The WIR: Skydance Nears Paramount Deal, Meta Faces Fine for Consent or Pay Model, and Trade Groups Call for Action from Labour Government

Tim Cross 05 July, 2024 

In this week’s Week in Review: Paramount’s takeover drama rumbles on, Meta faces a Brussels fine for consent or pay model, and trade groups react to Labour’s election in the UK.

Top Stories

Paramount Nears Skydance Deal, Enters Streaming Partnership Talks with WBD

A merger between Paramount and Skydance Media is back on the table after Skydance sweetened its offer, according to the WSJ. The new deal would see David Ellison’s company pay $1.75 billion for National Amusements, Paramount Global’s parent company. National Amusements president Shari Redstone walked away from Ellison’s previous offer last month, opening the door to new bidders, including billionaire media mogul Barry Diller. But now Redstone has reportedly reached a preliminary agreement with Skydance. 

Also this week, Warner Bros. Discovery’s Max emerged as the leading candidate for a potential merger with Paramount+. The Paramount leadership has publicly stated its intention to seek partners in its streaming operations, and sources said WBD is looking to reach a co-ownership deal. The partnership could help both parties compete with Netflix and Disney, offering a combined content slate to help reduce subscriber churn. WBD and Paramount were also in merger discussions last year, but the talks came to an end back in February.

Meta Faces EU Fines Over “Consent or Pay” Model

Meta is facing fines over its “consent or pay” model under EU regulations, the Financial Times reported on Monday. The European Commission probed the Facebook and Instagram subscription models, whereby users can pay for ad-free versions of the apps. The watchdog is expected to rule that the financial barrier essentially forces users to consent to their data being tracked for advertising purposes. 

The ruling could be very significant for Meta, since it’s used the consent or pay model as a means of retaining access to user data while trying to comply with EU law. Without this model, Meta may have to allow users to choose whether to share their data or not, with users getting equal access to Meta products regardless of their choice. This would likely result in Meta losing access to a big portion of its valuable first-party data, at least for advertising purposes.

The ruling also has potential ramifications for the wider industry, since Meta is not alone in offering a consent or pay model. It is significant however that the EU is describing consent or pay as a potential breach of the Digital Markets Act, which is specifically aimed at the very largest digital platforms.

Advertiser Trade Groups Call for Action from New Labour Government

Advertiser trade groups including ISBA and the IAB have issued reactions to Labour’s victory in the UK general election, laying out their priorities for the new government. Fourteen years of Conservative rule has brought significant changes to policy and regulation around advertising in the UK, and trade groups are calling for continuations of some of these policies, and reviews of others.

ISBA’s director general Phil Smith asked that Labour continue the UK’s existing system of self and co-regulation for advertising content, and asked for clarity on regulation over food and drink advertising. “Advertisers are desperate for clarity and certainty on what products, categories and media are in or out of scope of the new regulations,” said Smith. “Many brands are already having to plan ad campaigns without the finalised rules and guidance they need. Passing the necessary Secondary Regulations would be an easy, pro-business and pro-growth step for this incoming government to take.”

The IAB’s head of policy and regulatory affairs Christie Dennehy-Neil meanwhile asked that Labour does not “automatically pick up where the Conservatives left off” in relation to regulation of digital advertising. “It’s in everyone’s interests to strike the right balance between managing the risk of consumer harm and supporting the UK’s digital advertising industry – and the wider digital economy that it drives – to thrive,” she said.

The Week in Tech

Threads Clocks 175 Million Users and Mulls Monetisation One Year After Launch

One year since its launch, Threads is preparing to introduce advertising to the text-based social media app. Parent company Meta also announced the app has over 175 million monthly active users, up from 150 million in April 2024. Threads launched on 5th July 2023 as an explicit response to Twitter’s various controversies, aiming to snap up ex-X users frustrated by Elon Musk’s takeover. Now Meta is looking to snap up ad dollars, with Instagram chief Adam Mosseri keen to monetise Threads “sooner rather than later.” Read more on VideoWeek.

Sky Unveils Attention Index for Ad Sales

Sky Media has announced new attention metrics for its ad sales, identifying “absorption moments” that advertisers can tap into. Developed alongside research consultancy Differentology, The ADsorption Index assesses ‘How Involved’ the audience is in the content, and ‘How Much Value’ they place on what they are watching. “The way in which viewers watch content involves more than just eyeballs on screen,” said Differentology CEO Mark James. “This new tool broadens and deepens the attention conversation and keeps Sky at the forefront of content and advertising measurement.”

The Trade Desk Keeps Yahoo Inventory Available

The Trade Desk has refrained from fully blocking access to Yahoo’s video inventory, according to Digiday. The DSP threatened to demonetise Yahoo inventory due to the publisher allegedly mislabelling video as in-stream, but reports suggest media buyers can still access the inventory. Buy-side sources confirmed that no switch-off took place, though it is unclear whether the companies have reached a full agreement.

Amazon Fire TV Defends Full-Screen Screensaver Ads

Amazon Fire TV users have seen the CTV platform replacing its screensaver with ads, 9to5Google reported this week, displaying a full-screen ad when the TV is idle. Amazon responded that the ads were part of its “Ambient Experience,” and has been using them for a while. The report noted that screensaver ads are common on CTV platforms, including Roku, but that Amazon’s format “seems fairly invasive seeing as it displays in full-screen.”

Google Taps AudienceProject for YouTube Measurement

Google has extended its partnership with AudienceProject, a measurement company, to provide cross-media measurement of YouTube campaigns. The partnership allows marketers to enable third-party audience measurement of their YouTube campaigns across all devices, including co-viewing. “Cross-media audience measurement is incredibly important to the entire industry and this integration is another step toward that goal,” said Biren Kalaria, Managing Director, Data, Measurement & Analytics at Google UK. “By enabling cross-media reach measurement of YouTube, marketers can now get an even better understanding of how to plan and optimise their YouTube campaigns for maximum reach in their audiences with AudienceProject.”

Brazil Blocks Meta From Using Facebook and Instagram Posts to Train AI

Brazil’s national data protection agency (ANPD) has blocked Meta from using its citizens’ Instagram and Facebook posts to train AI models. Meta called the move “a step backwards for innovation, competition in AI development and further delays bringing the benefits of AI to people in Brazil.” The decision follows similar rulings in Europe, where the Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC) recommended Meta pauses the plans citing concerns around data privacy.

The Week in TV

Fox Corp’s Tubi Launches in the UK

Tubi, the free ad-supported streaming service acquired by Fox Corp for $440 million back in 2020, has announced it is launching in the UK market. The UK will be Tubi’s first European market – it currently operates in the US, Canada, Australia, Mexico, and a number of Central American markets. The app will launch in the UK with a catalogue of over 20,000 films and TV episodes on-demand, from distributors including Disney, Lionsgate, NBCUniversal, and Sony Pictures Entertainment, as well as original shows and films produced for the service. Fox says the service will be available “on every major connected TV platform”, as well as through mobile apps and via a web browser. Read more on VideoWeek.

Netflix and Amazon Look to International Markets to Fuel Commissioning Growth

After a year that saw content spending depressed by falling share prices and Hollywood strikes, the SVOD giants appear to have reclaimed their throne as the biggest hitters in original content. According to research from Ampere Analysis, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video accounted for more than half (53 percent) of global streaming commissions in the first quarter of 2024. In Q1 2024, Netflix ordered its highest number of new titles since Q3 2021, while Prime Video recorded its highest-ever quarter in terms of original commissions. Read more on VideoWeek.

Warner Bros. Discovery Teams Up With Esports World Cup

Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) will provide coverage for the Esports World Cup in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. The multi-platform coverage will include social media formats and a dedicated section on the Eurosport website, according to WBD. “We are thrilled to partner with Warner Bros. to bring the excitement and drama of the Esports World Cup to an even broader global audience,” said Esports World Cup Foundation CEO Ralf Reichert. “This collaboration allows us to leverage their extensive network and expertise across Eurosport, CNN, and other platforms to create amazing content and reach new fans in ways we never could before.”

TF1 Adds Addressable Ads to LCI Channel

TF1 has announced the launch of addressable ads on its free-to-air news channel, LCI. Advertisers will be able to target three new segments: heavy consumers of LCI, fans of political or economic news, and CSP+ and CSP++ households. The commercial broadcaster said it has added more than 150 audience segments over the last six months.

Hayu Comes to ITVX Premium

ITV is adding content from Hayu, a reality TV streaming service, to ITVX Premium, the paid version of its BVOD service. The deal will see a branded ‘Hayu Select’ area added to ITVX later this summer, featuring over 750 hours of Hayu content. “We are very proud to announce our partnership with Hayu,” said Sasha Breslau, Head of Content Acquisitions at ITV. “We know many of our users love nothing more than a good reality TV series, and now they can browse some of the best and latest episodes ad-free.”

Fubo Adds NBCU’s Olympics Coverage to Subscription Offering

Fubo, a sports streaming service, is offering NBCUniversal’s Olympics coverage to its subscribers at no additional charge. Fubo customers will have access to Olympic broadcasts on NBC, USA Network, E!, CNBC, Golf Channel, Telemundo and Universo, as well as, and the NBC Sports app. The partnership comes amid Fubo’s lawsuit against Fox, Warner Bros. Discovery and Disney over their streaming joint venture, Venu Sports, with a preliminary injunction hearing slated for 7th August. 

Paramount Looks to Sell BET Network for $1.6 Billion

Paramount is in talks to sell its Black Entertainment Television (BET) network, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday, seeking offers between $1.6 billion and $1.7 billion. Potential buyers include BET CEO Scott Mills and CC Capital boss Chinh Chu. Paramount is looking to offload assets in efforts to boost profitability, while the company aims to cut $500 million in costs.

SkyShowtime Comes to Prime Video Channels in Four Markets

Amazon is adding SkyShowtime to Prime Video Channels in Spain, the Netherlands, Poland and Sweden, starting this month. SkyShowtime is a streaming joint venture between Comcast and Paramount Global, available in European markets where Paramount+ is unavailable. “This deal enables us to expand our reach in some of our key markets, giving Amazon customers access to our exclusive series, blockbuster films, and local original programming,” said SkyShowtime CEO Monty Sarhan.

The Week for Publishers

Test Results Spark Concern Over Cookie Deprecation Impact on Publisher Revenues

Concerns continue to solidify around the impact of Google’s upcoming deprecation of third-party cookies on Chrome, as tests of Google’s Privacy Sandbox tools forecast a significant negative hit to publisher revenues. Criteo, which has worked closely with Google and extensively tested the tools, found that Chrome revenues from programmatically-sold ad inventory could fall by 60 percent as a result of cookie deprecation.

Ozone Offers Self-Serve Access Through Yahoo Backstage

UK publisher collective Ozone this week announced a deal with Yahoo which will offer self-serve access to its publishers’ inventory via Yahoo DSP’s direct-to-publisher supply path, Yahoo Backstage. Ozone says this will give buyers using the Yahoo DSP a more direct and efficient pathway to Ozone’s audiences, improving addressability and sustainability.

BILD Plans App Launch for Apple Vision Pro

German tabloid newspaper BILD has created an app which will launch on Apple Vision Pro, Apple’s extended reality headset, when it launches in Germany next week. The app, which was developed in-house by BILD’s parent company Axel Springer, will enable users to stream video content from BILD, AUTO BILD, and SPORT BILD.

National World Agrees New Ad Sales Partnerships

National World, a UK publishing group which owns a number of national and regional newspaper titles, this week announced two new ad sales deals with Reach Solutions and Axiom Media Holdings. Axiom, which already sells video inventory for National World, will represent the company’s digital media via a joint venture called Axiom Media Alliance. Meanwhile Reach Solutions, owned by publishing giant Reach, will sell National World’s print inventory alongside its own.

Businessweek Editor Says Print Trumps Digital for Some Content

Bloomberg-owned financial journal Businessweek is reducing its print circulation from weekly to monthly, but editor Brad Stone says the publisher isn’t retreating from print, and expects print to make a comeback due to the shortfalls of digital media. Speaking with Press Gazette, Stone said that Businessweek is focusing more on long, in-depth features for the reworked print magazine, saying that longer features are harder to engage with in digital environments.

The Week for Brands & Agencies

IPG Unifies Data, Engineering, and Tech

Interpublic Group is making moves to unify its units covering data, engineering, and tech, the holding group announced this week, bringing greater alignment between KINESSO and Acxiom. KINESSO’S global CEO Jarrod Martin is adding oversight of Acxiom, which handles data, identity resolution, and marketing cloud services, to his remit. IPG says this fully aligns the teams responsible for the engineering behind IPG’s integrated marketing engine, its company-wide ‘operating system’.

Lego Awards Global Media Account to Publicis Group

Global toy brand Lego has awarded its global media account to Publicis Group, following a competitive review which included incumbent Initiative. Lego’s business will be handled by a bespoke unit called Publicis One, which will be led by Starcom. “We were impressed with Publicis One’s depth and breadth of expertise – as well as their aligned cultural values,” said Julia Goldin, Lego’s chief product and marketing officer.

Majority of Marketers Still Use Basic Spreadsheets for Media Planning

Eighty-five percent of markets still use basic spreadsheets like Excel or Google Sheets for their media planning, despite the bank of media-specific solutions available on the market, according to a survey from Guideline. The survey also found that while many marketers receive daily data which they can use for campaign optimisation, a lot of marketers still only optimise on a monthly basis.

The Human Network Acquires Smyle Group

UK-based experiential agency Smyle Group has been acquired by The Human Network, a holding business which owns agencies including Identity, for an undisclosed fee. “The expansion of The Human Network marks a significant milestone in our quest to create a future where event experiences are elevated to incredible new heights,” said Michael Gietzen, CEO of The Human Network and Identity.

Hires of the Week

Verve Appoints Alex Stil as Chief Commercial Officer

End-to-end ad tech business Verve has appointed Alex Stil as its new chief commercial officer, tasked with expanding the Verve’s demand-side business. Stil most recently worked as president of GroupM Services EMEA. Verve’s demand-side capabilities have been expanded significantly recently through its acquisition of Jun Group.

Dentsu Announces Dual Role for Annette Male

Dentsu has appointed Annette Male to the dual role of Chief Business Officer, EMEA, and Chief Client Officer, UK&I. Male has nearly 30 years’ experience in marketing and technology, including leadership roles at Meta and Wunderman Thompson. The appointment sees her return to London after nine years in Singapore.

Channel 4 Appoints Katie Jackson as CMO

Channel 4 has named Katie Jackson as Chief Marketing Officer, following her stint as interim CMO. Jackson will play a key role in the broadcaster’s Fast Forward strategy, transforming Channel 4 into a public service streamer. She previously served as Managing Director of the company’s in-house agency, 4creative.

HbbTV Association Re-Elects Vincent Grivet

The HbbTV Association has re-elected Eutelsat’s Vincent Grivet for a further two years as Chairman. Grivet was first elected in 2018, chairing the global initiative for hybrid broadcast broadband TV standards. Jon Piesing (TP Vision) was also re-elected as Vice-Chairman, while Xavi Redon (Cellnex Telecom) will continue to serve as Treasurer.

This Week on VideoWeek

Netflix and Amazon Look to International Markets to Fuel Commissioning Growth

Fox Corp’s Tubi Launches in the UK

83 Percent of US Households Have a CTV Device

VideoWeek Podcast #46, David Pollet, Incremental

Programmatic is Democratising Access to TV

Threads Clocks 175 Million Users and Mulls Monetisation One Year After Launch

Ad of the Week

Arby’s, The Uncovering

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About the Author:

Tim Cross is Assistant Editor at VideoWeek.
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