With the death this week of Kerry Packer, it is perhaps a good time to reflect on media changes this century.
The Packer empire was established by Kerry’s father, Sir Frank Packer in 1933 with the Women’s Weekly Magazine. The magazine was hugely successful and it allowed Sir Frank to expand his business beginning with newspapers like Sydney’s Daily Telegraph.
Kerry, took over the empire in 1974 and took the empire into television and more recently gaming. Whilst newspapers remain a major investment of the packer empire, Kerry embraced television and now retains a strong presense. His company PBL, owns Australia’s largest television network, Channel Nine. In 1977, Kerry established World Series Cricket which changed the game and gave the fans the now popular one day version of the game. PBL also has major casino investments with Melbourne’s Crown Casino, Burswood in Perth, and a joint venture in Asia.
So with James (Kerry’s Son) set to take over the Packer empire, many commentators are asking the question, what next for the packer empire?
I suspect new media will be where James will make his mark. Already, Australia’s most popular internet site is the Nine / MSN joint venture of Ninemsn, and PBL has a 25% stake in Seek. PBL is also a partner in paytv operator Foxtel. Combining these investments allows PBL to leverage emerging technologies that are influencing cricket and other sports. I believe the next 5 years, fans will be given more and more opportunities to control which camera they watch, refer to statistics, other fans commentaries (imagine online blogging commentaries), etc. This could be deployed via Paytv, or the internet and will provide new revenue streams to support expected reductions in television advertising. Introducing additional media versions of core magazine products is also possible. If you want to reach woman, why not create a women’s weekly pod cast? The Gaming side of PBL will also start to look for the internet as a media for growth, as evidenced by Betfair’s license in Tasmania.
So whatever direction PBL ends up taking, it’s difficult not to look at the Packer empire in line with how media has evolved, from Newspapers, to Television, and the emerging new media!