LAS VEGAS — It didn’t take long for Barry Diller — the outspoken and charismatic chairman of IAC and Expedia — to discuss the discombobulated state of media in 2017.
Speaking on the opening day of the Consumer Electronics Show, Diller described an embattled and struggling traditional media environment, one that’s in the midst of “creative destruction.”
As far as Diller sees it, the media world has shifted forever.
“There is no possible way that you can escape the consequences of these changes,” said Diller, adding that the “scarcity” value that TV and radio once held has disappeared. “But, the magic of pushing a button and publishing to the world with nobody between you and the consumer changes all of that, and we are just at the beginning of that. So, we are going to see in the next five or 10 years, I think profound dislocation, which I think is great.”
Even so, that sort of individual publishing power comes with “lots of nasty consequences,” Diller said.
“I really do think that right now, certainly advertisers and anyone who is involved in any part of the media, really does have to question the results of the kind of decades, decades-long sleazy reality TV, radio talk show that goes so over the top, etc.,” he said. “I think it is worth thinking about that stuff right now.” And, he said, advertisers need to think hard about what type of content they are associated with.
Diller also took a shot at “sponsored content,” which he described as a “sham” and worthless “drivel.”
“I think it is kind of a weigh station that, over time, will disappear, sorry BuzzFeed,” he said. “It is a contradiction in terms. Sponsored content is either not content, or not sponsored. It cannot really be both.”
He laid a part of the blame on the shifting tides on programmatic advertising, which he described as automatic advertising.
“Unless you put some human barricades, barriers so to speak in front of it, this is going to proliferate,” said Diller when asked about the rise of fake news. “People in journalism all want very much to find some way to separate actual journalist practices from just noise.”
Later in his chat, Diller noted that there is no “desire to separate wheat from chaff” on the Internet. That creates problems, especially as individuals create their own media bubbles, something he believes will only continue in the coming years.
“One thing that we know during this last year is we have seen standards lowered in so many different areas,” said Diller, adding that he’s decided to mark the Donald Trump presidency in one-year increments. In October, Diller dubbed Trump’s run an “evil miracle,” and said he could not believe that “that clown” could be president of the U.S.
As far as Diller sees it, low-quality reality TV programming and endless blathering on talk radio has led journalism into the pits.
Diller also took a moment to discuss what he described as the sorry state of the movie business, an interesting twist given his past stints running Fox Broadcasting Company and Paramount Pictures.
“The fact that we get any good movies is almost a miracle,” said Diller, adding that a huge blockbuster movie that needs to make $500 million does not represent a “creative enterprise.”
Owning a standalone movie studio is a fool’s bet in 2017, with Diller noting that it is hardly a promising “business proposition.”
“The movie business is no longer the movie business,” he said.
Here’s a look at Diller’s comments on journalism and media.