The media industry experienced a lot of highs and lows throughout 2017, from a blockbuster merger morphing into a regulatory battle royale, to a late candidate for media deal of the decade. As 2018 approaches, FierceVideo is looking back at the stories that had the most impact over the past year.
Once you've checked out this year's biggest stories below, don't forget to check out the biggest stories of 2017 from our sister publications:
- Top 10 biggest stories of 2017 by FierceWireless
- Top 10 biggest stories of 2017 by FierceCable
- Top 10 biggest stories of 2017 by FierceWirelessTech
- Top 10 biggest stories of 2017 by FierceTelecom
10. Cable channels band together for streaming service Philo: As pay TV subscribers continue to decline and the slim virtual MVPD bundles continue to skip adding tons of cable channels, the major cable programmers banded together to do something about it. Philo, a $16-per-month streaming service, is a livestreaming hub for A&E, AMC, Discovery, Scripps and Viacom channels. Free of live sports jacking up the cost of pay TV bundles, these channels are hoping they can thrive in a standalone setting.
9. CBS plans international expansion for All Access: CBS set fairly ambitious goals for its All Access and Showtime streaming services, planning for the platforms to have a combined 8 million subscribers by 2020. The broadcaster is taking a major step toward that by expanding globally with All Access in 2018, starting with Canada. CBS’s acquisition of Australian broadcaster Ten will also likely play into those international ambitions.
8. NFL ratings continue to struggle: The struggle for NFL ratings continued this season amid President Donald Trump stirring controversy around player protests. But the NFL’s struggles may have been less its own and more emblematic of the overall declines in linear TV viewership. With the mobile exclusive done for Verizon though, the NFL could have an easier time reaching audiences away from the living room and in doing so could help offset the decline in ratings.
7. Disney plans branded streaming service, ESPN OTT, ditches Netflix: Before it bought Fox, Disney announced a smaller $1.6 billion deal for BAMTech while also revealing plans for a Disney-branded streaming service that would effectively end its distribution deal with Netflix. Now Disney and Netflix are on diverging paths toward streaming market domination, and perhaps later in 2018 we’ll have a better idea of how Netflix’s massive slate of originals will match up against Disney’s standalone streaming catalog.
6. FCC authorizes ATSC 3.0 for commercial deployment: With the FCC’s long-anticipated authorization, ATSC 3.0 next-generation TV can officially count 2018 as a year of implementation as broadcasters like Sinclair and Nexstar Media accelerate plans around the standard and consumers brace for an enhanced set of features for over-the-air broadcasts.
5. Netflix raises prices, again: Netflix was only about a year removed from its previous price hike in 2016—after a grandfathering period for some subscribers expired—when it kicked up prices again in 2017. With subscriber totals and the content budget both growing at healthy speeds, the price increase made sense. In 2018, we’ll get a glimpse of what this price increase does for the company’s revenues.
4. Discovery buys Scripps for $14.9 billion: If some scale is good, then a lot of scale is even better, and that’s what a combined Discovery Communications and Scripps Networks Interactive will have should their proposed merger go through. The two cable lifestyle titans will control about 20% of all ad-supported pay TV viewing after the merger and will no doubt wield that influence wisely in negotiating deals with distributors.
3. Sinclair acquires Tribune Media for $3.9 billion: Sinclair Broadcasting emerged from relative public anonymity to become a political and corporate villain this year when it bid $3.9 billion for Tribune Media and found itself under fire for its apparent injection of right-leaning politics into local broadcast news coverage. While fighting off opponents, Sinclair has inched closer to gaining the DOJ’s approval for its deal and could wrap up the transaction in 2018.
2. Disney buys most of 21st Century Fox for $52 billion: The Mouse running away with the Fox sounds like a fairy tale, but it’s the reality of Disney’s shocking bid for most of Fox. The merger could take all of 2018 and beyond to close, but afterward we’ll have an even bigger film, TV and distribution Disney powerhouse along with a leaner, more nimble Fox focused on news and sports.
1. Justice Department sues to block AT&T-Time Warner merger: AT&T’s proposed $85 billion merger with Time Warner was already the biggest story of 2017, and then the DOJ sued to block the deal, setting it up to be one of the biggest stories of 2018 as well. With the trial scheduled to kick off March 19 and no settlement terms in sight, we’re in for a heck of a fight.
See you next year! — Ben | @fiercebrdcstng
P.S. FierceVideo will be on a publishing break for the holidays. We will update the website with any breaking news during the week, and our newsletter will be back in your inbox on Jan. 2, 2018. Enjoy the holidays and have a happy New Year!