It’s just a matter of time, but “somewhere along the line you’re going to see a Chinese company buy a U.S. media company and technology company,” former News Corp COO Peter Chernin said today in an interview at The Paley Media Center. ”We’ll get up in arms. But it’s no different than us going in to buy their companies.” That’s something he’s been trying to do in his current role as chairman of the Chernin Group and Chernin Entertainment, where he’s scouring Asia for business opportunities. ”The tale of most of my career in the media business has been new technologies coming in and disrupting traditional media businesses,” he says. “You spend a lot of time wondering who’s attacking me? … I ultimately made the decision that it would be more fun to be a disruptor than to defend myself from disruption.” He particularly wants to develop businesses in Asia’s growing economies. For example, China has “the fastest-growing (movie) theatrical business in the world, about to pass Germany to be No. 3.” But local regulations and tastes make it difficult for U.S. companies to break in to key markets. Due to government restrictions in China, his view is for westerners to “avoid broadcasting first, avoid cable second.” India is more open, but western entertainment often baffles audiences. “It’s easier for the Chinese to understand the West than for the Indians,” Chernin says.
Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos says the company ran into trouble today with its forecasts for streaming video and DVD rental subscriptions because it’s still adjusting to the decision in July to turn them into separate products. “Being able to precisely forecast and predict the behavior of that many people on a fairly radical change is something we’ll get better at all the time,” he told an audience today at The Paley Media Center. He said that while ”it was a sexy headline” to report that the change in Netflix’s offering increased the price of the combined streaming and DVD service by 60%, “that was only for people who chose both.” The number of people taking both services will dwindle. Although “the DVD business has a long life in middle America,” Sarandos says “it’s just not part of our future.”