So, with Comcast’s bid against Twenty-First Century Fox making it the majority owner of Sky and with its own news channels to play with, what impact could this have on the industry?
The question for PRs with any new media owner is – will it change its programming policy, invest or, as is often common practise today, cut back?
The big area to consider here is distribution. If you look at Sky’s investor relations statements, its strategy is moving away from focusing on content, and instead, much more on distribution.
As the new owner, we can assume Comcast is in agreement.
Sky has just done its first deal with Netflix. It will be distributing Netflix content on the Sky Q platform and is already serving ‘hyper local’ ads via its data services.
So, you can already see that Sky, the biggest broadband provider in the UK, owns in-home distribution.
Sky News radio output model is already distribution. It is contracted to provide the news content to most of the commercial radio network.
Could Sky TV News producers start to look at a model where they become the production house of traditional TV and digital news for other broadcasters and media owners?
Wouldn’t it be interesting if Comcast chose to start investing in local TV channels for commercial gain, like they do in the US?
Many have tried and still not made it here in the UK, using London Live as an example, but there is an appetite.
Where ITV has tried to de-risk its investment in regional TV, Comcast has the tech infrastructure to implement a regional TV network.
It could take this even further and adopt the trend of optimising commercial output towards the people that are viewing, such as through location and demographic.
Wouldn’t it be interesting if, for the first time, we had addressable news across the UK?
So rather than ‘this is what the news means to London’, but instead, ‘this is what it means to you in your hyper local area.
It has the technology, distribution ability and the deep pockets, but does it have the will?
The opportunity for PR here if they do, is great, the risk however is for those who are not keeping up with technology.
To land hyper local coverage means more time, resource, effort, and tailoring. It's not something for the work-shy.
If you’re going to be providing editorial options to a more highly regionalised infrastructure, you are going to have to have better, more regionalised assets.
This is great news for PRs that have kept up to date with news distribution and technology.
Until Comcast shows its actual hand, what you have got is a news media channel operator who has been very PR friendly to date, potentially about to change tack.
That change can only be positive for those invested in the development and future proofing of the broadcast news sector, and it will be interesting to see how quickly changes are made if any, and the direction of travel.
Howard Kosky is the CEO & founder of markettiers