Interview: Michael Whalen on the Future of Media

rcwhalen's picture

Below is an excerpt from the latest issue of The Institutional Risk Analyst.  You can read then entire conversation on our web site.  Remember that when a new item is posted, the previous IRA rolls behind the pay wall.  -- Chris

Interview: Michael Whalen on the Future of Media

The Institutional Risk Analyst

October 9, 2011

Last December, we published an interview with Michael Whalen, Emmy award winning composer, City College and NYU professor, copyright expert and media analyst for Fox Business, about the near future for the business of creating and delivering content (See "Apple, Google, NewsCorp and the Future of Content: Interview with Michael Whalen," December 7, 2010).

In this issue of The Institutional Risk Analyst, we ask Michael how his predictions of last year panned out and what he sees in the future of media. And we also celebrate the tenth anniversary of Michael's bull call on Apple Computer ("AAPL") based on his vision of the advent of the world of new media.

The IRA: So Michael, since doing our interview in December 2010, what's happened in the entertainment and media space?

MW: We certainly had a wide-ranging discussion last year! It seems that about 100% of what we discussed has come to pass or is in process, and then some. We were talking about the eventual end of television networks, film companies and the continued radical upheaval of the music business. It is certainly the case that network television is ending as we know it. While we have not seen any of these media companies fall over and die - the erosion in all of television and broadcast media in general in just 10 months is alarming.

The IRA: Sounds like the deflation we see in the financial sector. What is alarming?

MW: I think the biggest single factor that has changed since we spoke last year is that major media companies and especially the television and cable franchises are no longer pretending that things are "OK". They're acknowledging that things are not "business as usual." They did their best to pretty up the "up front" ad sales numbers earlier this year - - however, the total number of people watching programmed broadcast television is less than half of what is was just 10 years ago. The level of desperation out there is amazing. Every day in the trade magazines and websites you see emotional production moves, defensive executive moves and knee jerk reactions by established members of the industry. Was anyone else but me shocked that America Online ("AOL") paid Arianna Huffington $300 million for Huffington Post? Really guys? Are readers of a blog that valuable?

The IRA: Short answer, no. The irony of AOL being the buyer is quite amazing, but nobody in the Big Media said much at the time of the deal.

MW: In the face of these actions, income streams everywhere are drying up. Look at how new ventures like Oprah's OWN network (launched just a year ago) has been a financial disaster since day one. News Corp's ("NWS") failure in launching their digital magazine "The Daily" and the continued trouble for media institutions like the New York Times ("NYT") are but single examples of an ocean of trouble for media. Furthermore, this fall TV season's show reorders have been cautious at best - Brian Grazer and Imagine Entertainment's expensive and VERY high profile series "The Playboy Club" was killed on NBC after only three weeks. The blood is running in the streets…

The IRA: Is this because of new technology or a change in the audience? Or both?

MW: Both. The new content streaming deals being discussed widely are not making things easier - nor are they making up for the lost revenues from the huge falloffs in YOY numbers for home video sales, foreign box office and the essential lifeblood statistic of network television: "homes using television" -- the HUT numbers. In the last 12 months, the numbers of distinct users on (in the United States) have outpaced the metered Nielson ratings of all FOUR television networks combined.

The IRA: Whoa. How much of this is due to the economy vs. structural changes in the industry?

The HUT metric seems to answer the question, but are the economics of advertising the only factor? We see a lot of retail vendors pushing very hard via mail, email, etc to generate sales.

MW: I think there are three factors at work: first of all the economy is a HUGE mitigating presence behind everything that is going on in the media & entertainment space. Worldwide, consumers are broke and resigned about their short and long-term financial prospects. They are not waiting for government to step in and "do something." They are VERY, very careful with their money and budgets. Extra things like movies and paid media in many families have been eliminated entirely. Only companies like AAPL seem to have punched through the cynicism to create the "gotta' have this" atmosphere for their products that supersedes any one local economy or financial circumstance. Other companies make short-term blips with price. For example, the success of the full featured Android phone platform is largely due to price slashing by multiple competitors in the US.

The IRA: Does this explain the decision by Google ("GOOG") to acquire the Motorola handset business? Nobody else wanted it?

MW: I think GOOG saw the purchase of Motorola ("MOT") as buying a pile of copyrights at a fire sale price. Do they actually want to compete toe to toe with AAPL, Android and the rest? I am not sure. Feedback on Google's mobile device software platforms have been mixed at best. AAPL's iOS and the Android OS are wiping the floor with the rest. With Motorola, they are getting manufacturing and a supply chain - but they are also buying 20 years of retail baggage with the public. Does Google want to play the "wait out the market" game using the Motorola name? We'll have to wait and see. However, if you're not deep into the mobile device market as someone in the media space - you are kind of out of the game at this point. So, said another way - - this is Google staying in the game. I wouldn't be surprised if more purchases will come soon. Yahoo ("YHOO")?

Click here to read the rest of the interview with Michael Whalen... 

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IQ 101's picture

T.V.? Who watches T.V. anymore? We have not for several years, my neighbor on the right NO TV, my neighbor on the left, NO TV.

Perhaps I should canvas the hood and get a local statistical picture.

It is my belief that Cable is getting turned off in Epic numbers.

I saw a guy watching TV at the beer store a few weeks ago but can safely say that no one has mentioned a TV show to me in a year or more,

We read about TV shows on the web now, Dancing with the stars, never seen it, NBC CBS ABC PBS, Our parents are the only people still watching and they have Early Alzheimers and COPD and voted Democrock in the last erection.

TV is done. I bought a news paper when a bad car wreck happened on the highway, a mile from our house last month, the first paper i bought in months.

Last magazine I bought? can not remember.

Book, yeah a few.

My point being, TV is Toast, as is Paper journalism and the magazine trade, do your own observing, paradigm shift,tidal wave.

We are talking about the price of candles in the doorway of Thomas Edisons new lightbulb factory.

FeralSerf's picture

If Huffington Post is worth $300 million, I'll bet the Tylers in the back room are doing a happy foot dance and wondering what they'll do with so much money.  Huffington is minor league in comparison.

moneymutt's picture

Why does he talk like google is competing with is android and is fully committed to it, wisely...but twice in this interview he acts like they are two different he that stupid or is my reading of this, that stupid

moneymutt's picture

Really, you guys think the Internet is a more pure, less biased source of news and information? I love Zerohedge and all the alternative, not mch liked by the establishment blogs I visit, and Internet is a great way to get a crash course of something and get the right books to read...but the Internet is being massively manipulated too....I assuming any smart person visiting this site, who had some power/money/ambition and were lacking in love of their country (or were a true extreme believer In something) or were lacking in any morals, one could easily figure out how to spend money to manipulate the in a few minutes you could have all kinds of evil ideas how to do don't you think rich powerful connected types are already doing it. We do know the military admits to trolling etc...what was the source of those constant unsourced emails about whatever, Obamacare etc...Regardless of my feelings on health insurance it was obvious these emails were plants, I got three of them attributed to lawyer, a doctor and insurance guy with the same exact text...and why not creat a supposed white hat blogger but then at key moment have them lead his flock into the swamp (see Glen Beck get people all worked up to walk into ineffective swamp rather than demand real action).. flood comments to suggest a popular opinion that is actually quite in the minorityetc...I'm sure whatever we could imagine they have done and much beyond.

Everyday I see outrageous things, reported in mainstream media even, that then gets completely buried, and supposedly righteous bloggers do not focus on....

As to tv, I can't watch it without being on Internet too, and usually doing something else, like right now, doing laundry, watching football, checking work email for tomorrow and surfing but I love to lose myself in a movie, good drama show occasionally, even while one most fun thing to do with one friend is analyze the hell out of a movie or shows tendencies, biases, incorrectness, poke at the characters etc...some stories/movies are great, good for the world, make people think and of course many are horrible for our culture, our political awareness or are just bad for us, our kids...but shoot, media haters here reference the Matrix, just one example of a great movie that used fiction to break thru to people

The thing I find telling is that when people do these year long things of using not modern power or machines, going to country, when asked what they miss, they never mention TV...but they do often mention the washing machine and dryer, so I'm thinking that business is solid while TV as we know it wil be dying, just like AM radio superstations of old, with each old listener dying, a young who has no interest whatsoever in their product is coming of age

OutLookingIn's picture

Absolutely loved watching the replay of AAPL's MacKintosh advert from 1984, when she throws the sledge hammer through the big screen! Steve Jobs was far ahead of his time. He will be missed.

That CANNOT be said of network MSM television, syndicated newspapers, magazines, radio stations, etc. As George Carlin said, "It's a big club, and you aint in it! The same big club they use to hit you over the head with every day. Telling you what to watch, read, buy and think."

The sooner the oligarchal controlled MSM go down, the better! 

fxrxexexdxoxmx's picture

Excellent article.

CactusLand's picture

" The Russian investor got stuffed. Let me be clear to the ultra rich or the bored who want to wander in and make a move in this sector: the entertainment space is in free fall. Put your checkbooks away."

Having worked in media a long time, this was very obvious.  Who in their right mind, capapble of dealing with some very basic metrics, could justify a Facebook valuation of $50 billion??  This is not complicated, basically, all your traffic, traffic projections, effective cost per thousand (ECPM) = How much are you making in add revenue on your traffic.... throw in whatever other fees the pick up, and done.. Do the numbers look viable?  No way, back of the envelope, insane, laughable... this is what happens when the world gets stuffed with funny money.

Freddie's picture

Only f***ing morons and supporters of the Matrix watch TV. TV is to control the sheep.

nah's picture

the msm is not going to be irelivant any time soon... they own huge swaths of rf bandwidth...


always will they be rentiers of your minds

jeff montanye's picture

only with your complicity.

lynnybee's picture

... they say that American society will be very different by the end of this decade.     just wait until more & more people realize that they've been lied to .... lied to about  9/11 , lied to about the currency & paper money & fractional reserve banking & & ..... oh, it's just going to be horrific when people realize that all the money they've saved a lifetime is all worthless &  what they really should have been doing during the course of their lifetimes was to just buy gold & silver & put it away for their retirement.    this is not going to end well ........ FOR WASHINGTON & WALL ST. & the media who hides the truth. 

TSA gropee's picture

Reading is one thing, comprehending what one reads is quite another. Those poisoned by the system that traded education for indoctrination and conditioning rely on such media whether print or internet and take such at face value rather than ponder or qualify its merits. They tend to make decisions based on what's told to them and respond to them emotionally rather than rationally. I'm hoping that more are waking to the MSM propaganda and begin to question.

This interview and its content I found to be outstanding. Nice piece.


-Michelle-'s picture

Truly.  Read How to Read a Book and realize how little you've actually gotten out of all the books you've ever read.

reader2010's picture

They will blame it on YouPorn.

jemlyn's picture

I wonder how many ZHers don't watch TV.  I threw out all my sets about 6 or 7 years ago, before the change to analog.  It was primarily because I got so angry with the propaganda, brainwashing and poor journalism of the MSM.  The ads were annoying; the choice of stories to follow was boring; the entertainment content was juvenile and sports don't interest me.  I would watch some scientific productions or political debates but it's not worth the price of cable.

Freddie's picture

Good for you. TV and Hollwyood are for mindless retards who enjoy the daily brainwashing in HD and 3D.  The endless message is white males are stupid, dishonest, evil and weak. F TV.  I stopped years ago.

reader2010's picture

It's all brainwashing in form of so-called entertainment. A couple weeks ago the sales guys from AT&T knocked on everyone's doors in my hood to peddle their bullshit. I told the guy the fact that I don't own a fucking tv set,  i don't have any fucking cellphones or landline phones. The sales guy thought I was lying to him. You've got to see his facial expressoin when he heard that from me. 

captain_menace's picture

And then he asked... "may I speak to your parents please".

Jeez, it's TV.  Get over it.  It's right up there with alcohol and cigarettes.  There are plenty of things that aren't so good for you that are fun to do (I still don't understand cigarettes though).

Freddie's picture

LOL You are sheep who is still a slave to The Matrix. Moron.

kaiserhoff's picture

Excellent article, and a great reason to read ZH.

There aren't enough hours in the day to find this stuff anyplace else.  Well done, Tylers.

israhole's picture

Shot my TV, aka propaganda box, full of birdshot almost 3 yrs ago.  

captain_menace's picture

I should have introduced you to my friend eBay.

lynnybee's picture

  "  Nobody reads anymore.  "     ... i read.   i've been doing nothing but reading now for 2 years, the truth is found on the internet now.      i cancelled my cable a year ago now, sick of MSNBC outright  lying to me, sick of CNN outright lying & FOX, well, they deserve all the rotteness right back at  them.  

it's odd not having television in my house anymore, strangely silent, doesn't feel right.    but, then, i open up the computer & go on ZEROHEDGE & other financial websites to find out what the hell is REALLY going on out there & i lose myself in reading.

end da fed's picture

amen to that! the internet is akin to the modern day printing press. i wish i could convince my family to throw out that piece of shit "propaganda box". although on occasion i watch it to take what i call a braincation because of the stress of understanding the matrix

yourfather's picture

This comment seems to stick out like dogs balls.

"I think GOOG saw the purchase of Motorola ("MOT") as buying a pile of copyrights at a fire sale price. Do they actually want to compete toe to toe with AAPL, Android and the rest? I am not sure. Feedback on Google's mobile device software platforms have been mixed at best. AAPL's iOS and the Android OS are wiping the floor with the rest" 


So, Google bought Motorola to compete against Android? This is completely a stupid statement to make considering that Google acquired android in 2005 and therefore its flagship 'mobile device software platform' is Android and it is kicking the shit out of iOS when it comes to activations.


What I find when I read these kind of commentaries is that they little understand the difference between software and hardware. I read something the other day that said "Google shipped X android units last year", that's bullshit - they just provide the source code and the hardware developers port it (the software stack) to their hardware... Google doesn't ship anything, they just provide the stack and guidelines on specs.


Jeffersonian's picture

Yeah what the fuck kind of comment was that? Google can't compete with Android? Google IS Android. Makes me doubt anything else this guy has to say.

earleflorida's picture


 IDCC (tdma ^4) has a great portfolio, other than the fact QCOM's (cdma ^4) format is best. Remember Beta?

ERIC is jammed packed as that of a spare parts supplier. Their neighbor NOK is the king of patent portfolio's both (cdma^4/tdma^4) and Nok knows wireless!

thankyou chris 

apberusdisvet's picture

Nobody reads anymore.  Too many HS  (and even college) graduates are functionally illiterate.  Who actually buys a newspaper these days?  $100 for a family of 4 at the movies is rediculous (especially since the indocrination of the leftists is palpable in the scripts).  The alphabet and cable news networks, with their constant propaganda and elite control are becoming passe.  So how will we be indoctrinated?  By the internet takeover, of course.  Already the pysops trolls are out there on every site; easy to spot.  When they fail to sway opinion, then censorship is the next obvious solution.  Enjoy ZH while you can folks.

Withdrawn Sanction's picture

After years of piffle masquerading as news or entertainment (take your pick), does this mean the MSM is finally getting what is so rightfully deserves?  Consignment to the oblivion of irrelevance.  Dont let the doorknob catch you in the ass on the way out...

slowimplosion's picture

Exactly.  The "news" media in this country is a huge sad joke.  They are nothing more than cheerleaders for the status quo, ass kissers of all things corporate and political, and they fail utterly and completely to fulfill their mandate to inform the populace.


The sooner they go broke the better.

Freddie's picture

The news media is not a huge sad joke.  They are pure eivl.  Until the sheep unplug the lies in HD and brainwashing and tell hollywood to go f themselves - we remain slaves.

bank guy in Brussels's picture

Wow, really great interview with Michael Whalen on the future of media in the world. Worth following the link at the bottom of the article, to read the whole interview on The Institutional Risk Analyst site.

The great take-away: We really don't know who the winners may be, and everyone you see at the moment, the movie studios, the television networks and broadcasters, Google, Facebook, Apple, everybody, may all be losers before all this sorts itself out. A combination of technology, the economy down, youth that has gotten used to paying nothing. The earthquake is ongoing and no one can see revenue streams with any clarity. All those big company warehouses of copyrighted music, video, books (ha!) are likely worth much, much less than people think.

As Michael Whalen says here, "Investors need to know that the public is starting with ZERO dollars as their price point for all digital content."

Spot on.

Cursive's picture

Chris Whalen/IRA is always a good read.  New technologies are the disruptive force in media.  Now that everything's digital, the number of distribution channels are too numerous for networks to control.