Summit Notebook

Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders

THQ CEO: No need to buy social gaming share

Photo

Internet social networks like Facebook are the new frontier for video game makers.

But not all companies see a need to buy their way in, as Electronic Arts did with its $275 million purchase of Playfish last month (the deal could be worth as much as $400 million if the company meets certain future financial milestones).

Brian Farrell, the CEO of game maker THQ, believes the barriers to entry to social gaming are low enough that his company doesn’t need to buy a company to get a foothold in the market.

“In our view what they [EA] got was they got a user base, and then we can debate for the next several hours about is that worth $275, $400 million,” he said at the Reuters Media Summit.

NHL commish: Bigger not always better

Photo

If you want a new National Hockey League team, you’ll definitely need a spanking new arena, or at least one that’s been gussied up in a significant way. But that doesn’t mean it need be a super-sized arena,  Commissioner Gary Bettman said at the Reuters Global Media Summit.

“While we play to 93 to 94 percent capacity, we’d like to play to 100 percent capacity,” Bettman said. “A 15,000-16,000 seat arena might work better in some markets than a 19,000 seat arena.”

ESPN: We all live in sports towns (And tell great jokes)

ESPN President George Bodenheimer has been at the business of TV sports, one way or another, for nearly three decades, starting in the mailroom and working his way up.

It’s the classic media story — and this one even involved a stint driving through nearly every little town in Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Mississippi to sell this odd new 24-hour sports network to cable distributors.

NHL commish takes dim view of Canadian billionaire Balsillie

Photo

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman all but ruled out the prospect for Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie one day owning a team in the hockey league.

Balsillie, the co-CEO of BlackBerry wireless device maker Research in Motion, failed in a bid to move the bankrupt Phoenix Coyotes to Hamilton, Ontario in September when a U.S. judge blocked the attempt.

Electronic Arts CEO straightens mom out at Thanksgiving

Photo

Restructuring: You shouldn’t be afraid to do it, even more than once if you have to, and even if your own family doesn’t understand it. Just ask John Riccitiello, chief executive of videogame publisher Electronic Arts. Here’s what he said at the Reuters Global Media Summit on Tuesday:

A company that doesn’t restructure in the face of that dramatic transformation, I don’t know what they’re doing. GM had a great decade in the ’70s building large cars… They didn’t restructure in the face of what was obvious. The music industry kept telling us they wanted to buy albums, and then they tried to sue us. It didn’t serve them well. … We look at the future and we are aggressively embracing it… .

200MB? It’s only human nature to want more

Photo

Broadband subscribers want as much speed as they can get their hands on, even if it’s way beyond what’s needed by the most avid downloader of music, keen watcher of video or biggest Facebook addict, reckons cable operator Liberty Global’s CEO.

Maybe he would say that, but Mike Fries says today’s subscribers are signing up for speeds of 100-200 MB to be safe in the knowledge they won’t be left behind whatever the next stage of the Internet — a bit like owning a car with a top speed way beyond the limit.

Like the ‘net? Pay your cable bill, says Time Warner’s Britt

If you want the Internet to keep doing what it does, keep paying your cable bill, and don’t get carried away with the idea of free (free! free!) content.

The next big free idea (sort of) is “TV Everywhere“, the cable industry’s attempt to make cable programming available over the Web — for no extra charge — to paying subscribers. It’s an important initiative for the industry, since Pay-TV companies are concerned that the recession-resistant subscription revenue of cable television could be undermined if cable shows became widely available over the Web.

Sirius CEO Karmazin limbers up for the Howard Stern dance

Photo

It’s been five years since Sirius lured shock jock Howard Stern to satellite radio with a $500 million contract. Whether Stern can re-up with a similar deal when his contract expires at the end of next year is anyone’s guess, but it ought to be entertaining. Sirius XM CEO Mel Karmazin is preparing himself for negotiations with the self-proclaimed King of All Media.

In a meeting with reporters at the Reuters Media Summit on Monday, Karmazin gave us a thumbnail sketch of his version of “The Art of the Deal.”

All I want for Christmas is a blockbuster

Photo

What’s a great holiday gift in a recession, yes a good old fashioned book. Random House just got its new Dan Brown bestseller on the shelves.

Pearson’s Chief Financial Officer admitted that its consumer publisher Penguin does not have a blockbuster for the holiday season but — in a rare glimpse of corporate honesty — said it sure would like to have one.

Watch out school kids, big brother will soon be watching you

Photo

By Paul Sandle

Sit back a minute and think back to your school days — doing homework on the bus, skipping double physics on a Friday afternoon…nice, huh? Well, no more if Pearson prevails.

The reluctant student skulking at the back of the class, copying homework at the last minute or taking a day off, like Ferris Bueller, could find school a lot tougher if his college starts using the publisher’s latest education products.  

  •