Murdoch Mobilizes DirecTV and MySpace Internet Troops

11 January 2006

In spring 1999 Rupert Murdoch shared his vision on the future of the internet with delegates at a Singapore conference on 'Twenty-First Century Media'.

In those primeval times, the Australian-American tycoon scathing about a phenomenon whose stock he dismissed as "overvalued", cautioning that the internet would "destroy more businesses than it creates."

Seven years on, however, an older and wiser Murdoch has become an enthusiastic supporter of Oscar Wilde's dictum: "The one duty we owe to history is to rewrite it."

January 2006 sees the globe's second largest media empire in gung-ho mode, urging its troops to get out there and colonize the cyber-world for News Corporation. The opening battle is being waged on two fronts.

  • On Monday NewsCorp announced that its DirecTV unit is set to invest around $1 billion (€828.9m; £566.7m) in a deal to provide the satellite TV service with internet access, currently a two-way service that can't be operated via one-way satellite transmissions.

    But DirecTV is exploring entering the wireless market, possibly via a deal involving WiMax technology, an emerging form of high-speed wireless service.

  • A second front is about to be opened through NewsCorp's recently acquired social networking website Currently boasting 47 million registered users, the site is recruiting around 1m new members weekly.

    According to Murdoch, NewsCorp is focusing on making MySpace 'stickier'; or in non-cyberspeak, encouraging site visitors to linger longer. One device to foster this - free video downloads - will be launched later this week, with instant messaging and voice services to follow.

    Come 2007, NewsCorp's online activities are expected to generate between $350m-$400m in revenues and - given that this is Mickey Mouse moolah to Wall Street ears - will "take off" thereafter.

    Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online and Financial Times Online; additional content by WARC staff