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Longtime media potentate Barry Diller called on media companies to “get out of the room” with tech giants and instead hammer out a separate resolution to the writers and actors strikes.
“They should certainly get out of the room with their deepest fiercest and almost conclusive enemy, Netflix, and probably with Apple and Amazon,” Diller said on the podcast On with Kara Swisher. “Because Netflix is in one business and they are the rulers of the business they’re in. The other two, Apple and Amazon Prime, are in completely different businesses that have no business model relative to production of movies and television.”
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The former Fox, Paramount and Universal boss, who has been more focused on InterActive Corp. and other digital ventures over the past 20-plus years, called in from his yacht, Swisher said in an introduction to the chat. “I don’t know where he was, floating around, heading to Venice,” she added. The bulk of the interview concerned non-entertainment topics, including Diller’s support of Republican presidential hopeful Chris Christie and his efforts to rein in tech companies’ use of artificial intelligence in the publishing arena.
Of tech giants Apple and Amazon, Diller said, “I just don’t think they belong in the same room as producers. I think producers ought to go and say, ‘We’re on our own. We’re going to negotiate with you directly. We are your savior. Historically, we’ve been in business together for literally a hundred years. We are your natural allies, not your enemies.'”
Diller’s comments line up with sentiment from the strike front that Deadline reported about earlier this week. Members of the AMPTP have been said to be confronting internal dissent and finding it difficult to synch up with each other in talks with the WGA and SAG-AFTRA given their varying business models and objectives. The disconnect has added another layer of complexity to finding a path to ending the work stoppage.
Diller has long suggested that Netflix long ago “won” the streaming race. On the podcast, he ties the company’s meteoric rise and disruption of Hollywood models to the strikes.
“Netflix induced — I would say to some degree seduced — all these companies to go into streaming to lose huge amounts of money to try and build a competitive streaming service,” Diller said. “They degraded their investment in cable because of the effect of Netflix on cable. They degraded their investment in their broadcasting arms.” He went on to label Netflix “the architects of a strike.” He noted that the streaming giant is “in the same room with the people they have killed who were trying to get out of this in some way. The strike does one thing and one thing only, in the end because the strike will get settled. What does it do? It strengthens Netflix and weakens the others. Now, what kind of genius do you have to be to pull that off in a fairly straight line over the last 10 years? That’s quite remarkable.”
Despite his digital orientation of late, Diller has also been an outspoken advocate for broadcast television, and he returned to the subject on the podcast. Media companies embroiled in the guild fight and trying to steer through an intensely difficult operating climate “ought to reorient themselves and say, ‘We each own a great television network, fully distributed in every household in the United States,” he said. “Let’s not treat it as some yesterday’s sliver. Let’s go compete. Let’s take some of our shows.’ Look, it is in the end a business of hits. Let’s take some of our shows and our creativity and build our networks back up. It’s there for the take. Let’s go take everything else we do and invigorate it again with capital allocation that fits the suit.”
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