Here’s who owns everything in Big Media today

The media landscape used to be straightforward: Content companies — studios — made stuff — TV shows and movies — and sold it to pay TV distributors, who sold it to consumers.

Now things are up for grabs: Netflix buys stuff from the studios, but it’s making its own stuff, too, and it’s selling it directly to consumers. That’s one of the reasons older media companies are trying to compete by consolidating. And new distributors like Verizon and AT&T are getting in on the action. AT&T, for instance, just merged with Time Warner.

Meanwhile, giant tech companies like Google, Amazon and Apple that used to be on the sidelines are getting closer and closer to the action.

To help sort this all out, we’ve created a diagram that organizes distributors, content companies and internet video companies by market cap and their main lines of business.

Here’s what the Big Media universe currently looks like.

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Court approves merger of AT&T and Time Warner

Charter Communications Buys Time Warner Cable In $79 Billion Deal

United States District Court Judge Richard J. Leon has ruled in favor of AT&T in the government’s antitrust suit to block AT&T’s proposed merger with Time Warner .

That decision matches word on the street over the past few weeks, and delivers a stern rebuke to the Trump administration, which had opposed the deal from its earliest days. The decision was made following the close of markets in New York, and after-hours trading was muted to the decision.

In light of today’s decision, Comcast, which has been eyeing its own content creator takeover of 21st Century Fox, will likely move forward with a bid as early as tomorrow.

In October 2016, AT&T announced its plan to acquire Time Warner for $85.4 billion, and a total of $108 billion with debt. The DOJ moved to block the merger in March, arguing that the merger would reduce competition and hurt consumer choice.

The nuances of this case are important, as the implications of this decision reach far beyond the individual businesses of AT&T and Time Warner to the vast media landscape as a whole.

First off, it’s worth noting that the overall goal of antitrust regulations is to protect the consumer from unfair business practices that may arise from a consolidation of power within a single company. But size isn’t necessarily what’s most important in these types of cases. In fact, sometimes a merger can help competition and consumer choice, as is more often the case with vertical mergers.

A vertical merger is when two companies who provide different or complementary offerings join forces, giving consumers access to a more comprehensive set of services, at a lower price, while still generating profits. That’s not to say that vertical mergers get through regulatory approval free and clear — the FTC has fought 22 vertical mergers since 2000 — but they receive less scrutiny than horizontal mergers.

AT&T-Time Warner is considered a vertical merger, as AT&T is a content distributor and Time Warner is a content creator. But the overall landscape complicates the decision a great deal.

There are only a handful of companies in this space, and they are some of the most powerful companies in the world. AT&T itself is the largest telecom provider in the world, and via DirecTV, it is also the largest multichannel video programming distributor in the U.S. Time Warner, meanwhile, owns channels like TBS and TNT, HBO and Warner Bros., not to mention the assets to live sports and news orgs such as the NBA, MLB, NCAA March Madness and PGA.

The DOJ has argued that this type of consolidation would give the merged AT&T-Time Warner the ability to raise prices, thwarting the competition’s ability to compete by forcing them to raise prices to maintain carriage rights. The government has also argued that the newly rolled back net neutrality rules would no longer protect AT&T from, say, throttling Netflix if it didn’t purchase and distribute Time Warner content.

On the other side, AT&T and Time Warner (big as they may be) face steep competition from the FAANG companies (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google), all of whom have made video a top priority. In fact, CNNMoney reported that AT&T-Time Warner’s counsel Daniel Petrocelli made the argument that traditional media orgs have already been left behind in the digital revolution.

From the report:

Petrocelli told Judge Leon that their estimates show FAANG is worth $3 trillion collectively, while an AT&T-Time Warner entity post-merger would be worth $300 billion. ‘We’re chasing their tail lights,’ Petrocelli said.

It’s also worth noting that President Trump has been publicly opposed to the deal since he was on the campaign trail. Remember, Time Warner owns CNN, which is the object of some of Trump’s most focused hatred. At a campaign rally in 2016, Trump said his administration would not approve the deal, raising concerns over political interference. The government has argued that Trump did not communicate with antitrust officials over the deal and that their choice to fight the merger was not influenced by the White House.

WWDC 2018: Everything important Apple just announced

967234622.jpg.1528138851.jpgApple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference kicked off today with one of its big product-unveiling keynotes. Here are the most important announcements Apple made, in roughly chronological order.

The big picture

As Apple’s iPhone App Store approaches its 10th birthday next month, and Apple’s Services business — including the App Store — represents one of its fastest-growing businesses, app developers remain one of the company’s most important constituencies. There are 20 million developers around the world, and only a few thousand are in attendance today. Apple CEO Tim Cook says cumulative developer earnings will pass $100 billion next week.

Read full article here. 

Snapchat’s new Spectacles show that Evan Spiegel is playing the long game

Spectacles_Sapphire_with_Twilight.0Snapchat released a new version of its video-recording sunglasses on Thursday, a waterproof pair that look and feel much like the originals.

They’re pretty fun — the glasses let you snap a photo or record a video and share it directly to your phone; they’re basically a fun way to capture a moment from the wearer’s perspective.

The truth is, though, that Spectacles aren’t a big business. The company says that it shipped 220,000 pairs of its first-generation Spectacles, a number the company considers a success, but that doesn’t move the needle for Snapchat’s business. Of last year’s revenue, 97 percent came from advertising. Even worse, the company ended up reporting a one-time $40 million expense last year to account for excess Spectacles inventory it couldn’t sell.

Read full article here.

Snap introduces group video calls for up to 16 people

Snapchat has today introduced a new group video chat feature, letting users chat with up to 16 of their closest friends. If users need more people in the chat (which, for those of us who have large conference calls, sounds awful!), Snap  is also offering group voice calls with up to 32 participants.

The feature is relatively simple. Just tap the video icon in a group chat to get started, or start up a call with a few people and invite new friends to join.

As one might expect, Snapchat’s crown jewel filters will also be available to use within a group video chat.

Folks that aren’t camera ready can easily toggle between voice and video to just voice.

Snap first introduced group chat and video chat in 2016, looking to give people new ways to communicate on the image-first platform. Snap says that the community is making millions of calls a day since launch.

That said, it’s worth wondering about the timing of this new feature, which comes almost two years after the company announced video chat. It’s possible that Snap wants to take advantage of the #deletefacebook movement offering people as much functionality as possible to connect on their platform instead of the incumbent’s.

It’s also worth noting that Snap’s 16-person group video chat is strikingly similar to Houseparty, the video chat app launched by the founders of live streaming app Meerkat.

Alongside the introduction of group video calls, Snap is also bringing @mentions to the platform. Users can now tag each other in their snaps and Stories by simply typing @ before their user name. Users who have been tagged will be notified when they appear in their friends’ Stories.

What you need to know about Facebook’s data debacle

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Facebook (FB) is under intense pressure to answer these questions — and more — after it admitted that a company linked to President Donald Trump’s campaign had accessed and improperly stored a huge trove of its user data.

The controversy erupted as UK media and The New York Times reported that data analysis firm Cambridge Analytica tried to influence how Americans voted using information gleaned from millions of Facebook profiles.

Read the full article here.