Apple in Hollywood: Behemoth or boutique?

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Fear of the FANG was evident at a meeting of the National Association of Broadcasters in New York this week, but the CEOs didn’t know what to make of Apple.

 

One thing I’m picking up loud and clear at NAB NY 2018 is that station owners are not happy with Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google—the FANG—who operate, they feel, unfettered by the concerns that drive broadcasters crazy.

“The FANG are simply too powerful,” thundered Nexstar’s Perry Sook, to general applause during a panel on the state of the industry. “They have no rules, no ownership caps, no responsibility for controlling fake news.”

What do they think about Apple? Where does it fit in their ecosystem?

I put the question to the CEOs of Fox Television, Grey, Graham and Nexstar, mentioning the Sony producers, the A-list stars, the reported $1 billion investment.

The moderator, Jerry Jessell, rephrased my question:

Is that a concern, that prime time as an attractive, creative product will continue to decline simply because all the talent is going to where the money is?

Nexstar’s Sook, who runs the second-largest television group in the U.S. (after Sinclair) took the bait. I give you his answer verbatim:

It’s a different business model, where you pay a lot of money up front to do a show. There’s no residual, there’s no downstream.

Listen, I don’t think peak TV can continue forever.

My view of all of video, whether you’re a Hollywood studio, whether you’re a station group, is it’s going to become a business of behemoths and it’s going to become a business of boutiques. The boutiques could be the Graham Medias, the Dispatches, the Capitals, the Griffins, with fortress-like balance sheets are in the business for reasons beyond just television.

I think that’s kind of what the landscape is going to look like five or 10 years from now. You’ll have behemoth studios and behemoth station groups and you’ll have boutiques that are in the business for reasons that may not be 100% economic. I think the people in the middle are the ones who are going to get squeezed.

My take: These CEOs don’t know what to make of Apple in Hollywood—at least until there’s a business plan. Come to think of it, neither do I.

See also: In New York City for Streaming Summit and Steely Dan