The WIR: FTC Threatens to Block Facebook’s Consolidation Plans, Zenith Predicts TV Ad Spend Stagnation, and Amazon and DAZN Outbid Sky for Champions League in Germany

Tim Cross 13 December, 2019 

In this week’s Week in Review: The FTC threatens to block Facebook’s merger plans, Zenith predicts no TV growth for three years, and Sky loses Champions League broadcasting rights in Germany for the first time in twenty years. To receive an update on the industry’s top stories every Friday, sign up to the weekly Video Round-Up.

Top Stories

FTC Threatens to Block Facebook’s Consolidation Plans
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is considering blocking Facebook’s plans to integrate WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Instagram’s messaging abilities, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday. The panel is reportedly concerned that as interoperability between the three popular services increases, consumers will become even more tied in to Facebook’s products, making it harder for others to compete.

But perhaps more significantly, the WSJ says the FTC is also concerned that Facebook’s plans would make a potential break up of Facebook harder in the future. As VAN recently reported, the FTC is one of a number of bodies across the West investigating antitrust issues among the tech giants. If the commission really is concerned that further integration would make a break up of Facebook more difficult, it suggests that such a break up might really be on the cards.

Zenith Predicts Zero Growth in Traditional TV Ad Spend for Three Years
Media agency Zenith forecasts that global ad spend on traditional TV won’t grow for the next three years, as global audience declines aren’t sufficiently offset by rising prices for TV inventory. But Zenith’s Advertising Expenditure Forecasts expects online video to continue its speedy growth, with video ad spend expected to rise by an average of 16.6 percent for the next three years.

Overall media price inflation meanwhile is predicted to reach 6.1 percent next year as demand for mass audiences continues to rise while supply falls. Zenith says that total global ad expenditure will grow by 4.3 percent in 2020, but the commercial audiences supplied by media owners will shrink by 1.6 percent, driving the inflation. Zenith’s forecast also predicts that the US-China trade war will offset gains made from large sports events and elections next year.

Amazon and DAZN Outbid Sky for Champions League Rights in Germany
Amazon and sports OTT specialist DAZN beat Sky Deutschland for the rights to broadcast Champions League matches in Germany during the 20/22 season. This marks the first time in 20 years that Sky won’t broadcast Europe’s top club football competition, a blow for the broadcaster. Sky Deutschland’s chief executive Carsten Schmidt told Bild that Sky had fought hard for the rights, but they were too expensive.

It will be interesting to see how the economics work out for DAZN, given the presumably premium price they have paid. A Sky sports subscription costs €39.99 per month according to Reuters, while a DAZN subscription only costs €11.99. Amazon Prime meanwhile is available for €7.99, though Amazon gets extra benefits from drawing customers into its ecosystem, encouraging more spending through its core e-commerce business.

The Week in Tech

VIZIO Begins Selling Ads on its Smart TVs
Smart TV manufacturer VIZIO has announced that it will start selling ads on its smart TVs, via a new business called VIZIO Ads. VIZIO Ads will sell inventory across the company’s SmartCast platform which powers its CTV sets, making it one of a number of hardware manufacturers to make the leap into ad sales.

VIZIO has a considerable volume of inventory at its disposal. The company says its SmartCast platform is used on around 13 million TV sets, and on these TV sets it has access to inventory from a number of sources. It will sell ads which appear on its start up screen, and within its discovery environment, allowing apps to pay to promote themselves within SmartCast. And it will also sell inventory on its own ‘WatchFree’ over-the-top service, as well as on partnered OTT apps.

Xandr to Team Up with WarnerMedia for Next Year’s Upfronts
AT&T’s advanced advertising division Xandr is planning to team up with fellow AT&T property WarnerMedia for the latter’s upfronts next year. “We are working together to go to upfront next year,” said Xandr CEO Brian Lesser in an interview with Variety. “We are working with them now to figure out how we are going to do that.” Lesser also said that Xandr is working on new ad formats ready for AT&T’s upcoming streaming service, HBO Max, set to launch next year.

EBX Makes its Inventory Available Through The Trade Desk
The Trade Desk this week announced that it has secured a new partnership with the European Broadcaster Exchange (EBX) to sell EBX’s inventory though it’s demand-side platform (DSP). EBX, a joint venture of ProSiebenSat.1, TF1, Channel 4, Mediaset and Mesiaset España, will make its broadcaster video on-demand inventory available programmatically via The Trade Desk, giving advertisers access to “800 million premium video views”, according to the announcement.

“We’re thrilled to be collaborating with The Trade Desk, a company that shares our passion and vision for the future of Connected TV,” said Sukhdev Poonian, director of operations at EBX. “Our partnership will unlock the true power and value of broadcast video, and the ‘international marketplace’ it will create is sure to delight brands, broadcasters, and consumers alike.”

Australia Threatens to Create New Controls on Tech Giants
Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison said this week that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) will create a new code of conduct designed to prevent the US tech giants from having a stranglehold over digital advertising. The ACCC will ask tech giants to agree to the code of conduct, but if they don’t the rules will be imposed on them nonetheless by November next year.

YouTube Tightens Harassment Policy
YouTube this week announced it will start taking a tougher stance on harassment and hate speech on its platform. The company has updated its hate speech policy to no longer allow content which maliciously insults someone based on their race, gender expression, or sexual orientation – whether that be in videos or within comment sections. YouTube also says it will start taking harsher action against creators who exhibit “a pattern of repeated behaviour across multiple videos or comments, even if any individual video doesn’t cross our policy line”. Users who consistently show this behaviour may see their content removed, or their channels terminated altogether.

The Week in TV

CBS Joins US Advanced Advertising Alliance OpenAP
US broadcaster CBS this week announced it has joined OpenAP, a US TV alliance based around standardising TV audiences. The move follows shortly after CBS completed its merger with Viacom, which was already a part of the alliance, alongside NBCUniversal, Fox Corporation and Univision. The addition of CBS means that Open AP’s membership now represents the majority of national TV revenues, according to AdExchanger. It also means CBS inventory will be available via OpenAP Market, a marketplace launched in October which allows advertisers to buy across broadcasters using OpenAP’s standards.

Joyn Launches Channel for US Series
Joyn, the German OTT joint venture launched by ProSieben and Discovery, has added a new free linear channel dedicated to US films and TV series called Primetime. The channel only broadcasts between 20:00 to 00:00 every night, but content will be available on demand for 35 days after airing.

NBC Sports Reaches $1 Billion in Ad Sales for 2020 Olympics
US Sports broadcaster NBC Sports says it has already booked $1 billion in ad sales for next year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo. Executives say this represents double digit growth compared to revenues booked by this stage for the previous Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, according to CNBC. And NBC Sports Group’s EVP of Ad Sales said that the Olympics is attracting new advertisers, with more than half of those who have booked airtime being first time buyers for the summer games.

The Week in Publishing

Twitter Looks to Build ‘Decentralised’ Social Media
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said this week that his company is funding research into decentralised standards for social media, with the aim of Twitter itself eventually implementing these standards. Dorsey said, via a series of Twitter posts, that centralised models for social media have created a number of problems, including enforcement of global abuse and fake news policies, creation of recommendation algorithms, and incentives to promote content which sparks controversy and outrage. In response, Twitter has set up Bluesky, which seeks to investigate possible decentralised solutions for social networking.

Bloomberg Media Buys CityLab
Bloomberg this week announced it has bought CityLab, a publication focussed on urban planning, from the Atlantic, it’s first editorial acquisition in over ten years. “We believe this acquisition will strengthen our portfolio of content verticals across our platforms, while providing more opportunities for advertisers to connect to our readers,” said Bloomberg Media’s chief executive Justin Smith.

WWE Introduces Free Tier for DTC Offering
Wrestling brand WWE’s paid streaming service WWE Network has rolled out a free subscription tier for the first time, giving users access to a limited amount of content without a paid subscription. The WWE has been one of the more aggressive sports brands in releasing a direct-to-consumer streaming service, broadcasting its events via WWE Network as well as paid TV channels and pay-per view. So far the only content available for free on WWE Network was already available on the WWE website, but the move may be a precursor to a more expansive free subscription further down the line.

Lego Launches an OTT Service
Lego this week announced the launch of a new over-the-top service, The LEGO Channel, created in partnership with MPVD business Future Today. The service, available on Roku, Fire TV and Apple TV in the US and Canada, will feature animated content all based on the LEGO brand, as well as guides and reviews for the toy itself. “With the launch of The LEGO Channel, we can reach even more kids who will connect through some really fun and engaging content to inspire creativity, imagination and learning,” said Jay Shah, director of global content for the LEGO Group.

The Week for Agencies

IPG’s Roth Says Acxiom Integration is “Almost Done”
Interpublic Group’s chairman and CEO Michael Roth said the company’s integration of Acxiom, the data marketing business it bought last December, is almost done. Speaking at the UBS Global TMT Conference this week, Roth alluded to some of his competitors struggles with integrating their big acquisitions. “If you look at some of our competitors, they’re still integrating companies that they bought five years ago,” he told the conference, according to AdAge. Roth also indicated he has no appetite for the sort of consolidation other holding groups are experimenting with as they merge their various agencies, saying that “we believe in the brands we have”.

Magna Predicts Stagnating TV Ad Sales
Magna forecasts grim times ahead for traditional TV, reporting that global linear TV ad sales were down by four percent this year, the poorest performance since 2009. The company predicted that TV revenues will continue to decline, though they fall will be less harsh next year thanks to the Summer Olympics and UEFA Euro 2020 tournament.

Hires of the Week

Sandra Sims-Williams Joins Nielsen
Publicis Groupe’s chief diversity officer Sandra Sims-Williams has left to join Nielsen, where she will be senior VP of diversity and inclusion. Sims-Williams will lead the diversity and inclusion teams across Nielsen’s media and connect businesses as the two formally split into independent companies.

Zenith UK Picks Sannah Rogers and Jon Stevens as MDs
Zenith UK has promoted Sannah Rogers and Jon Stevens as managing directors. Rogers will lead agency operations, and Stevens will lead on client service, according to Campaign.

TikTok Appoints Richard Waterworth as UK GM
TikTok has chosen Richard Waterworth, its current head of EMEA marketing, as its UK general manager, giving him full oversight of the company’s UK operations.

This Week on VAN

“We Don’t Want to Blindly Stop RTB” says the ICO’s Simon McDougall, read more on VAN

Will Amazon’s IMDb TV Give AVOD its Pokémon GO Moment? read more on VAN

VIZIO Begins Selling Ads on its Smart TVs, read more on VAN

Is France’s IPTV Market Holding Back OTT Innovation? read more on VAN

Ad of the Week

Amazon Prime Video, Christmas Horror Film, Ralph


About the Author:

Tim Cross is Assistant Editor at VideoWeek.
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