7 Predictions for 2018's Biggest Stories in Media, Film and TV
THR experts look into their crystal balls for the ideas, trends and deals that will shape the news and entertainment landscape in the new year (and far beyond).
The Urge to Merge
After Disney acquires a large chunk of 21st Century Fox, the next big merger could be CBS and Lionsgate. While many on Wall Street have been pining for CEO Leslie Moonves to recombine CBS with Viacom, this move would be a way to give CBS the bigger media footprint it needs. Lionsgate already distributes movies made by CBS Films, Lionsgate-owned Starz would complement CBS-owned Showtime, and Lionsgate content would help beef up the CBS All Access streaming service with films from the Hunger Games, Saw and Twilight franchises and TV shows like Orange Is the New Black and Nashville. — Paul Bond
Rupert’s Play for CNN
After selling most of his Fox empire, Rupert Murdoch may let his son Lachlan run the parts that Disney didn’t buy (the Fox broadcast network, Fox News and the FS1 and FS2 sports networks) and return his attention to an old love: the previously spun-off News Corp. In order to rebuild the parent of newspapers including The Wall Street Journal and the New York Post, the octogenarian mogul could set his sights on CNN should AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson give in to DOJ demands and divest the cable news outfit in order to finally win approval of his $85.4 billion merger with Time Warner. — P.B.
The End of the Star System
Before they were toppled amid sexual misconduct claims, Matt Lauer and Charlie Rose were given top billing over their female co-anchors — Savannah Guthrie at NBC’s Today and Gayle King and Norah O’Donnell at CBS This Morning. Sources tell THR that the issue of pay parity arose in the renegotiation of each woman’s contract. (Megyn Kelly is now reportedly the top-paid anchor at NBC News.) But just as the #MeToo moment retooled morning news, it will also recast the retrograde gender dynamics that perpetuated bad behavior by anchor stars. — Marisa Guthrie
Dawn of the Post-Peak TV Era
Scripted output is still set to top the 500-some original series that aired in 2017, but that’s a content yield too great to sustain. A plateau at Netflix is as inevitable as its anticipated $8 billion yearly spend seems outlandish, even by CEO Reed Hastings’ lofty standards. And buyers will shrink in ad-supported cable as some bail out of scripted (Viacom and NBCU already are honing their catalogs) and others fold completely, changing the way series are financed and distributed. — Michael O'Connell
Who Wants to Buy Snapchat?
Snapchat’s redesign, announced in November, is meant to create a more personalized and easier-to-understand experience and grow its 178 million daily active user base. The move could very well have the opposite effect, since the app’s near-opacity for people over 30 was part of what powered its youth ascent. Without the scale of Facebook and a stock price stubbornly beneath its $17 IPO price, the Evan Spiegel-led Snap Inc. could very well find itself a takeover target. — Natalie Jarvey
Breaking the VOD Window
Since it has its own nascent OTT platform to service, Disney has been the one major studio with no interest in testing a premium VOD window that would offer movie rentals well before the current three months after theatrical release. That has made it tough to assemble the three or four studios needed to make a new home entertainment service viable. But Disney’s acquisi tion of Fox may be what finally puts pressure on the other major studios to get moving to find a new distribution channel and overrule the objections of theater owners to breaking the VOD window. — Pamela McClintock
Studios Get More From China
There is a solid chance that China overtakes North America in 2018 to become the biggest theatrical film market in the world. Will this bring back Chinese investment into Hollywood? Maybe. But Beijing still views entertainment as a risky and vainglorious investment sector for local tycoons. Instead, expect attention to shift in the opposite direction, with Hollywood again pushing for a bigger slice of China’s enormous pie. Studios may be able to nudge their Chinese box-office take upward from 25 percent of ticket sales, but Beijing won’t surrender its many levers of market manipulation, including blackout periods and control of distribution. — Patrick Brzeski
This story first appeared in the Dec. 18 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.