100% Media Roundup: 1 August- 5 August
This is a daily digest of news stories from around the media world, updated by The Media Leader team, to ensure you’re 100% up-to-date.
Friday, 5 August
Alex Jones ordered to pay $4.1m in defamation damages
Far-right conspiracy theorist and provocateur Alex Jones has been ordered to pay $4.1m in defamation charges to the parents of victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting, a jury decided on Thursday.
The parents, Scarlett Lewis and Neil Heslin, sought up to $150m in damages from Jones after he, for years, continued to spread the theory that the mass shooting was a hoax on his program InfoWars.
The $4.1m is in compensatory damages; the jury is still deciding on how much Jones must pay in punitive damages.
Sinclair reports 25% dip in ad revenue despite record Q2 political adspend
Sinclair’s total Q2 advertising revenues declined 25% from $491m in Q2 2021 to $366m in Q2 2022.
This despite a record second quarter for political advertising, which totaled $54m in spend as competitive US midterms heat up.
The US telecommunications conglomerate reported mixed earnings overall, with earnings per share of $0.17 beating analyst estimates of $-0.01 while revenue of $837m missed estimates of $840m.
Sinclair cited lower results from its regional sports network, Diamond Sports Group, as reasons for the depressed revenue results.
Sky and DAZN sign ‘major strategic agreement’ in Italy
Sky and streaming service DAZN have signed a strategic agreement in Italy making the DAZN app available on Sky Q from 8 August.
The deal will also offer Sky subscribers access to ZONA DAZN channel via the Sky decoder for a special rate which will show exclusive Serie A TIM matches and a selection of events.
Sky Q subscribers, who are also DAZN customers, will be able to access all of the content from DAZN directly from the app section or via voice command feature.
RTL Group registers 4.5 million paying streaming subs
European broadcaster, RTL Group, reported paying subscribers for its streaming services in Germany and the Netherlands were up 48.0% to 4.5 million, with streaming revenue up 5% to to €130 million.
It reported group revenue was up 8.7% to to €3.3bn in the first half of this year and “stable” organically.
In Q2 2022, group revenue was up 6.5% to €1.7bn, but down 4.1% organically because of “slowing” TV advertising markets, particularly in Germany.
RTL Group revised its full-year outlook for 2022 due to a “challenging macroeconomic environment”, upgrading adjusted EBITA to between €1.05bn to €1.15bn including streaming start-up losses, €1.3bnand €1.4bn before streaming start-up losses.
Twitter rejects Musk’s arguments in legal filings
Twitter has accused Elon Musk of “conjuring” the issue of spam bots on the platform to back out of its $44bn acquisition deal in legal filings made public on Thursday.
Twitter called Musk’s arguments for abandoning the deal “a story, imagined in an effort to escape a merger agreement that Musk no longer found attractive once the stock market and along with it, his massive personal wealth, declined in value”.
Last month, Twitter sued Musk to force him to to complete the deal and Musk launched his own counter lawsuit last week.
Audi becomes Sky Sports’ official innovation partner
Audi has partnered with Sky Sports to become its first innovation partner.
The agreement will include sponsorship of the Power Meter (pictured, below), a Sky Sports’ innovation that will be featured on new cricketing tournament The Hundred, alongside bespoke TV creative and co-branded social content throughout the rest of 2022.
The partnership was planned and brokered by Omnicom Media Group’s PHD and Sky Media.
Alight Media reaches 300 digital billboard screens across UK
Alight Media now has a network of 300 digital 48-sheet billboards in 123 towns across the UK.
The out-of-home (OOH) media owner, which first launched three years ago, reported its digital billboards (pictured, main image) are now seen by more than 28 million adults each month, and it delivers 350 million impressions each month in smaller towns nationwide.
This combined with its classic and digital six-sheet products, its adults reach is now almost 30 million each month across more than 14500 OOH advertising sites.
Thursday, 4 August
Stagwell reports 16% organic revenue growth amid ‘digital acceleration’
Mark Penn‘s challenger holding company Stagwell reported another quarter of double-digit organic growth (+16% organic revenue).
The company reaffirmed its strong 2022 outlook, expecting 18-22% organic net revenue growth and $450-$480m in adjusted Ebitda.
The company cited strong growth in a “continued digital acceleration”, as over half (57%) of revenues were attributed to digital services, with organic year-over-year growth in digital revenues of 28%.
A spokesperson for Stagwell said: “Despite the economic slowdown and bleak outlook for Big Tech, we’re seeing strong performance from most marketing holding companies – why? Revenue is spreading across more channels as brands invest in digital transformation, performance marketing, and media buying”.
Paramount DTC subs grow to 64 million, profit falls 22%
Paramount reported continued subscription growth in its direct-to-consumer segment, adding 5.2 million subscribers (and subtracting 3.9 million ex-subscribers from Russia) to rise to 64 million total subscribers across Paramount+, Showtime, BET+, Noggin, and PlutoTV.
Paramount+ added 3.7 million net subscribers to grow to 43 million globally and grew revenue 120% following “successful” international market launches in the UK, Ireland, and South Korea.
However, the company’s profit, calculated as adjusted operating income before depreciation and amortization (OIBDA) fell 22% to $963 as the company spent heavily on its streaming products.
Paramount’s DTC revenue increased 56% year-over-year from $767m to $1.2bn, led by 74% growth in subscription revenue and 25% increase in advertising revenue.
Paramount’s linear offerings, a bigger part of its business, were less rosy—revenue rose just 1% year-over-year, in part due to declines in advertising revenue (-6%) and affiliate and subscription revenue (-3%).
Filmed entertainment saw a big boost from Top Gun: Maverick and Sonic the Hedgehog 2, leading to a 126% increase in theatrical revenue (from $603m to $1.4bn) after cinemas were still affected by pandemic restrictions this time last year.
DoubleVerify posts 43% revenue growth year-on-year
Digital media data platform, DoubleVerify registered 43% year-on-year revenue growth to $109.8m above expectations, in its latest results.
The company, which specialises in digital media measurement software and analytics that authenticates the quality and effectiveness of digital media, said this was driven by growth in pre-campaign activation across programmatic, social media and connected TV.
In its earnings call, Mark Zagorski, CEO, cited advertisers’ desire for “stability and clarity in an increasingly unstable and opaque marketing environment” leading them to choose DoubleVerify solutions, along with second quarter scaling up in social media including Reddit, TikTok and Twitter, gaming, and retail media.
He noted the number of global advertisers using its brand safety solution on TikTok has grown by about 42% year-over-year, and this is end-to-end in-feed solutions are being developed in conjunction with the TikTok team.
DoubleVerify partners with some of the largest retail media networks in the world, including Amazon, Walmart, Target, Macy’s, Best Buy and Kroger and Zagorski said: “We are continuing to scale on retail media networks, which are fast becoming the advertising venue of choice for outcome-driven brands.”
William Hill launches football podcast
William Hill has announced it will launch a dedicated football podcast, STRIPPED, on 4 August across all major audio platforms and YouTube.
The show will be hosted by football personality, Specs Gonzalez, and YouTuber, David Vujanic (pictured, above), with the aim of capturing attention of football fans and providing continuous entertainment, in particular to a new generation interested in the culture around the game including fashion, music, gaming and food.
Each week the podcast will be shaped around the chosen football shirts from a different celebrity guest: “the first one”, “the haunted one”, “the unforgettable one”, “the away one” and “the name one”, as well as conversations around the regular football fixtures calendar, iconic footballing moments and wider culture.
The podcast was created with Wavemaker and Platform Media.
Wednesday, 3 August
Paramount+ to launch on The Roku Channel
Paramount+ will launch as a premium subscription option on The Roku Channel later this month.
In addition, Roku has created a dedicated live TV guide for Paramount+ live content, the first time it has done so.
The Roku Channel offers premium subscriptions from over 50 streaming services, allowing Roku users to simplify their subscription management.
UK parliament shuts down TikTok account after data security concerns
Just one week after the UK parliament created an official TikTok account “for news and behind-the-scenes content from the Elizabeth Tower”, the account is being closed down, according to a report from The Guardian.
We’re live on TikTok!
Follow @UKParliament for news and behind-the-scenes content from the Elizabeth Tower.
— UK Parliament (@UKParliament) July 27, 2022
The closure follows objections from Conservatives over concerns that user data on TikTok can be accessed from China.
The US FCC commissioner last month referred to TikTok as a “national security threat” over the same concerns, and asked for Apple and Google to remove the app from its app stores.
TikTok later admitted that “engineering teams”, including those based in China, “might need access to data for engineering functions that are specifically tied to their roles” and went on to share new initiatives to “strengthen transparency and accountability”.
Facebook ‘has earned tens of thousands of dollars’ running abortion pill misinformation ads
Facebook has earned tens of thousands worth of advertising revenue from anti-abortion organizations in the US who have paid to run ads that spread misinformation about abortion procedures, according to new data from Media Matters.
The advertisements have reportedly been seen millions of times.
Facebook states in its policy center that it prohibits advertisements that contain “deceptive, false or misleading claims” including “misleading health”.
The New York Times sees decline in digital ad revenue, jump in digital subs
The New York Times Company added 180,000 digital-only subscribers in Q2 2022, bringing its total paid subscribers to 9.17 million, the company announced in its earnings report today.
The gain amounts to a 70% increase compared to subscribers added in Q1 2021.
However, The Times generated $69.3m in digital advertising revenue, 2.4% less than Q2 2021. Overall advertising revenues increased by 4.1% year-over-year.
Total revenues amounted to $555.7m, an 11.5% increase, but adjusted operating profit decreased 4.4% as higher revenues were offset by increased costs and losses, namely at recently-acquired sports news website The Athletic.
TikTok eyes mobile gaming expansion
TikTok has launched a mobile gaming pilot with game developers Voodoo, Nitro Games, FRVR, Aim Lab and Lotum, with plans to speak to other game makers to establish similar deals in the gaming space.
The list of these “mini-games” can be found inside the TikTok app when posting a video and also through creators’ videos and include Basketball FRVR, Tap the Difference, Peek a Who, Pride Run, Influencer Run, Space Destroyer and Mr. Aim Lab’s Nightmare.
This follows a partnership with gaming company Zynga last year which led to the creation of a TikTok exclusive title, Disco Loco 3D.
Truss to order review into non-TV licence fee paying offence if elected
Conservative Party leadership candidate Liz Truss has said she will order a review into whether failing to pay the TV licence fee should be prosecuted as a criminal offence.
Currently watching TV or BBC iPlayer without paying the £159 annual fee can result in a £1000 fine and a court appearance, and jail if the fine is not paid.
Truss said she was concerned about the number of women being punished for this and if she were chosen as Prime Minister would look at “all options” to overhaul the licence fee system.
Nearly three quarters (74%) of 114,000 people convicted for dodging the licence fee in 2019 were female.
New York Times appoints editor at large
The New York Times has named Matt Purdy as editor at large, a new leadership position shaping the paper’s “most ambitious enterprise” and competitive investigative reporting.
In a letter to newsroom colleagues, Joe Kahn, the executive editor, said Purdy would focus on larger projects instead of direct management of big desks, and in the next few months would put in place a team and structure to ensure “the right oversight” over every aspect of The New York Times’ “enterprise machine” and support for newsroom leadership.
Purdy first joined The New York Times in 1993 from the Philadelphia Inquirer, and spent many years as a Metro reporter, editor and columnist, and led the investigations desk for nine years before joining the masthead in 2013.
Forbes ‘exploring sale’
Business publication Forbes is exploring a sale for “at least $630m”, according to a report by The New York Times.
Earlier this year, Forbes terminated a plan to go public through a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC).
Forbes is currently owned by Integrated Whale Media (95% stake) and the Forbes family (5%), and is edited by Randall Lane.
Warner Bros. Discovery shelves Batgirl
Warner Bros. Discovery will not release Batgirl despite the film being in the final stages of development.
The film, which was set to star Leslie Grace in the titular role, with Michael Keaton and J.K. Simmons returning to the Batman franchise in supporting roles alongside Brendan Fraser, already cost $90m to produce.
A source cited by the New York Post, which broke the story on Tuesday, cited poorly received test screenings as the reason for cancellation.
Scoob!: Holiday Haunt, an animated Scooby Doo film, has also been scrapped by the company.
It is the latest in a series of moves following WarnerMedia’s merger with Discovery that have turned industry heads, such as when HBO cancelled European TV productions and when CNN+ was shelved after less than a month of airtime.
Instagram’s Mosseri to move to London, Sheryl Sandberg officially leaves Meta
Instagram chief Adam Mosseri is temporarily moving to London, according to reports.
Meanwhile, COO Sheryl Sandberg has officially left Meta after 14 years.
She previously announced in June that she would be stepping down as COO, though she will remain on the board of directors.
Tuesday, 2 August
Mail Metro Media and Channel 5 launch podcast on women’s health
Mail Metro Media, the advertising arm of DMG Media, has launched a podcast with Channel 5 about destigmatising women’s health.
Women’s Health: Breaking the Taboos, will be available from today on Apple and Spotify and supports a new Channel 5 show of the same name which will air between 9 and 12 August at 7pm.
Presenter Cherry Healey and Dr Dawn Harper will co-present the podcast and discuss “taboo” health issues from severe period pains, incontinence, hair loss and the menopause with a variety of guests including Trisha Goddard, Lucy Alexander, Toyah Wilcox and Jamelia.
The podcast will be promoted to DMG Media’s female audience through performance display, native content on MailOnline, take-overs of the Femail page, and women’s health editorial across desktop and mobile, alongside features and an advertising takeover of Metro newspapers “Trends” section.
All planning and project management was led by WPP agency Wavemaker.
Neighbours finale nets its largest audience on Channel 5 since 2008
The last episode of Neighbours on 29 July was watched by an average overnight audience of 2.5 million, the show’s largest audience since Channel 5 began broadcasting the show in 2008.
The show’s audience peaked at 2.96 million, a 36% higher audience than Love Island on ITV2 which was watched by 1.84 million viewers.
It gained a 10.3% peak of all individuals, Channel 5’s biggest daily share of commercial viewing since Christmas 2020.
Channel 5 said 2.1 million viewers were reached who had not previously seen a Neighbours episode on Channel 5 this year prior to the finale.
Pinterest releases new social media app Shuffles
Pinterest has released Shuffles, a new social media app that is “designed for collective collaging”.
The app was designed by Pinterest’s in-house “incubator team” TwoTwenty.
Shuffles’ description says it allows users to do things like creatively curate outfits, visualize interior designs, and even “moodboard your current aesthetic vibe”.
Posts can be shared privately with friends or publicly with groups that share interests.
MediaCom UK, Paramount Global and eBay bring back Pimp My Ride almost 20 years after first broadcast
A new six-part series of Pimp My Ride, the car transformation show, is set to premiere exclusively on MTV UK’s YouTube channel from 19 August.
The series of 15-minute episodes will also be distributed on Facebook, Twitter and Snap, with a TV spot promoting the programme to be broadcast on Paramount UK’s channels, the first one going live on 2 August.
With this use of social channels, the aim is for the show to reach a broader audience including both legacy fans and a new younger generation.
MediaCom UK and eBay, the show’s sponsor, worked with Paramount’s in-house brand partnerships division, Velocity, to connect the series to eBay’s parts and accessories vertical.
The show will be hosted by British rapper Lady Leshurr.
Instagram ‘paying media companies for Reels posts’
Instagram is paying media companies to post Reels—Instagram’s TikTok-esque short-form video content—according to a report by Digiday.
Instagram previously rolled out a program to pay individual creators for Reels as a way to promote the TikTok competitor, but the Meta-owned company has reportedly expanded it to apply to media companies as well.
The payouts are something of a pittance, according to the report, amounting to only a few hundred dollars for a video with over 1 million views, but it is an incentive to post more Reels nonetheless.
The move comes as sister company Facebook has cut back on paying publishers for news.
Twitter increases cost of Twitter Blue subscription service, tests multimedia tweets
Twitter has increased the cost of its Twitter Blue subscription service from $2.99/month to $4.99/month in the US.
Similar price increases for the service have occurred in Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.
Twitter Blue gives users access to “premium features” like the ability to undo Tweets, access ad-free articles, and customize themes and navigation.
Separately, Twitter is testing multimedia tweets to allow users to share photos, videos, and GIFs in the same tweet.
Pinterest reports earnings miss, stock rises on better-than-expected user numbers and Elliott stake
Pinterest reported adjusted earnings per share of $0.11 (versus $0.18 expected) and revenue of $666m (versus $667m expected), with global active users declining 5% year-over-year to 433 million (431 million expected).
Elliott Investment Management also announced that it has become Pinterest’s largest investor, which in tandem with better-than-expected user numbers sent Pinterest’s stock up over 19% in pre-market trading.
CFO and head of business operations Todd Morgenfeld added in Pinterest’s earnings call that the company saw 25% growth in advertising spend commitments from joint business partnerships in H1 2022 compared to H1 2021.
However, Morgenfeld said that “the digital advertising environment has been and will continue to be challenging”, as many of Pinterest’s advertising partners are experiencing supply chain issues, inflation, and weakening consumer demand.
Big Brother set to return to ITV2 this year
ITV has announced that reality TV show Big Brother will return to screens on ITV2 and ITVX in 2023.
The show first launched in the UK in 2000, produced by Initial, part of Banijay UK, and ITV said the Big Brother House will be given “a contemporary new look”.
The six-week programme is commissioned by Paul Mortimer, director of reality commissioning and acquisitions and controller, ITV2, ITVBe & CITV, and Peter Tierney, commissioning editor.
Mortimer said of the reimagined show: “This refreshed, contemporary new series of Big Brother will contain all the familiar format points that kept viewers engaged and entertained the first time round, but with a brand new look and some additional twists that speak to today’s audience. We’re beyond excited to bring this iconic series to ITV2 and ITVX where it should especially engage with our younger viewers.”
Ozone Project hires head of customer success and head of data science
Ozone Project has hired Charlotte Seagers as head of customer success and Antonio Nunes as head of data science.
Seagers joins Ozone from Beeswax where she was senior account manager and team lead, and has held senior roles at Rezonence where she became vice president of platform.
In the head of customer success role she will expand Ozone Project’s international relationships with other publisher-led companies and leverage technology and services to maximise digital revenue and speed up time to market.
Seagers will report directly to Danny Spears, Ozone’s chief operating officer.
Nunes joins Ozone Project from QBE Europe where he was lead data scientist, and also held the same role at The Telegraph and prior to that was an analytics specialist at Telefónica.
He will be responsible for machine-learning algorithms that form part of Ozone’s “smart bidstream” technology which offers publishers greater control over data they make available to ad partners and better yield optimisation.
He will report to Joao Barbosa, director of data operations.
S4 Capital appoints chief operating officer and chair or audit and risk committee
S4 Capital has appointed Christopher S. Martin as chief operating officer and Colin Day as new chair of audit and risk committee.
Both will take on the roles with immediate effect and the company said their appointments were part of plans to scale S4 capitals organisational structure and processes, along with intentions to invest in and “tighten” financial control, risk and governance processes.
Martin was a co-founder of MightyHive Inc, which joined S4 Capital in December 2018 after being fully merged with Media.Monks in 2021. Prior to this he worked at Yahoo for more than ten years.
Day will also join the S4 Capital board as a non-executive director and has held management and governance roles in the past including non-executive chairman of Premier Foods, chief executive of Essentra and chief financial officer of Reckitt Benckiser and Aegis.
Monday, 1 August
Sony Music UK takes over cliffs of Dover ahead of England win
Sony Music UK projected a good luck message from David Baddiel, Frank Skinner and the Lightning Seeds ahead of the Lionesses’ win against Germany last night.
Independent media agency, the7stars, and Ministry of Experience coordinated the media “at the eleventh hour” to showcase the “Football’s Coming Home” message from the popular Three Lions single which was first released in 1996 when the men’s team reached the UEFA Euros.
Read more on the UEFA Women’s Euros here:
TikTok Shop to sell fresh food
TikTok will sell fresh food directly through its shop for the first time in the UK.
Users will be able to purchase food through the shopping function on the app from brands including Pasta Evangelists, The Fish Society, The Veg Box Company, By Ruby and EXALT from 1 August.
TikTok reported food content on its platform has accumulated 26 billion views.
The Chicago Sun-Times to ‘tear down its paywall’
The Chicago Sun-Times is taking down its paywall, according to a report from MediaPost.
The Sun-Times instituted a paywall for its online content last December, but according to reports, it now plans to drop the paywall and institute a membership program instead.
The daily newspaper became a non-profit in January when it was merged with Chicago Public Media, which also owns National Public Radio’s (NPR) Chicago affiliate WBEZ.
Currys goes back to cinema for first time in a decade
Currys has gone back to cinema to target students needing laptops for the return to school and university.
Spark Foundry and AMV BBDO worked on three ads in Currys’ “No questions unanswered” campaign, taking the tech retailer back to cinema for the first time in ten years, with accompanying activation on TV, social and location-based digital.
The ads show Currys’ tech experts going “the extra mile” to answer customer questions, from testing remote working capabilities from El Capitan in Yosemite to test out remote working capabilities (pictured, above), to teaching an art class in Paris.
Tesco launches media review
Tesco is set to re-pitch its media account.
WPP’s MediaCom has held handled Tesco’s media since 2015.
Read more on Tesco here:
Listen appoints three senior hires to boost original content
Listen, an independent UK podcast production company, has made three senior hires to deliver its first slate of original podcasts.
The agency has hired ex-Somethin’ Else exec (part of Sony Music Entertainment), Darby Dorras as director of content (pictured, top right), Josh Adley as managing director (pictured, top left) and Amber Bateman as executive producer (pictured, bottom).
Listen was launched in 2019 and specialises in branded content and commissioned work for global platforms.
The company has previously created podcasts for clients including BBC Sounds, Audible, Spotify, Amazon Music, Sky Bingo, BMW, Vodafone, MTV, and Comedy Central.
Some of these productions include 28ish Days Later, That Gemma Collins Podcast, Titting About with French and Saunders, Michael Caine: Heroes and Ry-Union.
Talon Outdoor makes multiple senior leadership promotions
Talon Outdoor, specialist global out-of-home (OOH) media agency, has promoted Josko Grljevic from UK chief transformation officer to group chief operating officer, reporting into group CEO Barry Cupples.
Anant East has also been promoted to group chief transformation officer, Sophie Pemberton to group chief strategy officer and Amy Horton to group transformation director.
Grljevic (pictured, right) first joined the company in 2018 in the chief transformation officer role and has concentrated on launching three data-driven platforms; Ada, Atlas, and Plato, to increase audience targeting, programmatic buying and measurement capabilities across the OOH customer journey.
These platforms have been launched successfully in the UK and US, and are now being rolled out across MENA and APAC.
As group chief operating officer, Grljevic will be responsible for the day-to-day running and strategic business objectives of the global business, alongside growing its remit for technology and data.
Musk-Twitter trial to begin 17 October
Twitter’s lawsuit against Elon Musk will go on trial beginning 17 October and run for five days in the Delaware Court of Chancery.
The suit was filed by Twitter to stop Musk from reneging on his deal to buy the social media company for $44bn.
Judge Kathaleen St. Jude McCormick will oversee the trial.
TikTok filed for ‘TikTok Music’ trademark
TikTok filed a trademark application in May for “TikTok Music”, sparking speculation over whether the short-form video platform is seeking to broaden into music streaming.
It would not be the first foray into music streaming for TikTok’s parent company, Chinese-owned ByteDance.
In 2020 the Chinese company launched Resso, a “social music streaming app” in India.
ByteDance also acquired social media service Musical.ly in 2017, which it merged with TikTok in 2018, spawning global popularity of the app.
The patent filing was first uncovered by Insider.
NHS England appoints Wavemaker UK to handle media strategy and planning
NHS England has chosen Wavemaker to handle its media strategy and planning for its flagship campaigns.
This includes its annual recruitment campaign “We are the NHS” and its campaign to reduce pressure on the service over the winter months and promote effective use of its services, “Help Us, Help You”.
This is based on an existing seven-year relationship between the health service and WPP media agency.