“Why now?” Fox Business Network anchor Maria Bartiromo asked boss Rupert Murdoch Thursday morning so he could walk viewers through the $66B deal for The Walt Disney Co. to acquire a major portion of 21st Century Fox.
“There are a lot of changes coming,” the 21st Century Fox exec chairman said. “People are watching television differently.
“Not news or business,” he hastened to add, because he’s hanging on to Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network. “But, entertainment they watch very differently.”
The old broadcast TV Must See TV brand is dead, no matter who tries to revive it.
“There’s only Must See Fox News and Must See Fox Business,” Murdoch said. “That’s in real time. Entertainment is more and more non-linear. We see that in the way people watch the broadcast networks. There is no loyalty to them, there’s loyalty to individual programs. And you get certain ratings. You put it on a certain time, the end of the week that will have doubled. The end of a month it probably redoubled again. So, it’s very hard to monetize that with advertising.”
Meanwhile, he said, “Silicon Valley is spending tens and tens of billions on entertainment programming. So it makes sense to bulk up the entertainment side, so that we’ve got a company that can go direct to consumers in a big way.”
On the horizon, Murdoch acknowledged, his sports assets may be challenged.
“The one that’s coming for sports is Facebook,” he said. “They unsuccessfully bid just for the digital rights of half the Indian cricket for $600 billion, so that was a warning shot…And, they’ve announced that they were going to spend billions on sports rights. So we don’t know which country they’ll go after or what they’ll do.”
Meanwhile, he says he’s not so worried about cord cutters these days.
“We have things like YouTube Live which Fox News, Fox Business is on in a package with $35 and about 50 channels. And then we have Hulu, the Hulu Extra – whatever we call it – with probably another 50 channels for $39. You got DirectNow or DirectGo, now over a million subscribers”
Murdoch insisted those three services along are growing at a rate where they’re nearly replacing lost cord cutters, predicting they will catch up.
Part 2 of that interview: