Media C-Suite Week No. 32, Issue 19

MCS Issue 19 Feature Image

A Week in the Media C-Suite

It’s Sunday, the 6th of August, 2023.

Traditionally, this is a slow month for much of the Northern Hemisphere as summer vacations and summer heat reduce productivity.  But this doesn’t feel like a typical August yet.

Just Catching Up?

Here’s a few items of interest that you may have missed last week.

In Good Company

Film-makers were once thought of as creative loners who gathered for temporary moments of production and shooting before once again scattering to the four corners of Los Angels County.  No longer.  Today’s film-makers are going pro, working out of permanent corporate HQs and building commercial brands. 

Global markets, development catalogues and balance sheet assets are on the agenda for teams of producers finding it far easier to attract Professional Investors as a corporation than as a cooperative.  And Professional Investors are attracted, with billion dollar deals to prove it.

Deal Makers Across a Table

The Professionalisation of Investing in Film

For a long time, many one-off independent film projects have been received as poorly conceived investment proposals. But a growing number of film-maker entrepreneurs are building professionally managed, sustainable businesses with increasing scale and valuations.  Professional Investors have taken note.

They Said What?!

For media companies further down the corporate trail, public-listings mean public reporting.  Quarterly earnings call season continues with Apple, Hasbro, Warner Bros, AMC and Cinemark all reporting last week on their Q2 performance ending in June.   

Hasbro’s CEO, Chris Cocks announced the definitive agreement to sell eOne Film and TV to Lionsgate for “approximately” US$500 million.  The deal includes 6,500 content titles and active productions for non-Hasbro owned IP.  Hasbro Entertainment will become the new marquis for developing, financing and producing new content from Hasbro-owned brands and for continuing development of over 30 Hasbro-based projects including the TRANSFORMERS and GI JOE franchises.

Cinemark reported US$942 million in worldwide revenue, up 27% year-on-year, serving 38.8 million moviegoers in the US from April to end of June, 14% up year-on-year with an average ticket price of US$9.62.  CEO Sean Gamble noted some concerns for film product flow in the face of the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes in Hollywood but expressed confidence that consumer demand for theatrical experiences will remain strong.  Of interest was his validation of “alternative content providers”, saying that, “Emerging genres of content in the form of faith-based, multicultural, and anime and concerts are also scaling up.”

You may find this interesting:

New Generation Cinemas

Resurgent Box Offices Eye Gulf States’ Market and Money

Cinema owners seek innovation and renewal as global exhibition begins to re-claim its pre-pandemic prominence. New ideas on the cinema experience, and the capital needed to pursue them, are finding fertile soil on desert sand.    

Warner Bros Discovery reported that its integration continued to go exactly as expected.  Exactly what anyone expected CEO David Zaslav to say.  Two statements stood out, however.  One was that that tentpoles were not going away at all and that we should all expect more of them from Warner Bros and that more sport was coming.  A lot more sport. 

“We’ve had some good success in Europe and Latin America with layering sports into streaming with various business models.” Zaslav said.  “And this experience is informing our view on how to best deploy these sports rights here in the U.S.”

But the most interesting of the earnings calls this week was Apple.  Interesting not for what they said, but for what they didn’t say.  In fact, with exciting news about reaching 1 billion paid subscribers with 2 billion active devices and earnings of US$21.2 billion in this year’s second quarter alone, AppleTV+ was hardly mentioned beyond broad praise. 

When asked by Analyst, Michael Ng of Goldman Sachs about large investments into AppleTV+ and exciting deals with Major League Soccer and Canal+ in France, CFO Luca Maestri completely ignored the question and repeated earlier stated statistics on other aspects of the business. 

AppleTV+ may be regretting having joined AMPTP, placing it firmly in the same camp as any other Hollywood Studio.  That being on the wrong side of US creatives and firmly in difficulties with scripted content production.  Particularly for a growing audience outside the US. 

As Apple’s CFO stated, “60% of our business is outside the US.”  But AppleTV+ hasn’t really expanded beyond US consumers.  The Canal+ deal that they didn’t speak of nearly doubles their exposure of AppleTV+ content to over 8 million Canal+ subscribers in France specifically and 25 million throughout Europe and Africa.

CEO Tim Cook did briefly touch on the significant deal with Major League Soccer.  “And for MLS, we’re — we could not be happier with how the partnership is going.”  Cook reported.  “the fact that Messi went to Inter Miami helped us out there a bit. And so we’re very excited about it.”

“We’re focused on original content, as you know, with AppleTV+.”  Cook explained.  “And sport is a part of that because sport is the ultimate original story.”


What would be very interesting to investors is how the AppleTV+ MLS Season Pass fared among international, fanatical fans of Messi outside the US.  What they may be saying, by saying nothing at all really, is that they don’t want to talk about their strategy for matching 60% of their business that’s outside the US with AppleTV+.  It might upset the locals in Los Angeles. 

We want to know more please!

If you want to prepare for the week to come, you might be interested in …

Hollywood's Own Goal

Hollywood Scores Own Goal as Studio Bosses Prepare for the Coming Era in the Global Streaming Wars

The historic strike action of the WGA and SAG-AFTRA highlights the diverging interests of Studio-owning conglomerates and the American-centric unionised talent concentrated within Los Angeles County.

Money for Nothing

Why the whole planet is competing to attract film & television productions.

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