In this week’s Week in Review: Roku starts making its own TVs, YouTube gets in the sports rights game, and Twitter relaxes its policy on political ads.
Roku Unveils Own Brand of Smart TVs, TiVO to Power TV Sets
Roku has joined the ranks of streaming companies with their own branded smart TVs, unveiling the new range at CES 2023. The Roku OS already powers other manufacturers’ TV sets, as well as being a leading provider of streaming boxes and dongles in the US, but as of Spring it will offer Roku Select and Roku Plus Series TVs. “These Roku-branded TVs will not only complement the current lineup of partner-branded Roku TV mode, but also allow us to enable future smart TV innovations,” said Roku devices president Mustafa Ozgen. “The streaming revolution has only just begun.”
Also at CES this week in Las Vegas, Xperi revealed its first “Powered by TiVo” smart TVs, due to be shipped in Spring 2023. Vestel, Daewoo, Regal, Hitachi, Telefunken and JVC are among the brands using the TiVo OS, releasing the new TVs in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Turkey and the UK. “Unlike existing platforms, which are largely built around walled gardens, we enable TV OEMs to brand the experience, retain customer ownership and participate in the long-term CTV monetisation throughout the lifecycle of TV ownership,” said Xperi CEO Jon Kirchner.
YouTube Wins NFL Sunday Ticket Rights
YouTube has signed a $14 billion, seven-year deal for the NFL’s Sunday Ticket package, beating out front-runner Apple for the rights held by DirecTV since 1994. The arrangement brings most Sunday afternoon games to YouTube TV and YouTube Primetime Channels, both of which are paid subscription services.
The agreement marks another sports rights victory for big tech against their traditional home on pay-TV. With this latest deal, the Google-owned business joins Apple and Amazon in multi-billion-dollar plays for major sports, as cord-cutting hits the satellite sector. According to the Wall Street Journal, former rights holder DirecTV has shed over 6.5 million subscribers in the last five years, and had been losing around $500 million annually on the Sunday Ticket package.
With YouTube, the NFL hopes to get younger viewers to follow the league. “It is a site where a lot of Gen Z goes to get content,” said NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. He added in a statement: “For a number of years we have been focused on increased digital distribution of our games and this partnership is another example of us looking towards the future and building the next generation of NFL fans.”
Twitter Reverses Ban on Political Ads
Twitter will relax its ban on political advertising, as part of Elon Musk’s efforts to increase the social media firm’s ad revenues. The ban came into effect in 2019 when then-CEO Jack Dorsey said political influence should be “earned, not bought.” On Tuesday Twitter announced plans to “expand the political advertising we permit in the coming weeks.”
We believe that cause-based advertising can facilitate public conversation around important topics. Today, we’re relaxing our ads policy for cause-based ads in the US. We also plan to expand the political advertising we permit in the coming weeks.
— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) January 3, 2023
The reversal dovetails with Musk’s proposed reinstatement of banned Twitter accounts, including Kanye West and Donald Trump, thought to be among the reasons for advertisers’ trepidation around the new ownership. This week also saw an additional 40 layoffs in the company’s data science and engineering sectors, having already lost more than three-quarters of its staff since Musk’s takeover.
The Week in Tech
Warner Bros. Discovery Strikes Measurement Deal with VideoAmp
Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) has partnered with measurement company VideoAmp, which will measure cross-screen campaigns across WBD’s entertainment brands. The deal comes ahead of the 2023 upfronts season, representing a move away from Nielsen’s formerly ubiquitous TV currency. “The industry needs a better way to measure and transact on audiences,” said VideoAmp CEO Ross McCray, “one that accounts for cross-platform, supports both traditional and advanced audiences and provides attribution metrics in a manner that enables media sellers and buyers to unlock this potential and excel in a competitive environment.”
The Week in TV
Shoppable TV Ads More Likely to Lead to Purchase Than Social
Around half of adults recall seeing shoppable ads on TV, according to Aluma, 39 percent of which have engaged with such ads. The report found that engagement with shoppable ads featured in social media video is 21 percent higher than shoppable TV ads. But the amount of “engagers” who purchased a featured product is 10 percent higher for TV than social video. They also prefer to buy products from large retail brands, such as Amazon or Walmart, than device manufacturers or broadband/pay-TV providers. “Contemporary t-commerce is Big Retail’s game to lose,” said Aluma senior analyst Doug Montgomery.
Hollywood Confronts a Bleak Outlook for 2023
Hollywood executives are braced for a “year of turmoil”, media investors have told the FT. The report cites economic recession, streaming plateaus and “a cinema industry on life support” as factors in the “bloodbath” to come in 2023. Meanwhile a potential writers’ strike could add to the “brutal” outlook for Hollywood, according to media analysts.beIN Media Group has struck a deal with the French Football Federation (FFF) to broadcast all men’s Coupe de France football matches and a selection of women’s matches until 2026.
beIN Scores Coupe de France Rights
beIN Media Group has struck a deal with the French Football Federation (FFF) to show all men’s Coupe de France matches until 2026, alongside select women’s games. The Qatari broadcaster said the agreement brings French football to more than 30 territories. “The length of this deal shows beIN’s commitment to the FFF,” said Richard Verow, chief sports officer at beIN Media Group.
UK Government to Scrap Channel 4 Privatisation
The proposed privatisation of Channel 4 has been scrapped, the UK Government has confirmed. Writing to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Donelan recommended that the plans be shelved, in favour of “better ways” to safeguard the channel’s future. “After reviewing the business case, I have concluded that pursing a sale at this point is not the right decision,” she wrote. Read more on VideoWeek.
iPlayer Reports Record Festive Figures
BBC iPlayer received “record numbers” over the festive period, according to the broadcaster. Streaming figures for Christmas Day and New Year’s Day showed more than 25 percent YoY growth, with EastEnders, The Traitors and Sam Ryder Rocks New Year’s Eve among the most-watched titles. “Over the festive season, audiences chose the BBC in record-breaking numbers on BBC iPlayer and Sounds for our world-class content signalling a brilliant start to 2023 on the BBC,” said BBC Chief Content Officer Charlotte Moore.
Streamers and Broadcasters Pull Back on Content Spending
Media companies’ spending on original content will see a significant slowdown this year, according to Ampere Analysis, bringing an end to a decade of surging content budgets. The last 10 years saw global content spend almost double, from $128 billion to $243 billion, as deep-pocketed streaming companies splashed out on original content to feed their growing user bases. But 2022 saw subscriber churn at Netflix for the first time, a trend unlikely to be reversed in the near future. Ampere expects original content spend to fall by 3 percent this year, with spending growth predicted to drop from 6 percent in 2022 to 2 percent in 2023. Read more on VideoWeek.
Italy Sheds 287,000 SVOD Subs
Italy lost 287,000 SVOD subscribers last year, according to AGCOM’s September 2022 figures, bringing its total to 15.3 million subs. Disney+ had the most YoY growth at 41.7 percent, followed by Amazon at 11.5 percent and Netflix at 4.2 percent. AGCOM suggested the time spent by users across these platforms fell by 15.3 percent since September 2021.
Free-to-Air Viewing in Spain Hits 30-Year Low
Free-to-air (FTA) viewing hit a 30-year low in Spain in 2022, Barlovento Comunicación has revealed. Last year, FTA viewing was down 11 percent YoY, pay-TV up by 14 percent and streaming up by 17 percent. Meanwhile the TV ad market fell by 5 percent to €1.7 billion, according to the consultancy firm.
The Week for Publishers
Digital Publishing Revenues Jeopardise Local News
Digital publishing revenues are falling short of requisite funding levels for local news, Press Gazette has found. The research noted increased consolidation among regional publishers in attempts to stay afloat, including Newsquest’s takeover of Archant in 2022. National World also expressed interest in acquiring Reach last year before pulling away from the deal. Reach owns 35 of the 50 biggest UK regional news brands online, based on Ipsos audience data, representing the largest unduplicated digital audience with 122.5 million visitors across its brands. This is followed by National World at 16.3 million people, and Newsquest on 12.8 million.
AOP Joins GetZeN and Right Thing Media in ESG Efforts
The Association of Online Publishers (AOP) this week announced partnerships with GetZeN and Right Thing Media, intended to support the digital publishing community’s ESG efforts. GetZeN will offer AOP members discounted access to its wellness programmes, while Right Thing Media provides a framework and Charter for AOP members’ collaborative sustainability strategies. “A successful ESG strategy is holistic, encompassing all the ways in which a company can positively affect people, society, and the planet,” said AOP MD Richard Reeves. “This is a lot to take on, so an ongoing focus for AOP is to find ways to simplify ESG initiatives for our members.”
Guardian Offices Remain Shut After Ransomware Attack
The Guardian offices are to remain closed until 23rd January following a suspected ransomware attack. Employees have been working remotely since the cyberattack hit the publisher’s IT systems on 20th December. “A number of key systems have been taken offline and remain unavailable,” Guardian Media Group chief executive Anna Bateson told staff on Monday.
The Independent Enlists Former Mail Editor Geordie Greig
Former Daily Mail editor Geordie Greig has been named editor-in-chief of The Independent. Greig was allegedly ousted at the Mail in what sources called a “power grab” by MailOnline editor Martin Clarke. He joins the Lebedev-owned outlet as it expands into the US and invests in video content on Independent TV, which claims to generate 72 million views per month.
News UK Signs Content Deal with Local TV
News UK-owned TalkTV will share content with Leeds-based Local TV, as per a new agreement between the British news organisations. The deal sees TalkTV provide exclusive programming across Local TV’s eight channels. “TalkTV is reaching more and more people when and where they want to view our content; whether that be online, via the app, social media, streaming services or on linear TV,” said Richard Wallace, Head of TV at News UK Broadcasting. “This partnership allows us to bring a national perspective to Local TV’s brilliant hyper-focused content on Freeview and Virgin Media.”
The Week For Agencies
WARC Slashes Ad Spend Forecast, Retail Media Defies Slowdown
WARC has reduced its global ad spend forecast by $90 billion, as marketers react to economic and geopolitical crises, putting its latest forecast at $880.9 billion for 2022 and 2023. Retail media is set to defy the slowdown, representing the fourth-largest medium by ad spend, with global investment set to reach $121.9 billion in 2023. This puts it on course to become more valuable to advertisers than linear TV in 2025, according to WARC and GroupM.
Trade Bodies Welcome Scrapping of Channel 4 Privatisation
UK advertising trade bodies welcomed the government’s U-turn on Channel 4 privatisation this week, axing the controversial sale set into motion by former culture secretary Nadine Dorries. “Advertisers overwhelmingly opposed the sale because they value Channel 4’s diverse audience and because of competition concerns which could arise from broadcaster consolidation,” said ISBA director general Phil Smith. He added that changing viewing habits “mean that the TV advertising model must evolve – and that audience reach must be measured effectively.” Meanwhile IPA director general Paul Bainsfair noted that the “symbiotic relationship of Public Service Broadcaster (PSB) and independent production ecosystem is underpinned by advertising.”
Hires of the Week
Apple TV+ Hires Disney+ Marketing Head Ricky Strauss
Apple TV+ has named Ricky Strauss as its new head of marketing, marking renewed emphasis on Apple’s streaming division. Strauss previously spent nine years at Disney, most recently as president of content and marketing for Disney+.
UKTV Promotes Nick Gilmer to Marketing Director
UKTV has promoted Nick Gilmer to the position of marketing director, having overseen brand refreshes for Dave and W since his appointment in 2021. He will lead marketing for UKTV’s linear broadcast network and streaming service UKTV Play.
Teads’ Monique Pintarelli Promoted to President, North America
Monique Pintarelli has been promoted to President, North America at Teads. She joined the ad tech firm in 2018 as SVP West Coast Sales, before becoming CRO in 2022. The company noted that 62 percent of Teads’ leadership are female, 33 percent above industry average.
This Week on VideoWeek
Streamers and Broadcasters Are Pulling Back on Content Spending, read on VideoWeek
UK Government to Scrap Channel 4 Privatisation, read on VideoWeek
Nielsen ONE Gets Launch Date as Ratings Giant Seeks to Reclaim its Throne, read on VideoWeek
Ad of the Week
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