By Helen Coster
(Reuters) – ViacomCBS Inc and Comcast Corp can succeed without acquiring other businesses, IAC Chairman Barry Diller said during a Reuters Newsmaker event Thursday.
The media and Internet mogul, who helped found Fox Broadcasting Company, described competing with Netflix, which would require significant investment, a “fool’s errand” at this point. “But can you do very well for yourself and for your shareholders if you simply have good ideas, execute them well?” he said. “There will be buyers, there will be an audience for those things. Absolutely.”
Diller’s comments came as media experts expect a fresh round of mergers following the recently announced deal between Discovery Inc and AT&T, which will create a new company that combines Discovery and WarnerMedia assets. Soon after Discovery and AT&T revealed their plans for the proposed new company, Warner Brothers Discovery, Amazon.com Inc announced it will buy U.S. movie studio MGM.
Although conglomerate IAC is not currently weighted heavily toward media – with investments that include MGM Resorts International and Care.com – Diller has a long history in the sector. He described Comcast as being in a “fantastic position” with a cable and broadband business that hedges against NBCUniversal. “I don’t think they have to do anything,” he said of whether Comcast needs to spin off a business or get bigger.
The Internet and media mogul brushed off concerns about Netflix’s debt burden. “Unless they do something just remarkably stupid, just declare them a winner and go home,” Diller said, speculating that subscriber revenue will eventually line up with production costs, delivering a “very nice return for investors.”
(Reporting by Helen Coster; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)