Media C-Suite Week No. 37, Issue No. 24

Media C-Suite Week No. 37, Issue No. 24

A Week in the Media C-Suite

It’s Sunday, the 10th of September 2023.

Finding cause to celebrate is an existential skill.  In our hyper-connected, real-time algorithm-delivered daily existence, the negative drudgery of what humanity (much less each of us) is enduring can become overwhelming. 

Media delivers content to all of us at the speed of light.  That may be news, social feeds or the latest blogs that inform us, for better or worse, on what is happening out there and to us.  But it is entertainment that is designed to give us a break from all that.  Entertainment is necessary to the Human capacity for dealing with reality; by giving us a break from it.

The Media & Entertainment industry is symbiotic that way.  Media is by definition the plural of medium, which for our purposes are the mechanisms of modern mass communication; broadcasting, publishing and the internet. Media enables the proliferation of entertainment, while entertainment consumes human leisure time and allows media to generate revenues. 

Something to Celebrate

The 30th anniversary of the X-Files is cause enough!  The breakout sci-fi/crime-procedural created by Chris Carter first aired in September 1993 and followed FBI Agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) on conspiracy-laden adventures into the paranormal, extra-terrestrials and powerful cabals.

Both hugely popular and hugely cultish, the X-Files ran for nine consecutive seasons and was followed by two feature films and two limited-run seasons in 2016 and 2018.  Beyond its success as entertainment, the X-Files had extensive pop-culture and very real impact on people’s lives.  Gillian Anderson’s depiction of physician and FBI Agent Dana Scully exposed several generations of women to aspirations within science, medicine and government service in what became referred to as the “Scully Effect”.

That alone is something worth celebrating. Especially now.

Just Catching Up?

Don’t wait too long, the world is accelerating.

Kiss it Goodbye

It may take some time to sink into the more densely packed board rooms out there, but the days of getting away with commercial exploitation of the female gender is rapidly waning.  Within the private offices and hotel suites of media execs, power plays for sex and ego are now well-greased grounds for immediate termination. 

It took the slaying of Goliath figures, such as Harvey Weinstein, to permeate the corporate cultures of Hollywood in what became known as the “Me Too” movement.  With some over-correction, a generational change in gender politics very quickly demonstrated that audiences, shareholders and juries alike were more than ready to end sexual exploitation within the very powerful and highly lucrative Media & Entertainment industry.

That reality has now extended to the arena of professional, spectator sports that have increasingly been integrated into the corporate spheres of global Media & Entertainment conglomerates.  Nothing demonstrates this more than the unwanted kiss delivered by Luis Rubiales in his capacity as the President of the Royal Spanish Football Federation.  Kissing triumphant Spanish player (and La Roja star) Jenni Hermoso on the lips as the world celebrated the Spanish national women’s team victory over England to win the FIFA Women’s World Cup demonstrated a confident disregard for her team’s hard-won triumph as professional athletes.

That lack of professionalism on the part of the Federation president may have set much more in motion than Rubiales, or his enablers, might be capable of imagining.  Following their country’s World Cup victory, the players in the Spanish women’s league, Liga F, are on strike to raise the salary within the league above the present 16,000 euros minimum.  The minimum salary for the Spanish men’s league, La Liga, is 182,000 euros. 

The strike has been called for only the first two rounds of the season, which starts on September 22.  According to Pedro Vilches, Chief Executive for Liga F, the loss of those first two rounds is expected to cost Spanish clubs 1 million euros. 

Given how much growth is expected in the value of TV rights for women’s football, it is difficult to imagine long-term corporate careers ahead for the men who continue to discount the value of the professional athletes they are based upon. 

For a glimpse into the future of how football might be experienced, take a look at how Artificial Intelligence is changing the game of Golf, with tennis and the Olympics already in play.

The Masters Trophy, Augusta National Golf Club

Golf’s Power Drive into Media Disruption

How a single app for a golf tournament offers a defining moment to change how everyone experiences sport as entertainment.

Looking Ahead?

Excellent.  That’s where the trip hazards are.

The Show Must Go On

Despite the ‘divide and conquer’ strategy of the AMPTP against the combined might of the WGA and SAG-AFTRA, the Hollywood strikes are taking a toll on shareholder sentiment for the value of the traditional Studios.  The share prices of Disney and Paramount are down over 11% this month.  Warner Bro. Discovery is down over 19% for the same period.  These studios are highly dependent on content produced in the United States, particularly in Hollywood.

Netflix, however, is more diversified internationally.  It’s share price is up nearly 3% in the last month. 


Iger waiving to WGA picketers a Disneyland

Who Iger Answers To

One of the highest paid executives on Earth is credited by many in Hollywood with holding unionised creatives to the fire as if it were his personal inclination.  But it is strategy, not animus, that drives experienced CEOs with legacies to protect.

The Studios are not necessarily producers of content.  They acquire the rights to distribute content to cinemas, proprietary broadcast networks and streaming platforms.  Their revenues come from audiences willing to pay for access to content.  No new content means fewer and fewer loyal customers. 

Squeezing the talent so much that many actual producers, writers and actors no longer believe they can make a living, much less get ahead in the industry may just prove to be as self-destructive as it appears to be.  Hollywood talent might just be in a position to buy into the Studios and turn the tables on the ‘Bosses’ that would watch as they go homeless. 

Or band together, compete with them and demonstrate what creativity is really worth.


Hollywood stars having an aha moment as Disney's Bob Iger stands behind a door with all the money.

Creatives Can Beat the Studios at Their Own Game; And Should

But will they?  The only obstacle to equity in the Media & Entertainment industry is a mindset carefully cultivated by decades of corporate control

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