Barry Diller Thursday slammed burgeoning efforts by streaming services to supply films to their platforms, saying “the definition of movie is in such transition it doesn’t mean anything anymore.“ He made the remarks to NPR on the sidelines of the Allen & Co. mogul retreat in Sun Valley, Idaho.
“These streaming services have been making something that they call ‘movies,’ ” he said. “They ain’t movies. They are some weird algorithmic process that has created things that last 100 minutes or so,“ Diller told NPR.
The onetime chief of Paramount and 20th Century Fox (now part of Disney), who later moved aggressively into the dotcom era with his holding company IAC/InterActive Corp., said he appreciates the key role played by streaming during Covid-19 when theaters were closed and fans in lockdown. But the rise of the streaming giants has forever altered, crippled in his view, the movie business.
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“The movie business as before is finished and will never come back,” said the always quotable and highly opinionated exec. He recalled the time, energy and money studios used to invest in distribution and publicity to generate sustained excitement and enthusiasm for new movies. “That’s finished,” he said, because the way companies measure success has changed.
He noted — as have others — that Amazon’s $8.45 billion acquisition of MGM in May was primarily a way to drive subscriptions for Amazon Prime.
“I used to be in the movie business where you made something really because you cared about it,“ Diller said.
Certainly windows have shortened and the theatrical release business has been altered by the pandemic and by an army of deep-pocketed streaming services like Disney+, HBO Max and Peacock in field already populated by Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu. But it’s far from clear what the landscape or industry economics will look like when the pandemic is behind us and the dust settles.
Media and tech moguls began assembling Tuesday for the pared down woodsy mountain conference that features outdoor sessions and required vaccines and, for the first time, that participants to leave their kids at home.
The decades-old tradition put on by boutique investment bank Allen & Co. gives titans of industry alone time over beers and in whitewater rafts in-between sessions. It’s credited with being the hatching ground for a number of big deals. And it’s closed to the press although journalists station themselves around the area hoping to grab a minute or a quote.
David Zaslav shared some thoughts with CNBC on day one about wanting to do even more deals once the proposed merger of Discovery and WarnerMedia is completed. Shari Redstone, Brian Roberts, Bob Chapek, Bob Iger and Jeff Shell are there. So are Tim Cook and Eddy Cue, Mark Zuckerberg (in flip flops according to the Daily Mail) and Sheryl Sandberg, Jeff Bezos and Andy Jassy, and dozens of others.