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The WIR: Conservative MPs Argue Against Channel 4 Privatisation, DAZN Lost $1.3 Billion in 2020, and UK Government Targets Social Platforms with Anti Trolling Rules

Tim Cross 25 February, 2022 

In this week’s Week in Review: Tory MPs argue against Channel 4 privatisation, DAZN says its total pandemic losses in 2020 reached $1.3 billion, and the UK government adds new provisions to its Online Safety Bill targeting anonymous trolls on social platforms.

Top Stories

Group of Conservative MPs Ask Government to Stop Channel 4 Privatisation
A group of Conservative MPs have written to the UK government to ask them to drop plans to privatise Channel 4. In a letter to Boris Johnson, MPs including former culture secretary Karen Bradley and ex-cabinet minister Damian Green, argued that Channel 4 was “self-sufficient and successful, making no drain on the public purse”.

The MPs appealed to former Tory PM Margaret Thatcher, whose government oversaw the creation of Channel 4. “Margaret Thatcher created Channel 4 as a publicly owned, non-profit public sector broadcaster that would act as an incubator for independent, risk-taking, innovative private sector companies,” said the letter. “She had a vision to level up the broadcasting landscape and she succeeded spectacularly well. We should maintain her legacy, not put it at risk.”

DAZN Reports $1.3 Billion Losses for 2020
Sports streaming specialist DAZN revealed this week that it recorded $1.3 billion in losses in 2020 as a result of the pandemic, which cancelled the majority of live sports events leaving the streamer with little content to broadcast.

The service has weathered the storm, and managed to continue signing major sports rights deals, thanks to continued backing from businessman Len Blavatnik. Just last week Blavatnik agreed a $4.3 billion recapitalisation of the company via his investment company Access Industries.

Nonetheless the news shows the damage done to DAZN during the pandemic. The company has been working to rebuild momentum since live sport has returned in most markets, but took a blow early this year as a hoped-for acquisition of BT Sport fell through.

UK Government Targets Social Platforms with New Laws Targeting “Anonymous Trolls”
The UK government’s Online Safety Bill has been updated to include measures that would legally require social media companies to give users the ability to block anonymous users. The government said it would introduce the measures to protect internet users against “anonymous trolls”. 

The updated law, if passed, would also see social media companies obligated to give users more controls over what they see. This is particularly related to content that is not illegal, but that still causes harm, such as the promotion of self-harm and eating disorders.

The bill would require social media companies to provide users with ways to verify their own identity, and then give them the power to block users who have not done the same.

The Week in Tech

Singtel Appoints Moelis to Explore Amobee Sale
Singtel has appointed investment bank Moelis to explore a potential sale of Amobee. The Singaporean telco had discussed the potential divestiture of its ad tech subsidiary publicly last year. It had launched a strategic review of its non-telco assets in September of last year. Singtel acquired Amobee for $321 million in 2012. Amobee has since acquired 12 companies.

Discovery Runs Measurement Trials With Comscore and VideoAmp
Discovery is running a measurement trial in conjunction with Omnicom Media Group using Comscore and VideoAmp data. Discovery has said it wants to test alternative measurement metrics to Nielsen, after the company’s mistakes during the pandemic. The company also expects to run tests with later this year.

GroupM Announces Unified Programmatic Marketplace in Partnership with Magnite and Pubmatic
GroupM today has announced that it is launching a new unified programmatic marketplace, another initiative from the media buyer to build direct links with supply-side platforms (SSPs). The GroupM Premium Marketplace, which will provide buyers with direct access to inventory from SSPs Pubmatic and Magnite, will support connected TV, video, and display inventory. Read the full story on VideoWeek.

Ten Percent of Gaming User Acquisition Budgets Shifts Away from iOS, Finds AppsFlyer
The share of user acquisition budgets spent by gaming apps on iOS has declined from 38 percent in 2020 to 28 percent in 2021, finds research by AppsFlyer. The shift comes following privacy changes that Apple made to its operating system. The report also finds that there was a 22 percent increase in gaming app installs on Android in 2021.

Irish Watchdog Nears Decision on Facebook EU-US Data Transfers
Ireland’s Data Protection Commission (DPC) is reportedly nearing a decision on Facebook’s data transfers between the EU and the US. The EU’s highest court ruled in 2020 that a transfer agreement was invalid, citing surveillance concerns. Facebook says a suspension of data transfer would be catastrophic for its business.

Google Introduces Checks To Automatically Look for App Privacy Compliance
Google’s in-house incubator Area 120 has launched a new tool for mobile app developers on Android and iOS called Checks. The tool uses AI to automatically identify possible privacy and compliance issues. The freemium solution will provide developers with a report that has actionable insights about how to address the problems found.

Good-Loop Looks to Expand Into US with $6.1 Million Investment
Advertising-for-good platform Good-Loop has raised $6.1 million in funding. The funding round was led by New York-based investment fund, Quaestus Capital Management. The company intends to expand internationally, with offices in Chicago and New York.

Amplified Intelligence Opens UK Office to Expand Into EMEA
Amplified Intelligence has opened a new regional office in London. The attention measurement platform has appointed Nigel Ashton to lead its commercial strategy in EMEA. Ashton was previously VP, global strategic accounts at Unruly.

Regie Media Belge Selects 1plusX’s Data Management Platform
Regie Media Belge (RMB), the multi-media advertising network of Belgian French-language broadcaster RTBF, has selected 1plusX’s platform for data management. RMB tested the Swiss company’s platform between January and June last year. The test focused on audience qualification and activation, regardless of the environment or context.

The Week in TV

Advertising and Live Sports Lead Strong Results for Discovery
Discovery reported better-than-forecast Q4 financial results this week, led by strong ad revenues and live sports.

Ad revenues were up ten percent year-on-year in Q4, which is particularly positive given that 2020’s Q4 ad revenues were much less hampered by the pandemic than earlier quarters. This helped lead overall revenue growth at the company to 10 percent year-on-year, with Q4 revenues reaching $3.19 billion.

Outside of advertising, Discovery said it’s seeing steady uptake of its Discovery+ streaming service, with paid subscriptions up two million in Q4 to 22 million. The broadcaster also revealed that it expects its acquisition of AT&T’s media unit WarnerMedia to complete before the Upfronts season.

Tegna Acquired By Standard General for $5.4 Billion
US TV station operator Tegna will be acquired by Standard General for $5.4 billion in cash. Tegna operates 64 news brands in 51 U.S. markets, along with networks, including True Crime Network and Quest. The company also has an advertising network, Premion, that places ads beside long-form and live streaming content across networks.

Roku Introduces Watermark to Protect Against Ad Spoofing
Roku has announced the introduction of an Advertising Watermark, designed to ensure the authenticity of videos ads that originate from the Roku platform. The watermark works by integrating with Roku’s operating system to verify publisher ad requests and impressions and let advertisers know they are coming from genuine users. 

FuboTV Reports Record Annual Revenue
Sports-first streamer FuboTV has reported record annual revenues It reported.$638 million revenue in 2021, which includes the impact of the $1 million acquisition of Molotov in December 2021. In 2022 the streamer says it expects to generate over $1 billion in revenues. FuboTV finished 2021 with 1.13 million paid subscribers, up 106 percent from the year before.

Government Asks Ofcom to Review RT’s Licence
The UK government has asked media watchdog Ofcom to review the broadcasting licence of Russian-state controlled Russia Today (RT) following the invasion of Ukraine. Culture secretary Nadine Dorries told Ofcom the channel “is demonstrably part of Russia’s global disinformation campaign”. The Russian foreign ministry said it would retaliate if RT was to lose its licence.

Disney+ Will Overtake Netflix in 2028, Says Digital TV Research
Disney+ will overtake Netflix in terms of subscriber numbers in 2028, according to Digital TV Research. It predicts that Disney+ will add 146 million subscribers between 2021 and 2027 to take its total to 276 million, while in the same period Netflix will add 60 million subscribers. It also finds that the total number of SVOD service subscriptions rise by 550 million between 2021 and 2027 to reach 1.75 billion.

AMC, Discovery, TelevisaUnivision, WarnerMedia Select Canoe for Addressable TV Ads
US broadcasters, AMC Networks, Discovery, TelevisaUnivision and WarnerMedia, have announced that they have selected Canoe Ventures to enable them in furthering addressable television advertising. Canoe has signed separate, multi-year agreements with each broadcaster.

Viaplay Becomes Exclusive Home For DreamWorks Animation TV Series
NENT’s Viaplay is to become the exclusive streaming home for new Dreamworks Animation TV series in all five of the Nordic countries (Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Iceland), as well as the Netherlands and Poland. A multi-year content deal between NBCUniversal Global Distribution and Viaplay means the streamer will be able to exclusively broadcast new animation series based on popular DreamWorks franchises, such as Madagascar and The Croods.

The Week For Publishers

Publishers Say They’re Broadly Optimistic About Post-Cookie Plans
Publishers are overall gently optimistic about their post-cookie plans, according to research from the UK’s Association of Online Publishers (AOP). Publisher rated their confidence in their post-cookie plans at an average of 6.5 out of ten.

Facebook Reels Rolls Out Globally
Facebook Reels, Meta’s short-for video format which started on Instagram and was carried across to the Facebook platform last year, has now launched globally. Alongside the expansion Facebook announced it is launching overlay ads for the format, starting with banner and sticker ads. These ads will initially be available for creators in the US, Canada and Mexico who are part of Facebook’s in-stream ads programme, but will later be expanded to all markets.

Vox Completes Acquisition of Group Nine Media
Vox Media this week completed its acquisition of fellow digital native Group Nine Media, adding publications including Thrillist, PopSugar, and NowThis to its stable. “This combination will accelerate our growth and ability to delight and inform people wherever they choose to watch, listen and read,” said Jim Bankoff, Vox’s CEO, chair, and co-founder.

Condé Nast Signs Exclusive Content Deal with TikTok
Condé Nast has signed a deal with TikTok which will see its brands Vogue and GQ create exclusive content for the platform, Digiday reported this week. The sales teams of Condé Nast and TikTok will collaborate to secure brand deals for the exclusive content.

WSJ Says First-Party Data Brings Back Repeat Advertisers
The Wall Street Journal says that advertisers which used the paper’s first-party data to power their campaigns were 37 percent more likely to return, according to Adweek. Campaigns which use first-party data also perform better than average, according to Adweek.

YouTube Details Plans to Tackle Disinformation
YouTube’s chief product officer Neal Mohan detailed the platform’s strategy for tackling misinformation in a blog post this week, saying that YouTube’s current priorities are catching new misinformation before it goes viral, reducing sharing of misinformation videos off-platform, and ramping up efforts in markets where its misinformation tools are weaker.

Trump’s Alternative Social Platform Gets Off to a Rocky Start
Donald Trump’s alternative social media platform Truth Social launched this week, though users reported numerous technical issues as the app experienced significant teething problems.

The Week For Agencies

WPP Posts Strong 12.1 Percent Sales Growth for 2021
WPP saw 12.1 percent growth in like-for-like revenues minus pass through costs, its primary sales growth metric, in 2021. WPP said its 2021 earnings represented 2.1 percent growth compared with 2019, representing a full strong recovery from the pandemic. WPP announced it plans a $1.1 billion share buyback this year, following an improvement of the company’s balance sheet.

Havas Group Buys Inviqa
Havas Group has bought UK digital experience agency Inviqa for an eight figure sum, Campaign reported this week. Inviqa will be integrated into Havas’ customer experience network Havas CX.

Agency New Business Returns to Pre-Pandemic Levels
Agency new business returned to pre-pandemic levels in 2021 after a dip in 2020, according to agency-client intermediary AAR. AAR’s New Business Pulse reported that overall new appointments rose 46.1 percent in 2021, driven in large part by new entrants, according to Campaign.

ANA Looks for Nielsen Alternatives
The Association of National Advertisers (ANA), a US advertiser trade group, is preparing to issue a request for proposals to explore alternatives to Nielsen for panel-based TV measurement. Kantar is expected to be one of those invited, according to AdAge.

US Broadcast TV Ad Spend Grew 19 Percent YoY in January
US broadcast TV ad revenues were up 19 percent year-on-year according to data from Standard Media Index (SMI), while overall US TV ad revenues were up nine percent year-on-year.

Starcom and Channel 4 Launch New Episodes of Brave Stories Series
Media agency Starcom and Channel 4 have collaborated to produce a six-part short film series titled Brave Stories, and this week released two new episodes of the series. The series encourages people who identify as coming from diverse backgrounds or marginalised communities to open up about their personal experiences of working in media.

Innocent TV Ad Banned for Greenwashing
Drinks brand Innocent has had a TV ad banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for allegedly implying that Innocent smoothies are good for the planet. The ASA asked for evidence from Innocent that buying Innocent drinks constitutes a positive choice for the planet, and says it was not satisfied with the evidence.

TfL Junk Food Ad Ban Results in Drop in Unhealthy Food Purchases
A ban on junk food ads imposed by Transport for London across its public transport network has resulted in a drop in purchases of unhealthy purchases, according to research from London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

Hires of the Week

Greg James Promoted to Havas Global Chief Transformation Officer
Greg James has received a promotion at Havas, becoming the agency’s global chief transformation officer. James has been at Havas for more than 15 years, and was most recently HMG’s global chief strategy officer.

Nicola Lewis Becomes CEO of Finecast
Nicola Lewis has been promoted by GroupM to become CEO of Finecast. Lewis is promoted for her role as chief growth officer at Finecast. 

Chloe Nicholls Joins IAB UK as Head of Ad Tech
Chloe Nicholls has been appointed as the IAB UK’s head of ad tech. She joins from Mediahub where held the role of technology director.

This Week on VideoWeek

Brands are Flying Blind in CTV – Data Clean Rooms Allow Them to See, read on VideoWeek

What Are Marketers Deploying Post-IDFA? read on VideoWeek

Industry Trade Groups Release New Tools to Crack Down on the Unknown Delta, read on VideoWeek

VideoWeek Podcast #32: Lauren Wetzel, Infosum, listen on VideoWeek

GroupM Furthers Supply Path Optimisation Efforts via a New Marketplace with PubMatic and Magnite, read on VideoWeek

How Can Supply Path Optimisation Serve both Buyers and Sellers? read on VideoWeek

Ad of the Week

Archer Roose, Snake Rewards Programme, Colossus


About the Author:

Tim Cross is Assistant Editor at VideoWeek.
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