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Enough With 2008. Now, For What Might Happen In 2009 . . .

Posted by: Jon Fine on November 25, 2008

In December of last year, I wrote a column of media predictions for 2008.

My track record: well, not so good. Out of twelve predictions, three were inarguably right (New York Times Co. continues to stonewall its current media pressures Kevin Martin’s half-measure proposal to loosen some cross-ownership regulations goes nowhere—I know, I barely remember it myself, but it was in the news last November, daily newspapers begin to redefine the word “daily” by dropping certain days’ editions), even if some of the details buried beneath each predictions’ headline was not. Three others were mostly-right, or sort-of-right (Murdoch hasn’t destroyed the Wall Street Journal, in my view; technological issues continue to make mobile phones and undernourished media and ad platforms; and Jeff Bewkes moved very quickly to remark Time Warner, and explored AOL partnerships, with, well, everyone). And some of them were frankly way-off-totally-wrong. I predicted Microsoft would totally give up on media, as opposed to, I dunno, launch a weird passive-aggressive $40 billion-plus bid for a media company called Yahoo.

If you want to take shots at me for being so misguided, have at it!

But also: I’m working on another predictions column and thus I’d also like to ask all of you--what’s going to happen next year? Really. Media and marketing next year face a host of ridiculous economic pressures atop the stuff everyone’s been writing about for years.

Surely many big things—things that reshape major portion of media, things that no one could have foreseen--are going to happen.

What will some of them be?

Reader Comments

Joe Pulizzi, Junta42

November 25, 2008 3:11 PM


From talking to many clients and media companies, so many are pulling money away from media and investing into their own sites. Of course, this is old news, but the economic meltdown will force brands to focus on keeping things close to home and start refining their own content initiatives.

This actually provides an interesting opportunity for media brands that are looking to scale out their marketing services operations. At the recent American Business Media conference, many publishers (for the first time ever) were touting marketing services and custom media services as a key growth area.

So, more corporate brands are becoming media, and media may help them get there.

Joe Pulizzi

barak kassar

November 25, 2008 3:20 PM

a prediction.. internet/digi advertising will continue to grow and will come to mean more than either 1)search advertising (e.g. google) or 2)display advertising (actually e.g. google also). Facebook has been doing some really interesting work in forging a form of "social media". read about it here:

Jon Fine

November 25, 2008 5:27 PM

Wow, Barak, I more or less completely disagree. I think '09 will be the year that conclusively proves online spending growth isn't immune to the forces of gravity, and that social media advertising will continue to disappoint.
What intrigues you about the Facebook stuff?


November 25, 2008 6:41 PM

I predict - More TV will move to the Web, and dollars will start making the networks focus more and more there. I downloaded all of the Madmen episodes I missed, and I bought them for 1.99 each on iTunes - would have bought them from AMC if they had that feature. Only Steve Jobs knows how to monetize!

Ken Leebow

November 26, 2008 11:00 AM

Well, that's why we play the game. Most pundits cannot predict their way out of a paper bag. So, let's see what's in store for us in 2009 in 2009.

Happy New Year...Oh yeah, it probably won't be too happy -- economically speaking.

Peter Kreisky

November 26, 2008 11:51 AM

look out for shapeshifting in the media landscape driven by those with a vision and cash on hand acquiring others at bargain basement prices, against the strategic game I have described as The Broadband Shuffle (BW 9/10/08)

David Neubert

November 26, 2008 12:12 PM

Time Warner overpays for Yahoo, making the same mistake they made with AOL.


November 26, 2008 12:20 PM

I predict the failure of one cable network in the news field that will either be shuttered or reformulated. For instance, a business channel might become more of a consumer channel. At the very least the concept of business journalism at one of these channels will change markedly to encompass an otherwise unexpected topic (bartering, community entrepreneurialism, victory gardens, green communitarian organizations that are neither entirely business nor government but become championed by a pundit looking for a new focus).

I predict a total reorganization of another cable network in the information/education realm (FLN, HGTV, DIY, TLC, Food, etc) to reflect new consumer spending priorities that are not restaurant or home related. This could include a focus on Kustomization, "Maker culture" or the modification and repair of thrift store junk.

I predict the failure of a middle-sized American newspaper.

I predict a major shake up in the radio programming world in an attempt to refocus on a new, center-left society. This likely would include a new Pro-Consumer talk gadfly who creates an us-against-corporations worldview. This may also include music formats targeting suburban residents as hipster-lite.

I predict the end of sleazy reality tv series with a focus on earnest reality tv series where "unlikely everyday heroes" emerge such as the older contestants on Dancing with the Stars. In fact, the general concept of "unlikely local heroes" will drive niche TV programming as rural and suburban blue staters become a real market in search of earnest people who accomplish special things as part of a community becomes a meme.

I predict that country wide advertising will not pick up until the fall as corporations fear showy ads detract from their message as a prudent company during a downturn. The only industries where advertising will pick up (or really, simply be an outlier compared to other slumping industries) may be insurance and investing, where new players may battle it out for mindshare.

I predict a major "10 minute plus" per episode TV series will launch on the web that will attract the mind of the public and at least a respectable number of views, the interest of advertisers and interest of TV journalists.

Scott Hoffman

November 26, 2008 4:25 PM

'09 will be known as the year that the entire web goes Social. Today the Social Web is relegated to "Ghetto" status, separated from the rest of the internet. That is changing, many traditional online media sites are making enhancements to their own sites that are Social. Some great examples of this trend are already starting to happen...This Socialization of mainstream web sites will become deeper and broader.

Users will continue to become deeply engaged with these Social tools. Right now, according to Forrester Research, 3 out of 4 people use Social Media, that number will rise. And the time spent using social media will also continue to rise. Lots of users and time = lot's of eyeballs and lots of opportunity.

'09 will be the year that a few focused companies step out the shadows to develop ways to make Social Media an effective marketing tool. The opportunity is too big to ignore.

Scott Mozarsky

November 26, 2008 11:36 PM

1) The convergence of marketing and public relations will continue to accelerate as companies looking to reduce costs in a very difficult economic climate find that PR and related products are a more cost effective means of reaching and engaging with their audiences than print and display advertising.

2) Companies will focus more and more on targeting and engaging with the "influentials" in social media in order to sell their products, build their brands and attract investors.

3) At least five magazine titles (B2C or B2B) will reduce print frequency from weekly to biweekly or monthly. The shift will continue from print to online with some media companies shutting down print magazines and going to an online only format.

4) There will be a fair amount of consolidation in the second half of 2009 in the media space due to the depressed valuations of media companies.


December 1, 2008 1:49 PM

I predict that the news media will have to figure out a way to charge search engines for content -- micropayments or limited partnerships -- so that both can prosper. Because while there are some things that Twitter, or citizen journalism, do very well, there are some things that say, the New York Times or BusinessWeek, or the Economist or the Globe & Mail do better than anyone on the Planet. We need both kinds of engines.

I agree that the shift will continue from print to online, but I think it will stabilize, with a good mix of old and new reporters/bloggers/vloggers finally settling in.

I think "influentials" will lose some of their influence as channels multiply, with only a very few retaining the kind of mass appeal they began with, and the rest forming what Kara Swisher rightly called "the Social Media self-reflecting echo chamber."

Many of the second-tier social media companies will die a natural death due to a combination of a lack of cash and social network fatigue.

Adrian Sexton

December 1, 2008 3:05 PM

A few fantastical predictions:

1. Fox/FIM buys Yahoo! (with a few equity partners).

2. FIM begins to blow Facebook out of the water, as Murdoch doubles down and creates a MySpace/WSJ social net that surpasses rival LinkedIn.

3. WSJ buys Techcrunch on the relative cheap for a Murdoch purchase; provides Arrington capital to roll-up/aggregate other worthy blog nets.

4. Murdoch tries to get into business (again) with Diller/IAC to strap more transactional value to his assets, and buy into the liberal news voice, a la HuffPo or DailyBeast. Gotta keep the tabloids alive online and via more sophisticated mobile.

5. Disney buys up a lot more of the green space online (they acquired eco-newsletter for $20M this year), and starts to clone Discovery's cable channel success with Disney Nature brand. More eco-games, merch and social network tie-ins as well.

6. Microsoft buys Facebook after losing Yahoo!, but allows Mark/Sheryl to steer its course. (MS maybe gets a piece of AIM, if separated from AOL...or just buys the whole frigate.) Sheryl may be appointed head of all online: MSN + Facebook operations.

7. Print newspapers continue to get crushed. Magazines see a minor comeback as people look for "voice" given all of the noice. Add'l Murdoch magazine acquisition action expected.

Joe Erwin

December 2, 2008 5:45 PM


I predict that the need to stretch advertising dollars is going to force marketers to do what they should have been doing all along: infuse marketing into their entire operational scope of work, making a true-to-brand impression with every customer touchpoint available to them. Everything from their retail or facility environment, to customer service, to real estate decisions, to what their associates say when they interact with customers, to partnership marketing. Great brands do this already, but those that don’t won’t be able to afford to take the (lazy) TV/print/website easy way out any longer.

Predicting that companies are going to have to be more creative with their money is an easy one. But in order to make the most of it, corporate budgets are going to have to recognize that marketing investment doesn’t belong solely in the marketing budgetary silo. At best, it stifles cross-departmental, creative thinking. At worst, it’s holding us back and costing us money. But no way am I going to predict that we’ll see many companies that figure out a way to break out of that box anytime soon.

Mike Doherty

December 2, 2008 9:16 PM

As consumers we have enough technology so a few of these predictions center around how I think we are going to see a mash-up of things that already exist and some are just future evolutions that the media will have to take.
1. We have broadband, satellite, DVRs, on-demand, net flix, Amazon unbox etc. I think we can expect that all of this will be replaced by emerging entertainment services that combine them all. You will be able to get your network shows on broadband delivered to your television with the opportunity to watch them whenever you want (read no recording necessary) from a content library along with movies, sports etc. And you will be able to pause and rewind. This will allow marketers to tailor the messages consumers see to the shows they choose to watch and since it’s broadband, TV commerce components could be added to enable direct purchase from your TV.
2. While we have MySpace, facebook, linked in, email, text, twitter and a host of i-phone applications to stay in contact with each other, until recently there wasn’t a way to have our own personal data be portable. While not perfect, I predict the mass adoption of OpenID( multiple platforms — or a new one altogether.
3. In the same vein, I see the portability of all your social networking apps to “go with you wherever you do” becoming a reality- so that the idea of Facebook can be chunked into whatever site/space you’re at – maybe even real world / brick and mortar – see when the last time your friends were there, what they did, what they bought, leave notes for them on things (such as new shoes, etc).
4. I think the next wave of social communities will combine the social networking functions of MySpace and facebook with the recommendation components of a Judy’s book or Daily Candy.
5. And further, I believe we will see the folding/consolidation of 2nd-tier social networks into either Facebook or MySpace – short term money would be on Facebook but a mass partnership between a few smaller ones piggybacked with MySpace could win. I don’t think people will continue to want to manage 4-5 social networking engines as the notion of social networks as professional spaces grows.
6. I see more retailers or aggregators figuring out how to use UPC codes as a live, price shopping on demand tool – take a snap of the UPC code, get prices, reviews, etc – but also – opt in for a live quote from a competitive store – live auctioning between real stores – think meets Best Buy vs. Circuit City – the Google phone has the UPC scanning function built it, I think that technology will unfold to a whole new way to shop, compare, and buy.

The Dude

December 9, 2008 6:23 PM

Clear Channel files for bankruptcy. The new owners couldn't have picked a worse time to get billions in debt.

Local news programs are cancelled as people get their local sports scores (, local weather ( and news (their local newspaper website) anytime they want.

Television = computer, and with billions of channels there is no more mass media.

Movies evolve into an interactive medium where you are actually inside the movie watching at home with your interactive headset. Like the Godfather? Walk around the table as they discuss business. Batman? Be in the same room as Heath Ledger. Really amazing stuff coming down the pipe.

And what will still be around? Newspapers. I like reading the paper and having breakfast as millions of others do.....


December 27, 2008 6:31 PM


1. Bloggers and blog commenters will continue to use the word "internet" even though Internet is a proper noun.

2. SIRIUS XM will survive 2009 through the sale of stock and a reverse stock split. Baba Booey lives on.

3. The growth of Facebook slows as people realize you can't get laid off of Facebook like you could Myspace unless you're a teenie bopper.

4. Corporate conglomerate music product continues to "suck", giving rise to regional shaman-warrior kings that can actually move audiences through music, rather than just looking hot in tight pants on YouTube.

5. The cool factor of mobile apps starts to spill over from the cult of the iPhone to every kid with a cell phone as moble companies catch up to Apple's 2 year lead in building an innovative mobile platform.

6. More people unsubscribe from the RSS feed of your column and subscribe to Astrology and Nastrodamus blogs due to your inability to predict the future.

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The media world continues to shapeshift as new forms arise and old assumptions erode. On this blog, Bloomberg Businessweek will provide sharp analysis and timely reports on the transformation of this constantly changing terrain.



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