Google Gooses Big Media

The search giant rewrote the rules of distribution and selling ads. The big movie, TV and print outfits may never catch up

Torsten Silz / AFP / Getty Images

Fairgoers use laptops at the U.S. search engine giant Google's stand at the Frankfurt Book Fair on October 8, 2006, in Frankfurt, Germany.

"Content is king." It's a phrase uttered repeatedly by media executives making the case that the movies, music, TV shows, books and journalism their companies produce are the core of their business.

It happens to be a dubious claim. Sure, movies, music and TV shows have value--as do, I feel compelled to add, magazine columns. But they alone have never generated the huge, reliable profits that keep investors happy and pay for midtown-Manhattan skyscrapers. No, the big money in media has always been in distribution.

Sometimes the media companies do this distributing themselves--think TV networks, or newspapers and their delivery boys....

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