At NBCUniversal’s “ONE21”, its first-ever developer conference held yesterday, the word “synergy” was never uttered. But media veterans wouldn’t be wrong to see the attempted re-imagining of this one-time perceived savior and latter-day bête noire of the media business. The marketplace now awaits the verdict: Can NBCU, with its parent company Comcast and corporate sibling Sky, awaken this once-vaunted sales pitch?
It’s been a rough couple of decades for media synergy fans. Back in the 1980s, before the internet came along and ruined everything (just kidding folks), Warner Communications purchased Time Inc., bringing together two of the most iconic names in media history. This was to be a test-run for a synergistic modern media company combining Time Warner Cable’s ascending distribution business with one of the premier content companies in the world, brandishing content jewels from HBO to Warner Bros. to People Magazine. And a few years later, Viacom made its winning bid for Paramount Pictures in another bid for synergistic media glory.
Ultimately the promised benefits of synergy were never sufficiently realized in the face of a barrage of challenges, from notoriously toxic negotiations between the cable operator and cable network sides of the businesses; Viacom’s tumultuous purchase, spin-off and re-integration with CBS; Time Warner’s disastrous merger with AOL and its eventual shedding of a raft of those once-crown jewels; the rise of the internet (no one’s fault there!); and most recently the still-challenged absorption of Warner Media into telecom giant AT&T. The only people worse-off than proponents of media synergy have been those poor souls still trying to make “fetch” happen (hat tip to Regina George and Tina Fey).
Against this trying track record, does media synergy stand a chance today?
Continue reading In 2021, Can NBCUniversal And Comcast Make ‘Synergy’ Cool Again? on Forbes
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