The WIR: Channel 4 Stops Running Publicis Media Ads as Pricing Row Continues, Condé Nast Britain Posts £14 Million Annual Loss, and CBS and Nielsen reach ‘Contractual Impasse’


In this week’s Week in Review: Channel 4 stops running Publicis Media ads as pricing row rumbles on, Condé Nast Britain posts an annual loss, and CBS hints it may stop using Nielsen as the two reach an impasse in contract negotiations. To receive an update on the industry’s top stories every Friday, sign up to the weekly Video Round-Up.

Top Stories

Channel 4 Enters 2019 With No Publicis Ads After Pricing Row
Channel 4 has begun the new year running no ads from Publicis Media after the two failed to come to an agreement on ad prices in negotiations held in December. Channel 4 has reportedly raised its ad prices despite a decline in broadcast TV audiences, a decision which Publicis Media has taken exception to. As a result Publicis Media clients, which include big spenders like P&G, Asda and GSK, are currently unable to run ads on Channel 4, which could cost Channel 4 over £200 million in business according to The Guardian. Channel 4’s CCO Jonathan Allen seemingly tried to pressure Publicis Media last month by writing directly to its clients explaining the situation, but this doesn’t have appeared to have moved the conversation forward.

Condé Nast Britain Posts £14 Million Annual Loss
International publisher Condé Nast’s British business reported a £14 million annual loss for 2017 this week, swinging from a profit the previous year. The publisher announced plans last year to merge Condé Nast International (which Condé Nast Britain is a part of) with the US business, in order to combat falling revenues particularly in the US, but this latest news demonstrates that the company’s problems spread beyond the States. Condé Nast however said that underlying profit was still positive, and the losses were attributable to one-off exceptional expenditures.

CBS and Nielsen at ‘Contractual Impasse’
US broadcaster CBS this week acknowledged that it has reached a “contractual impasse” with measurement body Nielsen as the two can’t agree on prices, and that it will use other measurement tools until a “fair deal” can be agreed. While CBS is still seeking to negotiate a new contract, it acknowledged the possibility that it may cut ties with Nielsen completely, threatening Nielsen’s firm grip on US TV measurement.

“The entire media industry is aware of the need for complete and accurate measurement across platforms,” said a CBS spokesperson on Thursday. “While Nielsen has made some strides in this area, progress has not been what we and many clients would like, and local TV measurement is particularly challenged. Despite this backdrop, Nielsen continues to use their market power to bundle disparate services and raise prices for services that don’t sufficiently address ongoing changes in the industry.”

The Week in Tech

Accedo Raises $17 Million in Growth Capital
Accedo, a tech company which works with media companies to build video products, announced on Thursday it has raised $17 million in growth capital. The funding round was led by SEB Private Equity, which was already a substantial investor in the company. “The industry is undergoing tremendous change at the moment,” said Accedo CEO Michael Lantz. “We see rapid innovation happening and existing business models and technologies are being challenged. As an innovator in the market, we have great opportunities to set and drive the agenda during a dynamic transformation. I’m thrilled to be able to continue to lead the market in new areas over the coming years.”

Gracenote Launches New Video Descriptors
Nielsen’s Gracenote this week announced the launch of a new descriptive metadata solution which it claims will enable more contextually relevant and satisfying TV and movie discovery experiences. The company says that Gracenote Video Descriptors dataset will extend beyond traditional genres to include descriptors around mood, theme, scenario and characters. Gracenote used Game of Thrones as an example, saying its tech picks up themes like ‘greed’ and ‘betrayal’, and describes scenarios including ‘power struggle’ and ‘manipulation’.

SK Telecom Claims First Live 5G TV Broadcast
Korean telecoms company SK Telecom claims to have delivered the first TV broadcast using its 5G network and broadcasting solution. The company broadcast a Korean New Year’s event in Seoul for around eleven minutes to TV channel XtvN using its 5G network and T Live Caster software.

Tech Company Stocks Fall After Apple Profit Warning
Tech stocks fell this week after Apple chief executive Tim Cook warned investors that his company is set to miss Q4 revenue targets by $5 billion, coming in at $84 billion as opposed to the previously predicted $89 billion. Cook primarily blamed the revenue miss on the economic environment in China and rising trade tensions between China and the US, though he also acknowledged that hardware sales has fallen short of expectations. Apple’s shares have fallen by over nine percent since the news, while Facebook’s are down by two percent and Amazon’s are down by 2.5 percent.

The Week in TV

ITV Launches New Promotional Magazine
British broadcaster ITV is launching ITV Magazine, a promotional magazine which will preview ITV’s content for the coming year, as well as extra content involving stars from ITV shows. The broadcaster says the launch is part of its ‘More Than TV’ strategy spearheaded by CEO Carolyn McCall, and is designed to develop stronger customer relationships.

Mediaset’s Channels Return to Sky Italia After Three Years
Italian broadcaster Mediaset’s channels have returned to the Sky Italia platform, the two announced this week. Mediaset’s channels left Sky Italia over three and a half years ago as the pair failed to agree a new carriage deal, but the two agreed a new wide-ranging deal last year, which included a new carriage agreement as well as plans to collaborate on a new digital-terrestrial transmission offering.

Tribune Channels Shut Down for Spectrum Customers
TV channels owned by Tribune Broadcasting went dark for customer’s of Charter Communications’ Spectrum cable service this week, as the two failed to agree a new carriage deal. The blackout will reportedly reach around six million customers, and will affect content including local news and NFL playoff games hosted on Tribune’s channels. Spectrum says that Tribune’s fee demands are excessive, and over double what they’re currently paying, while Tribune says its asking for “fair market rates”.

The Week in Publishing

Facebook Stops Accepting Political Ads in Washington State
Facebook has announced that, in response to new legislation in Washington State, it will no longer accept ads relating to Washington’s state or local elected officials, candidates, elections or ballot initiatives. This is a temporary measure as it investigates how to comply with the new disclosure requirements. The new rules came into effect on December 31st, and Facebook has not said how long the pause on political ads will last.

The Roku Channel Introduces Premium Subscriptions
Over-the-top (OTT) device manufacturer Roku has announced it will begin offering premium subscriptions services including Showtime, Starz and Epix via the Roku Channel, adding a paid component to Roku’s own ad-supported streaming service and boosting the variety of content available on the channel. Read the full story on VAN.

The Week for Agencies

MDC Partners Investor Seeks to Replace Three Board Members
FrontFour Capital Group, an investor in advertising business MDC Partners, is seeking to replace three of the company’s eight directors in an effort to breathe new life into it, according to the Wall Street Journal. The hedge fund sent a letter to the company calling for the shakeup, saying that MDC Partners shares have trailed behind those of other publicly traded ad agency holding companies and that it has been delivering weak revenue growth. The move comes as MDC considers a sales of all its assets this year, with consultancy Accenture reportedly in the running to buy the company.

Omnicom’s We Are Unlimited to Pick Up Business Outside of McDonald’s
We Are Unlimited, an Omnicom-owned agency created specifically to handle the McDonald’s account which DDB won over two years ago, will begin picking up business outside of McDonalds, according to AdWeek. AdWeek claims that DDB has told various partners that We Are Unlimited will be able to pursue new business opportunities. An unnamed source has also reportedly told AdWeek that the scope of WAU’s work with McDonald’s is smaller now than it was two years ago, and that the exclusive nature of the contract between the two may now have expired.

Digital Accounted for 72 Percent of UK Video Revenues Last Year
UK digital video revenues grew 26 percent year-on-year in 2018 according to the Entertainment Retailer’s Association, with digital accounting for 72 percent of all UK video sales. Physical retail fell by 16.9 percent, and physical rental fell by 21.7 percent. The findings come shortly after the news that British entertainment retailer HMV has entered administration, due in large part to competition from online streaming services.

Hires of the Week

Spencer Neumann Named Netflix CFO
Scott Neumann, recently CFO of Activision Blizzard, has been appointed as Netflix’s new CFO. “Spencer is a stellar entertainment executive and we’re thrilled that he will help us provide amazing stories to people all over the world,” said Reed Hastings, Netflix CEO.

McCann Health Appoints Matt Eastwood as Global Chief Creative Officer
McCann Health has named Matt Eastwood as its new global chief creative officer, replacing Jeremy Perrott who left last year for allegedly breaking the company’s code of conduct. Eastwood was most recently chief creative officer at J. Walter Thompson.

SeaChange Chooses Yossi Aloni as CCO
Video tech company SeaChange this week appointed Yossi Aloni as SVP and chief commercial officer. Aloni joins from ATEME, where he was chief of corporate operations.

Ad of the Week

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