Thanks for subscribing to Media Trends. Tell friends to follow along by signing up here. Keep up with the latest news by getting our breaking news alerts.
🇨🇦 Good morning. I'm headed to the Collision Conference in Toronto. Tomorrow I'll be interviewing Vox Media CEO Jim Bankoff, as well as Amazon Studios Head of Marketing Mike Benson and Dustin Callif, managing partner for Tool of North America.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
The legalization of sports betting has opened up new business opportunities, and ethical challenges, for some of America's biggest media companies.
Why it matters: Striking the right balance between leaning into betting — and not alienating casual fans or compromising journalistic principles — will force the establishment of new media boundaries.
Driving the news: Fox announced the most aggressive push into domestic sports betting this month with the introduction of "Fox Bet," an online betting app.
Between the lines: Other TV networks with sports broadcast rights are taking a more cautious approach.
Yes, but: "In some ways, these partnerships feel old school," says Patrick Keane, CEO of The Action Network, a subscription sports betting media company.
Our thought bubble: Most critics don't see content creation around sports betting as a breach of journalistic integrity, and the demand for betting content across all networks suggest that fans don't see it that way either.
What's next: Other companies see gambling as a way to bolster revenues. Sinclair Broadcast Group, for example, had betting in mind when it recently announced a deal to acquire more than 20 regional sports networks from Disney for $10 billion.
Dotdash, the digital publishing company that grew from About.com, is launching a new millennial paint line with Amazon in an effort to bolster its growing commerce business.
Why it matters: This is the first time that Dotdash, which is expected to bring in roughly $150 million in revenue this year, is selling its own direct-to-consumer products.
Details: The new interior paint line will be called "The Spruce Best Home," and will be created and curated by the editorial team for Dotdash-owned home decor website, The Spruce.
The big picture: The move is part of Dotdash's effort to transition its business more into e-commerce.
Al Jazeera is planning to launch a cross-platform business vertical called AJ Impact, executives tell Axios. It will feature original reporting from Al Jazeera journalists worldwide, as well as curated business content from Bloomberg.
Why it matters: To date, Al Jazeera has mostly focused on hard news topics, like politics, breaking news and current events. AJ Impact will focus on topics like personal finance, economic inequality, and impact investing.
Details: AJ Impact will have a standalone site and live across digital video, podcasts, social media and television.
Between the lines: The decision to launch the vertical was editorial, says Michael Weaver, senior VP of business development and growth at Al Jazeera, although there are obvious business benefits.
The big picture: It's part of a growing trend of news companies that are expanding their business and technology verticals in order to prepare for news demand after the world of Trump-dominated news headlines eventually dies down.
The Game of Thrones series finale earned record viewership for HBO on Sunday, even if its numbers look paltry in comparison to the finales from shows before the era of streaming TV and internet video.
By the numbers, per WSJ's Joe Flint: 19.3 million viewers tuned in to watch the epic’s final episode in the U.S., according to Nielsen.
Yes, but: This isn't to say that Game of Thrones didn't have a great run. It did, and especially for a cable channel. (Most record-breakers come from broadcast networks, where household penetration is larger than cable.)
What's next: The end of Game of Thrones has many critics wondering if appointment television — where groups of people sit and watch a show live together — will continue.
Thrones' live numbers don't just look short because fewer people are watching live TV, but also because people have more digital options.
The bottom line: The business of television has changed so dramatically that it's impossible for any show to draw the kind of live linear viewership numbers that TV series could pull in decades ago.
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
A potential split may be forming between federal regulators on whether to approve T-Mobile's $26.5 billion purchase of Sprint, Axios David McCabe writes.
Why it matters: Despite a host of concessions offered by the companies that won over FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, the fate of the deal hinges on the competition questions that reportedly continue to dog the deal at the DOJ.
Be smart: Calls to break up Big Tech continue, with several Democratic presidential candidates now making it part of their 2020 pitch.
Democrats — led by Joe Biden and Kamala Harris — are catching up to President Trump on online advertising spend on Google and Facebook.
Between the lines: Digital ad spending now allows campaigns to build up their lists early for fundraising down the road, and it allows them to test which messages resonate with different potential voters before targeting them with more expensive outreach, like television ads.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
President Trump has a penchant for ganging up on the "mainstream media," but lately his attacks have spread to ganging up on any information gatekeeper — from Big Tech platforms to newscasters on his favorite network.
Why it matters: Trump has spent years shooting the messenger, but as his presidency rolls on, so do his grievances against any information platform that may, at some point, work against his interests.
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
AI headline writers can now nearly instantly generate titles that outshine even some human-made ones, Axios' Kaveh Waddell writes.
Details: Primer, an AI company, built a tool to do this. Its system read more than 1 million news articles and their headlines — but only articles where the headline was made up entirely of words found in the story.