Why Netflix should buy a Fitness Club, Shopify should go for Home Shopping Network, and why everyone else needs to take a closer look if and how they are vested into media?

The year started off quite interestingly, and it seems some of my predictions are becoming a reality quicker than anticipated. Certainly, the media industry’s latest M&A activities indicate that we have an exciting year ahead of us. So let’s dive into some of the trends, discussions, and other developments that I find noteworthy.

Netflix should buy a Fitness Club

I know I go a bit overboard with this suggestion. But it is sometimes the boldest move that changes the story of a company and an entire industry. And @Netflix is a lot about storytelling. This is their bread and butter: not only creating mesmerizing stories on TV but also telling the company’s vision and mission as an awe-inspiring story.  

Nevertheless, Netflix has been beaten up lately a lot by the stock market and industry experts. I think their market price adjustment was way overdue, and no one could expect their growth rate to continue at such high levels into eternity. I find this now a healthy ‘recalibration’. And yet, all in the market expect Netflix needs to make a big, new move. Namely, they argue they should buy a more traditional media company. Why do I think this is a bad idea? I will explain further down in this letter.

Let me first suggest what they should do instead: Next to some clever bundling ideas, they should most definitely explore disrupting moves by investing in old-fashioned analog entertainment. In combining their unique talent for content and storytelling with traditional entertainment venues such as movie theatres, Netflix can create a totally new way of immersive entertainment experiences. You will find my detailed reasoning in this article.

Fintech / E-Commerce buys into Media

Talking about bold moves and M&A’s; I see also that Fintech/ E-Commerce companies like Paypal, Revolt Banking or Shopify. In specific, seeing the growth that a company like Shopify showed, they MUST invest in the next big wave. I have elaborated this thought a bit in a post a few weeks ago – and was astonished that it had not found much of a reaction.

Maybe most people think, like I do and find it a natural fit, for instance, if @Shopify decides to buy Home Shopping Network. Pair this with all the developments in Web 3.0 and with crypocurrencies and NFT’s – and you have the new type of all-encompassing global players. 

For an e-commerce or fintech company it is a much easier step. They do not have the typical slow, conservative approach to business like traditional banks. Instead, these new finance and commerce players understand that they can be closer to their customers and build a much better, stronger brand and relationship via content and storytelling: and hence, being invested in media is almost a must-have vertical integration. 

Every business is a media business

If my quick Google research is correct, this sentence is almost a decade old. I could not really find who said it first, but it doesn’t matter: it has become common sense anyways. Common sense? Not so fast: If you look around, there are still thousands – if not millions – of business out there who have never heard this sentence, least understand its meaning. 

Basically, every business nowadays is a content producer: the story of your company, of your product, of your strategy must be told via social media; it transpires through your marketing and how you treat your people and customers. And yet, only some companies take this seriously and build a proper media strategy around their own story. I would argue that this must be deeply ingrained into a company culture these days. Top management needs to think about how they can use media – and in specific, audiovisual media – more cleverly to instill a stronger sense of loyalty amongst stakeholders. For instance, easy access to technology allows now to build your thematic TV channel to target a particular aspect of your consumer community. This creates stickiness and a place to market your brand beyond the obvious product features.

The specifics of a Media Company’s corporate culture

The above statement probably has brought my friends in media, especially in content creation, to an uproar: of course, it needs more than just technology to create a good content silo; sic TV channel, for that matter. The success of a media company roots deeply in its corporate culture. The way creative talent is blended with technology and good business judgment make or break a media company. It usually succeeds if it ads a very user-centric approach and stays relevant to that user. 

Netflix is the perfect example of how this melange of creativity meets technology meets shrewd business acumen. With its very unique corporate culture, it dominated and revolutionized streaming. This exact culture will also take Netflix through this current ‘crisis’. Furthermore, it will be the base on which Netflix can plan its next move and probably comes up with ideas that are even bolder than the one that I outlined above.

But it is also this delicate blend of talent and vision that would probably get crushed when Netflix is bought or merged with another company. If ever such a move would be done, the two parties involved must closely watch how their cultures align. Otherwise, the idea is dead on arrival.

Some Influencers are best example of media company culture

A handful of influencers in the very niche area of outdoor survival skills demonstrated last year the very concept of such a unique media company culture at its best. They created a huge You Tube success with their outdoor series “7 vs wild”. They showcased excellent creativity (storytelling), smart use of technology, and a good nose for business opportunities in epic fashion. This also benefited their sponsor to never seen brand exposure and, hence, qualifies as a perfect example of how a regular manufacturing company can use TV media to build a community.

I describe this phenomenon here in a post, if you want to read more.

FAST TV enables many new Content Offers on TV

I will not elaborate on FAST TV a lot today. I am sure we will hear a good share on that topic often enough over the next few months. But let me say this: one of the reasons why I am excited – even ecstatic – about the potential of FAST TV is the fact that more different and diverse types of content can find its way in front of the viewers. This means those influencers could start their channel and even find ways of monetizing it – outside of the You Tube world and maybe even without a sponsor. But also their sponsor has now the opportunity of launching a channel to further garner to their particular user community. 

If you want a first basic overview of what FAST TV is, I recommend you look at this basic slide.

If everyone benefits from being in media, everyone also has responsibilities.

As nowadays everyone more or less is in media or produces content, everyone must also take a closer look on the impact that content has. I myself love to be in the media business, because I understand that media is a great tool and mechanism to have an impact on this world. I hope and wish that I use this impact wisely for the betterment of the world. 

But does everyone understand this and react accordingly? 

If you take the row over the Joe Rogan podcast on Spotify, one can have doubts. In my opinion, Spotify and any other similar business cannot hide behind defining itself purely as a platform. As a platform you are an enabler of media and hence you are asked to check what you are enabling here. 

Free Speech is an important value. I would not argue with that and would not want to see it limited in any way. And there is no ‘but’ here. 

What I would expect from a business like Spotify and others is to also look at the responsibility aspect of being in media. It would do Spotify do good – and all of us – if they add some form of disclaimer or warning on some content. If false information or fake news are in the content, people should be warned. Content can be medicine, content can do harm, content can kill. Lets not go there and lets do what content always did best: educate, inform and entertain.

I am a content creator and media business myself.

Talking about everyone being in content, I need to look into the mirror. As it happens I celebrated yesterday my 18th anniversary of being on LinkedIn. I must have been among their first few thousand users, I guess, because the LinkedIn platform launched only a few months before I joined them on February 13th, 2004. 

I have been writing a lot of posts, comments, and articles since – some of them I also think should have included a disclaimer… But I always enjoyed writing for the many followers who supported me and showed interest in my views, perspectives, and musings. 

It is a pleasure to serve you, and I want to ask you a favor: To better finetune my content, I would appreciate if you leave me some feedback. This can be done by just leaving a like or comment on this post or by replying me in a private message.

I want to know if my posts, articles and newsletter, etc provide value to you. Are these topics of interest and meaningful? Would you hear more or less of certain issues? What pain points do you have that I should address more often and in more detail?

I really would love to hear from you. Communication is at its best when it is not only broadcasting (one-to-many) but when it is an exchange. I want to listen more: to you and the trends in the industry. Help me with it!

Hope you enjoyed reading this month’s letter and looking forward to hearing from you.

I am all ears,