The Week Kick-off: Facebook goes from being da bomb to dropping a bomb on the media landscape

Last week, Facebook completed its journey from being da bomb to dropping a bomb on the media landscape, as the company began blocking news content from its platforms in Australia. The explosive announcement is really the only place we can begin this week. But Perseverance through the crater reveals that there is also a huge amount of additional activity going on in Medialand right now – from Empires, to Futures, to NASA and more… this week we travel to infinity, and beyond! 

#DeleteFacebook trends as backlash grows over Australia ban

By now, you’d have to be living on Mars not to have seen that Facebook lost its hive mind last week, when the company took what it described as the ‘heavy heart’ decision to block news from its platforms in Australia. The move comes on the back of the country’s proposed new Media Bargaining legislation and the tensions between government, other tech giants (namely Google), and publishers that have escalated in recent months. The ban will restrict publishers and people in Australia from sharing or viewing Australian and international news content on Facebook platforms.

Matters were not helped by the fact that within its initial imposition of the ‘blockade’, Facebook appeared to wipe out health departments and charities as well. A slew of negative headlines engulfed the action around the world, including the one we’ve referenced from the Telegraph in the UK above. FIPP has all your industry reaction here.


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Creating a podcast empire

Last week, media journalist and podcaster, Peter Houston, sat down with Editor-in-Chief of Empire magazine, Terri White, on the topic of ‘getting people to pay for podcasts’. Bauer’s flagship movie magazine has been charging readers to tune in to its ‘Spoiler Special’ podcasts for just over 12 months, and following some audience feedback and package tinkering, has arrived at a strong monetisation model:

“We did a ton of research,” Terri says. “We wanted to see if the appetite was really there for people to pay for podcasts. For some people, it was too much and it was a barrier to entry. But actually, £4.99 was the most commonly suggested price point from the audience… We were looking at what we do permanently, and we decided to bring the price down to £2.99 ($4), and move platforms to Supportingcast which allowed us to bill in Sterling.” You can read the feature in full here.

Looking to the future

Some positive news from Future dropped on Friday, by way of a buoyant tweet and accompanying press release, which cited some of the company’s latest wins. The tweet said: “Two acquisitions under our belt, high levels of online engagement during #BlackFriday and Christmas, and strong performance across magazines and media. Our 2021 has gotten off to a great start. We’re on track to be materially ahead of market expectations”.

What’s interesting about this announcement is that it includes the completion of the deal to buy Go Compare, a UK price comparison website that has amassed a huge reputation over the past decade thanks partly to its popular opera singer ads. As a ‘legacy’ (founded 1985) publisher with a rich history in data and digital driven products, first glance would show this to be a smart move for the FTSE 250 listed media company.

NASA shows the importance of Perseverance

NASA made history again on Friday when its Perseverance Rover landed on Mars, in a crater believed to have at one time held a lake on the red planet. This latest mission is a particularly important one, because amongst its key objectives is the goal of laying the groundwork for future manned missions to the planet.

As significant as these moments are for global tech, they have become just as synonymous with advancements in global media in recent years. In 1969, audiences gathered around small black and white television sets to watch the moon landing. We now find ourselves in a situation where live data (and later images) are being beamed directly back from Mars to the NASA control room on Earth, which is in-turn streaming the landing with accompanying graphics, while audiences on every continent communicate with one another by commenting on the feed in real-time. Google even got in on the action following successful touchdown, accompanying all searches relating to Perseverance with on-screen fireworks.

You can pick your favourite streaming channel (YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitch, Daily Motion, Theta.TV, or the NASA App) on which to re-watch the event here.

Streaming turns into a river

Sticking with the topic of streaming, FIPP CEO James Hewes has in his latest letter to the industry, emphasised the growing importance of OTT streaming services within the wider media-sphere: “We haven’t covered OTT streaming services much at FIPP but their increased interaction with publishing businesses – and of course their ever-growing popularity – means we mustn’t ignore them any longer. Last year, we added video and audio streaming services to our quarterly Digital Subscriptions Snapshot report, and the story of their growth and scale is compelling.”

Globally, Netflix remains the leader, having exceeded 200m subscribers. Amazon Prime is the second most popular of these services in the world with 150m subscribers, followed by two Chinese services, Tencent Video and iQiyi. You can read the letter in full here.

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And from FIPP this week…

FIPP Training has a HUGE course beginning this week, which will be rolled out across four 1hr sessions between now and the middle of March. Flume Sales Accelerator Training will share what constitutes a great sales experience in the Covid-19 world, with insights, tips and practical approaches for closing bigger deals more quickly. You can find out more information here, and the latest FIPP Insider webinar, this week on the topic of ‘Successful transformation: how Gen X, Y and Z all have essential roles to play’ will take place this Thursday as well.


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