Last updated: March 29, 2011 - 8:50am
This isn't a joke. The buzz from California is that it just may be time to try another AOL-Time Warner.
That $164 billion merger disaster defined a decade of thoughtless deal making, reckless ego and vaporous "synergy." But for Hollywood executives and bankers now toting their iPads like baby blankets, the new technology has brought them back to an old conversation about "content" and its distribution. Just as cable-television upended the distribution of films and television, so too are increasingly mature digital platforms like 20 million-customer Netflix or even Google's YouTube. As these platforms spar with cable-operators and media conglomerates for consumer attention, they are finding it increasingly necessary to differentiate themselves. That means having better movies, better television series, better comedy clips, and even better news to compete against the likes of Comcast and Time Warner. That means traveling so far into the new realms that you end up back at the old: A strategy to marry the newest Internet distribution with the highest-quality old-line entertainment. Just weeks ago, Time Warner began renting its movies, including the "Harry Potter" series, over Facebook. The old-line media companies are trying mightily to defend their turf, whether it is Comcast's purchase of NBC Universal, or the Hulu streaming video service, which was founded by old-media hands, including News Corp., which owns The Wall Street Journal. But eventually, the theory goes, the new dogs will take the next big bite: A full-on deal in which an Internet player like Netflix or Amazon.com will acquire a news organization, studio or TV-production house. Imagine Google grabbing the New York Times, or Facebook buying its own entertainment arm.
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