Global media and entertainment conglomerates and their subsidiaries distribute mass media to the public such as television, gaming, radio, amusement parks, Internet, and publications. It’s in the nature of these types of companies—of all sizes—to continually pursue avenues for growth.
Over the years, we have seen just how much reinvention occurs in the global media industry. Consider how drastically the landscape has changed. In 1983, the media industry was dominated by 50 major companies. By 1987, that number was down to 29. In the early 1990s, the figure reduced to 23. By the end of the 1990s, there were only ten major conglomerates. In the 21stcentury, mega-deals starting taking place, causing the largest media groups to decrease in number but grow in size.
Key transaction areas for pursuing mergers and acquisitions in this global industry include:
- Horizontal-scale deals: Companies consolidate within their own sector to increasing earnings and improve operations.
- Cross-sector deals: Companies look outside their core sector to add products and services and integrate vertically across the supply chain.
- Cross-border deals: Companies target growth into different global markets that offer favorable long-term fundamentals.
- Portfolio optimizers: Companies use divestitures to streamline diversified asset bases and allocate capital to the most favorable opportunities.
Competition to Innovate
It is common in this sector for the attractive opportunities to draw a great deal of competition for acquisition. The landscape is rapidly and constantly evolving as new technologies emerge and key players are always seeking ways to be the one to introduce the next big thing. Streaming service and cord cutting have been the most recent significant drivers of change. Big tech firms such as Apple, Amazon and Netflix continue to ramp up the pressure on the conventional stand-alone media model, bringing content consumption to the forefront and making the need for differentiation and integration more critical to strategies for media companies.
Unique Due Diligence
In an industry where content is king, there are very specific due diligence challenges for M&A that require meticulous attention if the goals of the transaction are to be fully achieved.
- Copyright and Intellectual Property: Entertainment assets are subject to intellectual property protections that vary on regional, national and global levels, such as copyright, trademark and naming rights. Due diligence needs to dive deep into these rights, their usage and how they impact all parties involved, which can be extraordinarily complicated. The results of such a careful examination can directly affect valuation, so it must be conducted as thoroughly as possible.
- Large Volumes of Content:M&A transactions in the media and entertainment industry involve massive amounts of content that can be owned by a target company. There can be millions of individual items of content that could have been created decades ago and are now owned as a result of prior acquisitions. There should be prioritization of the most valuable content, especially if there are competing acquirers and a deal must be made quickly.
- Contractual Agreements:The production and distribution of entertainment content involves many different agreements and contractual arrangements. Careful due diligence will uncover key information regarding financial obligations, royalties, residuals and other contingent payments. How are royalty amounts determined and recouped? How do they compare with revenue and expenses in other financial documents? Does the transaction include agreements that expect the acquisition of more content in the future? Are there any unusual provisions or clauses regarding talent? These kinds of issues require solid understanding of how this industry operates.
Integration has been proven to pose a unique challenge for M&A in the media industry. One cannot simply plug and play a typical M&A process that works for other sectors. To win out, leadership needs to carefully evaluate the possibilities for value creation through integration, as well as any risks. This requires fastidious due diligence and effective communication. There must be a set of clearly defined goals. Cost and revenue synergies need to be properly valued. And retention of management is often critical to a successful integration strategy. When there is awareness of the potential integration pitfalls in media M&A deals, a plan can be formulated to help guard against them.
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