AT&T-Time Warner, End of Human Civilization, Civic Knowledge, Food Startups, Influencers...
Jason Hirschhorn, curator October 24, 2016
Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.
T.S. Eliot
rant n' rave

AT&T and TIME WARNER. Here come the prognostications (doomsday and not) given the whole 3 days to digest. Why? Consumer advocates and regulators? We're in a time when distribution and platforms are key. I haven't dug into all the specifics but the combination is very interesting and something all the "we're not a media company" companies have thought about. Yes, pipe owners don’t need to own what they transmit, but in an era where great content so easily goes unseen, there’s an opportunity for owners and distributors to unite. A real dilemma for legacy companies. Recently, I've become more of a full stack student. A media full stack. This is what AT&T is going for. So what to look out for? Usually, these deals die in integration and reluctance to take big risks. One of the challenges faced by the media companies and distributors is the degree of cannibalization needed to embrace digital. NETFLIX loses hundreds of millions each quarter and accepts a fraction of the margin. Competing with today’s digital leaders means taking a long view to success and doing what's necessary to get there. Part of AT&T’s risk is that having acquired DIRECTV and TIME WARNER, the pain of cannibalization could become too significant to be embraced – even if it’s this same risk and scale that could enable them to be the next hybrid giant. How do you do this? We said in "Big Media's 'Death Star' Strategy", you need to set expectations with shareholders. That’s how BEZOS, HASTINGS, ZUCKERBERG and others all did it. If public shareholders (or expectations) are the problems, CEOs need to confront them, admit the challenges in front of them along with the pain and cannibalization they’re going to embrace and articulate how they’re going to lead into the future rather than manage through the end. There are lots of opportunities. HBO OTT. Integration of online video brands into TV stack. Some of Time Warner's brands have been shackled over the years to make up for others. Give them the resources for the transition. Challenges too. The self-interest of AT&T could align with their customers in terms of aggregation and yet much of the content is locked into distribution deals with competition. Can AT&T create great consumer product experiences? Traditionally, telcos and cable companies have not. The entire space is in upheaval. Internal culture and talent need evolution too. Can they attract the product and software talent they need to compete with the tech-media giants? Long ball, folks. Oh, and there will be a ton of talk about regulation and anti-trust. Fair enough, but while WASHINGTON takes a look, they need to take a look at the new behemoths who face almost no scruitny comparatively. Our agencies are the worst equipped they've ever been to deal with the rate of innovation. More thoughts this week... I rarely thought about technology's negative impact on me (and culture) as I was coming up. I do now. BLACK MIRROR is so directionally correct (IMHO) it's depressing. We don't often think of consequences when we seek innovation... Our debt to TRUMP?... Something's missing from US football in 2016, and we don't mean PEYTON MANNING. Who or what's to blame for plunging ratings? Cord-cutters? The presidential election? On-field protests? Lousy games? And how worried should the NFL be? SportsSET: "NFL Blues: Where Did All the TV Viewers Go?"... The problem with introspection is once you're in there, you're in there... I'd love to see visualizations of some people's thought processes... Give me someone who has an eagle eye, ambition and strives for perfection that can never be attained. It's a rare commodity... My pal ANTHONY SALEH and his partner NAS on investing in products people want... Happy Birthday to TROY YOUNG, DAVID KATZ, ALEX FARRILL, JOSH BERNOFF and JUDITH CLEGG.

Jason Hirschhorn, curator

October 24, 2016