As a Producer or Line Producer, you probably have an opinion about Disney–Fox merger. Being involved on the physical production side of the business (location housing and logistics), I was contemplating the impact that merger and the proposed AT&T/Time Warner merger will have on production budgets and the number of physical productions being greenlit.
A Lost Cause?
An article I came across on CNBC says the Disney/Fox deal is a lost cause. Wall Street analyst Doug Creutz of Cowen & Company said Disney’s goal of positioning to compete in the OTT space (Over the Top or direct to consumer) is a fool’s errand. In a note to clients, Cruetz said, “Taking on competitors who don’t need to turn a profit is rarely a good idea.” Noting the entrance of Apple and Google into content along with their essentially unlimited balance sheets, these companies can use their platforms as loss-leaders to support other business objectives. He expects this to put pressure on content margins which ultimately affect production budgets. That’s one possible outcome but I don’t see it.
Less or More
A second article from Mike Snyder at USA Today on AT&T’s anti-trust case and the impact of Time Warner merger on content production, says might staying separate would leave both, “less willing to deploy new services or green-light new movies and TV series.” The shift to a more conservative stance would mean less production. Analysts are arguing both companies will be left weaker than their competitors Disney and Comcast. Conversely, the merger will lead to more production.
If I was in the back office at Disney/Fox I would prepare for some layoffs in the back office but cuts to production – not a chance. The AT&T/Time Warner will also produce more content whether they merge or not because they need to compete regardless. And with FAANG (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google) spending like drunken sailors, new production opportunities will be plentiful. As a result, you need to prepare for the post-merger landscape by taking three actions:
Sharpen your pencil – look at your sourcing strategy to leverage current suppliers to uncover cash savings and value added.
Prepare to scale – partner with colleagues to service big players with on-demand production capacity to help fill their distribution channels.
Network like crazy – it’s going to be musical chairs out there for a while so develop a networking and a social media strategy to stay close to colleagues and on top of new production opportunities.
Whether you want to get more from your physical production spend, grow existing production capacity or advance your career, by taking these three actions you will be well ahead of the pack when the physical production surge comes.
Photo credit: April Connors