Today's Media Trends is 1,802 words, a 7 minute read. Sign up here.
Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios
Streaming companies are under so much pressure to juice their subscriber numbers that they're giving away access to subscribers for free on a trial basis.
The big picture: It's basically the same economics as cable, where networks spend billions of dollars to produce or buy high-quality content, then rely on companies with direct customer relationships for distribution.
Driving the news: WarnerMedia boss John Stankey told Reuters in an interview Friday that the company will be offering HBO Max at no extra charge to 10 million AT&T Pay-TV and wireless customers, who are also HBO subscribers.
Other streaming companies are following a similar model:
Be smart: The goal for most of these mega-streamers is to get users to buy some other, more lucrative service.
While Netflix remains the incumbent to beat in the subscription streaming wars, there's not yet a dominant player in the free, ad-supported streaming space, according to data from Magid Associates.
The big picture: Analysts anticipate that more consolidation is on the horizon. When that happens, many subscription video companies will also own free streaming options.
Between the lines: NBCUniversal's Peacock streaming play is the only new product in the streaming wars that is going to be 100% ad-supported.
What's next: Analysts anticipate NBCU will take a strong position in the ad-supported streaming wars when it launches for free next spring to millions of Comcast subscribers.
NBC News Digital is expanding its staff by 20% over the next year, an addition of roughly 70 jobs across multiple departments — focused on growing its digital streaming service, Axios has learned.
The big picture: The changes are meant to refocus NBC News' video and reporting teams around daily news and custom content.
As a part of its digital revamp, the company will be sunsetting "NBC Left Field," the digital video studio it launched in 2017 and staff from that department will be laid off Tuesday but will be working until the end of the year.
A new digital leadership team will also announced.
Between the lines: The staffing changes come as the company readies to grow its news streaming product, NBC News NOW, to 24 hours of live programming this spring. To accommodate that product and video changes, the company will launch a set of new teams.
Editor’s note: NBC is an investor in Axios and Andy Lack, chairman of NBC News and MSNBC, is a member of the Axios board. MSNBC & Axios engage in a weekday sponsored television appearance at 5:55am ET.
Go deeper: NBC News doubles down on Snap
Illlustration: Axios/Sarah Grillo
AT&T on Monday agreed to make major changes, after a six week standoff with activist investor Elliott Management, Axios' Dan Primack and I write.
The four major components:
Go deeper: More details on the ceasefire, including AT&T launching a formal search for the next CEO of WarnerMedia — and its plans to offload debt.
More advocacy and corporate social responsibility ads aired during the first four games of the World Series than every other type of ad excluding automakers, according to data from Advertising Analytics, a strategy firm that specializes in political and issues advertising.
Why it matters: Advertisers are flocking to the World Series as an opportunity to reach Washington opinion leaders.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
Media companies looking to expand outside of advertising, and especially into commerce, are increasingly following the same path down the grocery aisle.
Why it matters: Food and beverage caters to nearly every demographic. When launching forays into commerce, media companies are finding this an easy place to start.
Driving the news: Discovery Inc. launched a Food Network Kitchen App in conjunction with Amazon last week that will offer users live cooking classes, as well as the ability to buy food and kitchenware directly from the app.
Be smart: Food has also proven to be a growing vertical for advertisers, subscriptions, events and licensing.
Even news outlets, or companies which own news operations, have launched events, licensing businesses and subscription businesses around food.
Illustration: Aida Amer/Axios
Tech companies are showing an increased willingness to move beyond revenue share models and into directly paying news publishers for their content.
Driving the News: Facebook is paying some publishers within its News Tab, the company announced Friday.
Between the lines: Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram all hosted news events last week to discuss what they're doing to promote quality journalism ahead of 2020.
The big picture: Facebook is experiencing blowback for its political ad policies and its selection of publishers in its news tab, Facebook News, internally and externally.
Be smart: Keep an eye on whether advertisers will be on board with these efforts.
What to watch: Controversies like these historically have had little impact on Facebook's numbers, but they get a lot of T attention.
Go deeper: Zuckerberg's news pitch
Editors note: Axios is a News Tab launch partner.
Parcast, the podcast production company owned by Spotify, will launch a limited run podcast series this weekend called "Political Scandals," Axios has learned.
The big picture: The company recently launched "Uncommitted: Iowa 2020,” with Vice News, a show that will feature candidate interviews ahead of the Iowa primary.
ByteDance, the Chinese company that owns TikTok and news aggregation giant Toutiao, is eyeing a public exit on the Hong Kong stock exchange, the Financial Times reports.
By the numbers: ByteDance secured its $75 billion valuation last year when it received a reported $3 billion raise from SoftBank.
The big picture: It's going to have to win over the hearts of policymakers in the U.S. before they could ever consider a U.S.-listing.
What's next: According to the FT, the company plans to sell "TopBuzz," its U.S. news feed business that's racked up 300,000 readers, to alleviate concerns about U.S. penetration and data privacy.