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The WIR: BT Sport Agrees to Launch Joint Venture with Discovery, Zuckerberg Tells Meta Staff to Focus on Video, and SkyShowtime Gets Green Light from Regulators

Tim Cross 04 February, 2022 

In this week’s Week in Review: BT enters exclusive negotiations with Discovery to launch a sports joint venture, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg looks to video to combat earnings woes, and SkyShowtime is clear to launch this year following full regulatory approval.

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Discovery Enters Exclusive Talks to Launch Joint Venture with BT Sport
BT confirmed on Thursday that it has entered exclusive talks with US pay-TV network Discovery about launching a sports joint venture, which would combine Discovery’s Eurosport with BT Sport in the UK.

The joint venture would remain committed to retaining BT Sport’s existing broadcasting rights, meaning it would continue bidding for major sports packages including the Premier League and the Champions League. But subscribers would also get access to Eurosport (a smaller player in the UK market), as well as Discovery’s premium streaming service discovery+.

BT said last year that it was assessing BT Sport’s future, with many speculating that the business would be sold off. Earlier this month, it was reported that BT was close to sealing a deal with sports streaming specialist DAZN, which would’ve been a major coup for the latter as it looks to establish itself in the UK.

Zuckerberg Tells Staff to Focus on Video After Poor Earnings
Meta’s Q4 financial results fell short of analyst expectations, despite revenues rising 20 percent year-on-year. Earnings per share came in lower than Wall Street had expected, and the social platform saw falling daily active users for the first time in its history.

New restrictions on Apple’s Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) earlier this year was one of the causes of the poor results, restricting Facebook’s ability to target ads on mobile. The disappointing earnings saw Meta’s stock fall by over 25 percent, wiping over $230 billion off the value of the company.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s long term plan is to invest in the metaverse, but in the short term he is telling Meta staff to focus on the company’s video products, according to AdAge. In the short-term, TikTok poses one of the most immediate threats to Facebook in competing for eyeballs – Zuckerberg hopes that by re-focussing on video, his company can keep a grip on Facebook’s userbase.

SkyShowtime Gets Regulatory Approval
Comcast and ViacomCBS have announced that their planned joint streaming venture, SkyShowtime, has received full regulatory approval.

The news paves the way for SkyShowtime to launch later this year as was originally planned. The service will be available in 20 European markets, including Spain, the Netherlands and Sweden. It won’t be available within Sky’s existing footprint – namely the UK, Germany, and Italy. Executives from the two parent companies say SkyShowtime will have 10,000 hours of content across all categories. The companies are yet to announce the pricing.

The Week in Tech

Belgium’s Data Authority Rules that the Transparency and Consent Framework Violates GDPR
Belgium’s data protection authority on Wednesday ruled that the Transparency and Consent Framework (TCF), a consent framework designed by IAB Europe to help the ad industry comply with the EU’s general data protection regulation (GDPR), actually infringes the GDPR. The data protection authority (DPA) has issued a €250,000 fine to IAB Europe, and given the industry trade group two months to create an action plan of how it will bring the TCF into compliance. Read the full story on VideoWeek.

CTV Ad Tech Business MNTN Raises $119 Million in Funding Round
MNTN (pronounced ‘mountain’), an ad tech business specialising in connected TV advertising, has completed a funding round led by asset managers BlackRock and Fidelity Management & Research. This marks one of the biggest investment rounds completed by a CTV ad tech company in recent memory, though MNTN has not disclosed its total valuation following the new funding according to Reuters. Read the full story on VideoWeek.

Senators Plan to Introduce Bill That Would Break Up Google’s Ad Business
A bipartisan group of senators have backed a bill that, if passed, would see Google’s ad business broken up. Republican Utah Senator Mike Lee is set to introduce a bill that would bar tech firms from controlling multiple parts of the online advertising supply chain. The bill would forbid companies from buying or selling ad space while simultaneously owning the ad exchange platform.

Amazon’s Ad Revenues Reached $31 Billion Last Year
Amazon specifically outlined its ad revenues for the first time in its Q4 financial results, revealing that ad revenues last year reached $31.2 billion. In Q4 specifically, Amazon’s ad business made $9.7 billion.

Bouygues Telecom, Realytics and Smart Announce Targeted TV Advertising Alliance
Bouygues Telecom, Realytics and Smart AdServer have announced they are collaborating to launch a targeted TV advertising alliance in France, named TVMOTIK. TVMOTIK will utilise Bouygue Telecom’s home gateway infrastructures, Smart’s proxy-free targeted advertising solution, and Realytic’s Adkymia platform for programmatic media sales.

Vewd Reorganisation Plan Approved by Court
OTT software provider Vewd has announced that the US Bankruptcy Court has approved a Plan of Reorganisation they submitted. The plan will see Vewd’s prepetition secured lenders exchange their existing debt for equity in a reorganised business and provide new capital to bolster the company’s finances. It’s hoped the plan will allow long-term growth for Vewd.

ShowHeroes Group Acquires Smartclip LATAM and Launches in the US
ShowHeroes Group has continued its tactic of international expansion through the acquisition of smartclip LATAM, and a launch in the US. This acquisition is the group’s fifth in 18 months. In November the company acquired PlayAd Media Group, a Nordic company, in November 2021. The group’s expansion into the US will see it open offices in New York, Denver and Miami.

Repeating TV Ads Wastes Money, Finds Report
A report from Samba TV has found that showing multiples of the same ad to TV audiences may be wasting brands billions of dollars in ad spend. The report described repeating TV ads as a “lose-lose” situation, whereby ad spend was wasted and audiences were irritated by the repetition.

Boots UK Partners With InfoSum on Targeting
UK beauty and health retailer Boots has partnered with InfoSum to allow it to target audiences across media partners. The partnership with InfoSum will allow Boots to use its first-party customer data to build tailored audiences, targeting them across broadcast video-on-demand and audio platforms, including Channel 4, ITV and Global. InfoSum uses a ‘non-movement of data’ technology, which allows audiences to be targeted without movement or sharing of data.

FTC Warns Consumers on Targeted Ads Being Used in Fraud
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has warned that bad actors are utilising targeted advertising to carry out fraud. The FTC found that reports of fraudulent activity on social media more than doubled between 2020 and 2021. The FTC says bad actors can use targeting tools “systematically target people with bogus ads based on personal details such as their age, interests, or past purchases”.

Adform Launches Open Internet Solution, ID Fusion
Adform has launched its open internet solution, ID Fusion. The engine utilises first and third-party IDs, across all browsers. Allowing marketers to reach users in cookieless environments. This latest launch follows the release of the company’s integrated ad tech platform Adform FLOW in 2020.

InfoSum Signs Agreement with Publitalia ‘80
InfoSum has partnered up with Publitalia ‘80. Publitalia ‘80 is an Italian advertising company that exclusively sells ads for Mediaset free to air channels. The partnership will see the company use InfoSum’s clean room technology to enable targeting in a privacy-first way. 

Anzu and Smart Announce Partnership
In-game advertising platform Anzu has announced a partnership with ad-tech company Smart. Advertisers using Smart will be able to access Anzu’s in-game ad inventory, while Anzu will have access to Smart’s complete range of SSP capabilities.

The Week in TV

HBO Max Launches in 15 New European Markets
WarnerMedia’s streaming service HBO Max is set to launch in fifteen new European markets on March 8th including the Netherlands, Poland, and Portugal. The rollout marks a substantial expansion for the service in Europe, which is currently available in the Nordics and Spain. From March 8th HBO Max will also be available in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia. The service will launch in a further six European markets, including Greece and Turkey, later this year. Read the full story on VideoWeek.

AT&T Fills In Details of Plan to Spin Off WarnerMedia
AT&T said it will spin off WarnerMedia in a $43 billion transaction to merge its media properties with Discovery. AT&T’s shares fell by five percent when markets opened after it announced the news. The transaction is expected to close in Q2 of this year.

Amazon Prime Video Overtakes Netflix on German Subscriber Numbers
Amazon Prime Video now has more active users than Netflix in Germany, according to figures from Ampere Analytics and Der Spiegel. Ampere Analytics estimates that Amazon Prime Video’s active users grew by 1.4 to 12.6 million subscribers last year. Meanwhile, Der Spiegel estimates that Netflix only grew by 300,000 to 9.6 million. Germany joins Austria as the only countries in western Europe where Amazon Prime is ahead of Netflix.

Comcast Announces Plans to Double Peacock Spend
Comcast is planning to double its spend on content this year to $3 billion, with plans to up spending to $5 billion in the next couple of years. The company reported that Peacock lost $1.7 billion in 2021 and is expected to lose $2.5 billion in 2022 as it seeks to expand its original content offerings. Comcast is focusing on gaining subscribers in its ad-supported subscription tier.

Televisa and Univision to Launch Joint Spanish-Language Streaming Service
Mexican broadcaster Grupo Televisa, and US TV network Univision have signed a joint venture deal to launch a new Spanish-Language streaming service. When launched it would be the biggest Spanish-language streaming service in the world. The broadcasters plan to launch an advertising-based service in the first half of this year, before rolling out a subscription-based service in H2.

BBC Three Returns as Linear TV Channel
BBC Three made its return to UK screens as a linear TV channel on Tuesday. Its launch night included its flagship show Rupaul Drag Race UK Versus the World and coverage of the African Cup of Nations. Ofcom said its decision to allow BBC Three to return TV was based on “its ability to reach underserved viewers and listeners, including younger people who typically spend less time with the BBC’s programmes”.

CNN President Quits After Relationship with VP
CNN president Jeff Zucker has resigned from his role over a consensual relationship with one of his key deputies. The relationship was with Allison Gollust, executive vice president and chief marketing officer at CNN. Zucker said he did not disclose the relationship when required to. CNN plans to launch its streaming service, CNN+ in the Spring.

Euronews Signs Partnership with FuboTV
European news network Euronews has signed a partnership agreement with sports-first live TV streaming service fuboTV. The deal covers the US and Spain and means that the Euronews’ English language edition and Africanews’ English language edition are now available on the fuboTV platform in the US. Euronews has developed distribution deals with different CTV platforms in the past two years including PlutoTV, Roku, and Tubi.

BBC Studios Joins International Anti-Piracy Alliance
BBC Studios has announced it is joining the International Broadcaster Coalition Against Piracy (IBCAP). The organisation will work to protect the BBC’s domestic and international channels from piracy in the US. IBCAP represents more than 150 TV channels around the world.

The Week For Publishers

NYT Reaches 10 Million Subscriptions
The New York Times this week reported that it has passed 10 million subscriptions, three years ahead of schedule. The news publisher reached the mark having received a recent bump in subscriptions as a result of its acquisition of sports publisher The Athletic. The NYT has now set a new goal of reaching 15 million subscribers (as opposed to subscriptions) by 2027.

YouTube Ad Sales Topped $8 Billion Q4
YouTube posted another monster quarter, with ad sales reaching $8.63 billion Q4 last year, representing over 25 percent growth year-on-year. This brought YouTube’s total ad revenue for the year up to $29 billion, a 46 percent increase on 2020.

Artists Pull Music from Spotify Over Joe Rogan Controversy
A flurry of musicians had their music removed from music streaming services Spotify this week, accusing the platform of facilitating the spread of misinformation via its hosting of the Joe Rogan Experience podcast. The protest was started by Neil Young, who was soon followed by others including Joni Mitchell, David Crosby, and Stephen Stills.

Twitter Challenges German Online Reporting Law
Twitter has filed a challenge against a new law in Germany which requires social platforms to quickly delete or block criminal content, and report serious offences to the police. Twitter has taken issue with a clause which it says would require it to pass personal data on to law enforcement without user consent, before it’s clear a crime has even been committed.

Pinterest Adds AR Features for Home Decor
Social sharing platform Pinterest has added augmented reality features which enable users to see how various products would look in their homes. The tool builds on Pinterest’s existing AR features for beauty products, and will be available to various partnered home retail brands.

Sony Buys Bungie for $3.6 Billion
Electronics and gaming company Sony this week bought developer Bungie, the original studio behind Halo and creator of Destiny, for $3.6 billion. The moves comes during a period of gaming mega deals, following shortly after Take-Two’s $13 billion acquisition of Zynga and Microsoft’s $69 billion buyout of Activision Blizzard.

NYT Buys Wordle
The New York Times this week bought beloved viral word game Wordle for “a seven figure sum”, saying that the game will remain free for the time being. Wordle has built a wide following who have praised its simplicity, lack of monetisation, and spoiler-free sharing feature.

The Week For Agencies

Publicis Forecasts Over Four Percent Organic Revenue Growth This Year
Publicis Groupe was the first of the major holding groups to report its Q4 financial results this week, posting 9.3 percent organic growth for the quarter and bringing organic growth for the full year to 10.0 percent. CEO Arthur Sadoun said that data unit Epsilon and digital transformation specialist Publicis Sapient were big contributors to growth.

IPA and ISBA Launch Pitch Positive Pledge
Industry trade groups the IPA and ISBA have announced a cross-industry plan to improve the pitching process, which hopes to make it more intentional, accountable, and effective for both advertisers and agencies. The initiative seeks to focus on the ‘why and when’ of pitching, and the IPA and ISBA say companies which commit to the pledge will see better mental health among their staff, less wastage, fewer costs, and better, more effective work.

M&C Saatchi Rejects New Takeover Bid
The independent directors of British advertising agency M&C Saatchi have rejected another improved takeover bid from the company’s largest shareholder, but agreed to keep discussions open to see if a deal can be reached. The directors said the latest offer from Vin Murria still undervalues the company in the eyes of shareholders.

Twitter Tops IPG’s Media Responsibility Index
IPG released the latest version of its biannual Media Responsibility Index this week, which judges social platforms on areas relating to combating misinformation, limiting hate speech. and advertising transparency. Twitter came out on top based on overall performance, having improved on all the categories measured by IPG except for advertising controls.

WPP Agrees New Retail Media Partnership with Instacart
Agency holding group WPP has agreed a new retail media partnership with online grocery platform Instacart, which will give WPP and its clients early insight into Instacart advertising products and access to new tools and features on the platform.

Grubhub Hires UM as US Media Agency
US food delivery service Grubhub has chosen IPG’s UM as its US media agency, following a competitive review. UM will replace both Dentsu, which previously handled TV, and Havas, which had charge of out-of-home.

M&C Saatchi Launches Innovation Consultancy Thread
M&C Saatchi is setting up a new digital business innovation consultancy called Thread Innovation, which is designed to help clients diversify revenues and create new digital products, according to Campaign. M&C Saatchi has brought in two executives from Accenture Interactive, Lilian Tse and Michaeljon Alexander-Scott, to co-found and lead the new business.

Miroma Group Acquires Miroma SET
Marketing business The Miroma Group has completed an acquisition of Miroma SET, a sports, entertainment and technology marketing business previously known as Reach4entertainment. Miroma Group bought a 20 percent stake in the agency last June, which led to the rebranding. The combined company will have 600 employees across 14 markets globally.

Hires of the Week

Accenture Interactive Makes Two Appointments to Global Leadership Team
Accenture this week make two new additions to its global leadership team. Sarah Thompson, most recently Droga5’s CEO, has been picked as global lead for communications and content while Nick Law, previously of Apple, has been appointed global lead for design and creative tech.

Yahoo Picks Josh Partridge to Lead EMEA
Yahoo this week appointed Josh Partridge, who previously led the company’s UK and Nordics business, as head of EMEA. Meanwhile Steven Mchenry, recently UK head of sales for Yahoo, has been promoted to UK country manager.

Hawk Appoints Henry Taylor as UK Publisher Partnerships Manager
Hawk has hired Henry Taylor in the newly-created role of  UK publisher partnerships manager. Taylor joins from Omnicom Media Group, where he was a senior accounts manager.

This Week on VideoWeek

Personalised Advertising Could Still be Hamstrung by the Digital Services Act, read on VideoWeek

HBO Max Leans on Deep Discounts as it Expands into 15 New European Markets, read on VideoWeek

CTV Ad Tech Business MNTN Raises $119 Million in Funding Round, read on VideoWeek

International Advertisers Tap into Addressable TV for New Opportunities to Reach European Audiences, read on VideoWeek

Musical Data Analytics is Keeping Artists In Tune With Their Fans, read on VideoWeek

Belgium’s Data Authority Rules that the Transparency and Consent Framework Violates GDPR, read on VideoWeek

Why Do Influencers Keep Breaking #Ad Rules? read on VideoWeek

Ad of the Week

Paramount+, Paramount Mountain, Droga5


About the Author:

Tim Cross is Assistant Editor at VideoWeek.
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