Murdoch: Eventually, Everyone Will Go Direct-to-Consumer

Fox exec says biggest hurdle is not damaging existing distribution ecosystem

21st Century Fox executive chairman Lachlan Murdoch said direct-to-consumer offerings are inevitable for programmers, but that content providers have to be careful not to damage their existing relationships with traditional distributors, who continue to pay most of their bills.

“Make no mistake, everyone will go direct-to-consumer,” Murdoch said at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference Wednesday. “I don’t think there is a major media company on the planet that ultimately won’t have a direct-to-consumer product launched in the short to near term. We need to make sure that we don’t damage the current ecosystem, which is very profitable to all of us, in the process of going direct-to-consumer.”

The Walt Disney Co. announced plans to launch a direct-to-consumer of its flagship sports network ESPN next year and a similar offering of its Disney library content in 2019. And Viacom, Discovery Communications, Scripps Networks and A+E Networks are said to be considering the launch of their own DTC offering in the coming weeks. 

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