Tom Freston: Where is the media headed?

Question: Where is the media headed?

Tom Freston: Oh, I mean that’s hard to say. There’s so many fingers now on the pulse. A lot of people, they choose to have their finger just on a little piece of the pulse, a little piece of the market. And you know most people seem to be doing a pretty good job. I don’t see anybody going out of business. I mean you can look at who’s got the best movies; who’s got the best TV shows; who’s got the hottest Internet sites. It kind of moves around from time to time. I mean are there people out there who are exceptional and head and shoulders above others at the moment?You know in the major media world it’s sort of fungible. It’s hard to say there’s any runaway thing. A few years ago you could have said in the TV world that, “Boy, HBO really had it nailed,” when they had the Sopranos, and Sex in the City, and Larry David and so forth. They had, like, the killer lineup. I mean that’s sort of waned a bit, you know. It used to be NBC on television had all the big hits. That sort of moves around. It’s hard to stay on top all the time. I’d be hard pressed to say that there’s somebody now who’s that head and shoulders above the others. News Corp seems to be doing a good job on the digital front in terms of the major media companies. But I think each of the big companies has something they can feel good about. A lot of them run them as portfolios. I mean I might be down with some of my channels at the moment, but other ones are doing pretty good on average . . . in fairly decent shape, which is one of the reasons why a big media company is fairly hard to beat in the end, because they do have a portfolio approach knowing you’re in a creative business. You can’t always be hitting it. But if I’ve got 10, 20 products on average – you know sort of like a mutual fund – I’m probably gonna, you know, have pretty decent performance.

Recorded On: 7/6/07

Everyone has their fingers on the pulse, Freston says.

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