News Corporation spans the globe—with media outlets everywhere from Australia to the Americas and most places in between—and the universe of media businesses. It runs newspapers, movie studios, Internet sites, and holds broadcast, cable, and satellite television assets.
These businesses are at once under siege from the digital revolution and enabled by that same revolution to distribute and create content—newspapers on iPads, movies on mobile phones, and the mash-up of social networking and music, to name a few.
Jonathan Miller has a front-row seat to the revolution as News Corporation’s chief digital officer and chairman and chief executive officer of its stand-alone media businesses such as MySpace and the Hulu joint venture with other broadcast studios. Previously, Miller was chairman and CEO of AOL when the company was finding its footing in the postdial-up era. He also held several leadership positions throughout the media sector.
Among the lessons he's learned, Miller says, is that media businesses with dual revenue streams—advertising and subscriptions—fare better. The annuity of subscriptions helps smooth out the ups and downs of advertising—and Miller is convinced that this is where media companies need to be. Yet, this is not the way the Internet works today, with most online content supported only by ads. Miller recently sat down for a discussion with John Rose, a senior partner and managing director of The Boston Consulting Group. Excerpts of the conversation follow.