Hot Topic - Media Mergers and Acquisitions
It is always best, we have learned, to take with a grain of salt any “breaking news” headline. OK, a barrel of salt. Maybe a boat-load of salt. We must temper the excitement no matter how, well, exciting.
Big media deals are always attention-getting. Media watchers wax on about consolidation, digital, jobs and competition. Money by the pile being what it is, most transactions of a certain scale are rather creative. Give thanks to the accountants and hedge fund managers for keeping the last light on.
Nobody in business, media or otherwise, wants to be the little guy. Hence, all executives are schooled in thinking big. Their bankers tell them to think big because the paper work for a big deal is just the same as a small deal. There is no incentive to be anything but big.
Getting money from the web is no longer about simply selling ads. There’s branded content, merchandising, talent management, all kinds of goodies. Multiple revenue streams excite investors, traditional ad money so last century. The quest for scale, however, is eternal.
The digital age has made one factor more important than all others: scale. To thrive, if not only survive, media operators view consolidation as primary business strategy. Shareholders and stock traders agree; other insecurities pale. Above all, what is familiar is favored.
Big media houses are finishing 2013 with a sense of renewal. The financial picture for most isn’t getting much better but it isn’t getting much worse. Digital transition is a foregone conclusion but the end result remains hazy. Possibilities, once so numerous, all lead one direction.
Media investment strategies have certainly shifted. Private equity and venture money goes where it always does, straight for the door as soon as it can. There’s a time for it. And a time for operators to take their place.
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