The 2024 Media Investor Survey

A cinematic presentation of the 2024 Media Investor Survey.

Our inaugural survey of media investors presents crucial insight for both media executives and media entrepreneurs seeking access to smart money. 

We surveyed fifty-two investment executives across forty-eight investment firms with a stated interest in investing in the Media & Entertainment industry and controlling over US$84.2 billion between them in assets under management.

These Professional Investors had just as many questions for the Media C-Suite as we had for them.  


Survey Highlights:

  • Tech, Sport & Music are the most popular segments of M&E for “Specialist” investors, 42% of those surveyed, with the remaining 58% being opportunistic across the industry;
  • 65% of those surveyed expect to increase their allocations to M&E over the next 5 years. An equal number expect more Professional Investors to begin investing into M&E over the same period;
  • Only 35% of those surveyed reported the quality of deal presentations coming out of M&E as adequate (31%) or high (4%) compared to other industries;
  • Deal costs for those surveyed have risen consistently over the past five years and now stand at an average of US$290,000;
  • Despite 71% of those surveyed preferring “Growth” opportunities, 48% (including those targeting Series A or later) report interest in companies at all stages, including pre-seed and seed.

What we’ve learned in this survey is that media investors seem just as frustrated with the present state of the Media & Entertainment industry as audiences, creatives and entrepreneurs. For the “Money”, that frustration is felt as they endure increasing pressure to invest into a lucrative industry in clear process of disruption but can’t find enough companies ready to prudently seize opportunity.

Meanwhile, those inside the “Business” see the same opportunities but can’t seem to find the right investors at the right time. 

The result is a universal question for every segment of the global Media & Entertainment industry: Where’s the money? 

That question is easily answered by those in the “Know”. It’s everywhere! There’s a lot of investors with a lot of capital out there. So why do so many media executives and media entrepreneurs keep asking that question?

It’s a question that begs another question in response: What kind of money do you want?

There are generally two types: dumb money and smart money. Dumb money eventually learns to run away from poor investment proposals or runs out of money altogether. If that’s what you’re chasing, then look elsewhere. 

We at the Media C-Suite are all about the smart money.

Professional Investors in Media & Entertainment

For our 2024 Media Investor Survey we classify “smart money” as that being managed by Professional Investors. These are not friends or family; rich Aunt Agatha probably doesn’t qualify. For our survey, we defined “Professional Investors” as those individuals or firms that generate revenues from financial returns on invested capital. 

Out of the hundreds of thousands of Professional Investors around the world, we of course focused on those with a stated interest in investing in the global Media & Entertainment industry. 

“The ‘sweet spot’ for all but the largest Professional Investors in M&E seems to be the US$5 to 10 million range.”

We define the Media & Entertainment industry broadly to include:

  • Media, as the distribution, marketing and delivery of content to consumer audiences. This includes broadcast and cable channel networks, stadium, theatre and cinema exhibition and digital platforms offering content streaming or linear programming.
  • Entertainment, as the creation and production of content for consumer audiences. This includes live or recorded musical performance and sports, news, publishing and video games plus the broad “Hollywood” product of scripted content for cinema, television and streaming audiences, documentaries and “reality” programming. 

What connects these two broad sectors of the industry are the rights to generate money from artistic works. Copyrights, and the contractual rights that arise from them, are the essential balance sheet assets of the Media & Entertainment industry. Rights management is of key commercial interest to Professional Investors and can be a stand-alone business or incorporated into both Media and Entertainment companies.


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Intangible Matter

The Insanely Lucrative Ownership of Intangible Matter

This year alone, media executives and corporate shareholders will feast on the leftovers of more than US$2.5 trillion in annual revenues from a product literally willed into existence.


The Media C-Suite surveyed senior executives with investment discretion over sums of US$500,000 or more and/or who sat on an Investment Committee that approves the terms of an investment deal representing forty-eight separate Professional Investor firms.

Our Professional Investors came in a variety of forms. All invest capital into private companies within Media & Entertainment with all 52 respondents investing in equity capital, including instruments expected to convert to equity such as SAFE contracts and other convertible notes. Forty-five respondents, or 87%, also invest into the debt capital of private companies under limited circumstances.

Bar chart of survey participants.
Figure 1. 52 senior investment executives surveyed, representing 48 firms of Professional Investors collectively managing US$84.2 billion in AUM. 2024 Media Investor Survey. Source: The Media C-Suite; Coherent Media Group. (c) 2024.

HNWIs

Three of our respondents are high-net-worth individuals, or HNWIs, investing in their own name or through companies they control. These three individuals represent 6% of our survey results and collectively hold over US$61 million in assets under management, or AUM.

Private Family Offices

Twenty-six respondents work within Private Family Offices, representing 50% of our survey results and control over US$29.8 billion in AUM. Nine of these Family Offices built their original wealth from within the Media & Entertainment industry with the other 18, or 69% of the Family Offices, having no M&E legacy affiliations.

Professional Funds

Twelve respondents, representing 23% of our survey results, work for firms managing one or more professional funds, which are pools of capital from other professional investors. These funds control over US$27.9 billion in AUM. Eight of these are based in Europe (including 3 in the UK) with four based in the United States. Nine report investing internationally with three focused exclusively on either Europe or the US.

Regulated Firms

Eight respondents are regulated financial firms with no pooled funds. Rather, they advise and collate capital directly from clients. These firms, all of which are based in the United States, represent 15% of our survey results with US$3.7 billion in AUM between them. Six report invest internationally with only two investing exclusively in the US. 

State-Owned Investment Companies

Three respondents work for State-Owned Investment Companies in the Middle East and represent 6% of our survey results, controlling US$23 billion between them. These firms are funded directly by governments and may be affiliated with what are commonly referred to as Sovereign Wealth Funds.

M&E Segment Focus

The majority of our survey participants, 58%, reported looking for deals across the full breadth and scope of the industry on an opportunistic basis. The remaining twenty-two, or 42% of our Professional Investors, described themselves as “specialists”, focused on a particular segment of the M&E industry. 

However, of those “Specialist” investors, nearly 70% reported looking at ancillary business models, products or services that touched upon their speciality. For example, the five dedicated “Sports” investors, representing 23% of our Specialists, and 10% of our survey, actively pursue companies that are not sports teams or leagues and that may offer a product or service to sports as a segment of M&E, such as content production, rights management or audience engagement.

Nine of our Professional Investors comprising 41% of the Specialists, representing 17% of our survey, are focused on “Tech” companies deploying novel aspects of technology, including AI, across any segment of Media & Entertainment, including production, audience analytics and content delivery.

Bar chart showing investment focus across M&E.
Figure 2. Preference on investment targets across M&E. 2024 Media Investor Survey. Source: The Media C-Suite; Coherent Media Group. (c) 2024.

Of particular note to the Media C-Suite is the fact that only 7 of our executives reported being open to stand-alone, single film projects as equity investors. These include all three of our HNWI respondents and four executives working for Private Family Offices. This rises dramatically, to 87% of those we surveyed, if investment through collateralised debt instruments are being offered by film-makers. However, this type of opportunity also reflected a very low level of expectation that due diligence on the underlying collateral pans out.

The Media C-Suite recognises an internal bias in the data, which weighs heavily toward those Professional Investors within the contact networks of our own internal team. There are clearly many more Professional Investors active in M&E, as Specialist investors and generalists, than we have engaged with for this inaugural 2024 Media Investor Survey.

We look forward to drilling down in more detail with the “Specialists”, including film finance investors as well as widening our sample size, to more fully understand the capital trends within M&E going forward.

Ticket Sizes

Each of our Professional Investors had a standard policy for their “preferred” ticket size, or how much they plan to invest in any one company. Not surprisingly, the largest investors tended to prefer larger ticket sizes, although this was not consistent across AUM. 

The “sweet spot” for all but the largest Professional investors in M&E seems to be the US$5 to 10 million range, with 48% of the respondents reporting a preference for investments of this size. Interestingly, all but five of our respondents reported consistently investing lesser amounts into the “right” deals. 

Bar chart on ticket size preferences. 2024 Media Investor Survey.
Figure 3. Preference on capital allocated for each deal. 2024 Media Investor Survey. Source: The Media C-Suite; Coherent Media Group. (c) 2024.

For deals requiring capital above policy, all of our respondents reported a preference for co-investing along-side other Professional Investors. In fact, most of our survey participants, 62%, routinely “shopped” larger deals between small networks of other Professional Investors to build consortia with added expertise and increased capacity to help add value to the targeted “Investee Company”. 

Thirty-seven of our respondents, or 71%, reported a preference for investing in “Growth” opportunities. These are companies that have already addressed the market with their product or service and already have a proven management team. Such companies tend to raise needed funds in what’s called a “Series A” round and require capital from less actively-involved investors to address capacity issues. 

While 71% of those surveyed prefer Growth opportunities, 48% (including those targeting Series A or later) report having invested in companies at all stages, including pre-seed and seed. Only three respondents actively preferred “Pre-Seed” opportunities, which may still be in the ideation phase. Twelve respondents, or 23% of those surveyed, prefer “Seed” round investments in which corporate, capital and commercial strategy may still require help from capital partners.

Deal Flow

Our Professional Investors source their deals from a variety of channels, including open submissions over their own websites (seven, or 13% of those surveyed). 

Notably, most of those surveyed opt for a less public option for finding deals. Twenty-seven of our Professional Investors, representing 52% of our survey, prefer to receive investment proposals through private contact networks of lawyers, professional introducers and other close relationships.

Eighteen of our Professional Investors, or 35% of those surveyed, prefer to actively seek out deal prospects themselves. For both active hunters and private networks, deal flow can be dependent on direction from senior leadership within firms, which can be heavily influenced by press reports and trends publicised by the M&E industry itself.

Bar chart deal source preferences.
Figure 4. Preference for sourcing deal proposals. 2024 Media Investor Survey. Source: The Media C-Suite; Coherent Media Group. (c) 2024.

Many of our survey respondents recognise the dangers of cognitive bias inherent in these deal sourcing preferences and understand that it may hinder their target acquisition efforts.

However, those executives that spoke most freely on this subject report a strong culture of enquiry within their organisations which incentivise connection to external domain expertise and close monitoring of specialist press. In fact, many of the more senior executives specifically cited journalists as a significant source of insight into the Media & Entertainment industry as well as a source of connection to emerging opportunities. 

Regardless of how our survey participants preferred to source and pursue prospective deals, there was a clear indication on perception of overall deal flow opportunities coming out of Media & Entertainment.

There are plenty of deals being shopped around, according to our survey results, with 91% of our participants reporting high (58%) or adequate (33%) numbers of prospective deals being presented across the industry. However, the significant quantity of investment propositions are dramatically balanced out by the significant perception of low quality in the investment propositions themselves.

To paraphrase several senior investment executives, the quality of investment presentation coming out of Media & Entertainment is by far worse than any other industry. 

Thirty-four of our survey respondents, or 65%, reported the average quality of presentations from media executives and entrepreneurs to be of low quality. That number rises to 96% by the addition of investment proposals that are merely adequate (31%). 

Only 4% of those surveyed reported the investment proposals they see being of generally high quality.

Bar chart showing deal flow quantity vs. quality.
Figure 5. Measure of deal flow quantity and quality within M&E. 2024 Media Investor Survey. Source: The Media C-Suite; Coherent Media Group. (c) 2024.

This disparity between quantity and quality prompted a number of comments from our participating executives. The question of why an opportunity exists is often made clear by founders and executives, particularly on the creative side of the equation. However, a common grievance among our survey participants is the lack of preparation in the presentation of corporate and capital strategy that aligns the interests of founders and managers with capital investors. 

The phrase, “they just don’t seem to get it” was repeated by a variety of our survey participants.

The term, “investment-ready” was commonly used in discussion across multiple conversations as what they wish for and don’t see often enough. What became clear in the aggregate, is that Professional Investors have little appreciation for investment proposals that require their involvement in structuring the basic elements of corporate and capital strategy. This is particularly true of companies claiming to be well-developed with predictable revenues.

A common comment was this: “Investors spend far too much time helping those in the creative industries to understand why companies matter and that shareholder capital is not revenue. It’s frustrating, when we believe in the founders and that this opportunity can make a lot of money for everyone.”

The rationale behind a preference for “investment-ready” propositions becomes clear when the costs of a Professional Investor pursuing and closing a deal comes into focus. 

Across all of our 52 survey respondents, the average deal costs are reported at US$290,000. A number of our executives reported that deal costs have risen consistently over the past five years and are expected to continue rising. That cost of pursuing a deal is made all the more significant when we look at what percentage of deals first pursued are actually executed, or “closed”. The average deal attrition rate for our survey participants is 53%. That means that, on average, less than half of all deals that are actively pursued are successfully closed.

All of the deal costs that go into a failed deal are losses to Professional Investors. The larger the investor, the more they spend on pursuing their deals. This correlation between the costs of engaging with a prospective Investee Company and the investment proposition being investment-ready can mean the difference between a Professional Investor taking a serious interest and hitting the delete button.

Bar chart on deal costs.
Figure 6. Average deal costs in M&E investments. 2024 Media Investor Survey. Source: The Media C-Suite; Coherent Media Group. (c) 2024.

This has a logic to it. For Professional Investors, if the company they invest into doesn’t generate an investment return, they don’t earn. At best, this means they lose money. At worst, someone gets fired and loses a lot more. So, for Professional Investors, there is significant motivation to look at an investment opportunity carefully, understand its business model and make sure it has a high probability of success before sending over a penny.

To do this, Professional Investors spend time and money on due diligence. That can be an expensive process in itself, and often ends in a clear signal to walk away. So, even though investment capital is sitting there, waiting for investment, those seeking it are well advised to do their own homework and understand what their investors might need and want.

Bar chart showing rates of deal attrition.
Figure 7. Percentage of deals aborted after incurring deal costs. 2024 Media Investor Survey. Source: The Media C-Suite; Coherent Media Group. (c) 2024.

Outlook

The majority of our survey participants (63%) report that they expect to increase their allocations to M&E over the next five years. Only two reported that they expect to reduce their allocation to the industry. A third of those surveyed, 17 of our respondents, reported an expectation of maintaining their capital allocation to M&E. 

Bar chart on allocating capital.
Figure 8. Expectation on own capital allocation to M&E over next 5 years. 2024 Media Investor Survey. Source: The Media C-Suite; Coherent Media Group. (c) 2024.

Historically, Professional Investors have been sceptical of private equity investments into M&E, often opting for related tech companies that straddled either Media or Entertainment. That may be changing.

The same number of survey respondents that expect to increase their own allocations to M&E (33, or 63%) also report that they expect more of their peers to begin actively investing into M&E, or to invest more, over the next five years. Only two of our surveyed executives reported an expectation that fewer of their peers would begin investing, or invest more, into M&E over the next five years. Seventeen, or 33% of those surveyed, felt that investment levels into M&E across their peers would remain the same.

Bar chart on peer capital allocations.
Figure 9. Expectations on peers’ capital allocation to M&E over the next 5 years. 2024 Media Investor Survey. Source: The Media C-Suite; Coherent Media Group. (c) 2024.

Our survey participants perceive a clear distinction between the Media-side of M&E and the Content-side of the industry. In discussion, many of our surveyed executives are equally clear on the historical industry issues that have resulted in much of the industry’s revenues being concentrated within legacy media companies delivering content to consumer audiences.

Much of the opportunity for investment arises from this. For the most part, our survey participants agree that Media, including the business of distribution, marketing and delivery of content now has few of the barriers to entry that allowed legacy media companies to concentrate control over what content consumer audiences experience.

Forty-four of our participating executives, or 85% of our survey, foresee a proliferation of media entrepreneurs seeking to compete directly with the legacy media companies. This proliferation is expected to offer Professional Investors an opportunity to participate in competition with the legacy media companies for an increasing percentage of market share in the cir. US$2.5 trillion in M&E revenues. 

See, PwC’s Global Entertainment & Media Outlook report.

Eight executives, or 15% of our survey, foresee a consolidation on this side of the industry, with legacy media companies competing with Professional Investors by acquiring emerging companies offering better service or product to consumer audiences and the advertisers seeking access to them.

Conversely, 39 of our Professional Investors, or 75% of those surveyed, foresee consolidation on the Content-side of M&E. Several executives commented that many content creators, historically operating on the solo, or micro-enterprise level, will begin to organise and consolidate into viable businesses developing new content for increasingly diverse global audiences. Thirteen executives, or 25% of our survey, predict a proliferation of content producers over the next five years.

Both of these predicted trends are supported by advances in various technologies that facilitate lower costs of content production and delivery while allowing greater flexibility in where viable businesses can operate from. 

Bar chart on proliferation of media vs. content companies.
Figure 10. Expectation of proliferation or consolidation of Media/Content companies over the next 5 years. 2024 Media Investor Survey. Source: The Media C-Suite; Coherent Media Group. (c) 2024.

Thirty-one of our participating executives, or 60% of our survey, predict that the valuation of content companies will remain relatively static over the next five years. In concert with consolidation of that sector of M&E, production companies may begin to grow in size and market share as more creatives join forces to serve a growing number of channels delivering content to a wider range of consumer audiences globally. 

The same forces are predicted to affect the Media sector of M&E as the valuation of emerging marketing and delivery companies rise on a tide of growing consumer audiences internationally and successful acquisition of market share from legacy media companies. Forty-four participating executives, or 85% of our survey, see media company valuations rising against 8 executives, or 15% of our survey, seeing valuations going down or remaining static.

Bar chart on valuation growth: media vs. content companies.
Figure 11. Expectations on valuation growth across Media/Content companies over the next 5 years. 2024 Media Investor Survey. Source: The Media C-Suite; Coherent Media Group. (c) 2024.

These predicted trends are further supported by the view on growth in the media markets. Thirty-six of our participating executives, or 69% of those surveyed, foresee the US/North American media market remaining static over the next five years. This compares to 43 of our executives, or 83% of those surveyed, foreseeing growth in the international media markets. 

Bar chart on M&E market growth: US vs. International.
Figure 12. Expectations of market growth: N.America vs. International over the next 5 years. 2024 Media Investor Survey. Source: The Media C-Suite; Coherent Media Group. (c) 2024.

Perhaps most notable in our survey on sentiment among Professional Investors in M&E is what our participating executives believe will have the most influence on growth in revenues from consumer audiences paying for access to content and global advertisers paying for access to those consumers.

Technology was one of the two primary candidates with 23 of our executives and 44% of the survey. But geopolitical events over the next five years are seen as significantly more influential on where and how much revenues will be generated by M&E as the next five years roll out.  Twenty-seven of our executives felt geo-politics will have the most influence, with 51% of the survey.

Just 2 Professional Investors, or 4% of the survey, think that something other than technology or geo-politics will impact revenues in M&E over the coming five years.

Bar chart on future influence on M&E.
Figure 13. 2024 Media Investor Survey. Source: The Media C-Suite; Coherent Media Group. (c) 2024.

Figure 13. 2024 Media Investor Survey. Source: The Media C-Suite; Coherent Media Group. (c) 2024.

We will continue to analyse the data and commentary from our 2024 Media Investor Survey. There are some interesting insights related to Private Family Office investors that we will share shortly. More granular analysis of data from both Professional Funds and Regulated Firms are also providing some interesting results.

Our Conclusions

What we’ve learned from the 2024 Media Investor Survey is that the Media & Entertainment industry is of growing interest to a growing number of Professional Investors globally. 

However, that interest is highlighting a number of shortfalls in M&E’s interaction with those investors. 

Far too many of our survey participants, 65%, feel that the quality of investment propositions coming out of M&E are far too low. That is a significant call for entrepreneurs and executives in M&E to up their game when preparing pitch decks and business plans that are meant to support Investors’ decisions on whether or not to write a cheque. Many of those surveyed pointed directly to the poor presentation of corporate and capital strategy that should be aligning the interests of founders, management and investors alike. 

Given the deal costs that Professional Investors incur in the evaluation of prospective Investee Companies, entrepreneurs and media executives might do better at preparing to make that process as smooth as possible.

Media entrepreneurs and executives could be much more active in cultivating direct relationships with investors and/or the professional networks they rely on for bringing quality deals to their attention. In doing so, they will gain valuable insights into exactly what particular investors might need to see.

Finally, 63% of our survey participants support a view, long held by the Media C-Suite, that our industry will soon see more capital than ever before, from more Professional Investors than ever before, seeking opportunities to invest in well-managed media and entertainment companies. That is smart money, remember. The executives who work as Professional Investors have a lot on the line when investing in this industry. So those within M&E who want and need those investors will have to work hard at keeping that capital flowing.

Navigating the next five years through that scenario, despite what geo-politics might throw at us all, will be the job of investment exec, media exec and entrepreneur alike. Who knew we had so much in common.

Methodology

The Media C-Suite put the principles behind Bacon’s Law: Finding Professional Investors, one of our more popular articles, to good use in preparation for our inaugural survey of investors in Media & Entertainment. Many of our survey participants introduced the survey team to additional candidates and readily opened their own contact networks to the Media C-Suite.

We purposefully excluded Professional Investors who were commercially connected to the Media C-Suite or to our senior management team, including consulting clients and sources who regularly provide background information or quotations to our journalists and contributing writers. 

The survey team provided a written, tick-the-box style questionnaire to our participating executives, who completed and returned them to us by email. In several cases, senior members of the Media C-Suite staff walked executives through the questions in an interview process, having each confirm their responses. This standardised data was then collated for analysis. All standardised data has been recorded and collated at a meta-data level, with no identifying information on the individual sources of standardised responses. 

A majority of the executives participating in the 2024 Media Investor Survey offered expanded discussion on many of our survey questions as well as additional topics of relevance to capital strategy and the state of the Media & Entertainment industry. Notation was made of relevant information in support of the analysis of standardised data from the questionnaires.

The Media C-Suite targeted a sample size of 30 survey participants for statistical relevance and finally sourced complete responses from 52 qualifying investment executives. Although this remains a small percentage of Professional Investors in Media & Entertainment, the diversity across regions, experience and gender appears representative of our experience within the private capital markets. 

There are many areas for improvement in future iterations of the Media Investor Survey. The Media C-Suite intends to widen the sample of Professional Investors to include more “Specialist” capital investors, including those specifically supporting content creation and production finance.

We look forward to receiving feedback and suggestions.

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