Major media companies are scrambling to keep pace with multibillion new
media/distribution company deals that may have less shine than they did years ago.
Many think about this when considering AT&T’s deals in recent years. Two — DirecTV and AppNexus (now
Xandr) — came into focus.
In light of news reports about these businesses, John Stankey, CEO of AT&T was perfectly, shall we say, reflective.
The question from a Goldman Sachs analyst
with reference to DirecTV and Xandr, which could be on the market, according to reports: How do you define which businesses are or are not the most strategic to your future?
“Things are less contained and maybe there’s a little bit more rumors leaking out on whether or not that’s something that’s going to come to fruition … I’m not going to
comment on anything, specifically on any unique transaction.”
OK. Maybe the answer is about market share, then — especially in considering DirecTV — one of the strongest traditional pay
TV providers for years — has a much smaller share of the entire business. But don’t write it off yet.
Stankey: “How we’ve traditionally defined things like share is no longer
sufficient, and we can be very successful having 25%, 28% share in a particular market we served and run great businesses. But moving forward, I don’t know if that’s going to be the basis
He then alludes to new businesses and products with a different price point. “We really need products and services that may have different characterizations —
characterizations of the buy-in … that’s why HBO Max is so attractive.”
We get it. Have one foot in the old, while moving onto the new.
For Xandr, it perhaps looks to be a
different issue — building an advanced advertising business that not only sells inventory from AT&T’s own Turner ad-supported networks but non-AT&T owned networks.
there’s a rub. How do you convince cable TV networks to let a competitor’s ad platform unit — sister company to Turner cable networks — sell its inventory? To its credit, Xandr has signed up
Disney and AMC Networks linear TV inventory recently among others — no doubt with lot of competitive protections in place. No doubt sharing some of AT&T’s 170 million customer interactions
is a good selling point.
Maybe all this has Xandr looking for ad deals around tough-to-sell inventory in dayparts few are interested in. Still, the whole frenemy positioning has never been taken
lightly by media companies.
Major TV/movie studios whose sister companies include TV networks do sell — from time to time — programming to competing TV networks. But it is getting to be an
increasingly rare occurrence.
Perhaps Xandr’s original thinking was to grab just a small piece, lending a helping hand to those that need it, all in an overall industry effort to boost
higher=priced advanced ad inventory.
It that all one might need?