In recent presentations to investors, Barry Diller has been like a throwback
to 1998, waxing on and on about the promise of USA Networks Inc.'s Internet
assets and saying barely anything about his cable entertainment networks, the
things that actually generate profits.
The reason for that became clear last week as 43%-owner Vivendi Universal
acknowledged that it is in talks to buy USA Networks' cable entertainment and
film operations and leave behind Diller's Internet travel, Ticketmaster and Home
The big question is what Diller's role would be. Diller is pushing for a
continuing role in guiding the cable networks and even Vivendi's Universal
Studio's film unit.
But he isn't planning to completely shed his role at the remaining Internet
operation, so it's unclear how he would bridge the two companies and two sets of
'Barry is so emotionally tied up in Hollywood, I can't imagine he would give
it up to run an Internet travel agency,' said one friend of Diller.
USA Network is in the midst of acquiring Microsoft's travel agency Expedia,
although that deal will likely be delayed by the Vivendi