Regarding the headline above ... Not really! I just wanted to test the click value of “bitcoin.” It sure has worked for the Long Island ice tea guys and a couple of other “public” companies (real or not). I bet I’ll get some serious inquiries. Really. Now then, I’ve got some questions (coupled with my guesses) that I hope 2018 might answer. (In some cases I'm hoping my guesses will be wrong!)
Question: Will Trump continue to dominate every news source every minute of every damn day via tweet, interview, tantrum, fake fact, insult or whatever?
Answer: Of course! That’s Trump’s major skill and not-so-secret-sauce. The President’s other skills include a couple of things that could use more in-depth and regular coverage such as using the Presidency as a marketing arm; getting payments from foreign folks in violation of the Emoluments clause in the Constitution; turning tax laws into payoffs for members of Mar-a-Lago, and, just for fun, messing with media mergers.
Question: Is Trump the reason why so-called cord-cutting continues to accelerate?
Answer: Probably not the only factor. But it sure is tempting to disconnect and quit reacting. Trouble is, turning it off won’t make Trump go away!
Question: Will cord cutting continue to grow as it has been? After all, MVPD subscribers seem to drop off every day …
Answer: Well, with continually rising MVPD bills and too many channels no one really wants as the major factors, plus the growth of streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, CBS All Access, HBOGo and Philo, I'd have to say yes -- although 2018 might provide some clues as to just how much these changes can really succeed.
Question: So what does that mean for the MVPDs?
Answer: Probably fewer and fewer subscribers to their own pre-packaged bundles of programming. But don't forget cable's big card: It's also the internet service provider (ISP). Cable operator Cable One might be the new model of ISP focusing on both business and household internet customers while providing limited bundles that might or might not be integrated with streaming services.
Question: What about the proposed mergers? (Don't forget that the Department of Justice has filed suit against AT&T's proposed acquisition of Time Warner by arguing that any merger of a distributor with a program creator will result in MVPDs hoarding content exclusively -- which means consumers will pay more. Yet to be determined is how the DoJ will view Disney's offer of $52.4 billion for certain programming assets of Twentieth Century Fox -- not Fox News or Fox Broadcasting with its NFL deals).
Answer: A hearing is set for March 19 that might give some tentative answers on ATT/TW. The years-ago similar acquisition of NBC Universal by Comcast carried with it a number of obligations to not do certain things. Comcast has pretty much complied (to the letter of the law sort of; think Bloomberg). AT&T wants a similar deal. As to the Disney/Fox deal ... given the big orange guy's love affair with Fox News, we might reasonably expect the DoJ to bow to Mr. Murdoch's wishes.
Question: Let’s consider the politics around the proposed mergers. Exclusivity is really old hat. CBS and NBC didn’t broadcast the same content in the 1950s. Today is no different. The really important question that might get answered next year is this: Is it okay that Trump doesn’t like CNN or its boss, Jeff Zucker, and the DoJ makes an argument to block a merger? As Trump told “the failing New York Times” (his words, not ours), he thinks he can tell the DoJ to do what he wants! Is it okay for DoJ to make the opposite argument to approve a merger Trump likes?
Answer: Do you really expect consistency from Trump and Co.? Stay tuned … we’ll get some answers soon … I hope and pray!
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