News Roundup 8/18/17: The Frightful Five and the Other Guys

Photoillustration of a hand holding a phone with Media News on it.

Written by Dakota Bloom, our media researcher.

This is a roundup of what the heavy hitters in tech, TV, and streaming have been up to in the last few weeks- and it has been a pretty eventful week. Especially for Disney, Netflix, and Snap. 

Apple

Apple to spend $1 billion to create 10 new TV shows for either Apple Music or an as-yet-undefined video service. It already has originals in the form of the unscripted Planet of the Apps and a Dr. Dre drama series, Vital Signs.

Amazon

Amazon is aiming to take down Ticketmaster by flipping the nation’s biggest venues into using Amazon’s service over Ticketmaster- It is also gunning for Blue Apron – by developing MRE’s that don’t require refrigeration and have equivalent taste to Blue Apron’s offerings. Blue Apron’s stock tumbled on the news. On the content front, Amazon is working with the MPN Kin Community to create a digital QVC/HGTV where people can buy home makeover items directly from the show.

Disney

Disney is creating a new SVOD for its content in 2019 and will be pulling its content off of Netflix… unless, as a recent report suggests, certain Marvel and Lucasfilm titles might remain on the platform. Disney is also dropping a standalone ESPN app in 2018 and has bought BAMTech, the streaming technology company, to support both platforms. Coming hot on the heels of these announcements, Carlton Cuse (Lost, The Strain) was signed an overall deal just as Shonda Rhimes left for Netflix, both of which radically change the future of ABC’s content mix. Given the ever-intensifying race for streaming & premium TV supremacy currently underway, and newfound appreciation for the benefits of owning rather than creating content,  a new bidding war for high level talent is just beginning.

Facebook

Facebook has finally rolled out its Watch section for episodic/TV content. It is currently in beta with a limited number of users, and information is similarly limited. Given the current crowded market, adoption might be rough. Using episodic content like this will probably be a matter of training users to spend more than five minutes at a time on Facebook. On top of that, with Facebook’s increasingly crowded UI, having an entire other section might prove too much.

Google/Alphabet

YouTube is expanding its appeals processGoogle cracked down on monetization after Adpocalypse, which cut many creator’s income. Google is now making appealing decisions to take away revenue streams and monetization on videos a tad bit easier.

Netflix

As noted above in Disney’s section, Netflix has had a rollercoaster few weeks in its dealing with the studio. In addition to its Disney issues, Netflix has also purchased Millarworld, the Scottish comic company that created Kingsman, Kick Ass, and Wanted. Given the limited sources of superhero IP, Millarworld could help fill content gaps left by Disney & DC’s departure. Unfortunately the Kingsman and Kick Ass IPs were not included in the deal. Netflix also announced that they are going to spend $7 Billion on original content in 2018.

Snap

Snap had a rough Q2: User acquisition & average revenue per user has fallen largely due to Instagram’s continued feature-theft and Snap only sold 41K of their Spectacles, leading to a 13% drop in their share price. Hardware is a very difficult industry to grow into vs. software (harder to scale, harder to keep quality, harder to pivot), and Snap’s ventures are risky. It doubled down on the hardware move by starting talks to buy selfie drone maker Zero Zero Robotics for ~$150-200M. This follows their recent acquisition of the social map app Zenly. A bright spot is Snap copying Facebook’s Power Editor, which will allow for much more robust advertising creation, management, and reporting. Snapchat is slowly being forced to be more transparent about advertising and usage, and it is a welcome change for those interested in the advertising Duopoly being disrupted.

Time Warner

In advance of its acquisition by AT&T Time Warner has been unveiling multiple OTT initiatives, including its DC platform due in early 2018 and its newly announced Turner Sports/Bleacher Report-based OTT platform. They also have announced their plans for their new digital production company, Stage 13. The Warner Bros subsidiary will put out 7 original series distributed across Facebook, YouTube, and Go90. The Go90 move is somewhat given that Time Warner’s new corporate parent (and thus Stage 13’s corporate… great-grandparent?) is AT&T’s largest competitor in multiple verticals.

Nielsen

Nielsen is giving certain clients credit for Hulu, YouTube, and Facebook viewership, which may help Nielsen modernize its approach to measurement – and, hopefully, how advertisers measure success. Nielsen is also getting into Esports measurement, jumping on the rapidly expanding industry (and bandwagon). Lastly, a fun fact: Nielsen has a similar market cap to Snap ($15.3B vs $15.9B).