The WIR: Netflix Moves into Live Streaming, GroupM Launches a Media Decarbonisation Coalition, and Amagi Raises Over $100 Million

Tim Cross 11 November, 2022 

In this week’s Week in Review: Netflix announced its first live stream amid rumours of sports rights bids, GroupM seeks to accelerate media’s decarbonisation, and Amagi raises over $100 million.

Top Stories

Netflix Moves Into Live Streaming, Explores Acquisitions of Sports Rights and Leagues
Netflix has announced it will stream its first ever live event, a standup comedy special from comedian Chris Rock, which will air in early 2023. While the live stream is a one-off, it will possibly act as a test for Netflix’s live streaming capabilities, with the Wall Street Journal reporting this week that Netflix has begun bidding on live sports rights.

Netflix has already bid for rights to the ATP tennis tour in some European markets according to the Journal, though it was outbid. The company has also looked into rights deals for the Women’s Tennis Association and cycling leagues.

Alternatively, Netflix would consider outright buying smaller, more niche sports leagues as a cheaper way into sports streaming. The Journal reports that the streamer was in talks to buy the World Surf League late last year, though discussions fell apart over price.

The timing makes sense for Netflix. The company’s recent introduction of ads will help it to more effectively monetise any sports rights it does buy. But with competition for streaming subscribers so fierce at the moment, it seems Netflix wants to take a conservative approach in terms of which rights it will bid for, and how much it will pay.

GroupM Announces Coalition for Media Decarbonisation
WPP’s media investment arm GroupM this week announced the creation of the ‘Coalition for Decarbonisation’, an initiative which seeks to accelerate the decarbonisation of the world’s media supply chain.

Coalition members are committed to establishing a common approach to carbon emissions in advertising, based on a proposed measurement framework released by GroupM back in July. Members will also commit to accurate, standardised emissions reporting by platforms, publishers, and media suppliers.

Founding members of the coalition announced today include GroupM, its agencies Mindshare, Wavemaker, EssenceMediacom and mSix&Partners and clients Audible, AXA, Bayer, Danone, Deutsche Telekom, L’Oréal, Mars, Paramount, Sony, TalkTalk, and Tesco. GroupM says non-clients are also welcome to sign up to the coalition.

“The coalition we’re announcing today sends a clear message that decarbonization and supply chain sustainability is a top priority for media decision makers and the brands and businesses they represent,” said Christian Juhl, GroupM’s global CEO.

Amagi Raises Over $100 Million
SaaS technology specialist Amagi announced more than $100 million in investment from equity firm General Atlantic, bringing Amagi’s total valuation to $1.4 billion. The funding follows a $95 million injection from Accel, Norwest Venture Partners and Avataar Ventures in March. 

The firm aims to invest in AI-driven personalisation, advertising and live streaming solutions, particularly in the FAST ecosystem. It has recently expanded into Germany, Australia and South Korea, and counts Warner Bros. Discovery, NBCUniversal and Vice Media among its clients.

“We have set ourselves the ambitious goal of developing futuristic technology solutions that can help media companies deliver premium personalised content and engaging advertising experiences to their consumers,” said Amagi CEO and co-founder Baskar Subramanian. “We believe that General Atlantic, with their longstanding history of helping technology companies build enduring models, is the ideal investment partner for this stage of our growth journey.”

The Week in Tech

Musk Raises Bankruptcy at Twitter, Attempts to Reassure Advertisers
Elon Musk has raised the possibility of bankruptcy at Twitter and called an end to remote working, following the departure of two security officers. The news comes at the end of another tumultuous week for Twitter, which is hemorrhaging cash to the tune of $4 million a day, leading Insider Intelligence to cut its annual revenue outlook by 40 percent. Musk also sold $4 billion worth of shares in his automotive and clean energy company Tesla, in efforts to “save Twitter.”

As more brands (including Chipotle, Peugeot manufacturer Stellantis and Oreo owner Mondelez) suspended advertising on the platform, Musk took to Twitter Spaces on Wednesday to assuage the fears of advertisers, arguing that harmful content is being moderated. Reports suggest he struck a more conciliatory tone than last week, when the billionaire accused advertising boycotts as attempts “to destroy free speech in America.” Meanwhile ad executives told AdWeek that Musk “seemed a bit all over the place” in meetings about his advertising plans for Twitter, giving them “zero confidence” in his understanding of brand safety.

Meta Cuts 13 Percent of Workforce as Stocks Plunge
On Wednesday Mark Zuckerberg told Meta employees that more than 11,000 would lose their jobs. The company’s stock has plunged 71 percent this year, amid digital advertising slowdown, stagnating Facebook usage and multi-billion-dollar investment in loss-making Metaverse technology. Zuckerberg took “accountability for these decisions” in a statement to staff announcing he would cut 13 percent of the workforce. The CEO explained that he expected web traffic and e-commerce growth during lockdown to keep accelerating. “I got this wrong,” he said.

TikTok Pivots to E-Commerce in the US
TikTok is restructuring its US business, having lowered its full-year ad revenue forecast from $12 billion to $10 billion, suggesting vulnerability to the advertising woes plaguing other social firms. North America general manager Sandie Hawkins is being moved to head up TikTok Shop in the US, signalling a strategic shift towards e-commerce, which has proved lucrative for the company in China. According to people familiar with the restructuring, 20 senior managers have been replaced with new leadership, and the US headcount has increased over the past year.

YouTube Shorts Arrives on YouTube TV
YouTube Shorts launched on YouTube TV this week, adapting the mobile-first format for the CTV app. The company unveiled the new design in a blog post, noting the “maximal” use of the wider space, incorporating comments, related tags and a colour-sampled blurred background. “When we introduced this new format, we optimised the experience for the mobile creator and viewer,” said YouTube chief product officer Neal Mohan. “Today, we’re expanding viewing access to Shorts to our fastest-growing surface: the TV screen.”

CTV Drives Growth for The Trade Desk
The Trade Desk filed 31 percent year-on-year revenue growth for Q3, generating $395 million and beating analyst expectations of $385.9 million. CTV was the highest driver, with video accounting for around 40 percent of platform advertising spend. “This performance underlines the value of decisioned media buying on The Trade Desk as the world’s largest advertisers seek to maximise return on every campaign dollar,” said The Trade Desk CEO Jeff Green. “Nowhere is this more apparent than in the rapidly growing market for CTV advertising, as more of the world’s leading CTV platforms partner with us to bring advertising demand to their inventory.”

European Commission Prepares to Charge Meta
The European Commission is drawing up charges against Meta over alleged misuse of customer data on Facebook Marketplace, according to anonymous sources. Reuters reports that the EC has asked Meta rivals to remove confidential information from their submissions to the regulator, as a precursor to sending the company a statement of objections. The EC has the power to impose fines up to 10 percent of a company’s global turnover for antitrust violations. 

ShowHeroes Taps Cedara for Carbon Measurement
European video production and solutions provider ShowHeroes unveiled a collaboration with carbon intelligence platform Cedara. The partnership allows ShowHeroes to holistically measure its carbon footprint across business operations, alongside their ad tech and publisher partners. This emissions data can then be shared with brands and agencies to empower sustainable media buying, helping the entire supply chain reach the industry’s goal of net zero by 2030.

Samba TV Acquires AI Specialist Disruptel
Ad tech firm Samba TV has acquired AI-focused CTV company Disruptel. Using machine learning (ML) technology to identify on-screen product placement, logo appearances and integrated advertising in real time, Diruptel can offer advertisers insights into the value of their investments across platforms. Leveraging the AI and ML tech, Samba plans to drive the development of its automatic content recognition (ACR) technology, as well as enrich content information and recommendations for viewers.

The Week in TV

ITVX to Launch on 8th December
ITV has announced 8th December as the launch date for ITVX, its new AVOD service replacing ITV Hub. The broadcaster is positioning the streamer as its flagship offering in the face of disappointing Q3 advertising revenues. “ITVX is powered by a significant, streaming-first commissioning budget, and an integrated technology and data platform providing a high quality, and more personalised viewing and advertising experience,” said ITV CEO Carolyn McCall.

Disney+ Readies Ad Tier Amid Heavy Q3 Losses
Disney+ with ads is also due to land on 8th December in the US, aiming to bolster a streaming business that lost $1.47 billion in Q3. According to the Wall Street Journal, Disney’s streaming division has shed more than $8 billion since Disney+ launched. “Disney+ will still achieve profitability in fiscal 2024,” said Disney CEO Bob Chapek, “assuming we do not see a meaningful shift in the economic climate.” Disney CFO Christine McCarthy added: “We do have the Disney+ ad tier launch and ad monetisation growth.” The company revealed that Disney+ Basic (with ads) will cost $7.99 a month, and Disney+ Premium (without ads) $10.99 a month.

TV Remains Device of Choice for World Cup Viewers
88 percent of UK viewers will watch the World Cup on their TVs, according to Unruly’s Consumer Trends Report, followed by smartphones (18 percent), laptops (14 percent) and tablets (10 percent). Gen Z consumers reported a stronger second preference for the smartphone at 31 percent. The study also showed 27 percent favouring a brand that sponsors the World Cup, versus 7 percent going off that brand and 66 percent not changing their opinion

ITV Braces for Impact as Ad Revenues Falter
ITV advertising revenues fell 14 percent year-on-year (YoY) in Q3, according to the broadcaster’s earnings report. Overall ad revenues were down 2 percent over the first nine months for a total £1.33 billion, but the company expects the World Cup to shorten the annual drop to 1-1.15 percent. The advertising shortfall was tempered by a 16 percent increase in revenue at ITV Studios, which has generated £1.39 billion so far this year. Read more on VideoWeek.

FuboTV Scores Q3 Growth
Sports SVOD service FuboTV recorded 40 percent Q3 revenue growth in the US, reaching $219.2 million. Subs were also up 31 percent to hit 1.23 million. Internationally the company delivered $5.8 million in revenue and 358,000 total paid subscribers. FuboTV will stream the FIFA World Cup 2022 in its entirety, as well as building out its FAST channel portfolio. 

“As consumers continue to become disillusioned with the many expensive and content-limited streaming services in the market, and those streaming services turn to other monetisation levers like advertising, we are excited about our unique positioning in the marketplace,” said FuboTV executive chairman Edgar Bronfman Jr. “We believe our dual subscription and ad model provides value for shareholders while our aggregation of sports, news and entertainment content is affordable for consumers.”

Narrative Entertainment Brings FAST Channels to Samsung TV Plus
Independent UK broadcaster Narrative Entertainment has launched its first FAST channels on Samsung TV Plus: POP Kids, GREAT! Movies and GREAT! Christmas. CTV specialist Media16 is the exclusive sales house providing contextually relevant ads across the channels. “These new channels complement our portfolio of AVOD services and over-the-air channels, in line with our mission to bring great stories to as many people as possible,” said Narrative Entertainment MD Will Vicary. “We’re excited by the versatile nature of FAST channels and the scope for innovative advertising and look forward to rolling out more digital developments in 2023.”

ProSiebenSat.1 Considers Buying into Sky Deutschland
ProSiebenSat.1 is exploring a deal to buy a stake in Sky Deutschland, according to sources close to the matter. Last month Bloomberg reported that Comcast is considering selling the underperforming German pay-TV business. Sources say the two parties are in discussions, though neither has given any comment.

ITV and BBC Win Euro 2024/28 Rights
ITV and the BBC have signed a new deal with UEFA to show Euro 2024 and Euro 2028, with the rights to each tournament split equally. Matches will be divided between the two broadcasters and the final shared, continuing the arrangement in place for the Euros and FIFA World Cup. “The BBC has proven time and again that we have the ability to bring the biggest sporting events to the widest audience,” said BBC Sport director Barbara Slater. “The previous UEFA European Championships were a huge success so we’re delighted that we’ve completed this deal for the next two tournaments.”

T20 Cricket Final Goes Free-to-Air on Channel 4
Sky and Channel 4 have struck a deal making Sunday’s T20 World Cup Final available for free, when England faces Pakistan at Melbourne Cricket Ground. The match will be shown live on Channel 4, Sky Showcase, Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Cricket. “We know the importance of this game, so we are pleased to be able to share this great sporting moment with our whole nation thanks to our strong relationship with Channel 4,” said Sky Sports MD Jonathan Licht. “Whether you’re supporting England or Pakistan, this will be one to remember.”

Viaplay to Show PDC European Tour in the UK
The Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) European Tour will air exclusively on Viaplay, as per a five-year deal starting February 2023. Viaplay arrived in the UK this month, now adding the darts to its roster of UEFA, LaLiga and NHL matches. “Becoming the home of this exciting series in the birthplace of the sport is a further sign of Viaplay’s UK ambitions,” said Peter Nørrelund, Viaplay Group Chief Sports Officer. “The UK has darts at heart and this deal will make our service even more attractive to local viewers.”

ITV Launches Automated Contextual Targeting Tool
UK broadcaster ITV this morning unveiled a new tool for advertisers which will use computer vision to enable automated contextual targeting. ITV says the technology, which it’s dubbed Automated Contextual Targeting or ACT, can recognise objects and moods as well as standard contextual categories within ITV programming. So advertisers can choose which of these they wish to target, and then ITV’s tech will automatically place that brand’s ads next to shows which match that contextual criteria. Read more on VideoWeek.

The Week for Publishers

National World in Talks for Reach Takeover
National World, a media investment company which owns the Scotsman and Yorkshire Post, is considering a buyout of UK news publisher Reach. David Montgomery, the former chief executive of Reach title The Mirror who runs National World, confirmed he’s in the early stages of exploring a deal, though at the time had not yet approached Reach’s board of directors.

News Corp Once Again Posts Ad Growth Despite Rivals’ Struggles
While social media platforms, national broadcasters, and a number of major news publishers report stagnant or falling ad revenues, News Corp has once again reported year-on-year growth, bucking the trend. And where other ad-supported media businesses have largely posted overall revenue growth tempered by a dip in their core ad businesses, for News Corp it was the other way around. Total revenues in the quarter (which News Corp’s financial calendar counts as Q1 for 2023) were down by one percent, while overall advertising revenues saw a marginal 0.24 percent increase, up from $405 million to $406 million. Read more on VideoWeek.

Forbes Explores Sale to Investor Consortium
Forbes has entered into exclusive sale talks with an investor consortium comprised of family offices and global investors, Reuters reported this week. Forbes previously had plans to go public via a merger with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), but scrapped those plans as enthusiasm in SPACs dwindled. Forbes is reportedly looking for a sale worth at least $800 million.

Dotdash Meredith Merger Hit by “Bad Timing”
The merger between media businesses Dotdash and Meredith has been hindered by pullbacks in ad spend and weak traffic, Dotdash’s owner IAC revealed this week, as reported by AdExchanger. While several publishers have seen weaker ad demand anyway, the slow integration of the two businesses’ portfolios and sales teams exacerbated this drop.

Gannett Workers Strike Over “Austerity Measures”
Journalists working for US publishing group Gannett walked out last Friday in protest of “austerity measures” implemented by the company. Gannett has made significant cuts following a series of poor financial results, reporting its fourth consecutive loss-making quarter last Thursday.

National World Makes £1 Million Investment in The News Movement
Media investment business National World has invested £1 million in new social-first news company The News Movement, as part of an effort to attract more younger readers to its own titles. As part of the deal, journalists working for The News Movement will produce content for National World’s titles.

Azerion, Reach, and GumGum Names Best Media Owners to Work With
Azerion has been named the best media owner to work with in the UK, by the IPA’s autumn poll, with 95.5 percent of respondents agreeing that they’d had a good experience working with the company. Azerion was followed by GumGum (89.5 percent), Reach (89.4 percent), Blis (88.9 percent) and Quantcast (87.9 percent).

The Week For Agencies

Publicis and Carrefour Launch Retail Media Joint Venture
Agency holding company Publicis Groupe and supermarket chain Carrefour are launching a new retail media joint venture covering Europe and Latin America, the two announced this week. Publicis and Carrefour say that through the joint venture, they will create “a comprehensive media player that addresses the entire retail media value chain” across Continental Europe, Brazil, and Argentina. Read more on VideoWeek.

US Advertising and Marketing Diversity Still Behind Population Averages
Diversity in advertising and media in the US is improving, according to a survey of ANA members, but is still lagging behind population averages, The Drum reported this week. Over 29 percent of ANA members now identify as non-white, up from 27.2 percent last year, but this is still behind the US population average of 42.2 percent. Meanwhile 14.6 percent of ANA member CEOs identify as non-white, up from 13.7 percent last year.

Emissions Caused by Advertising are Still Rising, Finds Purpose Disruptors
Carbon emissions driven by the impact of advertising rose by 11 percent between 2019 and 2022, according to a report from Purpose Disruptors and Magic Numbers. ‘Advertised emissions’ are defined as emissions caused by uplifts in sales which result from advertising, The Drum reported this week. While the industry has been focussing on cutting emissions in its own operations, this efforts risk being counteracted by advertising’s continued impact through driving more sales of goods.

Publicis’ Epsilon Buys Retargetly
Publicis-owned advertising and marketing technology business Epsilon this week announced the launch of its Latin America operations with the acquisition of Retargetly, a data and technology company. Retargetly works with marketers and publishers to combine first-party data with partner data for custom audience targeting and measurement across digital channels in a privacy-safe manner, according to Epsilon.

WPP Announces First Campus in Brazil
WPP announced plans for a new campus in São Paulo, Brazil, where it will bring together its 26 Brazil-based agencies under one roof. The idea is to promote more synergy and cooperation between the different agency brands; WPP plans to launch similar campuses in over 60 locations across the world.

Dentsu and Microsoft Collaborate on Metaverse Space
Dentsu International is working with Microsoft to build a “collaboration space” in the metaverse, which is designed to “excite and inspire brands to innovate and experiment with Web3 technologies”. The space will showcase metaverse-based solutions for customer service, retail, earning and development.

Hires of the Week

Joanne Wilson Set for WPP CFO Roles
WPP has announced that current chief financial officer John Rogers will step down and be succeeded by Joanne Wilson, previously of Britvic and Tesco.

Nick Louisson Appointed as ISBA Director of Agency Services
ISBA has announced that Nick Louisson, previously senior procurement manager (category lead) at Sky, has joined the organisation as director of agency services. He will be responsible for providing marketing and procurement members with advice, guidance, and best practice to ensure they make the best decisions with regards agency management.

Clare Ritchie Joins Omnicom as Global Programmatic and In-Housing Lead
Clare Ritch has joined Omnicom as its new SVP global head of programmatic and in-housing. Ritchie previously headed up programmatic for Mediacom.

This Week on VideoWeek

Will Sports be Apple’s Beachhead into TV Advertising? read on VideoWeek

Publicis and Carrefour Want to Grow Europe’s Retail Media Market with New Joint Venture, read on VideoWeek

The Trade Desk, Innovid Bring CTV Measurement Partnership to Europe, read on VideoWeek

News Corp Once Again Posts Ad Growth Despite Rivals’ Struggles, read on VideoWeek

ITV Braces for Impact as Ad Revenues Falter, read on VideoWeek

CTV is Opening its Eyes to Ad Fraud, read on VideoWeek

ITV Launches Automated Contextual Targeting Tool, read on VideoWeek

Ad of the Week

John Lewis, The Beginner, adam&eveDDB

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About the Author:

Tim Cross is Assistant Editor at VideoWeek.
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