Sara Fischer

NBC's new plan to end Olympics spoilers


NBC announced Tuesday that next year, for the first time, it will air its Olympics coverage across all time zones simultaneously.

NBC says the new strategy for the 2018 winter games in South Korea will help curb social media spoilers for those lagging behind other time zones. That's not the only change: last month, NBC announced that Mike Tirico will be taking over for Bob Costas, who has anchored the Games since 1992.

Why it matters: The move is good news for audiences who no longer have to wait anxiously for programs to hit their timezones, as well advertisers, who won't have to worry about users dropping off due to spoilers, or watching the content off-platform on live-streaming apps like Periscope.


Trump delivers ratings boom for cable news

Fox News had the best quarter in cable news history, thanks in large part to its flagship program, The O'Reilly Factor, which had the biggest quarter ever for a cable news show (4 million viewers). MSNBC, CNN and Fox were all mostly up in daily audience and demo numbers. While MSNBC beat out CNN on the weekdays, thanks to record-breaking viewership of Rachel Maddow during the 9:00 p.m. hour, CNN still beat out MSNBC in viewership for the quarter.

Why it matters: Even though Fox pulled out the biggest overall numbers, MSNBC's growth from Q1 last year is notable. Per The Hollywood Reporter, MSNBC grew 55% and 61% in daytime and primetime, respectively, and 40% and 49% in the demo. CNN grew only 13% in daytime (+22% in the demo) but fell 17% in primetime (-11% in the demo). Fox's growth was in between with gains of 27% in daytime ratings (+32% in the demo) and 20% in primetime (+19% in the demo)

Why it doesn't matter: The fact that all three networks were up in total daily viewership means the Trump bump wasn't exclusive to the election. Per Pew, all three networks have experienced ratings bumps since 2015, meaning that cable news could be increasing in viewership more broadly.


Facebook looks to wipe out Snapchat

Facebook announced Tuesday it's adding even more Snapchat-like features, including a camera feature that will let users post photos to Facebook directly through a camera button on its app. Snapchat, which recently rebranded itself as a "camera company," pioneered the direct-to-app photo-taking technique when it launched in 2011.

Facebook says it's also adding more filters and animations, and a "stories" feature that nearly mimics Snapchat's 24-hour disappearing posts feature that it launched in 2014.

Why it matters: Many argue that Facebook's Snapchat-like features are not as good as Snapchat's original ones, but it doesn't matter. As Business Insider points out, they don't have to be perfect. "Zuck only needs half a percent of his users to prefer his copycat tool and he will have deprived Spiegel of 10% of his potential future users. That's a serious dent."


Spotify makes big push into ad market​

<a href="" target="_blank">Giphy</a>

On Monday, Spotify announced it acquired TV-ranking and insights company MightTV to help create more personalized recommendations for users. Spotify will now be able to capture more user data, a key tool for selling ads.

Spotify also announced that MightTV's founder and CEO Brian Adams would join the company as VP of Technology, leveraging his expertise in targeted ads.

Why it matters: Spotify is trying to pioneer a data-driven audio advertising model. Audio ads have primarily been sold in a linear fashion, like TV, instead of a targeted fashion, like digital.


Ad trust rises as news trust sinks

Nick Youngson

A new survey finds that 61% of people trust the advertising they see, an 11% jump from March 2014, according to eMarketer. In addition, 72% of respondents also said the ads are "honest," a 16% increase over the past two years.

Other studies have indicated that ad trustworthiness depends on the medium. Some studies show people are less likely to trust digital ads vs. traditional print or television ads.

Why it matters: The most recent Gallup poll on trust in media shows that 68% of Americans don't trust the news - the lowest rate ever measured. The shift shows that as people trust established media brands less, they are turning towards unconventional sources of information, like social platforms. It also makes sense that digital ads are less likely to be trusted, because most are sold in an automated way that over 1/3 of consumers find invasive.


Google's headache is Facebook's opportunity

Lazaro Gamio / Axios

Big-name advertisers are continuing to pull their ads from YouTube as the company scrambles to regulate the controversial content being uploaded to its site. While this crisis is a revenue and branding nightmare for Google, it can be a win for advertisers and competitors like Facebook.


  • Facebook: Facebook has been testing mid-roll video ads that will eventually be available for everyone to buy programmatically, the same way YouTube sells video ads. But is that still a good idea? Facebook Live is facing major backlash for extremist content that's being uploaded. Introducing video ads into crowdsourced videos, especially live ones, could pull Facebook into the same mess Google is currently facing. Now, Mark Zuckerberg has time to observe YouTube's travails and tweak his strategy.
  • Advertisers: YouTube's ad crisis could give advertisers leverage for more data and control, Recode reports. Google, which has been called a "walled garden" for keeping its metrics secret, could find itself needing to be more transparent with its advertisers about where their ads are going.
  • Tech competitors: As CNN's Brian Stelter noted earlier this week, a few of the advertisers that were first to pull ads from Google in the U.S., like AT&T and Verizon, are Google's competitors. For AT&T specifically, it's new pay-TV option, DirectTV Now, will be a rival to YouTube's new TV streaming service.
  • Ad buyers: Ad buyers are supposed to be responsible for placing advertising next to brand-safe content. While most ad buyers realize that programmatic ad buying through Google has risks, they've been able to avoid pulling Google buys from plans by creating lists of places they won't let their content run, but those lists fail to catch all offensive content. With heightened awareness around Google's problems, ad buyers are going to have a tougher time convincing their clients to run on YouTube, even if the return on investment is high.
  • Alphabet: Share in Google's parent company fell after the ad crisis reached the U.S. last week; though it's unknown how big a revenue hit Google is taking and some analysts say the crisis will have no lasting impact.
  • Youtube: On Friday, WSJ reporter Jack Nicas spotted a pre-roll ad for YouTube Red (YouTube's subscription service) alongside explicit content. And last week, Axios' Ina Fried highlighted how YouTube is being slammed by advertisers pulling ads from YouTube for not being restrictive enough in weeding out extremist content, while LGTBQ advocates are criticizing the video platform for restricting non-salacious LGTBQ content from its restricted platform.

Comcast takes first step towards streaming

Jeff Fusco / AP

Per Bloomberg, Comcast has negotiated rights from the owners of cable companies to broadcast their video services outside of its regional territories. The effort can be seen as a first step towards potentially building an over-the-top (OTT) TV streaming service one day that could compete with the likes of it's pay-TV competitors, primarily Dish Network's SlingTV and Apple Inc.'s DirectTV.

Why it matters: Comcast tells Bloomberg that in the short-term, this isn't a revenue-driving business model, but it's hard not to imagine a world in which Comcast wouldn't be thinking about moving into the streaming space. Per Nielsen, 29% of all U.S. homes own enabled smart TVs and 23% own an digital streaming device. By the end of last year, Sling TV is now being used in nearly two million households, according to comScore.


Tech giants fight for NFL streaming rights


Amazon, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have all submitted bids to stream Thursday night NFL games next season, Recode reports. Other companies likely also submitted bids, as groups like Yahoo and Verizon both competed for the contract last year. Here's where each company stands:

  • Twitter won the coveted deal to stream 10 games last year for 10 million dollars, a drop in the bucket compared to the streaming rights major networks have to pay. But it seems the investment only somewhat paid off for Twitter. While each game last year drew an average of 3.5 million unique viewers, Twitter's revenue and monthly active user base both only increased by less than 1% during the quarter.
  • Amazon reportedly outbid Twitter by $5 million last year, but they still lost the deal.
  • Facebook is pushing to win the sports live streaming business, and announced a partnership to stream MLB games earlier this month.
  • YouTube should be best positioned to win the deal, since it has the largest streaming audience and a pre-existing Google VR partnership with the NFL, but the company is currently going through a bit of an advertising and branding crisis that could make the NFL wary of doing business with them

Why it matters: Social and streaming companies are brokering content deals to win over TV audiences, in an attempt to eat at the $72 million U.S. TV ad market. They're going after sports deals for their live-streaming platforms because unlike most TV content, sports are still viewed live. (Per comScore, 90% of sports games are watched live, as opposed to 71% of dramas.)


The fastest-growing apps in America

Bitmoji is the fastest-growing app in America, per comScore, with a more than 5000% increase in monthly unique visitors over the past two years. E-commerce apps OfferUp and letgo are the 2nd and 3rd fastest-growing apps.

Data: comScore; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon / Axios

The findings from comScore's latest study highlight three of the fastest-growing mobile market trends:

  • E-commerce: Letgo (3), OfferUp (2), Flipp (4), Venmo (5) and Wish (7), are facilitating real-world marketplace transactions
  • Travel: Uber (6), Waze (8) and Lyft (9) all help users travel from one point to another via auto
  • Social connectivity: Tinder (10), Bitmoji (1) and GroupMe (11) all facilitate gatherings and social interaction

Why it matters: As comScore identified last year, we are now at or nearing "peak app" usage, meaning that most smartphone users download zero or only one new app per month. Thus, selectivity around app downloads illuminates trends that represent a major shift in the internet economy. Before smartphone app usage came to dominate mobile time spent, consumers mostly used the internet to bring real-world interactions online, like dating, mail and shopping. The rise of these three mobile app trends show how much the app economy is moving towards improving real-world engagements, like car travel, group get-togethers, and local commerce selling/trading.


Google's ad crisis reaches the U.S.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai (Tsering Topgyal / AP)

Even though Google formally apologized for having ads run alongside extremist content on its properties (like YouTube), and vowed to take steps to fix the problem, some of America's largest companies say they will still pull all of their non-search ads from the platform.

An AT&T rep confirmed to Recode that it's pulling all display ads globally until Google can ensure "this won't happen again." Verizon says in a statement they are working to "understand the weak links so we can prevent this from happening in the future." The Times reports pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline is also pulling its display ads.

Why it matters: Prior to Tuesday, dozens of U.K. brands, including the U.K. government, were leading the charge in pulling ads after they had appeared next to controversial content. Now that U.S. heavyweights are taking action, Google may have a serious branding (and potentially revenue) problem. Google's display ad business is already expected to drop 12.5% in market share this year, setting them billions of dollars behind Facebook. Facebook is experiencing similar extremism problems with Facebook Live, but thus far advertisers haven't been pulling out to the same extent because mid-roll ads haven't launched on Facebook's video platform yet.