Five key media tech trends from November
Johnston saga continues
The UK’s Johnston Press story took a new turn in November, when it was announced that the company had been bought out by JPIMedia. The publisher of the i Newspaper, The Scotsman and the Yorkshire Post is one of the largest local and regional newspaper organisations in the UK, but has fallen into a reported GBP£220m (US$280m) of debts, which are due for repayment in June 2019.
Having put itself up for sale in October of this year, it is believed that the recent buyout will secure jobs, at least in the shorterm. However, Douglas Fraser, business/economy editor for BBC Scotland, paints a more grim picture of the publication’s new owners: “Such companies do not have a track record of investing in titles for the good of the staff or the communities they serve.” We shall see.
Condé Nast to merge US and international businesses
Moving from newspapers to magazines, Condé Nast announced that it would be restructuring into one global company. This will lead to the departure of Bob Sauerberg, the current CEO of Condé Nast US, until a new global CEO is appointed, and Jonathan Newhouse, Steve Newhouse and the Condé Nast board had this to say about the move:
“Over the past year, Condé Nast and Condé Nast International have been working together more closely than ever to refine growth strategies, accelerate innovation and develop the right organisational structures to ensure the company’s success in a rapidly evolving media landscape. Our brands have worldwide influence and impact, and our business is increasingly becoming more global, and we are organising the company to reflect that.”
You can read the statement in full here.
Pew Research shines new light on social media
Two new studies from the Pew Research Centre provided good news for social media in November, at a time when we have been used to reading about the growing global backlash against such platforms. The first, reported by Forbes, says that “social media has become the main source of news online with more than 2.4 billion internet users, nearly 64.5 per cent receive breaking news from Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram instead of traditional media.”
While the first set of findings largely confirms what we already knew, the second may come of more as a surprise, as a majority of teenagers surveyed think that social media is good for them. More than 81 per cent of US teens interviewed think that social media is helping them to be more connected to their friend’s lives, with 69 per cent saying that social media helps them interact with a more diverse group of people. About 68 per cent said social media makes them feel that they have people that will support them during tough times.
One interesting brand-media tie-up to take a look at is the Fortnite-NFL partnership that was launched at the beginning of November. The Fortnite video game was released by Epic games in 2017, and is already described as a ‘cultural phenomenon’ by Wikipedia, with a global audience of millions. Despite being free-to-play, the game has hit record revenue numbers through in-app purchases, demonstrating a successful commercial model that offers initial content for free with the option for upsells and customisations.
Through its new partnership with the NFL, Fortnite is offering players the opportunity to purchase in-game NFL jerseys, which can look like any of the 32 NFL teams on the roster while allowing players to choose their own number. The character skins typically cost 1,500 V-Bucks, or around US$15 to you and me.
Netflix to reside in Pinewood Studios
In a story that cements the emergence of Netflix as a genuine contender to traditional film and television production companies, the Financial Times reports that the entertainment streaming platform is in advanced talks to take a long lease at Pinewood Studios. The legendary UK base is home to productions such as Star Wars and James Bond, and would add further space to the Netflix production arsenal which also recently added studios in LA, Madrid, and Mexico. It is estimated that the company will spend around US$8bn on new content this year and Pinewood would provide the company’s largest physical filming space yet, in an investment that would also allow the set itself to expand its Shepperton facility.
The growing prominence of Netflix has begun to spook traditional broadcasters, who are trying to come to terms with the migration of audiences from linear to on-demand viewing. Sharon White, chief executive of UK media regulator Ofcom, recently called on public service broadcasters to develop a jointly owned streaming service that would showcase the best British content and combat the rise of Netflix.
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