SUN VALLEY, Idaho—The scuttlebutt heading into this year’s Allen & Co. media and technology conference was that the television programming industry is ripe for consolidation. Content needs scale, the theory goes, so someone will soon gobble up Time Warner, Discovery, Scripps and Viacom. The media was so primed for the story that a rumor of Google’s interest in acquiring Time Warner spread quickly, only to be squashed equally quickly by Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes.
But conversations among media and technology executives here paint a different picture of the likelihood of deal-making among television companies: No one knows what’s going to happen. In fact, several attendees expressed the view that programmers won’t gain more leverage by simply getting bigger.