The WIR: TF1 Plans International Streaming Launch, Disney Forges Direct Programmatic Paths with DSPs, and Apollo Bids $11 Billion for Paramount Studios

Tim Cross 22 March, 2024 

In this week’s Week in Review: TF1+ goes international, Disney inks deals with The Trade Desk and DV360, and Apollo bids for Paramount Studios.

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TF1 Plans International Launch for its Streaming Service

French broadcaster TF1 is planning an international rollout for TF1+, its newly revamped streaming service, CEO Rudolph Belmer announced at the Series Mania Forum this week. The service will be launched in French speaking international markets starting this year, with Belgium and Luxembourg first on the list, and Switzerland and other French-speaking markets to follow.

European broadcasters have had mixed success with their efforts to go international. The BBC and ITV have had modest success abroad with BritBox, though ITV sold off its stake in the venture earlier this year. Nordic broadcaster Viaplay meanwhile has largely rolled back its ambitious international plans after failing to see sufficient growth. TF1’s strategy however is more akin to the former example, as it’s sticking to French-speaking markets to distribute its French-language content.

“The internet doesn’t have borders and it has let international players such as Netflix and YouTube develop,” said Belmer. “There is no reason for us not to do the same […] We’re doing that now based on our cultural and editorial lines, and our language – and the French-speaking world is our next step.”

Disney Forges Direct Paths to Inventory with The Trade Desk and DV360

Disney this week announced deals with Google’s DV360 and The Trade Desk which will enable buyers to directly access its inventory through the two demand-side platforms (DSPs). The deal liks the Disney Real Time Ad Exchange (DRAX), the tool through which Disney runs its programmatic sales, directly into the two DSPs. Disney says that by building more direct paths to buyers, it will create a simpler and more streamlined buying process for advertisers.

This direct path to DSPs obviously cuts SSPs out of the process, but Disney doesn’t seem to be working towards removing SSPs from its demand chain. Disney sources demand through Magnite’s ClearLine, which circumvents the need for a DSP as opposed to an SSP. Rather, Disney’s intention seems to be based around offering multiple simplified routes for demand.

“Owning our own technology stack allows us to build a direct path between our premium inventory and the leading media buying platforms in the industry, simplifying the way ads are bought and sold on Disney, while delivering greater effectiveness for our clients,” said Jamie Power, Disney Advertising’s SVP of addressable sales.

Apollo Global Offers $11 Billion for Paramount Studios

Apollo Global has offered Paramount $11 billion for its film and TV studio business, according to the WSJ. Shari Redstone, owner of Paramount’s parent company National Amusements, has been fielding various M&A proposals over the past few months, including offers from Skydance Media and Allen Media Group.

Redstone is reportedly unconvinced by the offer from Apollo Global, an asset management firm that co-owned production studio Endemol Shine until 2019. Reports suggest she is leaning towards the Skydance merger brought by billionaire owner David Ellison, though the company has yet to submit a final offer.

The Week in Tech

DOJ Sues Apple for Illegal Monopoly on Smartphones

The US Department of Justice, alongside 15 states and the District of Columbia, has filed a lawsuit against tech giant Apple, accusing the company of having an illegal monopoly on smartphones in the US. The suit accuses Apple of “exclusionary, anti-competitive conduct that hurts both consumers and developers”, such as preventing third-parties from creating apps and software which competes with its own. Apple said in response that the lawsuit is “wrong on the facts and the law”.

Captify and Samba TV Team Up for Search and TV Measurement in Australia

Captify Australia, a search intelligence company, has integrated Samba TV’s viewership data to form a search and TV measurement solution for the Australian market. The integration allows Captify to measure the connection between a consumer’s TV ad exposure and their online search behaviour. “What the integration of Captify and Samba TV’s data brings to the market is a cookieless solution that addresses fragmented media planning and measurement,” said Yasmin Sanders, Managing Director at Samba TV Australia. “Together, we are connecting the dots between viewership and search behaviour to give advertisers a holistic way to reach highly sought after consumers and influence their purchasing behaviour.”

UK MPs Voice Concern About TikTok Ownership Following US Action

British MPs have voiced concerns over TikTok’s ownership in the UK, according to the FT. Liam Byrne, Labour MP and chair of the House of Commons business and trade committee, warned of the company’s potential impact on democratic elections. Alicia Kearns, Conservative MP and chair of the Commons foreign affairs committee, also flagged the national security threats posed by the Chinese-owned app. The news follows moves in the US to pass a law forcing TikTok’s owner ByteDance to divest the app, or face a nationwide ban. The bill passed the House of Representatives last week and will now head to the Senate.

FTC Launches Probe into Reddit AI Licensing Deals

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is investigating Reddit over its AI data licensing programs. The probe focuses on the company’s sale, licensing and sharing of user-generated content with third parties to train AI models. The news came ahead of Reddit’s stock market debut, which saw its shares jump 48 percent on the social media firm’s first day of trading.

C-Screens and RSMB Complete Measurement Audit

C-Screens, a TV Out-of-Home (TVOOH) broadcaster, has completed an auditing process with RSMB, bringing its reporting standards in line with the wider media industry. RSMB provides independent auditing of measurement systems, including that of UK TV ratings body Barb. “I am delighted that C-Screens TV inventory has been endorsed by the successful audit by RSMB, driving greater transparency, measurement confidence, and trust in the entire sector,” said C-Screens CEO Rob Hicks. “With an increasing number of brands seeing TVOOH as a natural extension of their linear TV campaigns, I am excited to see C-Screens continue to take a leadership position, for the benefit of advertisers and the captive audiences we serve.”

UK Peers Sponsor IAB Amendments to Data Protection Bill

IAB UK has secured cross-party support for its amendments to the Data Protection & Digital Information Bill (DPDI) as the legislation moves through the House of Lords. The amendments have been tabled by Lord Lucas (Conservative) and co-sponsored by Lord Clement-Jones (Lib Dem). The organisation advocates for the Government to extend cookie consent exemptions to advertising and audience measurement, functions it says are “essential to digital advertising and do not intrude on people’s privacy.” The Bill entered the Committee stage on Wednesday.

Titan OS to Sell Inventory Via European Sales Houses

Titan OS, a European TV operating system, has announced partnerships with a range of European ad sales houses. The deals will give advertisers access to Titan OS inventory in Germany (Goldbach), the UK (Media16), Spain (EXTE), France (Stamp), the Nordics, Belgium, the Netherlands (ShowHeroes), Italy and other international markets (RTL AdAlliance). “These partnerships mark a significant milestone in Titan OS’ mission to rethink TV through a win-win business model approach,” said Titan OS COO Tim Edwards. “For advertisers, Titan OS combines impactful, brand-safe, premium ad opportunities on the big home screen with the targeting and measurement capabilities of digital.”

The Week in TV

MFE Asks ProSieben for Shareholder Vote on Divesting Non-TV Assets

MFE-MediaForEurope (MFE), the main investor in ProSiebensat.1, has asked the shareholders to vote on divesting the German company’s e-commerce and dating assets. The move follows Pier Silvio Berlusconi’s pronouncement that MFE would only pursue a full takeover once ProSieben had spun off its non-TV assets. “Whilst the ProSiebenSat.1 Executive Board has repeatedly stated its intention to refocus on the Entertainment Business, no material progress has been made to date,” MFE said in a letter to ProSieben.

Max and Paramount+ Line Up for International Roll-Outs

Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) has announced plans to bring its Max streaming service to Europe. The roll-out will begin in the Nordics, Iberia and CEE in May, followed by Poland, the

Netherlands, France and Belgium. The UK launch will be held until WBD’s content distribution with Sky expires in 2025. Also this week, Paramount announced it would offer the Paramount+ ad tier in Canada and Australia, and will begin rolling out its premium tier in Europe this month. 

NBCU Unveils Measurement Tools and AI-Driven Audience Segments 

NBCUniversal unveiled new ad tech capabilities at its One24 conference on Wednesday. The updates include new audience segments created by generative AI, which pairs analysis of NBCU content with first-party data sets to produce emotion-based targeting segments. The broadcaster will also make its Olympic and Paralympic coverage available programmatically for the first time. And NBCU launched One Platform Total Measurement, a new measurement framework for its cross-platform planning tool, One Platform Total Audience.

BBC Plans Text-Based AI Model

The BBC is planning to build and train its own AI model using its text archives, the public service broadcaster said on Thursday. The output of the Large Language Model would only be available to the BBC, according to a spokesperson. “We are looking at a wide range of issues such as potential bias within such models and how the BBC either in partnership or unilaterally can address these,” said the BBC.

ITV Starts Cutting Jobs at In-House Creative Agency

ITV has started cutting jobs, according to the Telegraph, as the UK broadcaster continues to grapple with depleting ad revenues. The job losses have hit ITV Creative, the company’s in-house agency, with further redundancies expected in the coming months. Earlier this month, the broadcaster said it had entered a “strategic restructuring” phase, though one source denied the job losses were linked to the advertising downturn. 

Altice Sells French Media Assets to Rodolphe Saade for €1.55 Billion

Rodolphe Saade, chairman of CMA CGM Group, has announced a deal to acquire Altice’s French media unit for €1.55 billion. The unit includes news channel BFM TV and radio station RMC. The deal should help ease the financial situation at the telco in the face of rising debts.

MrBeast Makes Moves to Amazon Prime Video

Amazon Prime Video has commissioned a reality competition show from YouTube star MrBeast, AKA Jimmy Donaldson. Produced by Donaldson and Amazon MGM Studios, Beast Games will see 1000 contestants compete for a $5 million prize. It also sees the millionaire YouTuber pivot from producing his own content towards a major production and distribution studio. In January he experimented with reposting his content on X, aiming to branch out from the platform where his channel has over 45 billion views. “My goal is to make the greatest show possible and prove YouTubers and creators can succeed on other platforms,” said Donaldson. “Amazon gave me the creative control I need to try and make it happen. I hope to make the YouTube community proud.”

Peltz Gains Backing From Proxy Advisor in Disney Board Battle

Nelson Peltz, the activist investor vying for a seat on Disney’s board, has received backing from a shareholder advisory group. Institutional Shareholder Services said that Peltz “could be additive to the succession process” once Disney CEO Bob Iger steps down. Peltz has been a vocal critic of Iger’s management but insists he does not intend to fire the CEO.

Cost and Content Fatigue Are Bringing SVOD Viewers Back to BVOD, Research Finds

UK consumers are looking less to SVOD services as their first port of call when looking for video content, according to research consultancy MTM, with live TV and BVOD services reportedly making a resurgance. The consultancy’s latest ScreenThink report showed a 13 percent decline in the number of UK viewers turning to SVOD services first. For the 25-34 demographic, 45 percent of consumers prioritised SVOD services in Q2 2022, falling to 32 percent in Q4 2023. The report suggested that live TV and BVOD offerings are the main beneficiaries of this shift. Read more on VideoWeek.

RTL Deutschland and ProSiebenSat.1 Agree Addressable TV Deals with Philips and Vestel

The Addressable TV Initiative (ATVI), a joint venture between German broadcasters RTL Deutschland and ProSiebenSat.1, has agreed partnerships with TV manufacturers TP Vision (which makes Philips TV sets) and Vestel which will certify addressable TV advertising tools run by the two manufacturers. The ATVI hopes that through partnerships like these, it can smooth the path to greater investment in addressable TV advertising across Europe, growing the market as a whole. Read more on VideoWeek.

The Week for Publishers

Independent’s CEO Places Video as Key Strategic Pillar

The Independent’s CEO Christian Broughton says that the newspaper’s ramping up of its video coverage is as big of a move for the company as the closure of its print business, in an interview with Press Gazette. The Independent has put a big focus on video, building its own on-site video player and hosting some content on YouTube as well. But Broughton said the company wants to establish itself more as a documentary maker and TV production business.

Reach Launches New AV Team ‘Reach Studio’

UK publishing group Reach is launching Reach Studio, a new team which will produce AV content for both editorial and commercial purposes. The team, led by Mark Field, has over 120 content specialists according to Reach. The company says its approach of combining editorial and commercial content teams is unique in the industry. “While some of our people will have periods where they are more devoted either to commercial or editorial projects, bringing the team together will set the bar for audiovisual excellence in all of our multimedia content, whether a football podcast or a political vox pop,” said Field.

Publishers Look to Diversification Amid Falling Video and Display Revenues

UK digital publishers’ overall revenues fell by 1.8 percent year-on-year in Q4, according to the latest Digital Publishers’ Revenue Index (DPRI) from the Association of Online Publishers (AOP) and Deloitte, driven by falling online video and display advertising revenues. And while there were some positive signs among the results, the report’s authors described it as a “wake up call” for publishers that they should lean too heavily on major ad revenue streams. Read more on VideoWeek.

UK Government Stalls Telegraph Bid as it Prepares Legislation to Block Foreign Ownership of Newspapers

The UK government advanced its efforts this week to block a proposed takeover of Telegraph Media Group by Abu Dhabi-backed investment fund RedBird IMI. Following the announcement last week that the government would move to bad foreign ownership of UK newspapers, it tabled an amendment to existing law this week to put this into practice. And the UK’s culture secretary Lucy Frazer also informed RedBird that she’s minded to refer the deal to the UK’s competition authority – a move which would delay the takeover and give the government more time to pass legislation blocking the transaction.

Sports Illustrated Reaches Publishing Deal with Minute Media

Embattled sports publication Sports Illustrated has reached a deal which gives Minute Media, owner of The Players’ Tribune, publishing rights for at least ten years. Arena Group, which has held publishing rights since 2019, attracted controversy after it emerged the company has posted AI-generated content without clearly stating so. Arena Group then missed a licensing payment, and began threatening to lay off staff and cease print operations while in breach of its licensing contract.

PRISA Media Partners with First-id

Spanish media group PRISA Media has agreed a deal with identity company First-id, which specialises in working with first-party data, to launch a proof of concept with PRISA’s own PRISA ID. The two say the deal will help PRISA better monetise its inventory by helping it track audiences across its various publications and across different browsers, giving a more complete picture of audience behaviour.

Daily Mail Sport Reaches 1 Million TikTok Followers

The Daily Mail reached another milestone in its push to grow its audience on TikTok, hitting one million subscribers for its sports-specific page Mail Sport. The newspaper announced earlier this year that it had reached 10 million followers across its TikTok channels combined – that number has now passed 12 million.

The Week For Brands & Agencies

P&G says In-Housing Media Has Saved Ten Percent in Media Costs

Marc Pritchard, chief brand officer at global FMCG giant P&G, says that moving much of the company’s media buying in-house has saved around ten percent in total media costs, AdAge reported this week. Speaking at an ANA conference in Orlando, Pritchard said nearly all of P&G’s media buying is now being done in-house in the US and China, and the brand is rolling out this strategy in other markets too.

S4 Capital Rejects $700 Million Merger Offer from Stagwell

Sir Martin Sorrell’s S4 Capital has rebuffed a nearly $700 million merger offer from fellow ad business Stagwell, which is run by Sorrell’s former employee at WPP Mark Penn, the Wall Street Journal reported this week. S4 said the offer undervalued its business, and that the pairing would be a poor strategic fit. S4 is currently valued at £253 million on the stock market, but has previously been valued at over £5 billion.

PepsiCo Stops Advertising on Linear TV in ANZ

PepsiCo’s head of marketing in the ANZ region Vandita Pandey says the brand is completely cutting linear TV from its media plans this year, saying the company is shifting spend to channels where its ads get more attention from audiences. In an interview with B&T, Pandey said that she still recognises the value of TV in driving reach, but that for PepsiCo’s portfolio of brands other channels offer more value.

Publicis Launches Revamped Retail Media Offering ‘Epsilon Retail Media’

Agency holding company Publicis Groupe has announced the launch of a new retail media platform housed within its data unit Epsilon. The new unit, Epsilon Retail Media, builds on Epsilon’s acquisition of retail media tech business CitrusAd three years ago. Publicis says the offering will combine Epsilon’s proprietary identifier with artificial intelligence in the ad server, which it says will drive stronger outcomes on retail media’s own digital storefronts, and other inventory powered by their data. Read more on VideoWeek.

Unilever Cuts 7,500 Jobs and Spins Off Ice Cream Business

Unilever, one of the world’s biggest spenders on advertising, announced this week it is spinning off its ice cream business (which includes Magnum, Ben & Jerry’s, and Wall’s), and laying off 7,500 staff, which is around five percent of its workforce. Unilever said that spinning off the ice cream business will enable it to “do fewer things better”.

The&Partnership and mSix&Partners Combine into T&Pm

The&Partnership and mSix&Partners, two ad businesses backed by WPP, are combining into one full-service agency called T&Pm. “Looking back, I’m not sure whose idea it was for our industry to separate creative and media agencies, but I’m sure the motives were more profit than client-driven,” said founder and CEO Johnny Hornby. “If that separation ever made any sense, it certainly doesn’t today.”

Hires of the Week

Pete Distad to Lead US Sports Streaming JV

Pete Distad has been appointed CEO of the sports streaming joint venture between Disney, Fox and Warner Bros. Discovery. Distad spent 10 years at Apple and six at Hulu.

BA’s Hamish McVey to Chair ISBA Executive Committee

Hamish McVey has been named Chair of the ISBA Executive Committee. McVey has spent more than 15 years at British Airways, becoming Director of Marketing in 2022. 

Spark Foundry Names Emil Bielski UK CEO

Spark Foundry UK, a Publicis agency, has hired Emil Bielski as CEO. Bielski joins from digital agency Croud, where he served as Managing Director. He replaces Pete Edwards who is stepping down after four years as Spark Foundry UK CEO.

Viaplay Appoints Johan Johansson as New Group CFO

Viaplay this week announced the appointment of Johan Johansson as EVP, group chief financial officer and co-CEO of the group’s Swedish operations. Johan Johansson has been CFO and deputy CEO of the growth and funding platform Gilion for the past year, having previously been CEO and then a board member of watch and jewellery retailer Daniel Wellington.

This Week on VideoWeek

RTL Deutschland and ProSiebenSat.1 Agree Addressable TV Deals with Philips and Vestel

MFE Will Not Pursue ProSieben Takeover Until it Divests Non-TV Assets, Says Berlusconi

Cost and Content Fatigue Are Bringing SVOD Viewers Back to BVOD, Research Finds

Publishers Look to Diversification Amid Falling Video and Display Revenues

Publicis Launches Revamped Retail Media Offering ‘Epsilon Retail Media’

Retail Media to Make Up One-Fifth of US Ad Spend This Year

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About the Author:

Tim Cross is Assistant Editor at VideoWeek.
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