Comcast and Disney vie for the Murdoch empire

(Credit: AP)

However it ends, the battle royal for the right to own most of the assets of 21st Century Fox, and all of Sky, reflects deep and significant trends in global media. The resolution (in favour of suitors Disney, Comcast or both) may end up being less important than what the outcome tells us about market dynamics.

This battle is about the response of legacy media to accelerating shifts in consumer behaviour and to the threats posed by the big digital disruptors. In a market where content and distribution are increasingly intermingled and global, size unlocks the prize.

London Conference Session Two: Quest for the global grail

'Go Global or Go Home' at the RTS London Conference 2016 (Credit: Paul Hampartsoumian)

Global hits, unscripted as well as scripted, are what a lot of people in television dream of. Platform proliferation ought to mean that there are more hits than ever before but, as the panellists in this session – “Go global or go home” – know to their cost, hits remain as elusive as unity in Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party. 

Three of the four panellists have deep, hands-on experience of selling drama – Tim Davie, CEO, BBC Worldwide and Director, Global; Michael Edelstein, President, NBCUniversal International Studios; and Jane Millichip, Managing Director, Sky Vision. 

Steve Burke: ‘Think like an owner, not a renter’

Steve Burke speaking at the RTS London Conference 2016 (Credit: Paul Hampartsoumian)

Q Tina Brown, CEO of Tina Brown Live Media: What keeps you up at night, thinking about this business five or 10 years down the line? 

Steve Burke, CEO of NBCUniversal: Seven years ago the iPad didn’t exist, [but] I would bet that the majority of people here have been on their iPad… this morning.… Change over the past seven years… has been surprisingly rapid. And my bet is that it is going to [continue] in the next six years. Increasingly, a big part of my job is to make sure that we position the company for the future. 

Kevin MacLellan: Technology is the great instigator of media

I see technology as the great instigator of media – it is the pebble disturbing the surface of the pond. Decades of technological developments have enabled new ages of media. More recently, the [near ubiquity] of broadband has been a major agent.…  

Two-way communication with audiences has led to advanced methods of search and discovery, news and review, video serving, data collection and programmatic ad targeting.… 

Aussie swim drama Barracuda lands on BBC Three

Andrew Creer, Ben Kindon, Elias Anton and Rhys Mitchell Elias Anton as Danny Kelly (Credit: BBC/ NBCUniversal)

The series, based on the book of the same name by award-winning novelist Christos Tsiolkas, is directed by Robert Connolly (Paper Planes, Balibo, Three Dollars).

It stars Golden Globe winner Rachel Griffiths (Muriel’s Wedding, Brothers and Sisters), Matt Nable (Hyde & Seek, East West 101) and introduces Elias Anton as central character Danny Kelly.

Barracuda begins in 1996 in Melbourne, when Danny has just won a swimming scholarship to the prestigious Blackstone College.

Feelgood drama This is Us heads to Channel 4

(Credit: NBCUniversal/ 20th Century Fox)

The series is written and produced by Dan Fogleman - creator of Crazy Stupid Love, and follows the lives of seemingly random individuals, many of whom share the same birthday, whose lives cross in curious ways.

Mandy Moore (A Walk to Remember), Milo Ventimiglia (Heroes, Gilmore Girls) and Sterling K. Brown (The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story) star in the series, alongside Chrissy Metz, Justin Hartley, Chris Sullivan, Susan Kelechi Watson and Ron Cephas Jones.

Kevin MacLellan: a global player

Kevin MacLelland (Credit: NBCUniversal)

The Chair of this year’s RTS London Conference, Kevin MacLellan, the London-­based Chairman of International at NBCUniversal, is proof that talent and hard work, rather than privilege and well-placed connections, can take you to the top of the entertainment industry. 

His blue-collar Brooklyn background was about as far as you could get from Hollywood or downtown Manhattan. MacLellan’s family expected him to follow in his father’s footsteps: they wanted him to work for the local phone company. He saw his future differently.