You Are Here
Now is the new Next
Happy Wednesday War & Peaceniks. Ready to see the other side?
If you’re reading this, you likely know me somewhat for this Media Universe Map (newly updated!).
That infographic looks at the media-tech-entertainment industrial complex through the lens of corporate financial power. However, this newly drawn map…
…refocuses our view around the audiences and economics at the foundation of our Global Media Ecosystem. On the right, you’ll see the Media Universe scaled by the size of its communities. On the left, the segments are sized by revenue. This map was designed to be a cross-section of the original. (Thanks to the amazing folks at Ampere Analysis for the data driving this new cartography.)
When I made the first map, I got grief for putting Apple and Google and Amazon alongside Disney and Netflix and Viacom based on the size of their market valuations.
“How can you compare Netflix and Amazon based on market cap, when Netflix only streams video and Amazon does so many more things?” Some said in the comment section. “Because that is how the world works.” Was the answer. That conversation started three years ago. But, back then, in the summer of 2020, when the first Media map dropped, the center of gravity in the Media Universe had already moved from Hollywood to big tech.
It’s been three years. It’s not moving back.
The first map was not a prediction that traditional Media would lose to big tech. It was a pronunciation that (way back in 2020) OG Media had already lost to the Trillion Dollar Death Stars. The gravitational math was obvious then. Everything that’s happened since it first popped just proves the thesis.
This new map is shaped by the earnings and audiences of the current global Media economy. It was specifically created to represent how most consumers around the world see the entertainment media industrial complex now.
This a signpost. YOU ARE HERE - at the start of the User-Centric Era of Media.
As with the last one, this map is not a warning. It’s a weather report. 2023 is here, and the weather outside, everyday, for the next 1000 days, is cloudy with 100% chance that everything has changed forever.
Users now control their lifestyles via their systems settings, and big tech now makes Media a major part of their bundled terms of service. This year, Apple signed Messi, YouTube got the NFL, and Amazon will shopify Thanksgiving (American) football. The rules of Media are not changing. They have changed.
The biggest problem traditional Media faces is that they (the collective them that’s run the business into the strike-infested ditch it now finds itself) still live in the tail-end of Media’s last era.
There’s no “this will happen if” left. We are in “what’s happening right now.”
Consumers do have publisher loyalties. But the data they need, (more than enough of) the content they love, and every single segment of Media, all come to them, directly, through their personal screens - curated by the users themselves, with swipes of their thumbs.
The last Media era ended in 2019 when Disney+ launched. That coincided with Covid. So, the actual onset of the new, current era was obscured by Media’s explosive and irrational growth during lockdown. At the end of the last era, the moguls all went all-in on business models they knew nothing about. As Hollywood distractedly chased Netflix and Spotify down their rabbit holes, big tech captured even more share of the world’s hearts, minds and pockets. Now, last era’s moguls are trying to cut their way to success, like its 2008.
As this long, hot summer has proven, the damage is most definitely done. Media’s Jurassic age is over. It’s just that the dinosaurs are in denial.
Media isn’t going “somewhere.” It’s there already. The new era of Media isn’t coming soon. It’s been here. Now is the new next.
We can’t fix what’s wrong with Media by trying to fix traditional Media, anymore than we could fix the Titanic with more oars. Media has already reinvented itself around the ergonomic relationship between consumers and technology. Media that’s not built for this new normal will not survive long-term.
Media platforms designed for this new User-Centric era already merge content and technology into hyper-personalized lifestyle bundles. Media businesses made for this moment, already operate on Multi-faceted Models, across the hierarchy of consumer feeds.
The companies who succeed in this new paradigm are able to manage the businesses they’ve have WHILE THEY BUILD the businesses they need. The New York Times reinvented itself so well in this image, Disco Bros just signed the CEO who did it to do the same for CNN. Amazon offered the case study for this era even before it started. Both are, right now, multi-facted, personalized lifestyle bundles that power a constant state of evolution around the needs of their customers. Two very different companies: one inspired the new era of Media we’ve begun; the other had to completely reinvent itself to compete in it.
It’s bigger than just those two, though. Apple helped drive us all to this User-centric era, and they are beyond well-armed to battle for their place atop it, with an arsenal of Media services to compliment best in breed tech. Google starts this era in pole positions in every segment of Media: video, social, audio and gaming. These and other tech giants are readying themselves to use their enormous resources to battle for control of the hearts and money represented on this Map.
But they cannot and will not run this ecosystem by themselves.