In this week’s Week in Review: Mediahuis considers buying The Telegraph, UEFA touts a potential move into OTT, and Discovery and ProSieben take the “add a plus on the end” convention for naming SVOD services too far. To receive an update on the industry’s top stories every Friday, sign up to the weekly Video Round-Up.
ProSieben and Discovery’s Streaming Service Launches Premium Subscription Tier ‘Joyn PLUS+’
Joyn, the German streaming service developed by ProSiebenSat.1 and Discovery, this week launched a paid premium subscription tier called Joyn PLUS+. The paid tier will feature a wider range of channels and content than the free, entirely ad supported tier. PLUS+ subscribers will also have access to over 60 live TV channels in HD, six additional pay-TV channels, and content from Maxdome, ProSieben’s video on-demand offering.
Joyn PLUS+ costs €6.99, cheaper than Netflix’s starting price point of €7.99. ProSieben and Discovery are also offering a free sample month, and a discounted first month, to draw users in. The service will host exclusive original content for paying members, with Joyn’s first international co-production ‘Dignity’ set to debut in the coming weeks. But unlike many paid services, Joyn PLUS+ won’t be entirely ad free, though ProSieben says audiences will be able to watch content “largely without advertising”.
Mediahuis Weighs Up Acquisition of Telegraph Media Group
Mediahuis, the media company which owns the UK’s Independent News & Media and the Netherlands’ Telegraaf Media Groep, is considering buying the Telegraph Media Group. The Telegraph newspapers are currently owned by British media tycoons the Barclay Brothers, but the two are reportedly considering selling off the assets. And Mediahuis’ chief executive Gert Ysebaert told the FT’s Future of News conference this week that “if the Telegraph is for sale, they should give me a call”.
While no formal sale process has been initiated, the Daily Mail and General Trust has also considered the acquisition according to the FT, though it has apparently been put off by a rumoured asking price in excess of £200 million.
UEFA Considers Streaming Its Own Champions League Games
European football body UEFA is considering a move into streaming Champions League matches on its own over-the-top (OTT) service, over fears that rights deals with broadcasters are becoming less lucrative, the FT reported this week. The organisation is currently auctioning broadcasting rights for matches between 2021 and 2024. But UEFA general secretary Theodore Theodoridis told the FT that it might decline to sell rights in some markets, instead expanding its ‘UefaTV’ website into a full OTT service on which it would host Champions League games. “For now, we have lots of [broadcast] partners and are looking forward to continuing our partnerships,” said Mr. Theodoridis. “We just want to be ready. We just want to have alternative options.”
It’s becoming increasingly common for rights owners to experiment with streaming and monetising their content themselves, with US baseball league the MLB and Formula 1 two notable examples. But so far rights holders for major sports have largely chosen to still sell TV rights while also streaming events themselves, rather than cutting out broadcasters completely.
The Week in Tech
Tim Berners Lee Reveals Plans to Save the Internet
Tim Berners Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, this week published his ‘Contract for the Web‘, pitched as his effort to save the internet. The Contract for the Web is a series of principles which governments, companies, civil society and individuals are asked to sign up to, in order to commit to mitigating the “unacceptable costs” that have come with the growth of the Web. Governments are asked to ensure that everyone can connect to the internet, to keep it available all of the time, and to respect and protect online privacy and users’ data rights. Companies meanwhile are asked to make the internet affordable and accessible for everyone, to respect people’s privacy and personal data, and to “develop technologies that support the best in humanity and challenge the worst”.
Google, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and Microsoft are among those listed as supporting the initiative.
IAB UK Proposes Withdrawing Content Categories from Bid Requests
Industry trade body IAB UK this week proposed responses to UK data regulation the Information Commissioner’s Office’s (ICO) concerns around real-time bidding (RTB), which include withdrawing content categories from bid requests. The ICO has been calling for industry change as part of its ongoing investigation into ad tech and RTB, finding that RTB “presents a number of challenges to good data protection practices” in its current form.
One of these challenges stems from processing of “special category data” – personal data relating to especially sensitive subjects like religious beliefs, political opinions, race and ethnic origins, and biometric data – which receive special protections under GDPR. Content categories are used to describe the page context of an impression. But IAB UK says that they can be associated with user IDs or other personal information, and inadvertently become special category data. The trade body plans to adopt rules for the UK market which would “minimise the inclusion of content category data in a bid request when it is generated”, according to the announcement.
Video Ad Tech Company Inform Sues Google Over Anticompetitive Practices
US-based video ad tech company Inform is suing Google over accusations of “illegal and anti-competitive conduct across multiple, inter-related markets”. Inform says it was making around $100 million per year through streaming and pop-up video advertising between 2014 and 2016, but that these revenues collapsed, resulting in the company being bought by Bright Mountain Media earlier this year.
Inform is accusing Google of, among other things, coercing both consumers and advertisers into using its products, illegally undermining rivals’ products and services, and entering exclusionary agreements restricting the right of companies to provide competing products or services. The suit also claims that Google sales staff have offered access to Google ad server information to Inform’s customers, in an attempt to poach them from Inform (for example, by showing them Google ad server data which made it look like Inform was running ads next to objectionable content).
Firefox Says it Will Block IAB’s DigiTrust ID
Internet browser Mozilla Firefox says it will prevent tracking of users on its browser via a standardised user ID designed by the IAB-led DigitTrust consortium, Digiday reported this week. The consortium is one of a number of coalitions aimed at providing alternatives to third-party cookies for tracking users online, necessitated as browsers including Firefox have begun blocking third-party cookies by default. While Firefox has a relatively small share of the global browser market, the move may be worrying for those who have looked to new identity solutions to work around third-party cookie restrictions.
The Week in TV
Fox Sells Out of Super Bowl Inventory
Fox Corp has already sold out of inventory for next year’s Super Bowl months before the event, according to the Wall Street Journal, having received better-than-expected demand from advertisers. Advertisers have paid up to $5.6 million for 30 second spots during the broadcast, beating this year’s high of $5.3 million.
This marks a welcome turnaround compared to previous years, where inventory had taken longer to sell. CBS, which broadcast this year’s Super Bowl, only sold out hours before the game began, according to the WSJ.
Mediaset and Vivendi’s Race for a Legal Settlement Goes to the Wire
Mediaset and Vivendi had a court date scheduled for 11.30 GMT this morning to see if the two could reach an agreement and bring to an end a three year legal battle between the two media giants. The two have locked horns on a number of issues, including Mediaset’s plan to create a pan-European TV powerhouse (Vivendi, a shareholder in Mediaset, doesn’t approve of the plan). The broadcasters have been attempting to reach an agreement before the court-set deadline. And according to Reuters the court has postponed the hearing by three hours, to give the two a little more time to reach an agreement.
DAZN Nears Eight Million Subs
Sports streaming service DAZN (pronounced Da Zone) is nearing eight million subscribers, more than double what it reported six months ago, according to CNBC. A lot of this growth is attributed to the addition of UFC fights to the service, which has made its name through streaming fighting sports, but has much wider ambitions in the sports streaming world.
The Week in Publishing
YouTube Trials Pairing “Edgy Creators” with Appropriate Brands
YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki says the company is trialling a new approach to brand safety, in which “edgy” creators are paired with brands who are less concerned about keeping a squeaky clean image. After numerous brand safety crises, YouTube has taken a stricter stance on monetisation for risky content, with many creators seeing substantial drops in revenue as a result. Bur in a blog post aimed at creators, Wojcicki said YouTube is “working to identify advertisers who are interested in edgier content, like a marketer looking to promote an R-rated movie, so we can match them with creators whose content fits their ads”.
Facebook and Instagram Crash on Thanksgiving
Facebook and Instagram both went down for many of their US users on Thanksgiving. “Earlier today, an issue in one of our central software systems caused many people to have trouble accessing Facebook’s family of apps,” a Facebook spokesperson told CNBC. “We quickly investigated, started restoring access, and we’re now monitoring for full recovery. We’re sorry for the inconvenience.”
The outage was bad news for media buyers, with campaigns set to run on the platforms over Thanksgiving taking a hit.
If you’re a media buyer, @FBBusiness just screwed your Thanksgiving holiday.
— David Herrmann (@herrmanndigital) November 28, 2019
News UK Launches New Branded Social Video Arm ‘The Sun Social’
UK publisher News UK has launched a new business under its ‘The Sun’ brand for creating branded video content designed for social platforms, called The Sun Social. The Sun Social’s first work is for The Perfume Shop, with video content distributed on The Sun’s own domain, as well as via its Facebook Channel. “The Sun Social Studio allows us to put our social expertise into the hands of our clients, providing an agile service, and target this off-platform audience by offering social video branded content capabilities,” said Jo Carrigan, head of commercial content for News UK.
The Week for Agencies
Programmatic Ad Spend Will Exceed $100 Billion This Year says Zenith
Programmatic ad spend will exceed $100 billion for the first time this year, according to media agency Zenith’s ‘Programmatic Marketing Forecasts 2019’ which was published this week. Over 2019, 65 percent of all digital media (excluding paid search and classified advertising, by Zenith’s definition) will have been traded programmatically, which is set to increase to 69 percent next year, and 72 percent in 2021.
“Although programmatic ad spend continues to grow at double-digit rates, it is being hindered as the industry struggles with privacy and supply-chain challenges,” said Jonathan Barnard, Zenith’s head of forecasting. “Once these challenges have been addressed, programmatic marketing has the potential to accelerate again during the next decade.”
Agency Staff Circulate Salary Spreadsheet
After a Google Sheets spreadsheet in which journalists anonymously shared their salaries made the news a few weeks back, an equivalent for the agency world has emerged. The document was created by R/GA account manager Cole Habersham, according to Campaign, who says the idea is to help people of colour within the industry understand what they should be getting paid, and better negotiate compensation for themselves.
ISBA Highlights ‘Data Adequacy’ Fears in Pre-Election Manifesto
UK advertising trade body ISBA (the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers) has released a manifesto for the upcoming UK General Election, calling on the next parliament to swiftly end uncertainty around Britain’s withdrawal from the EU. The manifesto asks the next government to “pursue as swiftly as possible a data adequacy agreement with Brussels”, highlighting one of the potential threats of a no-deal exit from the Union. Read the full story on VAN.
Hires of the Week
Wavemaker Chooses Anna Hickey as President, Global Clients
Anna Hickey, Wakemaker UK’s chief operating officer, has been promoted to Wavemaker’s global leadership team as president of global clients. “Anna is one of our most highly regarded operating executives and is an exceptional client and team leader,” said Toby Jenner, Wavemaker’s global CEO. “She’s presented me with a compelling vision for next-level client leadership and for how we’ll continue to provoke growth for clients and for Wavemaker.”
Ben Frow Named Viacom Director of Programmes for UK
Viacom International Media Networks has chosen Ben Frow as director of programmes for the UK. Frow was already director of programmes for Channel 5, and will add Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon and Paramount Network to his work load.
Ad-Lib Appoints Adit Abhyankar and Patrick Collister as CEO and Creative Director
Marketing technology SaaS platform Ad-Lib this week announced the appointments of Adit Abhyankar as CEO and Patrick Collister to the role of Creative Director. Abhyankar and Collister have joined Ad-Lib from Google to bring together data and creative for brands. Previously Abhyankar was head of Google Marketing Platform, Continental Europe and emerging markets, and Collister held the role of head of design at Google Zoo.
This Week on VAN
The Ad Tech CEOs Make Their 2020 Predictions, read more on VAN
How OTT Is the Next Frontier for Consent Everywhere, read more on VAN
How Can Brands Best Protect Themselves on CTV? read more on VAN
ISBA Highlights ‘Data Adequacy’ Fears in Pre-Election Manifesto, read more on VAN
Ad of the Week
Microsoft, Lucy & The Reindeer, McCann NY