Traditional media should embrace changes: Levinsohn

Fmr. Yahoo interim CEO on changing media landscape

Rapidly expanding tech companies are changing the media landscape, but don't count traditional media companies out, former Yahoo interim CEO Ross Levinsohn said Tuesday.

"Clearly the momentum is on the side of Google and Facebook right now. That said, I'll be a contrarian. I actually like where media companies sit," he said in an interview with CNBC's "Closing Bell."

That's because of the reach, distribution and relationship those companies have with ad agencies and their clients, explained Levinsohn, who is on the board of Tribune Media and has previously held positions with Fox Media and CBS SportsLine.

"If I were sitting inside the walls of one of these companies … I would completely embrace the notion that we can change the model, and we can use our reach and distributions and relationships to grow this new pie of money," he said. "Work with new creators of content, who all want to be part of something bigger."

Levinsohn's comments came shortly after Walt Disney posted disappointing quarterly earnings Tuesday, with growth in its media networks and parks segments falling short of expectations.

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The company reported adjusted earnings of $1.36 per share on $12.97 billion in revenue for its fiscal 2016 second quarter. Its earnings per share missed analysts' estimates for the first time in five years. Still, adjusted EPS rose 11 percent from the prior-year period, while sales climbed 4 percent.

While Disney has been an "incredibly great-performing company," there have been shifts in both user consumption and dollars being spent, Levinsohn noted.

"We're sitting in the middle of a massive transformation in the media business. You have shifting audiences, you have shifting dollars from advertisers and subscribers," he said.

Because of that, media companies need to weigh the risk versus reward of playing defense and playing offense.

"You can clearly see the wave coming, and it's just a question of do you want to embrace this transformation or do you want to play defense," said Levinsohn.

— CNBC's Jacob Pramuk and Stephen Desaulniers contributed to this report.