If you doubt that media companies can profit from going green, look at what's in store for 2008.
Indiana Jones and Madagascar sequels will be sources of renewable box office energy for Paramount and DreamWorks dwa. New Time Warner twx CEO Jeff Bewkes will recycle his cable division into an independent unit. Rupert Murdoch will save trees by making The Wall Street Journal free online. And Discovery disca will go after more cable viewers by reprocessing the Discovery Home channel into Planet Green.
At least that's what some of Wall Street's sharpest media analysts say.
But if you think that's hot air and just another source of global warming, make your own predictions in the 12th Annual USA TODAY Media Prognostication Contest.
The contest is open to all in three categories: readers, industry players (such as executives, consultants, journalists and stars) and Wall Streeters.
You must enter online at money.usatoday.com or by mail by Jan. 31.
1) What is your category (reader, industry insider, Wall Streeter) and your age (optional)?
2) Which film will have the biggest box office sales in its opening three-day weekend?
a) Hancock (Sony sne); b) Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Warner); c) Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (Paramount); d) The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (Disney dis/Walden); e) The Dark Knight (Warner); f) The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (Universal); g) You Don't Mess With the Zohan (Sony).
3) Which animated film will open biggest?
a) Bolt (Disney); b) Horton Hears a Who (Fox); c) Kung Fu Panda (DreamWorks); d) Madagascar: The Crate Escape (DreamWorks); e) WALL-E (Disney/Pixar).
4) Popular tours by The Police, Genesis, Justin Timberlake and Kenny Chesney did not keep total spending on concerts in North America from falling 10.2% to $2.6 billion in 2007, according to Billboard. The 2008 total will be:
a) Down another 10% or more; b) Down less than 10%; c) Flat to up at least 10%; d) Up more than 10%.
5) At year's end, the conventional wisdom is that the February 2009 transition to digital broadcast TV appears to be:
a) A resounding success with no hiccup more serious than Y2K; b) A few major quandaries but basically OK; c) Big problems: Finger-pointing has begun; d) A potential disaster: Investigations underway; e) The transition date is changed to avert disaster.
6) Disney is the only major studio selling all movies on iTunes the same day they're released on DVD. How many majors (Disney, Fox, Sony, Universal, Viacom and Warner) will do so as of Dec. 1?
a) None, Disney will leave iTunes; b) One, Disney or another; c) Two; d) Three; e) Four; f) Five; g) All six.
7) What changes will Rupert Murdoch make at The Wall Street Journal?
a) Drop WSJ.com's biggest subscription fee; b) Launch a major redesign to make the paper look more appealing; c) Add at least one columnist from another News Corp. nws unit; d) To lure young readers, reporters must create MySpace pages listing their tattoos and piercings; e) More than one; f) None of the above.
8) What Time Warner properties will new CEO Jeff Bewkes substantially unload, or be unloading, by Dec. 1?
a) AOL; b) Time Warner Cable twc; c) Time Inc.'s magazines; d) Cinemax's porn library; e) More than one; f) None.
9) Which of these deals will be announced and closed or still in progress by December?
a) AT&T t buys EchoStar's dish Dish Network; b) Dish Network merges with DirecTV dtv; c) NBC Universal buys DreamWorks from Viacom via-b; d) Someone buys The New York Timesnyt; e) More than one; f) None.
10) At least one major city will end 2008 without a daily newspaper:
a) True; b) False.
11) The year's hottest new or made-over cable channel, in ratings and/or favorable buzz, will be:
a) Bio (formerly Biography Channel); b) Fox Business Network; c) NFL Network; d) Planet Green (formerly Discovery Home); e) TruTV (formerly Court TV).
12) Because of the movie and TV writers' strike:
a) American Idol's finale, where the winner is named, gets its biggest audience yet; b) The Academy Awards ceremony either won't happen or will be seen as a disaster as executives and seat-fillers replace stars who refuse to cross picket lines; c) The 2008 presidential campaign is the most-hyped ever as major networks devote record prime-time hours to news; d) CBS cbs mortifies TV decency activists by airing Showtime's Dexter and Californication in prime time; e) More than one; f) None of the above.
13) In August, NBC Universal will air a record 3,600 hours of Beijing Olympics programming on multiple channels and the Internet. The general view of the shows, ratings and ad sales afterward will be:
a) Gold medal: They justified the investment; b) Silver medal: good results, mostly worth the effort; c) Bronze medal: mixed results, a bit better than a wash; d) No medal: disappointing; e) Disqualification: What were they thinking?
14) Campaigns spent an estimated $2.7 billion on marketing in the 2004 presidential year and $3.1 billion in 2006. This year, political ad spending will be:
a) Less than $3.1 billion; b) At least $3.1 billion but less than $4 billion; c) At least $4 billion but less than $5 billion; d) At least $5 billion but less than $5.5 billion; e) $5.5 billion or more.
15) In the battle of high-definition DVD formats (Blu-ray vs. HD DVD), we'll see:
a) Blu-ray a clear winner; b) HD DVD a clear winner; c) Most movies released in both formats; d) A continuing standoff.
16) Which of these new media developments will be the most important in 2008:
a) Google goog introduces a wireless phone or phone service; b) Google's purchase of DoubleClick; c) An explosion of mobile Web applications as AT&T and Verizon vz open their systems; d) Striking TV and movie writers create at least one major online video service; e) Amazon's amzn Kindle electronic book does for print what the iPod did for music.
The cast of HBO's Sex and the City will take the franchise to movie theaters in May. What will ticket sales be for Sex and the City: The Movie's opening three-day weekend?
What the experts predict
Christopher Dixon (GGCP):1-Wall Streeter; 2-c; 3-d; 4-b; 5-e; 6-c; 7-a; 8-b; 9-e; 10-b; 11-d; 12-e; 13-b; 14-c; 15-d; 16-c; TB: $70 million.
Mark Greenberg (AIM Capital Management):1-Wall Streeter; 2-c; 3-d; 4-b; 5-c; 6-c; 7-e; 8-e; 9-c; 10-b; 11-d; 12-a; 13-b; 14-b; 15-a; 16-b; TB: $48 million.
Richard Greenfield (Pali Research):1-Wall Streeter; 2-b; 3-e; 4-c; 5-b; 6-g; 7-a; 8-b; 9-f; 10-b; 11-d; 12-a; 13-a; 14-b; 15-a; 16-b; TB: $55 million.
Michael Nathanson (Bernstein Research):1-Wall Streeter; 2-c; 3-d; 4-a; 5-c; 6-b; 7-e; 8-e; 9-a; 10-b; 11-d; 12-e; 13-b; 14-c; 15-d; 16-c; TB: $30 million.
Hal Vogel (Vogel Capital Management):1-Wall Streeter; 2-c; 3-d; 4-c; 5-b; 6-b; 7-f; 8-e; 9-f; 10-b; 11-c; 12-e; 13-b; 14-c; 15-a; 16-a; TB: $76 million.