through this Tech and I’ve been more a believer in the AR stuff than the VR and so I I’m really excited to see where the the Apple product goes in that but that’s all that’s all I had this week no I show that enthusiasm you notice uh in the background here there’s a bit of jockeying between uh between Apple and meta yes uh and and uh you know Mark Zuckerberg has has been very outspoken in criticizing Apple because they’re doing their own thing and he’s accusing them of trying to build their own metaverse and not being interoperable and and so forth and thereby trying to position you know meta as the friendly metaverse company good luck with that and Matt is working on AR as well though which is interesting so their approach is everything right project area yeah yeah so they treat the metaverse like a garbage can and you can throw every extent of reality concept into it um and that that’s kind of why it’s such a loose and baggy definition what the heck is a metaverse right and Tim Cook’s being very clear he’s like that’s not a very good that’s not a very well defined term we’ve heard that from other guests on this show as well uh and um it was a term that surfaced very quickly to give some camouflage to Zuckerberg when Facebook when all of a sudden without with no warning they change their corporate name their whole direction to trying to take the focus off of Facebook so right because Facebook’s brand has become toxic and to a lot of people it’s not something they want to be associated with yeah so the metaverse is like it’s a it’s a magic trick it’s like look over here at the metaverse don’t look at our ugly place where we’re making money today um but but Apple’s more deliberate uh so one of the things you’ll notice the last um the last couple quarters everyone’s been expecting Apple to unveil that new reality headset and they haven’t done so it’s been teased it’s been rumored and so forth A lot of people are looking forward to it uh the rumors are very positive uh but Apple’s withheld that they’ve been very quietly advancing other parts of their business one thing they haven’t done is gotten themselves exposed to all the hoopla and hype um because they understand that there’s a significant backlash from Wall Street when you hype something that’s not ready for prime time uh the evidence of that of course is meta where the stock is trading at 50 of where it was a year ago precisely because they overhyped this concept so I think Tim Cook is demonstrating that he’s got a maybe a steadier grip on leadership there and messaging uh so it’ll be interesting to see what does come forward well the the other thing is this is going to be the first major product that Apple has launched since you know except the I the airpods right yeah and and the watch since uh Steve left us um but I I do believe that smart glasses are going to be the next big Computing platform I think they’re going to be a lot more consumer um you know friendly than than VR in the initial instance um and this could set Apple off on you know a entirely New Direction and and it does change the Paradigm in terms of delivery of content and delivery of functionality we have to move away from the app experiences to now these chunks of embedded utility you know in in the field of view which which is a new paradigm again in terms of development of businesses and commerce and things like that that we we have to explore so it’s a really interesting stage yeah and that’s good because the app stores are slowing down right there’s still a booming business it’s not like they’re declining but they don’t see that they don’t experience that rapid growth that they’ve had for the past 10 years you know there’s an interesting Nuance in what Tim Cook said yesterday which is um he pointed out that virtual reality immersive experiences like virtual reality are session based he said it’s great for a little while but you can you know you really get a lot of benefit out of it he’s a fan but it’s session based in other words you’re not going to use it all the time and anyone you know personally who has a VR headset will tell you they use it a couple times a month maximum like nobody’s using it on a daily basis or all day long which is kind of the vision that we’ve heard from the people who are promoting the metaverse so the distinction here is really you can draw an analogy to uh dial-up internet which was session based in the 90s you know people would sit down on the computer they’d plug the phone line in funny noises from the modem and then they’d be online for a little while and then they’d be offline right so that was session based now today with ubiquitous Broadband uh we’re on full time like we’re always on we’re always connected um I think I guess that’s the point isn’t it like Apple’s aiming for the always-on experience right they’re not interested in the session and I think they’re smart about that and the VR stuff tends to be um I want to watch a movie or be in a movie you know or um you know play a computer game it’s it’s sort of that entertainment space but it’s not as applicable as they are which you know you could be living with 24 7 right television started a session based and the earliest days of Television we would turn the set on to watch a show we might be sucked in with a promo to the next but then we turned it off and then quickly we learned hey we like television and we’d walk in a room and turn it on not knowing what was on changing the channel until we found either the thing we wanted to watch or as Paul Klein at NBC used to say the least objectionable programming and the internet started the same way we’d make a list on a Post-It note of the eight things we wanted to do online and then log off and go watch television and then we figured out we like the internet as background noise and we sit down at the internet not knowing where we were going so I mean that’s the real sign of success I think when it becomes not session but becomes soundtrack to your life like like radio right before both of those the radio became the wallpaper uh do you like well well Jeffrey you’ve got a great perspective on the future of media um and and one of the things we were just talking about before the show is this concept of disruption uh you know that word gets used an awful Lots I have a friend who started a suitcase company and he described it as a disruptive suitcase which to me sounds like an exploding suitcase and I said gently I said look um don’t you think you’re overusing this term a little bit he said no this is absolutely a disruptive suitcase and I just sort of shook my head um get smart but exactly hello chief is Max but you could say there’s an argument that that the media industry has been a hundred year history of one successive disruptive wave of innovation after another tell us a little bit about that Jeff sure I love the word disruption and it does get completely overused disruptions not Innovation it’s not an improvement it’s a whole new way of doing things that Challenges Old business models companies sometimes can’t survive disruption I mean we can talk about how companies when they see disruption coming Double Down bury their heads in the sand sometimes have their competition made illegal as in the case of taxi companies with Uber and automobile dealers with the ways Tesla sells its cars but sometimes direct disruption can’t be fought you know for example digital photography Kodak one of the three greatest brand names on planet Earth almost not a person who couldn’t recognize them by their orange and yellow colors there was no way they could survive digital photography you know most of us over the age of 45 probably spent 50 000 In Our Lifetime on photography between cameras film processing albums today teenagers will take a thousand times more photos than I ever took and the lifetime expenditure maybe twenty five dollars so disruptions are a whole new way style of doing things that challenges the whole way the industry operates it’s not an improvement Dolby sound is not a disruption of the movie business um putting IMAX or bringing food to the seat is not an improved is an improvement Not A disruption I’m interested in disruption the fact that it rarely comes from where we expect it to come from the disruption of the retail business should have come from Walmart or Target not some upstart Bookseller in Seattle the disruption of the movie theater business should have come from the studios not a Blockbuster Video rental and then Netflix the disruption of cars should have come from Ford or Toyota not some arrogant South African it challenges the whole system incidentally we need some arrogance for disruption there yeah the point you’re making is that the incumbents can’t disrupt themselves right this is always always their problem there are a few examples Best Buy is an example of a chain store that did disrupt themselves but rarely can they disrupt themselves and incidentally just on Tesla you know musk is a triple disrupter with Tesla quadruple disruptor if you count PayPal but at the Tesla disrupted the internal combustion engine disrupted the way cars are sold through dealer networks and disrupted the advertising model you know Tesla has never spent a more a penny on Advertising they don’t need to all you need to do is have every gas station post prices but when you buy an average price General Motors car today about eighteen hundred dollars of the purchase price goes to advertising Tesla never a penny incidentally you’re talking about Apple Apple’s been rumored beyond the glasses been rumored of working on a car rumored to be working in health care if Apple ever does introduce a car they’ll be in the same position as Tesla is there anyone in America who would not go and look at an Apple car an icar potentially just to see what it is they might not buy it but is there anybody who wouldn’t go look at it so disruption just turns everything upside down and you’re right the media business has been disrupted from the very beginning starting with sound um incidentally Damien chazelle the the academy award-winning director of La La Land and Whiplash his film this Christmas Babylon is the understand the understory the behind the scenes story of the movie business going from silent films to talking the only other things we’ve ever seen are Singing in the Rain where it’s played for comedic effect but there were suicides around the conversion to talking there were careers there were ruined businesses that went bankrupt it’s pretty darn interesting story interesting and that movie is going to get into it uh so television it also was a disruptive force in the early days right because he had a very established Motion Picture business and extradition right here and talk a little about that well certainly I I love radio which disrupted radio absolutely right Brad although we should find a word 10 times as strong radio before television what and was this National medium live original content the biggest stars went into radio and families used to sit down and make appointments to listen to radio and for reasons I’ve ever understood watch the radio uh television comes along all the content sucked out of radio all the big stars with a handful of exceptions of people who sounded good but didn’t look good uh went into television radio had no economic model it became a tool of the music business because it could get that content for free without having to produce it radio went from National to local and sadly with no original content and became background noise where do people listen to the radio in the car in the shower yes the radio completely disrupted and then television disrupted the movie business

in the 19 in 1946 in North America we sold 4.3 billion movie tickets to keep Pace the populations more than doubled we’d have to sell about 10 billion movie tickets uh 2019 the last normal year of the movie business we sold 1.2 billion so the movie theater business became a shell of what it used to be because of Television so television was the biggest disrupter and of course now the old television business is being completely disrupted well great you bring that up let’s get into that because I think that’s a timely topic you know from a consumer standpoint today people feel like wow I’ve got abundant Choice maybe too much choice there’s so many different options for streaming there’s more than 200 different streaming services in the US and um and of course there’s you know still cable television and broadcast TV and so forth uh so we’re sort of surrounded by over Choice um but from an economic standpoint that’s not really such a great business model can you talk a little bit about the changes that are happening right now in the in the TV business well first of all people don’t like too much Choice uh you know people don’t like Cheesecake Factory menus of 30 pages where it takes too long to process you can’t really get a handle on it restaurant owners know people like seven to ten choices enough choices to feel you can make a choice you know and and before cable the average television market a big city had seven television stations ninety percent of viewing was on three ABC CBS and NBC 30 years later most markets had well over a hundred and ninety percent of viewing was on seven or eight so we don’t like a lot of choice but what we’re seeing the real disruption we’re we’re seeing I think in the television world is we’re seeing the original Legacy players the ones who were the forces in radio and controlled television well into the 90s the broadcast networks and the three I mentioned and fox their demise has been predicted for two generations but I think we’re on the verge of it and I think what’s real first of all the networks see that which is why um ABC has Hulu and Disney plus we’ll see if they hang on to Hulu NBC has peacock CBS has Paramount plus so first they already see a future where they’re moving their programming over there but what I think finally ends broadcast television in the next three to eight years is the loss of sports sports the only thing we watch on network television live the only thing that can aggregate a massive audience in the last couple of years of the top 10 shows of broadcast television nine have been Sports and eight have been NFL football well now there’s players competing for those rights Amazon and apple they’re both buying rights and when they decide they want all those rights as I said to CBS about three and a half years ago you know on NFL contracts they said who’s going to compete with the richest man in the world at that time Jeff Bezos not you and when they lose Sports and they’re just not going to be able to come up with the money that Sports can command nothing’s left that whole thing collapses there and I think that’s when broadcast television makes sense well that that’s I think you know an important element because um you know if if you think about where TV demonstrates traded differentiation from traditional streaming was the live aspect you know but there’s not a lot of live content Beyond Sports you know there’s there’s events but if you look at things like you know like the uh the SpaceX launch of of the first astronauts back to the International Space Station as an example that was streaming it was a streaming event you know um yes it did play on NASA TV and and things like that but if you think about it now what do we need to do live through broadcast you know well news no that can be session based um and all the Innovations move to Twitch like there is innovation not happening on broadcast yeah because participatory twitch at least you know but Jeffrey let me ask you a question but to build on that or kind of bridge back to the point that Brett was making the economics of broadcast are incredibly cheap you know once you’ve built the Tower that you can broadcast from you’re using public Airwaves uh you don’t have to pay for copper cable on the ground or Fiber uh you’re not having to pay for ban with which is a gigantic expense for streaming services so doesn’t it seem to you that broadcast TV is always going to linger at least in the background in some some form because essentially it’s free to Air it’s free to broadcast we saw during covid that public television and local television made significant gains cable and stream everything grew during covet but particularly public and local and to my a little bit of my surprise they’ve held on to those games so I think there’s going to be room for local television in a different way than we’ve seen it before but I think what the you know the broadcasters what talent they’ve lost not only will they lose Sports they’ve lost most of what made them special They you know they own situation comedies and 60-minute dramas that’s almost in most years the broadcast cast networks would have one Emmy nominated show and it was Saturday Night Live happened we happened to be this year there’s a show on ABC that’s creating some Buzz Abbott Elementary which is the first traditional but most of that most of the sitcoms and dramas have been lost to streaming and uh there’s not much left on broadcast that they can compete and do well okay now there’s a simple framing that we hear a lot which is uh traditional TV versus streaming media right you hear this constantly this is kind of like the simplistic way of thinking about it oh everything’s going to the internet but when you appear a little closer it turns out there’s lots of flavors of Television we talked about a few of them cable TV broadcast we could talk about satellite that’s also true on the internet uh streaming services there’s many different versions of streaming services most people are familiar with uh svod subscription video on demand that services like Netflix Disney plus HBO Max and so forth and the advantage of these Services is you subscribe and you can watch anything you want whenever you want on whatever device you want that’s a really compelling value proposition particularly for a generation that grew up with smartphones and tablets because they can start watching on one device and migrate to another and seamlessly pick it up and more importantly you don’t have to do what you do with broadcast TV you don’t have to watch in pattern you don’t have to sit down at a certain time and watch TV what we used to call appointment TV and you don’t have to like use a DVD or some device to record it you can just click and play not honestly after 10 years of that most people are conditioned to it so that’s definitely a preference but svod is not the only offering right there’s other offerings there’s advertising supported VOD and now these new Services called fast

yeah that’s right why don’t you tell us a little bit about the distinction of fast because that seems to be where the momentum is now and incidentally just one quick thing on S5s which are the channels most people know Netflix Hulu HBO max they’re really you know they were able to attract those subscription fees because they had no interruptions and I think far more important than no interruptions was no editing of content you could see the themes and the explicitness that you couldn’t see on broadcast television that changes next year now with the exception of Apple TV plus they’re all going to have advertising and so we know there are going to be interruptions it remains to be seen if you can run shows like the wire or sex love on Netflix with advertisers supporting it or will it get homogenized and you know in some ways you could make the case that in the next two years the streaming worlds go look an awful lot like cable television wow so everything all is new again but the economics are not as good so we should probably drill into that because there’s a big argument that the economics of media are changing and the people that benefit from the companies that benefit from it might not be the old media companies themselves before we do that though we should do our lightning round this is the part of the show where Brett asks you a series of questions and you give us quick answers all right all right so Jeff what was the first science fiction you remember being exposed to on TV or via books Twilight Zone ma interesting yeah they made futurist or entrepreneur that has influenced you and why ah Isaac Asimov I thought his work holds up brilliantly so that probably answers the second the next question as well which is what’s the best prediction a futurist or sci-fi practitioner or entrepreneur has ever made in your assessment that’s a really interesting question um the one the one I always liked it wasn’t a futurist but it was a theatrical film I always liked the prediction from Planet of the Apes that we were going to blow ourselves up and be taken over by Apes very cool yeah and what science fiction story is most representative of the future you hope for there was an episode of Black Mirror um with uh Ron Howard’s daughter uh Bryce Dallas Howard where every every evaluation in our life every interaction in our life was rated and all of a sudden our rating and from all the interactions in our life determine what jobs we got where we lived what kind of lives we had I think we’re heading in that direction yeah yeah I forget the name of that episode yeah all right cool well great uh so we are uh you’re listening to the futurists and we are talking today to Jeffrey Cole from the center for digital future at USC Edinburgh hang on tight we’re gonna go do a break and we’ll be back in just a minute

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you’re back with the futurist I’m Brett King and joined by Rob turczak Our Guest this week is Jeffrey Cole and we’re going to dive more into the future of media and so forth but before that I want to do a quick Deep dive so um rob you know one of the the the impacts of hurricane Ian is that it’s it’s giving us a glimpse as we talked about um in the previous show with with Thomas Frey is giving us a bit of a glimpse into the future of a climate affected world and one of the early warning signs that we see is the collapse of the property insurance sector and so um to give you some perspective on this the average Property Insurance homeowners insurance now in in Florida in Hurricane affected areas for Hurricane Insurance there’s over five thousand dollars a year now and this has resulted in a major issue you for insurance so what we have already is seven seven property insurance companies in Florida are already in liquidation and 12 others are in distress and so this is a major issue in respect to the Fallout of climate change because um you know we talk about the the impact of the cost of damage um you know the potential impact of um you know power the power grid water quality supply chain on food and so forth but the early stress testing of the system is really the insurance industry not only are the prices going up in Florida but it’s now affecting affordability of homes because if you can’t afford to insure a home then you know how do you go about assessing how much you should spend on a home so this has some pretty significant implications now there is um a special session um that uh the Florida legislature has uh is uh going to look at um some support for property owners and for home insurance uh in Florida but this is a growing uh concern for Florida resident residents but it it really I think is a bit of that Canary in the coal mine what happens when insurers no longer can afford to ensure those assets of property Assets in a state like Florida what’s going to be the implications of that from you know does the state have to step in this is this is you know obviously we have a longer term thing to build climate resilience in terms of our building codes in terms of infrastructure and things like that but in the short term what happens when insurers won’t insure you anymore because of the risk of climate change that’s something that um it’s going to be interesting to see pay out yeah yeah it’s a powerful signal you know there’s a lot of just information and many Divergent viewpoints on climate change as an issue uh we get this cacophony in our politics here where some people deny it entirely still despite all the Abundant evidence but one industry that doesn’t mess around one industry that is fact-based is the insurance industry they have Actuarial tables that tell them exactly what they can forecast and we talk about different methodology is for predicting the insurance companies are pretty good at forecasting that’s their business right they’re making a bet and they’re making a bet they’re putting real skin in the game when they make that bet uh so if they’re telling you now that they can’t afford to insure an area that is implications not just for Florida but as uh as the water heats up as the oceans start to heat up and as currents change it’s going to move northward and we’re going to start to see that weather pattern hit the Carolinas as well in Georgia uh so that whole coastal region the Southeast U.S and elsewhere in the world is going to be endangered and there may be they may be uninsurable yeah let’s get back into it with Jeffrey uh so Jeffrey thank you for listening to our news Break um we want to resume the conversation so Jeffrey here’s the thing that’s interesting to me you know uh I worked in the media industry for 20 or 30 years and um worked with some big companies movie studios TV companies and so on and what I noticed is that there was a change uh the prestige in in the 80s and 90s was in the motion picture business uh but then gradually in the 90s and 2000s it shifted to cable television because that’s where the money was and with uh you know uh channels like HBO and Showtime you could also do things that you couldn’t do in a movie you could do longer scenes some more complicated shows um and maybe better characterization deeper characterization and so it’s also a medium uh that attracted a lot of really talented people as well so there’s a shift a shift from Motion Pictures towards paid TV cable television um and with that uh the companies that played that well they grew much bigger right so they Consolidated a lot of cable on that paid for for much bigger movie studios sometimes two movie studios but now there’s a new shift to happening there’s a new sheriff in town There’s a new consolidator and that’s the big tech companies it’s not just Apple we talked about Apple TV of course Amazon is a big player not just in streaming video with the Prime video service but also in live video with twitch so Amazon’s a bigger player in uh in in video than people will realize we see that Walmart wants to get into streaming media and their partnership with NBC and peacock and other companies are you know exploring the space today of the big Motion Picture companies uh most of them are owned by electronics companies telecoms companies or uh Amazon or retailer effectively tell us a little bit about that shift what’s behind that shift what are the economics that are driving uh these other kinds of companies to acquire Motion Picture companies well all of these companies you mentioned who acquired Motion Picture companies uh were relative were culturally extraordinarily and influential but economically we’re rather small entities and you know five years ago Rupert Murdoch the most powerful man in the whole entertainment media business looked around and realized he couldn’t compete anymore he had become a small player his competition wasn’t Warner and Universal and uh and Paramount it was Apple Google Facebook Amazon Microsoft and then to them most of the these companies are rounding errors you know Tim Cook I think got into Apple TV plus sort of as alarm as an experiment to see you know that maybe we ought to look into it you know he brings over two of the best television Executives from your old company Sony says guys I don’t know if we really want to do this but let’s see and then he reaches into his pocket as if as if he’s looking for spare change and says oh here’s six billion dollars so this is the scale has changed the question is how much of this is a vision for where they fit in how much helps the existing business as as um Amazon thinks their streaming service does for Prime and how much is ego you know and they the entertainment business has always attracted real estate Moguls oil Wild caters who like going to the Oscars and standing next to movie stars and Jeff Bezos goes to the Oscars and the premieres and Tim Cook shows up he doesn’t look like he’s having as good a time as Bezos but they’ve changed the whole equation they uh you know what one one example just one Shannon you know when when a t bought Time Warner they spent 40 percent of their market cap buying Time Warner if Apple were to spend 40 of its market cap they could buy Netflix and Disney forget the regulatory issues and have 80 billion dollars left over so they’ve just changed they’ve changed the whole scale and the question is who do these guys want to be and I think the answer is anything they want to be okay I hear you on that but I’m curious about this uh what’s the economic upside you know so I get it as an eagle play there’s probably there’s a lot of Truth to that right it’s fun to walk on the red carpet with a fast fashionable model on your arm I get that yeah um so sure there’s the The Lure of ego um but these companies are also economically driven right and they’re Global powerhouses and clearly they see that adding video and rich media to their portfolio is somehow going to enhance their business I think it’s about engagement right it’s like engaging you users across different aspects of the platform I don’t know Jeffrey no I would agree with that but no they really do uh I mean I mean bringing spending a billion dollars on Twitch and a billion is a rounding error to Amazon gave them really access to an audience they couldn’t get any other way a massive audience in the Esports world I think they see streaming doing that for them I mean I think they see this as compliments to their business um most of them haven’t gone in in a very big way yet I mean you know and certainly to the degree that Netflix went in with 20 billion dollars at their Peak but I think they see it as a real complementary uh asset to their business so okay there’s been a wave of consolidation um in the last four years right so I guess so it’s describe it like this since Netflix started streaming around 2007 uh at first they were dismissed and denied and people said it wasn’t going to be important I remember very clearly Jeffrey bukas who was running HBO at the time running Time Warner at the time he left them off as the Albanian Army and so forth you may remember those days I do a lot of those great quotes but but by the mid 2010s the story started to change because at that point we saw that cable TV had stopped growing broadcast TV numbers were going down and meanwhile streaming numbers were going up relatively quickly um and as uh as Netflix approached the 100 million user Mark and started to introduce new countries the media companies kind of woke up and realized wow we’ve got to change our game so you pointed out that a number of the big broadcast companies have now launched their own competing streaming services but that’s not all they’ve also started uh came a game of musical chairs where they’ve been doing mergers and Acquisitions uh Disney very famously under Bob Iger assembled an incredible portfolio of brands with Star Wars with the Marvel franchise and then most recently by Diane Fox outright from Rupert Murdoch who as you point out he he cashed in his chips he left the table he’s like I can’t compete at this level we also saw a t acquire Time Warner a legendary Studio One of the gems of the media business I don’t think they manage that transition very well and just three years later they spun it back out into kind of a shotgun wedding with Discovery Communications we’re at lingers today but burdened with tens of billions of dollars of debt Amazon swooped in and bought MGM at a grossly inflated price of about eight billion dollars uh general you know the view from the street was it should have been more than four or five billion dollars in value but anyway they bought that in order to acquire that huge library and some motion picture production capacity so we’ve seen now is that uh there’s been a wave of mergers and Acquisitions who’s next who do you think is next to get acquired Netflix stock has plummeted since the beginning of the year they’re now trading at about a quarter where they were a year ago do you think Netflix is up for grams absolutely I think uh Netflix and you may see Microsoft get interested although so far in our Nadella has said he’s not interested in media you know we had eight studios in the 30s we have five there’s talk that Comcast may make a play for a Warner Media or Warner media discovery that would take us down to four um I think we know oh you mentioned earlier that Walmart has been interested in streaming and almost pulled the trigger on starting its own streamer now it’s affiliated with Paramount plus they may I think Paramount is a really good acquisition Target for somebody like Walmart uh and then there’s the question of Google and I have YouTube which they grew organically but not do they want to make a move I mean I don’t think you know I I don’t think you’re going to see I think that what five years ago people were talking about 10 cent and Alibaba moving into American Media the way Sony did to Colombia yeah and Matt shoots did with universal I don’t think you’re going to see the Chinese I think it’s going to be purely an American play but yeah I think absolutely Netflix particularly at the reduced value Disney could be an easy acquisition Target you know Apple’s been you know eyeing Disney for years they’ve never done anything about it to this point so yeah I don’t think there’s anybody that’s too big to be acquired among the existing media players okay now we’re talking about kind of Game of Thrones uh on the media landscape you know who’s gonna buy whom but all the companies we’re talking about are Legacy brands from the past um I’ve got the same question like what’s what’s the up what’s the opportunity for someone new to come in and blow this up well I think we’re seeing it I think we’re seeing it a lot of times Brad on the show we talk about demographics and how demographics is one of the iron laws of the future it’s going to determine the future by and large if you had anybody from uh if duck to anybody under the age of 30 they don’t care about MGM they’re not interested in the machinations of Time Warner Discovery um what they care about is Tick Tock and YouTube overwhelmingly YouTube is their number one source for video Yeah in terms of growth Tick Tock is the fastest growing not just in terms of users but also in terms of advertising Revenue so Jeffrey talk to us about that disruption from new companies that candidly don’t have a stake in the old model therefore they’re primed to disrupt the old model you’re absolutely right about the Legacy means nothing to and and even even those who knew the Legacy couldn’t tell you in the last 50 years what’s the difference between a Paramount movie and a Warner Brothers movie it was just a legacy sort of of quality or big budget um I think what Tick Tock has done is pretty darn extraordinary so much that it uh really you know I think one of the great interesting stories of the pandemic was What Jeffrey katzenberg tried to do with quibby and of course he gets a pass on quibby because he was creating a video service for people on the go when you released it at a time when they weren’t going anywhere but even had there been no pandemic quibby wouldn’t have survived because he was trying to get six bucks a month out of a Teenage audience who really believes everything’s free and and would prefer the less glossy look of tick tock so I think there’s lots of room for new players on a different scale the one area that they can’t compete but that’s the area that’s not working so well anyway is on spending 20 billion dollars on Hollywood type production and this is the year that we figured out that streaming is not going to cure cancer and end world hunger and there can’t be you know I think one of the biggest winners in covid were the movie theaters who could have disappeared we’ve never seen an industry totally disrupted to where it was closed for a year the studios got to do all the experimentation that the theater owners never wanted on short windows day and date adding content on to streamers none of it worked very well on the theaters I think came out of covid stronger than almost anybody else they’re still still have a large chunk of the audience who hasn’t gone back quality of film in the theaters isn’t so good because mut not much was green lit at a high level but I think you got some old players and some new players that are really sort of interesting but this is the year we found out you can’t have a billion dollar movie without a movie theater this is the year we found out that streaming doesn’t run an entire company it actually complements theatrical rather than replaces it so I I share your view and disruption as we’ve talked about from the beginning comes from unexpected directions okay now one of the things we love to do in this show is open it up for some speculative talk uh let’s let’s let’s hear your vision for the future way out in the future uh Brett’s asking me if we can ask about TV in a hundred years it’s interesting you’re bringing up the cinema which is itself about 125 years old uh and you’re talking about a Revival of Cinema which I frankly wasn’t expecting you to say today um do you think the cinema is going to be around in 100 years are we still going to be going to movie theaters and getting babysitters and you know parking cars and stuff

I certainly think that they’ve lost the mid part of Their audience to streaming but big films absolutely I think they’ll be around for a hundred years I think if they ever were going to disappear 2020 was the year there were several of them were on the verge of bankruptcy the second biggest one is declared bankruptcy Regal they had no audiences people got to stream as much as they wanted had to rely if ever there was a time they were gonna not make it back that was then what you know the guy the guy who really deserves but but we’re going to have compete we’re going to have a ton of competing mechanisms you’re going to have fully immersive storytelling in a virtual world where you can be a part of the story you know you’ll be able to have these movies that The Classic Movies brought back and you’ll be able to be sitting in the restaurant in Casablanca watching this play out and so forth you know like the ability for us to change storytelling with Technologies immense now interestingly in Star Trek they depict this with the hollow deck right so Holodeck is where you can have these interactive stories and we can imagine it’s a place you go to like a cinema right right we can imagine that sort of Technology now but interestingly they still occasionally have movie night on Star Trek as sort of a a quaint uh you know look back to uh to that Medium but having said that the dominant experience in that world is is the uh um is sort of this immersive um uh storytelling stuff and so I think I I think um if you look at how to make movies Interactive um or responsive to an individual audience and you come down to an audience of one right because the more interactive you make storytelling um and you you know we’ve seen experimentation with choose your own uh outcomes for movies on Netflix and things like that but if I truly tailor it to you and your perspective it’s not really a crowd-based experience anymore yeah you’re right it doesn’t work that’s the challenge that’s the challenge that I see that movies have in the future and nobody wants to go next to a theater to pick the ending of the movie no one wants that except we try that it doesn’t work well that’s what I was going to say I I’m a traditionalist you know I think you’re talking about from the 80s clue where which had several different Innings to the movies or interactive DVDs where you come to a fork in the road and you get to choose and what we found is people like stories taught to them uh there is a place for 3D there is a place for I don’t know what it is yet there is a place for immersive but I think people like sitting back and seeing the story unfold in front of them there is something Community Based right yeah but we like both look you know this very extended kind of an age-old discussion which is uh the difference between experience and storytelling people love experience it’s hardwired into us as human beings the experience is you know a bunch of cavemen with Spirits chasing after a wild animal a wild boar and they bring it down and they have an incredibly exciting time doing that storytelling is when they’re back sitting around the fire eating the boar and the guy with the Gift of Gab or the gal with the Gift of Gab starts to recount the events in a way that structures meaning into otherwise random series of events that led to that and incident so we like both right humans are hardware for both and we create entertainment experiences that support both you know certainly for experience you can think theme park you could also think virtual reality today the dominant form and the fastest growing form of media is actually games and games is growing super fast and I would argue a games take Center Stage when it comes to games make as much money as the big Hollywood Blockbusters now actually a lot more but yeah bigger yeah and and mobile games is bigger than mostly yeah it’s crazy how big it is but remember these are multiplayer experiences right and uh we’ve had plenty of folks come on the show before we’re talking about the metaverse how it’s going to grow out of the game worlds that it already exists these immersive game worlds but my sense is that that’s a virtual place that you can go for a shared experience but you can do it from home almost all the experiments in doing VR immersive VR in a theater or an arcade setting those have not worked out very well people haven’t demonstrated they want to go do that like leave their home and park and go put on a headset that somebody else wore 15 minutes before uh Jeffrey respond to that if you will this idea of Storytelling and experience I think you’re absolutely right on experience but I think for most entertainment people want to listen to a story to see a story in full some of it is age-based I think but I really believe traditional media techniques have lasted you said 125 years and I share that the environment has changed and I think it’s going to last a lot longer and I still think it’s the dominant form of entertainment now talk about Tick Tock though in that context because one of the reasons Tick Tock has been so successful is similar to one of the reasons why YouTube is so successful YouTube succeeded because it had the easiest way to upload video to the web that was the original hook that’s why it caught you know contraction when 20 other competing firms didn’t succeed it was just easier to post a video on YouTube on Tick Tock it’s easier to be creative they’ve made it so simple to create a compelling thing and if you’re not that creative well then you can mimic something else like there’s plenty of examples of you know clients and stuff yeah yeah people try to mimic that and share it so so I guess what I’m driving at is that this it seems like the new disruptors are focusing on um self-expression and people having the experience of being storytellers maybe a blend of the two things surely it’s fascinating to watch there’s your storytelling like Tick Tock is incredibly addictive it’s like eating potato chips you just can’t stop once you get into it there are elements of Storytelling today in terms of the plot and and so forth that are material in movie making that that make really good stories um and so maybe some of that is is what can protect that Medium from you know this sort of individualistic approach immersive storytelling um you know from a technology perspective but it would be interesting Jeff to see how that plays out but um how can Jeff you know we need to wrap up as time but um how do people find out more about what you’re doing at USC and uh they will go to our website everything’s free so we’re not trying to sell anything at and all kinds of our work is on there and uh are you on social media personally LinkedIn or I’m on LinkedIn okay great so we’ll uh we can get people to follow you there well it’s been it’s been fantastic to have you on it’s been uh it you know Rob obviously has real interest in this field given his his expertise and it’s got a great Network in that respect but um this is um this has been something he’s wanted to really cover up for a while now I could tell so it’s great to have you on so yes thank you a lot of fun thank you yeah really fun thank you for joining us and there’s more to talk about you know there’ll be more in the future uh this this concept of AI that generates video it generates animation we’re going to cover in a future episode and we should also get into virtual production which is really which is completely Reinventing the way you make a motion picture so in a future episode of the futurists we’ll cover those times definitely yeah I want to get into like the tech they pioneered for Mandalorian and all that sort of stuff as well you know yeah and dune it’s just like it’s just taking movie making in such an interesting Direction so um and you know this is the big thing is if you can make these big blockbuster movies but do it much more cheaply then the the long longevity of the movie industry extends because it’s not you don’t get to a point where it’s no longer affordable to produce these Blockbusters so that could be interesting now you could have very cheap production anyway we’re going off on another tangent we better wrap it up all right that’s it for this week on the futurist thanks to Jeffrey call Our Guest and uh and thanks to you all for uh joining us um don’t forget to leave us a review we’re getting really good traction with the show right now so please um you know post post this interview on social media the interviews you enjoyed uh tell other people about it that’s how people find out about the podcast and uh you know um by all means let us know who you’d like to see as a guest my thanks go out to Elizabeth severins and Kevin hershen um that help us on the production side from provoke color Navara and silby Johnson on the social media side and the whole team provoked and help us put together this show every week that’s it for the futurists this week but we will will definitely see you again next week until then we’ll see you in the future [Music] well that’s it for the futurists this week if you like the show we sure hope you did please subscribe and share it with the people in your community and don’t forget to leave us a five star review that really helps other people find the show and you can ping us anytime on Instagram and Twitter at futuristpodcast for the folks that you’d like to see on the show or the questions you’d like us to ask thanks for joining and as always we’ll see you in the future [Music]