Axios Pro Exclusive Content

Media dealmakers chat economy, antitrust and Apple

Kerry Flynn
Oct 27, 2022
Axios Pro Media Deals' Expert Voices Roundtable on October 26, 2022 in New York.

The Media Deals roundable session yesterday. Photo: courtesy Beatrice Moritz for Axios

"We're in an awkward time," Jason Port, venture advisor at Redbird Capital Partners, said Wednesday to kick off an hourlong conversation about the state of media dealmaking.

Driving the news: As part of the Axios BFD, our inaugural dealmakers summit, we gathered more than 20 executives to discuss and debate — on the record — about the economy's effects on the media business, ads in streaming and other industry trends.

Here are three themes from the conversation:

Executives are evaluating "mixed signals" on the economy.

  • "[We are] much more day to day, week to week at this point than we were a year ago. You have a bunch of mixed signals going on," said Josh Mattison, SVP of revenue management and operations at Disney Advertising.
  • "The banks are just owning a lot of the debt they committed to last year because investors are saying, 'If we take it, we'll take it at 80 cents on the dollar instead of 100 cents,'" said Eric Menell, co-head of North American media investment banking at J.P. Morgan.

The "antitrust cloud" limits the pool of prospective buyers.

  • "It just completely wipes out certain buyers. Take it back five, six years ago, Google, Facebook, Amazon would have been naturally on any list of an ad tech company that's going to be acquired. ... [Now], you're not even starting to have those conversations with parties because of the general antitrust cloud," said Conor McKenna, director at LUMA Partners.

Apple will invest more in ad tech.

  • "They put a lot of money behind content. In order to make the money back, they have to serve. That's what they're realizing. ... It will come. That's why Netflix is doing it," said Cara Lewis, chief investment officer at Dentsu.
  • "An ads-based model enables streamers to retain users that they may have lost without ads. Ads for all of these platforms, including Apple, feels like an inevitability to me," said Michael Mignano, partner at Lightspeed.
Go deeper