May 14, 2019

Axios Media Trends

By Sara Fischer
Sara Fischer

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Situational awareness: Disney is buying out Comcast's remaining share of Hulu, including immediately assuming operational control. Details.

1 big thing: Hispanic media's local boom

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Spanish-language media is branching out locally, with more national outlets investing in local Hispanic coverage and more digital-first, Spanish-language news outlets emerging in small cities and towns across America.

Why it matters: The Hispanic population in the U.S. is quickly growing, which is leading to record-high numbers of Spanish-speaking households, according to U.S. Census data.

Driving the news: Univision, the largest Spanish-language broadcaster in the U.S., and Altice USA will announce today a partnership in which Univision will begin creating Spanish-language digital broadcasts for Altice's local News 12 Networks in the tri-state area.

  • Michael Schreiber, President of News 12 Networks, tells Axios that Altice USA felt that this would be a good fit, given the fact that its audience over-indexes in Spanish-speaking homes, even in areas that you wouldn't expect.
  • "Even in an area that you would not consider Hispanic — Westchester County — that happens to where a quarter of our viewers are coming in from Hispanic homes," says Schreiber.

The big picture: Investments in Hispanic media locally have been growing for years, but many of those efforts have been neglected, in part because there's little data about them.

  • For the first time, researchers at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY have begun mapping out what the local hispanic media landscape actually looks like.
  • Some of the key takeaways suggest that local Spanish-language news upstarts are popping up all around the country, many independently owned and operated.
  • Dozens of local Spanish media blogs have popped up over the past two decades on the East Coast, West Coast and Midwest. The Pacific Northwest has far fewer new Hispanic media blogs.

Go deeper: The business model for Hispanic local media is also undergoing radical transformation.

2. The telenovela transformation

Photo: Manuel Medir/Getty Images

Two of America's largest Spanish-language broadcasters rolled out fresh new slates of scripted programming at this year's UpFronts, including more minority characters and shorter formats.

  • Univision unveiled a new series titled “El Corazón Nunca Se Equivoca” (The Heart is Never Wrong) about a gay couple making their way in Mexican society.  
  • Telemundo announced a new series called "Operación Pacífico" starring a female lead, based on themes about federal agents chasing after drug lords.

Between the lines: Telenovelas, born decades ago as a staple of Latin American and Spanish culture, have since evolved to become shorter and less reliant on the "damsel in distress" romantic melodrama theme than they were during their peak in the 1990's.

  • "We have evolved the genre significantly with high quality, edgier action-packed contemporary stories 'ripped from the headlines and  presented in shorter formats and over multiple seasons," said Cesar Conde, chairman of NBCUniversal International Group and NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises.
  • “Today, our dramas are diverse, inclusive, authentic, and contemporary and our casting and storylines reflect our community’s world in vivid, compelling ways. We challenge gender stereotypes, and feature a broader mosaic of talent, addressing important topics, that inspire thoughtful dialogue that continues long after an episode airs," said Jessica Rodriguez, CMO & President of Entertainment, Univision.

The big picture: While the past few years have seen breakout moments for Hispanic music and movies, TV is still waiting for its breakout IP moment, argues Alejandro Uribe, CEO of Exile Content Studio, a premium content studio for Hispanic content.

What's next: Uribe argues that the Hispanic content world has yet to fully explore formats like comics and anime, and in the future, studios and networks will begin to harvest a wealth of untold stories into two main scripted formats:

  • The tele-series: This heir of the telenovela will continue to be popular on linear TV and with older audiences. It will continue to be the main stay of broadcasters/traditional Spanish-language producers (similar to the sitcom phenomenon of US broadcasters).
  • Premium series: These series will likely garner more attention, especially for younger generations, and will be the mainstay of tech platforms like Netflix. and some local cable channels.
3. TV networks battle for the future of live

Illustration: Axios/Rebecca Zisser

Despite the onslaught of bad headlines around cord cutting and the death of traditional TV, Madison Avenue hasn't given up on the big cable and broadcast networks just yet.

  • Despite viewership declines, Variety's Brian Steinberg reports that ad commitments saw an increase of 5.2% to more than $20.7 billion in 2018, citing data from Media Dynamics, a media consultancy.

Yes, but: As Steinberg notes, higher upfront ad commitments for the networks' primetime lineups are a result of higher rates, which networks still have the leverage to demand.

  • The bottom line: Amid an endless number of new on-demand streaming options, TV networks are hoping that ad buyers are willing to cough up big bucks to actually reach viewers in real-time.

The big takeaways so far:

  • NBC: NBC positioned itself as the home for must-see prime-time television, touted its renewable of "This is Us" and teased bringing "The Office" to its ad-supported streaming network, which ad chairman Linda Yaccarino said would go live mid-2020.
  • Fox: In its first UpFront since spinning off as standalone company after the Disney merger, Fox is positioning itself as the network that's leaning the most heavily into live sporting events. It's message to Madison Ave: We're smaller, but still mighty.

What's next: Disney will present ESPN and ABC together on Tuesday. WarnerMedia and CBS will present on Wednesday. The CW will present on Thursday.

Go deeper: Upstaging upfronts, NewFronts rally Madison Avenue

4. The rise of addressable ad alliances
Expand chart
Data: eMarketer; Chart: Harry Stevens/Axios

New to this season's UpFront season is AT&T's Xandr, which will be revealed at its event in New York City this morning.

  • Xandr will unveil "Community," a curated marketplace that will leverage the combined digital TV ad inventory to allow advertisers to reach targeted audiences at scale with TV ads.
  • Community will pull together inventory from WarnerMedia’s CNN, TNT, TBS, truTV, B/R Live, Otter Media, and Warner Bros., as well as VICE -Together with Hearst Magazines, Newsy, and digital video platforms Philo, Tubi, and Xumo,
  • For context, AT&T's "WarnerMedia" was a part of a similar consortium of advanced television publishers called "Open AP," but dropped out last month to create its own addressable ad alliance, which is slightly different from what Open AP offers.

The big picture: Almost every major TV network and provider is working on their version of an advanced TV ad product, or TV ads that can be digitally targeted.

  • The hope is that one day, networks will be able to capture lucrative ad dollars from marketers that want to reach more audiences in a more targeted fashion than they can with traditional TV ad buys, but at scale.

Be smart: No TV network has the ability to serve addressable ads at scale alone, that's why they're developing addressable advertising alliances.

Michael Beach has a good breakdown of the alliances via his must-read newsletter "The State of the Screens:"

  • Community: WarnerMedia’s CNN, TNT, TBS, truTV, B/R Live, Otter Media, and Warner Bros., as well as VICE -Together with Hearst Magazines, Newsy, Philo, Tubi, and Xumo
  • NCC Media: Comcast, Cox, Charter
  • Project OAR: AMC Networks, AT&T, CBS, Comcast NBCUniversal, Discovery, Disney, Freewheel, Hearst, Inscape, Turner, Xandr, Vizio

Yes, but: That transformation is happening slowly, and at this point, very few dollars are expected to be allocated towards addressable TV ad buys in the near future.

  • In the meantime, marketers are instead putting their dollars towards digital video platforms, although data and studies suggest that television networks will remain supreme for a while.

Go deeper: Coming to a TV near you: personalized ads

5. Critics smell blood around the iPhone App Store

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Apple’s very successful iPhone App Store is under attack from multiple directions, with users and developers criticizing its business model, Axios David McCabe writes.

  • Users can sue Apple for allegedly exercising monopoly power over the market for third-party apps and driving up prices, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 on Monday.
  • Developers have signaled concerns in recent years with Apple’s 30% cut of new in-app subscriptions. Spotify has escalated those worries into a full-blown antitrust complaint against Apple in Europe.

Why it matters: If the burgeoning criticism leads to concrete legal results, it could undermine an Apple ecosystem that's already under threat from other tech giants like Google and Facebook.

Go deeper ... Calls to break up Facebook get louder via Axios' Ina Fried.

6. Everyone's got a story

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Stories, the string of photos and videos invented by Snapchat and ripped off by Facebook are now being ripped off by ... everyone.

Why it matters: There’s no doubt that the format has been a success and a growing number of companies repurposing it to fit their users’ needs and (hopefully) recapture some of their attention.

Driving the news: Spotify is reportedly testing its own version of the Stories format, according to Android Police. The format would enable music artists to share content about a particular song’s backstory or inspiration.

The big picture: "The story of the internet is one long chronicle of people hopping from one mode of personal sharing to another ... New media forms very rarely vanish; they just find new niches," Axios' Scott Rosenberg notes.

Go deeper: Full list of Story stealers

7. Shared, but not trusted
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Pew Research Center chart; Chart: Axios Visuals

People in emerging economies around the globe are say they are more likely to trust news and information from in-person communications than social media, according to a new Pew Research Center study.

The big picture: The results mimic those from an Axios/SurveyMonkey poll last year that found that almost of half of American adults say they prefer in-person communication over other modes including text messages, emails or social media.

The bottom line: Social media, once celebrated as a great equalizer, is also seen as a risky way to communicate about politics in many places around the world, largely due to increased fears of political weaponization.

Go deeper.

8. 1 fun thing: K-pop fans flood publishers
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Data: NewsWhip; Note: Twitter influencer shares include shares of articles by influential Twitter accounts and retweets of those posts; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The hyper-engaged fanbase of BTS, a Korean boy band, and a handful of other popular Korean pop groups are bringing American publishers off-the-charts Twitter numbers, Axios' Neal Rothschild writes.

  • The big picture: BTS has a more engaged following than any other entity on Twitter — and it isn't even close. The group's main account generated 400 million interactions from its tweets in the last 3 months, compared to just 105 million from President Trump, according to data from CrowdTangle.
  • Why it matters: While much of the engagement on tweets about BTS are coming from abroad, the band is pioneering a bigger footprint for K-pop in the United States.

Go deeper: Links to the most-engaged tweets

Sara Fischer