“Big is better if it’s really good stuff, and big is worse and is a weight if it’s not really good stuff,” said Sapan.
AMC Networks, which airs hit programs such as “The Walking Dead” and “Portlandia” through its AMC and IFC channels, is a mid-sized media company. At a time of consolidation, that could make the television company an attractive acquisition target or a motivated buyer.
Billionaire John Malone, for instance, has predicted that there will be period of mergers and marriages as media companies look for ways to weather the technological shifts that are changing the way that consumers watch movies and shows. Wall Street is watching closely to see if Malone will help orchestrate a union between Lionsgate and Starz, two smaller media companies.
Sapan believes that the sudden drive to grow is rooted in fear.
“What’s behind that is most often the question of protection … if I’m big, I can protect my flanks and won’t have incursions that are unwelcome or unwanted,” he said.
That might not be enough. At a time when consumers are streaming shows and movies when they want to see them and on a device of their choosing, quality is more important than scale, Sapan suggested.
“All the technological change puts more power in the hands of the consumer,” he said. “Technology increasingly puts weight in the hands of consumers and companies cannot or can less dictate what consumers should do.”