Media universe cartographer Evan Shapiro has issued a stark warning to today’s big media players, arguing that they must adapt fast in order to survive.

Media businesses are sleep-walking into a new user-centric era which has already begun. But although the media’s Jurassic age is over and everything has changed for ever, the dinosaurs are in denial, said Shapiro, speaking at an IBC Conference session yesterday entitled ‘Plotting the Effects of Disruption’.

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Evan Shapiro, media universe cartographer

Shapiro, who is known for his original analyses of the tech and entertainment ecosystem, recommended refreshing the top of companies - getting rid of CEOs who are chosen from a small band of executive elites and replacing them with a more diverse management focused on user-centric business models.

One of the problems that the media businesses have is that short-term thinking is baked into its culture, based around the next earnings call, said Shapiro. “Compare that with Amazon which went for a long time before it became profitable. You need to be able to ignore the short term and hook your wagon to a big moonshot.”

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Shapiro also criticised the industry’s dependence on streaming services, which he said performed well during lockdown where many consumers binged on media. “But when lockdown was over and the media companies handed out bonuses like candy canes, subscribers have not continued to consume content in the same way.”

Churn is a growing problem for many, he added: “In the last year the symptoms have got so bad that they can no longer ignore it.”

According to Shapiro the reality is that media companies that are not built for this new user centric era will not survive, but reinvention isn’t going to be simple. His advice: don’t think of different media such as video and gaming as silos, consider them more as different channel spokes off your IP hub; and realise that the US and Europe are not the centre of the media world, which is going to be dominated by faster growing markets such as Latin America, Asia and Africa.

Shapiro maintained that he was optimistic that companies who seek change will survive and thrive. “It’s time for us all go back to school and re-learn everything about our business. If this seems like an enormous effort, it is!”