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Few Big Media Companies & Their Many Faces│illusion of Choice

By Saurav Bhandary   Updated on Dec. 28, 2017 (Source: NPR)

Chart from The Wall Street Journal (Oct 2017)

The chart was last updated on October 20, 2017. The most updated Market Caps are included below. Source: NPR│National Public Radio, Inc.│Updated on Dec. 22, 2017

1. AT&T Inc.Market cap: $239 billion
  • BRANDS THEY OWN:   
    • AT&T, DirecTV, U-verse 
    • Time Warner and its properties (Such as CNN, HBO, TBS, TNT, and Cartoon Network)│*Status: Pending*
    • Cricket Wireless, Sky Brasil, YP.com (aka Yellowpages.com)
  • HAS STAKE IN:
    • Otter Media 

In 2016, AT&T Inc. announced it has reached a deal to acquire Time Warner Inc. for $85 billion– a merger that is now being sued by the Department of Justice. An acquisition has been pending for more than a year and if the deal goes through, the telecom giant will gain control of a media empire including CNN, HBO, Warner Brothers Entertainment, TBS, and TNT, just to name a few of many Time Warner’s properties. If successful, the deal would transform the phone company, which is already the world’s largest, into a media giant. AT&T’s deal with Time Warner follows another major acquisition in 2014 when it acquired DirecTV for about $48.5 billion.

This chart provides an overview of the brands and assets that the proposed $85 billion merger between AT&T and Time Warner would bring together.

This chart provides an overview of the brands and assets that the proposed $85 billion merger between AT&T and Time Warner would bring together.

2. Time Warner Inc.Market cap: $72 billion

Time Warner has three operating divisions: Turner Broadcasting System, Home Box Office Inc. (HBO), and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Turner is a global entertainment, sports and news company that produces premium content. Some of the brands it operates include CNN, TBS, TNT, and Cartoon Network, etc. Turner also has the rights to the NBA, March Madness, and MLB. Home Box Office Inc., the premium television programming subsidiary of Time Warner Inc., is the world’s most successful pay TV service that includes HBO® and Cinemax®. Warner Bros. film franchises include Harry Potter & DC Comics, and it has produced TV series include Big Bang Theory and Gotham.

  • BRANDS THEY OWN: 
    • Turner Broadcasting System
      • CNN, TNT, TBS, truTV, Boomerang, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Bleacher Report, ELEAGUE, FilmStruck, Great Big Story, HLN, iStreamPlanet, Super Deluxe, Turner Classic Movies (TCM), and Turner Sports (NBA.com and NCAA.com)
    • Home Box Office Inc. (HBO® and Cinemax®)
      • One of the most successful pay TV service: HBO® and Cinemax®
      • Services Offered: HBO On Demand®, HBO GO®, HBO NOW®, Cinemax, MAX GO®, Cinemax on Demand, and more.
      • HBO Network: Game of Thrones, Veep, Vice, and more.
    • Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
      • Brands: Feature Films, Television, Video games
        • Film franchises include Harry Potter & DC Comics
        • TV series include Big Bang Theory and Gotham
  • HAS STAKE IN:
    • Hulu, The CW, Fandango 
3. Verizon Communications Inc.│Market cap: $216 billion
  • BRANDS THEY OWN:
    • Verizon Wireless
    • Fios (Verizon’s Package bundle: Internet, TV, and Phone service)
    • Oath Inc. = AOL + Yahoo!
    • HuffPost, Yahoo Sports, AOL.com, Yahoo Finance, Yahoo Mail, Flickr, Tumblr, Engadget, TechCrunch, MAKERS, BUILD Studios, Rivals.com, Ryot, go90, Terremark
  • HAS STAKE IN:
    • Complex Media, RatedRed.com, AwesomenessTV, Seriously.TV

In 2015, the telecom giant Verizon acquired AOL in a deal valued at approximately $4.4 billion. Verizon-AOL deal also included The Huffington Post, Engadget, and TechCrunch. (In 2010, AOL acquireTechCrunch in a deal estimated to be worth about $25 million. The following year, AOL acquired The Huffington Post for $315 million). A year after the completion of the AOL acquisition, Verizon announced a $4.83 billion cash-deal for Yahoo!’s core internet business. Yahoo! announced in September and December 2016 two major internet security breaches that compromised more than 1 billion accounts. As a result, Verizon purchased Yahoo! for $4.48 billion in 2017, lowering its original offer by $350 million after revelations of security breaches.

Verizon then combined AOL and Yahoo! to create a new company called Oath. Verizon’s subsidiary Oath Inc. owns more than 50 media and technology brands including HuffPost, AOL.com, Yahoo Mail, Yahoo News, Yahoo Sports, Yahoo Finance, Tumblr, TechCrunch, Engadget, and more.

Verizon is one of the three largest internet service providers in the U.S that also own their own media empire. It can be argued that the internet service providers like Verizon, Comcast, and AT&T could start slowing down a service like Netflix to make its own streaming video service more competitive. And now without net neutrality rules in place, they are free to do so.

4. Comcast Corp./NBCUniversalMarket cap: $191 billion
  • BRANDS THEY OWN:
    • XFINITY, MSNBC, CNBC
    • NBC: News, Sports, TV Network
    • NBC Entertainment
    • Telemundo, Bravo, Sprout, Syfy, E!
    • USA Network, Universal Pictures, Golf Channel
    • Universal Studios and other parks and resorts
    • DreamWorks Animation, Focus Features, Oxygen
    • Philadelphia Flyers (Professional Ice Hockey Team)
  • HAS STAKE IN:
    • Hulu, BuzzFeed, The Weather Channel, Tastemade
    • Vox Media: Vox, The Verge, SB Nation, Eater, Recode, Polygon, Curbed
    • Instacart (Same-day grocery delivery service)
    • Nextdoor (Private social networking service)
    • Fandango, FanDuel, TuneIn, Houzz, Flipboard, AwesomenessTV, Slack, Zola

In 2011, Comcast acquired GE’s 51% stake in NBCUniversal in a complicated deal valued at $30 billion- transforming the nation’s biggest cable and Internet service provider into a diversified media company.  Comcast acquired the rest of GE’s 49% stake in NBCUniversal in 2013, taking full ownership of the film and television giant in a $16.7 billion deal. On Apr. 28, 2016, NBCUniversal, a division of Comcast Corporation, announced the acquisition of DreamWorks Animation for $3.8 billion.

5. Walt Disney Co.Market cap: $165 billion
  • BRANDS THEY OWN: 
    • 21st Century Fox and its properties (Status: Pending)
    • ABC: News, Daytime, TV Network
    • ESPN, Disney Channel, Pixar, Marvel
    • Freeform (formerly ABC Family)
    • Disneyland, Walt Disney World, and other parks and resorts
    • Walt Disney Studios, Disney Digital Network (absorbed Maker Studios)
    • Touchstone Pictures, Lucasfilm, Polaris
  • HAS STAKE IN:
    • Hulu, Vice Media, A&E, History Channel, Lifetime

Disney is already a media and entertainment giant, with ABC, ESPN, Pixar, and the Marvel in its portfolio. The Walt Disney Co. has recently announced that it had reached a $52.4 billion deal to acquire the bulk of 21st Century Fox assets. An acquisition is pending and if the deal passes regulatory hurdles, an acquisition of 21st Century Fox will include Twentieth Century Fox Film and Television Studios, Cable Channels FX, National Geographic and its international partners. The Disney-Fox deal will also give Disney a majority control of the video streaming service Hulu (i.e. Disney will own 60% stake in Hulu). 

(Note: Comcast has 30% and Time Warner has 10% stake in Hulu).

Some of the classics 20th Century Fox movie studio has produced include Titanic, the original Star Wars film, and Alien. After this deal goes through, Disney will own the rights to every Star Wars film.

6. 21st Century FoxMarket cap: $65 billion
  • BRANDS THEY OWN:
    • FOX: Fox News, Fox Business, Fox Sports, & The Fox TV network
    • National Geographic Partners: Channel, Magazine and other media assets
    • Twentieth Century Fox Film, Fox Searchlight Pictures
    • FX, Blue Sky Studios
  • HAS STAKE IN:
    • Hulu, Vice Media, Endemol Shine Group, Sky plc, Roku

An acquisition of 21st Century Fox by Walt Disney Co. will not include Fox News, Fox Business, the Fox TV Network, Fox’s National Sports Networks, its Regional Big Ten collegiate Network, or the stake in Roku. Fox will form a new company called “a new Fox” with its remaining assets- FOX TV, Fox News, Fox Business, FS1, FS2 and Big Ten Network.

7. CBS Corp.Market cap: $24 billion
  • BRANDS THEY OWN:
    • CBS: News, TV, Radio, Entertainment, Sports
    • Showtime, CNET
    • Smithsonian Channel, ZDNet, TVGuide.com, Last.fm, Metacritic
    • Simon & Schuster (Publishing Company), Watch! Magazine
    • GameSpot (Video gaming website that provides news, reviews, previews, downloads, and other information on video games)
    • Chowhound Restaurant
  • HAS STAKE IN:
    • The CW 
8. Viacom Inc.Market cap: $13 billion
  • BRANDS THEY OWN: 
    • Paramount Pictures, MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, VH1, BET
    • Spike, CMT, Centric, Logo TV, TV Land, Tr3s
  • HAS STAKE IN:
    • Roku
9. Univision Communications Inc.Privately owned
  • BRANDS THEY OWN:
    • Univision: TV, Radio, Digital Networks
    • The Onion: The A.V. Club, ClickHole
    • Fusion, The Root, Jalopnik, Jezebel, Deadspin, Lifehacker, Kotaku
    • Ufori (Music service and upgraded radio app)
  • HAS STAKE IN:
    • El Rey Network
10. Alphabet Inc./GoogleMarket cap: $741 billion
  • BRANDS THEY OWN:
    • YouTube, Android, Chrome, Nexus, Pixel, Google Home
    • Google: Search, Gmail, Maps, Hangouts and other apps
    • Waze (The world’s largest community-based traffic and navigation app)
    • Blogger, Zagat, Nest, Verily, Project Fi
  • HAS STAKE IN:
    • Uber, Lyft, Giphy, Medium, TuneIn, Slack, Confide, Nextdoor

Google quietly acquired Android, the wireless software start-up company, in 2005 for an undisclosed price which has been estimated at $50 million. Since then, Android’s operating system has become the most popular smartphone operating system in the world. In 2006, Google bought video-sharing site YouTube for $1.65 billion. Google announced it acquired Waze, Israeli traffic and navigation service, for more than $1.1 billion in 2013. 

In 2010, Google acquired online photo editing app Piknik for an undisclosed sum of money only to kill it a year later. Over years, Google has bought many other small competitors and then let them die, which is why Google is undoubted king of the internet.

11. Facebook Inc.│Market cap: $518 billion
  • BRANDS THEY OWN: 
    • Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook Messenger
    • Internet.org
    • Oculus 

Here is what the current changing landscape of Big Media looks like (Molla & Kafka, 2018). 

THE BIG MEDIA LANDSCAPE

Source: (Molla & Kafka, 2018)│Last updated on Feb. 5th, 2018. 


*Editor’s Note: The detailed Reference List (APA Format) to be published shortly. In the meanwhile, if you have any questions or concerns regarding this matter, or if you need further clarification on any issues,  please click here to leave a comment. We will get back to you as soon as possible. Thank you for your patience and understanding!

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