10 nameless media execs predict 2022’s industry-shaking occasions

Chairman of Disney Michael Iger arrives for the Allen & Firm Solar Valley Convention on July 06, 2021 in Solar Valley, Idaho.

Kevin Dietsch | Getty Photos

New yr prediction items are a journalism customary. However as an alternative of giving my very own projections, I requested 10 media executives, the promise of anonymity, to present me their finest guesses on what is going on to occur in 2022.

The foundations have been easy: The prediction may very well be something associated to the media and leisure enterprise, however it needed to be important and could not be apparent.

Here is what they informed me.

I will revisit the predictions right now subsequent yr to see how they turned out, after which ballot 10 new executives for his or her 2023 predictions.

Govt No.1: Roku buys Lionsgate’s studio

One government mentioned Roku will purchase Lionsgate’s movie and TV manufacturing studio.

Roku has been beefing up its unique content material within the Roku Channel, shopping for Quibi’s content material library and “This Outdated Home” in 2021. Founder and CEO Anthony Wooden informed CNBC in June he is devoting most of his time charting out a content material technique for the corporate.

“This jogs my memory a lot of Netflix in its early days,” media analyst Michael Nathanson informed CNBC earlier this yr. “I used to interview [Netflix Co-CEO] Ted Sarandos at conferences 10 years in the past, and he’d say, ‘Oh, we’re pleased with only one or two unique reveals.’ In the meantime, they’d be laddering up into higher content material.”

Lionsgate has already signaled to the funding world it plans to both spin off or promote Starz, the premium streaming service and cable community it owns. That would depart the remainder of the corporate — Lionsgate’s movie and TV manufacturing studio — primed to discover a purchaser as effectively.

Whereas conventional content material firms resembling Comcast’s NBCUniversal, ViacomCBS, Netflix and Disney are all wanting so as to add extra content material to their streaming providers, Roku is a wild-card purchaser that has the market valuation — almost $30 billion — to make a transfer.

Nonetheless, Roku shares have fallen by greater than 50% since reaching an all-time excessive in late July. Shopping for Lionsgate’s studio might get traders to take its content material ambitions extra significantly.

Govt No. 2: Bob Iger returns to Disney as CEO

It hasn’t even been two years since Bob Chapek took over as Disney’s CEO. However one government informed CNBC there are already inside wagers at Disney about Iger returning.

Iger, 70, repeatedly prolonged his contract after planning to retire in 2015, 2016 and 2018 earlier than abruptly stepping down in 2020. He is nonetheless Disney’s government chairman till the tip of the yr.

It is unclear if Iger desires to return. He is already engaged on a second e-book, in accordance with The Hollywood Reporter, after publishing one in 2019.

However Disney shares have stumbled this yr, down almost 20% yr so far. Iger owns lots of these shares. The board and Iger might get stressed if Disney+ development stagnates and the corporate continues to have turf tensions between executives.

Executives No. 3 and 4: ViacomCBS will merge or promote

Two votes for this one.

“I like Shari [Redstone], however ViacomCBS just isn’t lengthy for this world because it stands immediately,” mentioned certainly one of two media executives who predicted 2022 would be the yr ViacomCBS ceases to exist as an unbiased firm.

Comcast has already held preliminary talks with Redstone, the controlling shareholder and nonexecutive chair of the corporate, earlier this yr to debate a wide range of methods to work collectively. A merger of NBCUniversal and ViacomCBS can be messy from a regulatory standpoint, probably requiring a divestiture of both NBC or CBS and their related native associates.

Over the previous two years, Redstone has internally contemplated different alternate options, resembling shopping for Lionsgate’s Starz and merging with Sony Photos Leisure, in accordance with folks acquainted with the matter. A cope with Warner Bros. Discovery, if that merger closes, is sensible. However thus far, ViacomCBS’s messaging to Wall Road has been that it is content material to maneuver ahead as is.

Shari Redstone, president of Nationwide Amusements and Vice Chairman, CBS and Viacom, speaks on the WSJTECH reside convention in Laguna Seashore, California, October 21, 2019.

Mike Blake | Reuters

Govt No. 5: The ‘free radicals’ will promote

It was again in 2015 when billionaire media mogul John Malone coined the time period “free radicals” to outline pure-play content material firms that do not have the size to compete for top-notch films and TV reveals in opposition to media behemoths resembling Netflix, Disney, Amazon and Apple.

A few of these free radicals have already consolidated. Viacom and CBS have merged. WarnerMedia and Discovery agreed to merge. Amazon is awaiting regulatory approval to purchase MGM Studios.

However others, resembling Lionsgate, AMC Networks and Fox, live on. This government predicts none shall be solo after 2022, both promoting to bigger opponents or merging with one another.

Govt No. 6: Vice will promote itself in items

Shane Smith, co-founder of Vice.


Govt No. 7: Vox Media will go public

Vox’s option to merge with Group 9 units itself as the following logical digital media candidate to go public after BuzzFeed. It simply so occurs that Group 9 has already established a SPAC that may very well be utilized by the corporate to go public, along with merging with one other digital media participant to realize extra scale.

If SPACs stay tainted from an funding perspective, this government mentioned Vox might additionally pursue an ordinary IPO. The timing may very well be just like BuzzFeed’s this yr — an announcement of an IPO in late June and a public launch on the finish of 2022, the chief mentioned.

Govt No. 8: A significant sports activities betting firm will go bankrupt or promote for ‘peanuts’

Govt No. 9: Apple will purchase a film and TV studio

Apple’s streaming video ambitions have been muted, given the corporate’s huge dimension. “Ted Lasso” is successful for Apple TV+, however the service has operated largely on the periphery of the streaming wars.

That is more likely to change, mentioned this government, in 2022, and it is going to be pushed by the acquisition of a content material studio. A contemporary workforce of people that can create hit reveals will not simply make Apple a extra severe participant churning out unique content material. It’ll additionally give Apple a library of TV and film reveals it will possibly provide to clients. That is one thing Apple does not personal but, however it’s most likely important to severe long-term streaming ambitions.

Ted Lasso on Apple TV+

Supply: Apple Inc.

Govt No. 10: Free advertising-supported streaming providers will consolidate

One other pillar of the streaming wars that tends to get ignored is the world of free advertising-supported providers, highlighted by Fox’s Tubi, ViacomCBS’s Pluto TV, Amazon’s IMDb TV, and Sinclair Broadcast Group’s STIRR. Good TV working techniques additionally provide free streaming networks, resembling Samsung TV Plus and the Roku Channel.

This government predicted free-streaming TV could have surging development in 2022 however can even consolidate. Too many of those providers are providing primarily the identical factor — a bundled providing of free networks with lots of outdated films and TV reveals and syndicated programming.

A rollup of a number of of those providers is probably going in 2022, in accordance with Govt No. 10.

(Disclosure: Comcast owns NBCUniversal, the guardian firm of CNBC. Comcast and NBC Sports activities are traders in FanDuel)

WATCH: Streaming wars winner shall be one with probably the most mass hits, says ViacomCBS government

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