The number of media and telecom deals rose about 28% this year, with 1,014 transactions valued at $469 billion, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers. The figures come as Elon Musk’s pending $44 billion takeover of social media giant Twitter and Microsoft’s upcoming purchase of video game maker Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion dominated the landscape.
Media deals were more on the internet and software side, according to PwC, although Amazon agreed to purchase movie studio MGM in March for $8.5 billion. In its Mid-Year Deals Outlook report, PwC Deals Partner Bart Spiegel and Technology, Media and Telecommunications Deals Leader Alan Stephen Jones wrote that M&A “activity has recently slowed among some of the major media companies, after a peak driven by content and technology acquisitions to fuel expansion of streaming services.”
But PwC was optimistic that deal growth will continue in the media and telecom sectors, adding that the volume of activity hasn’t slowed despite inflation and rising interest rates. The research giant added that while the pace of deals may slow, a significant amount of cash remains in the system to get deals done. And as always, “businesses are under pressure to transform; the fastest way to do that is through M&A,” PwC said.
According to PwC, private equity players accounted for a big chunk of transactions — increasing to 42% of deals in the past 12 months from 24% in 2018. All in all, private equity deals represented $194 billion of announced deal value, of which 75% were concentrated in the internet and software sectors, PwC said in the report.
Other key drivers include the demand for sports content, as the combination of streaming, ad sales opportunities, sports gambling and other tailwinds have boosted team and league values. PwC also pointed to huge streaming music content deals for legendary musicians like Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen, as well as the shift to digital advertising and an emphasis on audience targeting and engagement tracking, as catalysts for deals. ■
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Mike Farrell is senior content producer, finance for Multichannel News/B+C, covering finance, operations and M&A at cable operators and networks across the industry. He joined Multichannel News in September 1998 and has written about major deals and top players in the business ever since. He also writes the On The Money blog, offering deeper dives into a wide variety of topics including, retransmission consent, regional sports networks,and streaming video. In 2015 he won the Jesse H. Neal Award for Best Profile, an in-depth look at the Syfy Network’s Sharknado franchise and its impact on the industry.