Insights from the 5th Multichannel Money Streams Congress, MCMS, held in Budapest this year.

For the fifth time the MCMS was held, this time in Budapest – after Barcelona, Venice and Sevilla in previous years. This year’s objective was not so much to investigate little details but to provide an overview: Where did disruption go up till today, how has the industry already changed? This included the look at the audiovisual – colloquial TV – industries as much as the electronic retail ones. The big headline remains “Change”! The headline will remain the leading paradigm for industries and societies for many years to come!

This time MCMS was opening to a wider range of industries by having the European e-commerce association EMOTA as this year’s partner. It also illustrates the rapidness of the change process everybody is undergoing this instance. Last year, ERA Europe, the organizer also behind MCMS, was in turmoil following the surprising shut down of its US mother only a week prior last year’s event without a trace then what this would mean for the European venture. This year, EMOTA found itself in a quite similar situation.

Therefore, we took a general look on what is happening in the global TV industry, genius presentation by the Media Business Insight lead analyst Jonathan Broughton, followed by a similar look at the electronic retail industry provided by IHS Markit | Technology executive director Maria Rua Aguete. Jeroen Doucet, chief strategy officer of Dutch developer of innovative TV services ExMachina Group provided an inside look into the world of Amazon and Alibaba. How close these worlds link together was illustrated by a statement in the following panel discussion.

For sure this was one of the stunning theses offered by Jeroen Doucet: “You know that I’m fully convinced that Alibaba will buy Netflix!” Of course, this was meant to be provocative, based on more than just a grain of truth. Sure enough, the world leading video on demand service has generated a huge debt load that may become a problem once interest rates go up again significantly and by increasing success of strong new competing platforms like Disney to be launched this fall. The acquisition would sure help Alibaba’s global expansion plans – in a field where the Chinese online retail giant has not yet a lot to offer.

Still two years ago I, too, would have been very much in favor of this idea. However, the world has changed a lot since. Especially the trade conflict between China and the US created an atmospheric change. Huawei was banned from doing business in the US. Well, even with the overall conflict being deferred for the time being while bilateral negotiations are going on and president Donald Trump’s statement that Huawei is soon to be allowed again to do business in the US – nobody knows what the outcome will be. Now, it doesn’t seem very likely that a deal like an Alibaba Netflix one would have a chance to get past authorities on either side of the fence. Netflix is too much of a symbol for the global strength of US entertainment to be sold to China, one may think.

However, again this illustrates how much the global economy has changed recently. National selfishness, especially of strong global players, are getting increasingly into battle with free trade. Where will this lead to? I don’t know. Still this may prove to be a short episode in global trade history. But it can also be the beginning of a paradigmatic change to last for a longer period.

Photo by Amanda Justice/ERA Europe

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