Is History Repeating Itself? Media Industry Follows Past Telecom Pattern

GigaOm’s Om Malik sees many parallels between the history of the telecom industry and the future of the media business. Malik begins his comparison by describing the 1996 Telecom Act, which gave unbundled access of the telecom facilities to local telephone companies. The liberalization of the network created immense competition and a flurry of new strategies to try to win over customers.

Malik says we are beginning to see a similar pattern in the media industry. While traditional providers at one time had a virtual monopoly over media distribution, there are now a plethora of options available for every genre of media, mainly thanks to the Internet. Newspapers are now up against sites such as CNET (NYSE:CBS), ESPN (NYSE:DIS), and Zillow (NASDAQ:Z), while radio battles iTunes (NASDAQ:AAPL), Spotify, and Pandora (NYSE:P). And cable providers fight for their audience against Hulu, YouTube and the like.

Malik quoted himself in an article he wrote last fall which read, “Because these new media are attuned to the needs of a new kind of information consumer, it’s hardly a surprise that media’s single largest source of revenues — advertising dollars — are getting sliced and diced in pursuit of this elusive, always transforming, info-savvy media consumer. Unfortunately, the media is used to selling page views, impressions and massive audiences: metrics as archaic as drinking on the job and smoking in a doctor’s office.”

Here’s how all these stocks ended 2011:

CBS Corporation (NYSE:CBS): CBS shares recently traded at $27.14, down $0.1, or 0.37%. They have traded in a 52-week range of $17.99 to $29.68. Volume today was 4,222,234 shares versus a 3-month average volume of 8,193,140 shares. The company’s trailing P/E is 15.44, while trailing earnings are $1.76 per share.

Walt Disney Co. (NYSE:DIS): DIS shares recently traded at $37.50, down $0.21, or 0.56%. They have traded in a 52-week range of $28.19 to $44.34. Volume today was 4,776,071 shares versus a 3-month average volume of 11,667,800 shares. The company’s trailing P/E is 14.88, while trailing earnings are $2.52 per share.

Zillow Inc (NASDAQ:Z): Z shares recently traded at $22.48, down $0.52, or 2.26%. They have traded in a 52-week range of $21.22 to $60.00. Volume today was 66,523 shares versus a 3-month average volume of 121,144 shares. The company’s trailing earnings are $-0.01 per share.

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL): AAPL shares recently traded at $405.00, down $0.12, or 0.03%. They have traded in a 52-week range of $310.50 to $426.70. Volume today was 6,420,530 shares versus a 3-month average volume of 16,160,800 shares. The company’s trailing P/E is 14.63, while trailing earnings are $27.68 per share.

Pandora Media Inc (NYSE:P): P shares recently traded at $10.01, up $0.01, or 0.1%. They have traded in a 52-week range of $9.15 to $26.00. Volume today was 768,721 shares versus a 3-month average volume of 965,416 shares. The company’s trailing earnings are $-0.22 per share.