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The WIR: RTL Pushes for M6/TF1 Merger, UK MPs Call for Netflix to Share Data with PSBs, and T-Mobile Shutters TVision

Tim Cross  01 April, 2021

In this week’s Week in Review: Thomas Rabe pushed for an M6/TF1 Merger, UK MPs call for SVOD giants to share data with PSBs, and T-Mobile Shutters TVision.

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Bertelsmann Pushes For Merger Between M6 and TF1 in France
The German media group Bertelsmann is seeking to merge its M6 channel with their main rival in France, TF1. Bertelsmann is now looking for approval from the French competition authority, Conseil de la Concurrence, to allow the merger to go ahead.

Bertelsmann has been seeking to sell or merge M6 since earlier this year.  TF1 and M6 are the two largest privately-owned TV stations in France. Many analysts have cast doubt on the deal being able to go ahead as it would be unacceptable according to how Conseil de la Concurrence has traditionally analysed markets.

“We are not naive. The barriers are very significant. The regulatory framework . . . is quite simply not adapted to new reality,” Thomas Rabe, Bertelsmann chief executive and chair, told the Financial Times,  “I’m prepared to take up this challenge, and discuss it with the competition authority on the basis of a specific consolidation proposal.”

Netflix and Amazon Should Have to Share Viewing Figures With Broadcasters, Say British Lawmakers
Streaming services like Netflix and Amazon should be legally compelled to share viewing figures for programmes with the broadcasters who originally produced them, say the UK Parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee (DCMSC). 

As well as producing their own original content, streaming services like Netflix and Amazon host media created by other broadcasters, such as the BBC, ITV and Channel 4. The DCMSC said in a report that the broadcasters who originally produced the content had the right to know how it was performing on streaming services. 

The report also recommended that streaming services should label content produced by other broadcasters as such; for example, popular BBC drama The Fall was produced by and originally shown on the public broadcaster but bears no BBC branding on Netflix, despite being searchable under “BBC”.

T-Mobile Scraps TVision
T-Mobile this week announced it is shutting down TVision, its over-the-top streaming service which it launched last November. T-Mobile instead has partnered with YouTube TV and Philo, offering its subscribers discounted versions of both of those services under the TVision brand.

TVision launched as T-Mobile’s big play in the TV space, offering different bundles of live TV channels. But T-Mobile US CEO and president Mike Sievert said in a blog post that since launching the product last year, the company “learned a lot about the TV industry, about streaming products, and of course, about TV customers”. Sievert also mentioned that T-Mobile’s TV software provider MobiTV had encountered “financial challenges” which had hindered the product.

The Week in Tech

InMobi Targets $15 Billion IPO
Mobile ad tech company InMobi is considering going public in the US, seeking a total valuation of $12-15 billion according to Bloomberg. InMobi could file its S-1 statement in around three months if it moves ahead with the plans, according to Bloomberg.

Google Begins FLoC Trials in Some Countries Including the US
Google has begun testing its Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) initiative on a small percentage of users in some countries, including the US and Australia.  The countries Google is testing FLoC in are Australia, Brazil, Canada, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Philippines and the US. The tech giant will not, however, be testing FLoC in Europe after it suspending trials over fears the initiative may not be GDPR-compliant.

Vista Equity Partners Takes $1.4 Billion Stake in TripleLift
TripleLift announced that it has signed an agreement to receive a major investment from Vista Equity Partners. The partnership is aimed at accelerating TripleLift’s global expansion and funding innovation in CTV. The deal is worth $1.4 billion, reports AdWeek. Vista Equity Partners are a major investment firm who have focused their funding on enterprise software, data and technology-enabled businesses. 

ID5 Raise $6 Million in Series A Funding
ID5 has announced they have raised $6 million in “Series A” funding. Alliance Entreprendre and Progress Ventures join existing lead investor 360 Capital Partners to support ID5. The funding will go towards ID5 expanding its operation in the US, investing in its infrastructure and growing its team. 

India Blocks ByteDance Bank Accounts Over Tax Evasion Allegations
India has blocked at least two of TikTok owners ByteDance’s bank accounts over alleged tax evasion, Reuters reports. ByteDance have headed to court to overturn the directive, saying it could affect their operations in the country. ByteDance cut down its Indian workforce after the country’s authority withheld a ban on TikTok. The company has around 1,300 employees in India, who mostly work on overseas operations such as content moderation.

Facebook to Offer New Controls, After Coming Under Fire for Fuelling Misinformation and Hate Speech
Facebook will allow users to control who comments on their posts and customise their feeds, the tech giant said on Wednesday. The move comes as Facebook comes under fire for fuelling misinformation and hate speech. In a separate blog post, Nick Clegg, vice president of Global Affairs at Facebook, refuted the idea that the social media company’s algorithm fuels these issues. 

The Week in TV

Fox News Sued by Dominion for $1.6 Billion Over Election Fraud Claims
Voting systems company Dominion is suing Fox News for $1.6 billion, saying that the news programme defamed them when it made allegations of electoral fraud following November’s US presidential election. The unsubstantiated claims made by Fox News caused another voting tech company, SmartMatic, to file suit against the channel and some of its anchors, in early February.

BBC to Make £800 Million in Savings This Year
The BBC will save £800 million this year after it embarked on cost-cutting measures including staff reductions and shifting BBC Four to an archival channel. The savings were revealed in the BBC’s yearly plan, where the public-service broadcaster also acknowledged the threat from streaming services like Netflix and Amazon. The report expressed concern that the cost of producing programmes like dramas and comedies could rise much faster than the rate of inflation. 

ViacomCBS and Discovery Stocks Suffer Fall
ViacomCBS stock has fallen 55 percent from 22th March to the 29th. The steep drop in just one week came after there had been a run on ViacomCBS and Discovery stock earlier this year. The companies saw their stock almost double in price earlier this year after they introduced new streaming services. The drops then came in the wake of ViacomCBS’ announcement that it would sell up to $3.45 billion in stock.

NBCU Considers Using Universal Brand for Peacock International Rollout
NBCUniversal has discussed using its Universal film studio brand when rolling out its Peacock streaming service internationally, according to Business Insider. The Universal brand would likely have more international recognition than Peacock, which is only part of NBCU’s US branding.

Netflix to Produce 40 Anime Shows in 2021
Netflix announced it will launch 40 new anime titles in 2021. The announcement was made at Tokyo’s AnimeJapan 2021 Expo Saturday and follows the success of its Blood of Zeus anime series, launched last year. According to the New York Times, Netflix said the number of households that streamed its anime offerings last year increased by half from 2019.

US Cable News Viewership Falls After Trump Departs Office
All major news networks in the US saw a drop in viewing figures in the first three months of this year as the country moved past the November presidential election and its aftermath. Fox News lost 32 percent of its total prime-time audience compared with the previous quarter, Nielsen data shows. CNN and MSNBC had smaller declines of 16 percent and 7.8 percent, respectively. 

Sky Launches Sky Zero Footprint Fund
Sky has launched a £2 million environmental fund aimed at encouraging positive environmental messages and behavioural change through the power of TV. The fund was established by Sky as part of its Sky Zero initiative, which sees the broadcaster aiming to be carbon neutral by 2030. The new fund will support brands who are committed to taking positive environmental action. 

The Week in Publishing

Washington Post Forecasts 50 Percent Growth in International Revenues This Year
US news outlet The Washington Post expects to see 50 percent growth in international revenues this year, as it expands its newsrooms around the world. The Post has launched two news hubs in London and Seoul to help expand its international coverage. And this expansion is paying dividends for both subscription and ad revenues, according to Adweek.

Bloomberg Invests in First-Party Data
Financial news specialist Bloomberg is investing heavily in its first-party data capabilities with a new product called Bloomberg Iris, AdAge reported this week. Bloomberg will create four categories of signed-in user data; behavioural, contextual, personal and research data; and use these to build out targetable segments for advertisers.

Vice Media Acquires PLTFRMR
Vice Media announced this week it has acquire PLTFRMR, a brand consultancy launched last year. PLTFRMR, which was founded by, former TBWA\Chiat\Day global creative chief Chris Garbutt, and former senior VP of global marketing at McDonalds Colin Mitchell, will be integrated into Vice Media’s in-house creative agency Virtue.

Twitter Revamps ‘Amplify’ Pre-Roll Video Unit
Twitter this week announced a number of updates to its ‘Amplify’ pre-roll video ad unit. As well as redesigning the unit itself, Twitter has added a number of curated content categories for advertisers to buy against including ‘light-hearted content’, ‘footie fans’, ‘Ramadan’, and ‘gaming personalities’.

Florida Investor Pledges $100 Million Towards Bid for Tribune Publishing
Florida investor, Mason Slaine, has committed to putting $100 million towards a potential bid for Tribune Publishing. The bid is backed by a Maryland hotel magnate and is aimed at stopping hedge fund Alden Global Capital from buying the publishers. Two investigative reporters at the Chicago Tribune had spent 2020 trying to find alternative buyers for the publishing group, warning that the hedge fund purchase would result in a “ghost version” of their paper. 

Reddit Opens Office in Canada
Reddit has opened an office in Toronto to serve its Canadian users. Canada is Reddit’s third biggest market after the US and UK. The move into Toronto will be overseen by Tariq Mahmoud who led Reddit’s 2020 expansion into the UK. The office in Toronto will have dedicated management, sales, community and engineering teams. 

Google Signs Licensing Deals with 600 News Outlets Globally
Google has signed deals with over 600 news outlets around the world, and is seeing an increase in users requesting more content from specific publications, the company said on Wednesday. Google has launched a new program to reach licensing deals with news outlets following criticism that the tech giant is siphoning publishers’ advertising revenue. There are continuing negotiations between Google and other publishers, as the company intends to spend $1 billion for its News Showcase.

News Corp Signs Deal to Buy Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s Consumer Arm for $349 Million
News Corp, which publishes titles including the Wall Street Journal, has bought Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s consumer-publishing arm for $349 million. By buying the educational publisher’s consumer arm, News Corp is adding novels by high-profile authors such as J.R.R Tolkien and George Orwell to its existing HarperCollins collection. 

LinkedIn Introduces New Tools to Support Creators on the Platform
LinkedIn has introduced what it calls “creator mode”, a set of new tools to support the influx of creators who have recently joined the platform. The range of new tools include allowing users to create video cover stories and is aimed at encouraging users to post more original content on the site. LinkedIn has said it has seen a “pronounced increase” in creators using the platform. 

The Week for Agencies

Rumours of Publicis/Havas Merger Swirl
Rumours resurfaced around a potential merger between agency holding groups Publicis Groupe and Havas, as French business news service BFMTV reported talks between Publicis and Havas parent company Vivendi. But a Vivendi spokesperson told Campaign the rumours were “unfounded”.

Unilever Launches Global Media Account Review
FMCG giant Unilever has kicked off a review of its global media account, currently held by Omnicom, WPP and Interpublic Group. All three are expected to pitch for a portion of the account, as are Publicis Groupe and Dentsu, according to Campaign.

GroupM Forecasts 15 Percent Growth in US Ad Market
WPP’s media investment arm GroupM forecasts that the US ad market will grow by 15 percent this year, boosted by expected stimulus spending from the US government. This would represent six percent growth on the 2019 US ad market.

Facebook Reviews $750 Million Media Account
Facebook has announced it is reviewing its global media account, worth around $750 million according to AdAge. The account is currently split between WPP’s Mindshare and Dentsu.

GSP Goes Through Round of Layoffs
San Francisco-based ad agency GSP announced this week it is undergoing a round of layoffs, which will affect less than five percent of its total staff count. “A healthy business needs to always have [costs and revenues] in balance, or at least have a reasonable plan to get back into balance,” said GDP partner and president Derek Robson in a statement. “After a year of amazing success walking this tightrope, I’m afraid that we had little choice but to lay off some of our fellow staff members.”

AKQA Veterans Launch “Said Differently”
Rachel Barek and Brian Skahan, two former managing directors of WPP-owned design and communications agency AKQA, have launched a new agency called ‘Said Differently’. The two say Said Differently will run a more cost efficient model better suited to the post-pandemic world, relying largely on freelancers and not using an office.

P&G Pledges to Invest More in Black Creators and Media
Consumer goods giant P&G is committing to spending more with black-owned media, and working more with black creators, according to chief brand officer Marc Pritchard. Pritchard told AdAge that P&G’s ‘Widen the Screen’ initiative is aimed at “systemic change to address bias and inequality in advertising and media […] It’s really a significant expansion of the work that we’ve been doing for many years, and it’s taken now a broader number of programs and a deeper number of partners and people, so we can have the multiplier effect of equality”.

Hires of the Week

Mediacom Names Jason Lim as First Chief Planning Officer
Jason Lim has been named as Mediacom’s first ever chief planning officer. Lim has been promoted to the newly-created role after ten years at the company.

Saatchi & Saatchi Promotes Franki Goodwin to Executive Creative Director
Saatchi & Saatchi have promoted Franki Goodwin to the role of executive creative director. Goodwin has been at the company since 2013 and is a Bafta-winning filmmaker.

GroupM Appoints Andrew Ruegger as First Global Commerce Lead
GroupM has promoted Andrew Ruegger as its global president of GroupM commerce. The newly created role will be taken on at Ruegger, who has been at GroupM for over six years.

This Week on VideoWeek

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Ad of the Week

Procter & Gamble, Widen the Screen

2021-04-01T13:04:24+01:00
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