Of all the places you would have guessed Lachlan Murdoch would put his money to work first: consumer lending?
Sunday’s announcement that Fox would take a $265 million majority stake in consumer lending platform Credible Labs wasn’t exactly atop anyone’s list of his anticipated investments. But resist your eyes’ urge to glaze over at anything in the fintech sector, and take a moment to consider the mogul has sent a signal he might rebuild the slimmed-down empire his father handed him in ways you might not expect of a Rupert scion.
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Credible seems like an outlier far afield from Fox’s core competency in entertainment in the post-Disney-sale era. That $71 billion transaction left Murdoch steering what is primarily a collection of TV channels like Fox News but with a specialization in live unscripted genres like sports and news at a time when the market is tilting heavily in the other direction toward in-demand streaming.
Murdoch would be expected to buy or build new properties that were strictly of the entertainment variety. They would presumably be in the mold of Fox Nation, the streaming offshoot Fox News Channel launched into the market earlier this year.
Credible Labs feels more like a move the News Corp. side of Rupert Murdoch’s dual kingdom would have made, like its wonkier interests in real-estate websites under its Move Inc. portfolio. That said, digital strategy on the Fox side has always been a constantly mutating collection of assets that served one strategy after another going back over a decade (anyone remember religion site Beliefnet?).
But Credible could be an early sign that diversification could make entertainment just one sector where Murdoch plans to play. And how given the headwinds hitting entertainment right now, how can experimentation along the edges not be a good thing?
If you look at the statement Murdoch put out to accompany the Credible announcement, he could be thinking about Fox “programming” in a sense far broader than strictly video to screens; the direct consumer engagement he is looking to achieve may come in ways far less sexy than Fox’s Hollywood history would have led one to believe.