2022 – what can go wrong?

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I signed off last year’s last blog with “I make no predictions for 2021, including ‘at least it can’t be worse’”. That was a good decision.

Who’d have thought we’d all be here at the end of 2021 having missed Vegas, Cologne and Amsterdam, again. Any bets on the 2022 travel itinerary? No, didn’t think so.

What will be the big themes for 2022? Much the same as 2021, I guess. The continued hegemony of some SVoDs and a continued drive to DTC. I said last year the latecomers would need to shape up fast or they wouldn’t find room. I stick by that. The combination of Time Warner and Discovery brings another major league player, arguably putting the ‘Titans’ at five: Netflix, Prime, Disney, Apple and the newcomer. But not many think that more than three can succeed at a global scale, and its hard to see past the first three on that list. Expect more consolidation and a move back towards aggregation for some of the others.

By the way, does the spin out of Time Warner by AT&T at a much lower value than it took it in, finally put an end to network and technology companies trying to run content businesses? If the definition of insanity is to continually repeat the same action (mistake) and expect a different outcome, then parts of this industry are definitely certifiable.

Speaking of which: BT. Another telco trying to sell-off its TV business.  Just as likely is that it will be bought out altogether. Altice has purchased a big stake and others will join the party. BT has always been protected by its huge pension liabilities, but if a UK recovery is hampered by a Brexit hangover and, therefore, the pound is cheap abroad, expect bidding. Ironically, this will come just as BT finally starts doing its job of building infrastructure, spurred on by the Chancellor’s capital spending tax breaks.

ITV will have the same vulnerability, and who knows what will happen? Predicting whether, or how, our clown government will react to foreign takeovers of national media and infrastructure is a thankless task. Someone said that Boris is just our own Berlusconi in a bad suit and with bad hair (though at least his thatch is his own). Surely, you might think, Europe can only accommodate one of these international embarrassments at a time, but now I hear Berlusconi is actually in the running to become President of Italy….

Welcome to 2022.


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