Media and entertainment CFOs shift their primary focus from cost-cutting to growth, as economic confidence improves

— Concerns over economic uncertainty drops significantly for the first time in six years among CFOs of the largest media and entertainment companies

— Digital presents best opportunities for growth, and data analytics will provide insights to achieve strategies

— The US continues to be the most attractive market for investment, but emerging markets present opportunities for growth

NEW YORK, Aug. 11, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — The media and entertainment industry (M&E) has moved past the economic uncertainty of the global recession and shifted their primary focus from cost-cutting to growth, according to EY’s survey of CFOs of leading global M&E companies. The report, It’s Showtime! Digital drives the agenda, data delivers the insights (, which surveyed 50 large global M&E companies, shows CFOs are no longer worried about the global recession and are well-positioned to grow their companies through capitalizing on digital opportunities and through investments in technology, digital talent and infrastructure, as well as acquisitions and other deals. Only 26% of senior executives surveyed said global economic uncertainty would be a challenge during the next three years, compared to 62% two years ago, showing a dramatic decrease in concern over the economy.

John Nendick, Global Media & Entertainment Leader at EY, says:

"The CFOs told us in no uncertain terms that the economy is no longer an obstacle and now is the time for media and entertainment companies to invest in growth and focus on building their businesses. The industry is now poised to deliver on the promises it has been making the past several years but has been unable to achieve because of the economy. The CFOs recognize the recession is over and it’s showtime."

Despite the opportunities for growth, the industry still faces many challenges. A majority of CFOs identified the greatest obstacles for the industry during the next three years as technology and platform disintermediation (64%), and an inability to persuade consumers to pay fair value for content (58%). Still others identified structural and regulatory uncertainty (42%) and reductions/reallocations of marketing budgets (26%) as major challenges for the future.

CFOs are positioning for growth and they see data analytics as the means to achieve it. They are placing significant emphasis on data to improve decision-making, systems and processes. But much work remains to be done. While 59% of CFOs feel their companies successfully use data to respond to and upsell existing customers, only 33% said their companies do a good job of using data to generate new business. And while only 39% of CFOs believe their organization is good at sharing data, 58% indicated that sharing data between business units would improve their organization’s overall effectiveness. 

Conversely, as data analytics become more essential to business operations, growing concerns over effectiveness and data overload also increase. The industry expects its data storage to increase from 1,100 exabytes of available data in 2010 to 8,000 exabytes by 2015. CFOs expressed concern over the increasing difficulty of identifying any meaningful insight within this massively expanding amount of data. 

Other key findings of the survey include:

  • Top priorities for the year ahead are the evolution of digital and online distribution (74%), cost reduction and business efficiencies (34%), creatively differentiating content (32%), extending brands globally (32%) and growth in new market segments (30%).
  • Emerging markets are no longer the top geographic focus for growth; 72% of M&E companies indicated their focus is on existing/core markets.
  • Seventy-two percent chose interactive media businesses as being best positioned to evolve and thrive in the future, followed by cable television networks and channels (42%), conglomerates (36%), film and television production (30%) and content and information services (30%).
  • The top actions identified to make companies more effective are attracting/retaining talent (58%), improved IT capabilities (42%), deeper understanding of market trends, customers and competitors (38%) and getting new products to market faster (30%).
  • CFOs prefer deals that give them either complete or majority ownership (61%) instead of making investments or having a minority interest (34%).
  • The average deal value during the first half of 2014 was US$939m, compared with US$220m in 2013 and US$157m in 2012, with cable operators driving the rise.

Howard Bass, EY’s Global Media & Entertainment Advisory Services Leader says:

"Recruiting and retaining talent is a significant concern for almost every CFO we surveyed. All agreed that talent, as well as establishing better collaboration between teams and different business units, are the most important factors for efficiently running their companies. The right talent means finding people who have the technical skills but are also digital savvy."

About the survey
The survey was conducted among 50 CFOs of some of the largest global media and entertainment companies, headquartered in 10 countries and representing almost half a trillion dollars in media and entertainment revenue. The survey spanned industry sectors including filmed entertainment; broadcast and cable networks; music/radio; media conglomerates; advertising; internet and interactive media; publishing and information services; and cable/satellite distributors. Thirteen percent of companies surveyed have annual revenue greater than US$25 billion; 9%, US$10-$25 billion; 17%, US$5-$9.9 billion; 30%, US$1-$4.9 billion; 13%, US$500-$999 million; and 18%, less than US$500 million.

About EY’s Global Media & Entertainment Center
EY’s Global Media & Entertainment Center brings together a high-performance, worldwide team of media and entertainment professionals with deep technical experience in providing assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services to the industry’s leaders. Our network of professionals collaborate and share knowledge around the world, to provide exceptional client service and leverage our leading market share position to provide you with actionable information, quickly and reliably.

About EY
EY is a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. The insights and quality services we deliver help build trust and confidence in the capital markets and in economies the world over. We develop outstanding leaders who team to deliver on our promises to all of our stakeholders. In so doing, we play a critical role in building a better working world for our people, for our clients and for our communities.

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Steve Honig

Katherine Vogt

The Honig Company, LLC

EY Global Media Relations