Peter Chernin: New Businesses Must Be Created to Keep the Industry Vibrant

Chernin Entertainment TV
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This column is part of Variety’s Broken Hollywood feature. For more execs and their opinions on the state of Hollywood, click here.

The thing that concerns me most, and is something I see partly as a threat and partly as an opportunity, is the transition of the television business.

From a threat perspective, I’m concerned about the traditional television content business as a producer of such content. You’re seeing all sorts of threatening things — soft advertising on the cable networks and broadcast networks, declining ratings. The ratings, particularly on cable, have been really rough this fall.

On the other hand, I think there are real opportunities in the over-the-top space. If there is a consumer push for television delivered over the Internet without a set bundle (of channels), there’s nothing any of us can do to stop that. But you also need to figure out how to play in those new areas.

Your job is not to protect an existing business, and in fact you can’t protect an existing business. Your real job is to grow new businesses faster than the old ones can possibly decay.

The bundle is the greatest thing that ever happened to the traditional media business. Everyone should try to hold onto it as long as they can. I don’t think it’s going away anytime soon. It may get compromised a little bit, and you may see it fray around the edges. By definition, almost anything is going to be harder, and almost anything is going to take more effort, because right now if you’re a big content company, you’re getting paid by every home in America regardless of whether or not people are watching you.

It’s going to take much more ingenuity and scrambling and being bold and taking chances. It’s going to be a hard transition. Most transitions are hard. That’s what they’re supposed to be, and I think that the bold and creative get rewarded.