Week Kickoff: Substack lands in the mainstream media inbox

By Friday, we can expect the social timelines to be stacked with Justin Timberlake memes as the annual ‘It’s Gonna Be May!’ tradition continues, despite the band that coined the phrase having now been broken up for almost 20 years. In the meantime, we’ll be looking at a Substack of our own, as the three year old subscription payment platform finally lands in the mainstream media inbox. We’ve also got Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter on The Hill again, the Editor of FourFourTwo, and QR Code drone advertising (yes, you read that right!) as we kick off another week in the wonderful world of media…  

What is Substack and how can I watch it on TV?

You can’t actually watch Substack on TV. Not yet anyway. That subhead was just a side allusion to journalism’s newfound love of capturing contemporary Google searches by SEOing articles for frequently asked questions. Not that Substack necessarily has need for such practices – it’s a platform that helps writers make money via a direct-to-consumer (D2C) newsletter subscription model.   

Originally launched in 2017, Substack took centre stage in Mediaville last week when Insider reported that the company had offered New York Times (NYT) Opinion Writer, Liz Bruenig, a US$200,000 advance in an attempt to poach her away from the media owner. It represents a growing rift between Substack and traditional media outlets – particularly the NYT – who are reportedly readying their own big newsletter push in response to the popularity of the personalised journalist-to-inbox offering. 

Premflix: FourFourTwo Editor on what media could mean for breakaway football

And speaking of new subscriptions models (and SEOing for frequently asked questions, which sportsdesks are particularly fond of), football dominated the front pages last week as twelve European clubs, including six from the UK’s Premier League, declared their intention to form a breakaway Super League.

We sat down for an exclusive interview with James Andrew, Editor of Future Plc’s FourFourTwo magazine, to get his thoughts on what big media deals now mean for football ‘content’: 

“I think it would have been huge. I mean obviously it launched and then it died within 48hrs and we never really got as far as the TV deal, but TV would be the big thing. I mean it was mentioned again by Gary Neville I think on Monday Night Football: Manchester United have 150 million fans across social media platforms. If they were to sell their games themselves for even £1 a game, then the Sky Sports and the BT Sports deals are big, but they’re certainly not £150m per game for each club. And that’s if it really was just £1 a game… you’d have to assume it’d be more like £20.”

You can watch the interview in full here

Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter walk into the bar… (again)

The walls are beginning to close in on media tech’s biggest hitters, as the call for greater regulation in the space grows. On Friday, Politico broke the news that Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter execs had been slated to testify at a Senate Judiciary hearing this coming Tuesday. The session will focus on how algorithmic amplification is contributing to the spread of misinformation online.

It won’t be Zuckerberg and Dorsey this time around, as Facebook’s vice president of content policy and Twitter’s head of US public policy take to the stand. Interestingly also, its’s YouTube that finds itself in the hotseat on this occasion, rather than Google at large, following increased observation not least from the industry press that the video sharing platform seems to be getting off more lightly when it comes to scrutinising the spread of fake news. 

Google won’t mind not attending though, it’s got its hands full being sued by a bunch of publishers in the US, including the Daily Mail who last week accused the company of overseeing a ‘rigged’ advertising system which ‘punishes publishers’

From Shanghai to Mars: Modern drone flight is out of this world

Remember the ‘It’s Gonna Be May!’ meme we referenced at the top of this article? Remember when the internet was a happy place, and not an endless parade of media tech regulation hearings lamenting the loss of (f)actual news? Well for the briefest of moments in Shanghai a couple of weekends ago it was once more, when 1,500 drones took to the sky to create a scannable QR code in celebration of the one year anniversary of role playing game, Princess Connect Re:Dive. The aerial show made for an impressive joint advertising display from Japanese video game development studio, Cygames and Chinese video sharing website Bilibili. Although not everyone was impressed, as RADII writer Feifan Li called the scenes “dystopian” and added: “The future is now and it is terrifying”.

Equally incredible in the drone flying airspace last week, was NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter, which literally took the concept of remote flying out of this world, when it became the first aircraft in history to make a powered, controlled flight on another planet. It was difficult to know which drone YouTube video to embed for the best here tbh… videogame advertising or actual interplanetary ICT.  In the end Princess Connect won out, but you can see the Mars helicopter in action here

New Direct-to-Consumer Event set for Liftoff!

Another event set to be…Out of This World! (yep)… is the new Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) event that was unveiled by FIPP and Peninsula Strategies last week. Taking place in June, this year’s inaugural D2C Summit will be broadcast globally from FIPP’s studios in the UK, and hone-in on subscription and membership models. You can find out more here

Social Media in Africa

The Tony Blair Institute for Global Change (TBI) has published a great shortform piece looking at social media content, trends, and regulation in Africa, as Internet Policy Lead for Africa, Bridget Boakye writes

“As internet penetration continues to grow across Africa, so has the use of social media. Facebook is the most visited website in Africa and as of December 2020, there were more than 233 million Facebook subscribers in Africa. Through Facebook and other social media platforms, travel bloggers and photographers, in particular, are playing a major role in documenting multiple perspectives and narratives about the African continent. These inspiring creatives are resetting the African narrative and giving voice to a new way for Africans and the world to think about Africa.”

Main Image: Adobe/4zevar


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