Time Warner has been one of Disney’s largest rivals, which in today’s world of media and communications means they have both competed against each other and helped each other. Their films compete with each other at the box office, and their broadcast and cable television networks compete with each other for viewers, yet each company produces content that is distributed by the other. Just think of how many times you have noticed a Harry Potter movie (Time Warner) appearing on ABC Family (a Disney-owned cable channel), and how many of you watch The Disney Channel on Time Warner Cable.
After growing larger and larger in the last couple of decades, in part through mergers/acquisitions, Time Warner has been shrinking through spin-offs and sales, and now in the news is talk of the “Time” portion of the corporation being jettisoned (see this Reuters story by Jessica Wohl.) The same source talks about the corporation making more acquisitions in “core” businesses, but publishing used to be one of those!
Time Inc’s magazines include popular titles such as People and Sports Illustrated. In the second quarter, revenue at Time Inc publishing, the largest U.S. magazine publisher, fell 22 percent to $915 million due to a 26 percent decline in advertising revenue.
While Crawford did not name specific acquisition targets, he did say there would be a “winnowing process” during which weaker companies in the sector would be gobbled up.
I mentioned Time Warner Cable – that was spun already spun off in March of this year. Warner Music Group was sold in March 2004. The Time Warner Book Group was sold in March 2006.
Warner Communications, Inc. and Time Inc. merged in 1990. The company acquired Turner Broadcasting System in 1996, and then was purchased by AOL in 2001, to become AOL Time Warner, although the “AOL” portion of the company name was later dropped, and, if the parties had only waited a little while, Time Warner could have bought AOL instead. There has been talk of spinning off AOL for a while now.
The corporation currently owns a wide range of brands and media companies, including New Line Cinema, HBO, The CW Television Network (with CBS), Cartoon Network, CNN, and DC Comics.
I could see Disney, owner of ESPN, being interested in acquiring Sports Illustrated.
Why Disney has a history of acquiring products from rivals (Fox Family from Saban) and converting them to a Disney brand, ESPN already has ESPN the Magazine. I hope Disney won’t make the mistake of buying another dead-tree product that doesn’t have some scarcity value.
Disney could want the Sports Illustrated library/archives and could combine it with their own magazine. It’s all headed digital anyway.
Should be interesting to see CNN lose connections/content to the Time magazines, or perhaps an agreement will keep that stuff in place for a while?