Jul 31, 2018

Axios Media Trends

By Sara Fischer
Sara Fischer

Thanks for subscribing to Media Trends. Tell friends to follow along by signing up here.

Situational awareness: Pandora, which reports earnings after market close today, is broadly opening its audio inventory to be purchased programmatically for the first time. The announcement comes on the heels of its May acquisition of audio adtech company AdsWizz.

1 big thing: Media bias extends way beyond politics
Expand chart
Illustration: Gerald Rich, Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Several examples of major non-political news stories recently show that collective bias by the mainstream media goes beyond politics, seeping into issues of race, climate and terrorism.

Why it matters: Collective media bias can be hard to detect and address in real time, but the consequences are significant. At best, it can dramatically skew coverage for the majority of the population; at worst, it can distort the truth by inflating or downplaying significant aspects of some news stories.

  • Terrorism: A new study, detailed in The Guardian, found that terrorist attacks committed by Muslim extremists receive 357% more U.S. press coverage than those committed by non-Muslims. The findings, as the Guardian notes, are particularly disturbing given that white and right-wing terrorists carried out nearly twice as many terrorist attacks as Muslim extremists between 2008 and 2016.
  • Hurricanes: A report from the Washington Post in 2017 found that overall, during roughly the same time period from September to October 2017, Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico received only a third as many mentions in text as hurricanes Harvey and Irma on the mainland.
  • Missing girls: A case of 10 missing minority girls in Washington, D.C. last year sparked outrage due to a lack of media coverage. As Vox wrote in explaining the controversy, "Even though children of color go missing more often than white children, they receive far less media coverage and public attention."
  • Even climate change, a hot digital topic, struggles to get coverage on cable news. MSNBC anchor Chris Hayes tweeted last week that "almost without exception. every single time we've covered it's been a palpable ratings killer. so the incentives are not great."

The bottom line: The financial pressures being put on newsrooms often push journalists to cover what they think will get a lot of pickup, argues Jennifer Grygiel, assistant professor of communications at Syracuse University.

  • And tools that help journalists discover what's trending, like CrowdTangle and Tweetdeck, could be a part of that problem.

Rodney Benson, chair of NYU's Department of Media, said lack of newsroom diversity is a contributing factor:

  • "The interests and concerns of less privileged groups (by class, religion, region, race, gender, or sexuality) are downplayed or ignored."
2. Gut check: Minorities often consume the most media
Expand chart
Reproduced from the Nielsen Total Audience Report; Chart: Axios Visuals

Minorities are very engaged users of many media technologies, according to Nielsen's latest total audience report.

  • Black adults are the heaviest users of media overall.
  • Compared to overall U.S. consumers, Hispanics listen to more radio, and Asian Americans spend more time with computers and tablets.
  • "When we looked at Black adults (18+) in our Nielsen Q1 2018 Total Audience Report, we found that this group is among the heaviest consumers of media and they spend a great deal of time connecting to content — be it on smartphones, TV-connected devices or listening to the radio." — Peter Katsingris, SVP Audience Insights, Nielsen
3. Scoop: Yahoo Finance launching live streaming network

Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Yahoo

Yahoo Finance is launching a full-day, live video streaming network by the end of the year, three sources familiar with the plans tell Axios.

Why it matters: It’s the latest example of a digital-native news outlet getting into streaming news to capture more audience attention on mobile and to compete for television dollars.

The network will include 8-hours of live market and global financial news updates, which would make it a rival to the new digital streaming business network Cheddar and, to an extent, CNBC, Fox Business and Bloomberg.

  • Sources say the company is in active discussion with OTT providers and bundles about getting the content on platforms other than its O&O channels.
  • Beginning in August, Yahoo Finance will begin to increase its roughly 1.5 hours - 2 hours of live programming a day to reach 8 hours of live, bell-to-bell coverage by the end of the year. 
  • The coverage will include Yahoo's Finance's three daily live shows — Market Movers, Midday Movers and The Final Round — as well as other content it's been testing on social media, like Morning Meeting, its morning show that airs on Facebook.

Oath CEO Tim Armstrong and Joanna Lambert, GM of Finance & Tech, are the driving forces behind the expansion, which has been in the works for a long time. Andy Serwer, Editor in Chief of Yahoo Finance, will continue to oversee editorial direction and content.

  • The company is already staffing up big for the push, according to one source, and is going after editors, producers, and on-air reporters across the industry. Yahoo Finance has already begun posting jobs for on-air reporters “to communicate ON AIR to a broad consumer audience.”

There is a possibility that the content could eventually be accessed through a linear distribution deal with Verizon Fios, which has has roughly 5 million customers in the U.S.

  • Market Movers is already available on FiOS1.

The move is not totally surprising given Yahoo's existing investment in live digital programming, but a Fios partnership would be notable, given Verizon CEO Lowell C. McAdam’s rejection of rumors about Verizon moving into linear TV programming.

More in the Axios stream.

4. Desktops and tablets decline as smart TV devices climb
Expand chart
Adapted from ComScore state of OTT 2018 presentation; Chart: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

New digital device technologies — like smart TV's, gaming consoles, and connected devices—  are increasing their penetration into U.S. households as traditional devices, like desktops and tablets, decline, according to comScore's latest OTT Report.

Why it matters: Older devices that were once the gateway to internet video are being replaced by more sophisticated technologies that allow users to enjoy better quality on-demand video and with more customizability on bigger screens.

5. Les Moonves stays put ... for now

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

CBS indicated Monday that longtime executive and Chairman Les Moonves will remain in his job for now, as its Board of Directors selects an outside counsel to conduct an independent investigation into sexual harassment allegations detailed against him in a Ronan Farrow report last week.

Why it matters: Many were expecting Moonves to step aside or for CBS to suspend Moonves while the company investigates the matter.

  • Quickly suspended accused employees in response to serious sexual harassment claims is common when companies think an executive's behavior could pose a threat to the well-being of its employees.

The bottom line: The way CBS handles the saga will either help or further damage the company's reputation for fostering a toxic culture of misogyny.

Be smart: This could also complicate CBS's messy fight for independence with its parent company.

  • Moonves is a critical part of CBS' fight for independence from its parent company, National Amusements.
  • CBS' independent Board of Directors noted that "The timing of this report comes in the midst of the Company’s very public legal dispute." National Amusements Vice Chair Shari Redstone then denied being tied to these allegations.
  • Some analysts and media experts were surprised over the fact that the CBS board had tried to connect the timing of the National Amusements fight to the allegations.

What's next: CBS delayed its annual shareholder meeting to August 10, which was already postponed from May 18. The company is set to report earnings and address investors Thursday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. EST.

6. Social giants: Health & safety investments will slow growth

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Facebook and Twitter stocks were free-falling last week after executives from both companies warned investors of slowed growth in response to changes aimed at improving their platforms long-term.

Why it matters: Analysts argue that the earnings for both companies weren't so terrible (Facebook still grew revenue by 42% year over year and Twitter hit its third quarter of profitability), but Wall Street reacted so starkly because of the short-term concessions both companies conceded were coming to make their businesses more sustainable long-term.

Bottom line: Social tech earnings didn't miss primarily because of data and privacy scandals catching up to them, but rather due to larger structural problems both companies have alluded to for months.

  • For Facebook, shares began to really plummet once CFO David Wehner said total revenue growth rates will continue to decelerate in the second half of 2018, and are expected to decline by high-single digit percentages from prior quarters in Q3 and Q4. Wehner has now been warning about slowed ad load in News Feed for several quarters.
  • For Twitter, shares declined in response to slowed monthly active user growth, which Twitter attributed to investments in making its platform a healthier place. Daily active user growth, however, was up by 11%.

Both companies also said expenditures would increase due to efforts to help make their platforms safer and healthier long-term.

The big picture: Pivotal analyst Brian Wieser says the warning of deceleration for the second half of the year for Facebook was what ultimately caught investors off-guard, as it suggests the company may begin to experience an ad revenue growth wall due to saturation. In response, the company has been putting more monetization efforts into Instagram (mostly via Stories) and messaging.

Reality check: Growth in most digital media consumption overall is slowing

7. 1 real thing: #DeleteYourAccount

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Today's professional athletes are facing unprecedented blowback over racist and homophobic tweets they sent as teens, the AP's Cliff Brunt reports.

Why it matters: Social media platforms created before the era of ephemeral communications is dogging the careers of many professionals, including athletes.

This issue goes well beyond the sports world, Axios' Zach Basu notes.

  • In entertainment, James Gunn was fired from his role shepherding Marvel's "Guardians of the Galaxy" franchise earlier this month due to offensive tweets.
  • Claudia Oshry's "Girl With No Job" show was cancelled by Verizon's Oath earlier this year after a Daily Beast reporter dug up old Twitter posts expressing clear anti-Muslim sentiments.
  • In journalism, reporters and editors have had to temper their opinions online at the risk of damaging their own careers.

The big picture: More users are flocking to ephemeral social media networks, where posts disappear after a certain amount of time, as a result.

  • The other side: There's also a media cottage industry of Snapchat screenshots getting people fired.
Sara Fischer