Axios Media Trends

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April 23, 2024

Today's Media Trends, copy edited by Bill Kole, is 1,817 words, a 7-minute read. Sign up.

HAPPENING TODAY: Our Business of Women's Sports Summit, hosted in partnership with Deep Blue Sports + Entertainment, kicked off this morning in NYC.

  • Tickets are sold out. But Axios' newsroom will be covering conversations live with trailblazers like Megan Rapinoe, Sue Bird, Aliyah Boston and many more. Follow along here.

Heading to DC for the White House Correspondents' Dinner? Let's grab coffee.

1 big thing: 🎵 Exclusive ... Award show first

Average U.S. viewership of the <span style="background:#ffca8c; padding:3px 5px;color:black;">Latin AMAs</span> and the <span style="background:#d96700; padding:3px 5px;color:white;">AMAs</span>
Data: TelevisaUnivision, Digital Music News, Hollywood Reporter, TVLine, Billboard, LA Times; Note: The Latin AMAs were canceled in 2020 and the AMAs were canceled in 2023; Chart: Thomas Oide/Axios

The Latin American Music Awards (Latin AMAs) will be presented in a combination of English and Spanish this Thursday, marking the first time any major U.S. award show will feature a bilingual broadcast.

Why it matters: Unlike most award shows, winners for the Latin AMAs are selected by popular vote, not fellow artists.

  • 🎯 That puts an even higher premium on building a show that reflects modern U.S. Latino culture, per Ignacio Meyer, president of Univision Television Networks Group.

How it works: Thursday's Latin AMAs will highlight a fusion of music from around the world and will cross cultures between artists.

  • "The script for the first time is being written in Spanish and English and you'll be able to understand and follow the show in both languages," per Meyer.
  • That means that some award acceptance speeches will be in English, some will be in Spanish, and some will feature a mix of both. Some artists will sing in a mix of both languages.
  • Unlike previous shows, "we're not asking them to do it in Spanish."

Zoom in: The bilingual experience for Latin AMAs will also be reflected in TelevisaUnivision's advertising and social content.

  • English, Spanish and "Spanglish" commercials will air during the show.
  • Branded campaigns from sponsors will feature both languages.

The big picture: Over the past few years, the Latin AMAs have attracted more U.S. viewers than the American Music Awards, speaking to the growing popularity of Spanish music and U.S. Latino culture.

What to watch: More American artists are trying to tap into the growing influence of the U.S. Latino population and its culture.

  • Performers for this year's Latin AMAs include Hispanic American singer and actress Becky G, who is also co-hosting the show; country music star Jennifer Nettles; and several big names in Latino music, including Peso Pluma, Anitta, Marc Anthony, and more.
  • Presenters include DJ Steve Aoki, Victoria Justice, and others.

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2. More apps could get tangled up in TikTok ban

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

As a TikTok divestment law races to passage, TikTok's parent company ByteDance must reckon with the legislation across all of its apps, many of which are growing rapidly in the U.S.

Why it matters: The broad language included in the bipartisan TikTok ban bill could make it impossible for most ByteDance apps to operate in the U.S. unless the Chinese firm sells them to U.S. companies, Axios' April Rubin, Maria Curi and I write.

  • ByteDance offers an array of apps in U.S. app stores in addition to TikTok, including its popular video editing app CapCut and photo editing app Hypic.
  • It also provides several other apps in U.S. app stores via umbrella developer companies. These include AI homework app Gauth and a Pinterest-like social network called Lemon8,

Zoom in: The bill only directly names ByteDance and TikTok, but its reach is much broader.

  • The bill's sponsors in the House have been adamant that the law is meant to target any "applications and websites controlled by a foreign adversary — China, Russia, Iran, North Korea — that pose a clear national security threat," and not just TikTok.
  • Keeping the law broad could strengthen the U.S. government's case in a likely challenge of its constitutionality. If the law is seen as specifically targeting ByteDance, the company could have grounds for appeal under the Constitution's ban on bills of attainder.
  • TikTok also argues that the bill infringes on its customers' First Amendment rights. Supporters of the bill maintain that it's about protecting national security.

What to watch: The Senate is expected to pass its version of the bill this week, and President Biden has indicated he would sign the measure, setting ByteDance up for an intense legal fight to keep TikTok and other apps in U.S. app stores.

Go deeper: The TikTok sales pitch

3. Historic journalism tax credit included in NY budget

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

In what is being called a "monumental" and "historic" win for local news, New York lawmakers have approved $90 million worth of payroll tax credits to hire local journalists in the state's fiscal year 2025 budget.

Why it matters: It's the largest sum any state has devoted to local news.

Be smart: The first-of-its-kind provision could create a blueprint for funding local journalism jobs across the country.

  • Tax credits, unlike government-funded grants, are seen by some as less likely to create a dynamic where a local news outlet feels compromised by government-funded support.

Zoom in: The provision, which was passed over the weekend by the New York State Senate and Assembly, is part of a wider state budget bill that's expected to soon be signed into law by New York Gov. Kathy Hochul.

  • It creates $30 million a year in tax credits annually for three years, with the intention of protecting current journalism jobs and creating new ones.
  • Eligible outlets can receive a refundable tax credit against 50% of the first $50,000 of a journalist's salary. No newsroom can receive more than $300,000.
  • Broadcast and print newsrooms will receive subsidies based on their size. Publicly traded corporations are excluded from eligibility.

The big picture: The new bill is part of a broader effort by state governments to fund journalism through various measures, such as grants, vouchers and state-backed local news funds.

What to watch: National lawmakers aren't making progress so far in supporting journalism.

  • The Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA), which requires tech firms to negotiate payout terms "in good faith" with news publishers for distributing their content, has been introduced multiple times by bipartisan members of Congress, but has yet to make it to a vote.

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4. 📺 NBA bidding war begins

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The NBA's media rights hit the market today. Let the bidding begin.

Why it matters: The move marks the first significant change in TV partners for the $10 billion league in more than two decades, Axios' Tim Baysinger writes.

State of play: The NBA's exclusive negotiating window with Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery is expected to expire tonight without a new deal, a source with knowledge of the talks tells Tim.

  • The talks with Disney and WBD were complicated by the NBA's desire to add additional media partners, the source adds. The league, ESPN and WBD all declined to comment on the state of their negotiations.
  • The league will continue renewal discussions with Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery, according to the source.

Zoom in: Amazon is viewed as a heavy favorite to land NBA rights, according to multiple media reports.

  • Comcast, Apple, Google and even Netflix have all expressed some level of interest in NBA rights.

The big picture: The sports TV market has tightened while the importance of live events has only grown for both linear TV and streaming companies.

  • Leagues are adding more media partners to get the overall price increases they're seeking.
  • The NBA's renewals are also coming at the same time as the WNBA looks to ride the "Caitlin Clark effect" and the overall rise of women's sports to score its own hefty price increase.

Flashback: The last time the NBA's TV rights were up for renewal, they never made it to the open market.

  • In October 2014, Disney and Turner committed to pay $24 billion over nine years to prevent then-newcomer Fox Sports 1 from grabbing a piece of the NBA.

Go deeper: Sign up for Axios Pro Media Deals authored by Tim and Kerry Flynn.

5. Netflix shift draws Wall Street jitters

Axios Visuals; Data: Company reports

Netflix's stock took a plunge Thursday after the streaming giant said it would no longer report subscriber growth numbers to Wall Street, and instead focus on delivering key financial metrics, like operating margin and profitability.

Why it matters: Despite blowing past Wall Street expectations on revenue, earnings and subscriber additions last quarter, investors were clearly jolted by the reporting change.

The big picture: In focusing on financial metrics over subscriber growth, Netflix is once again setting the tone for how Wall Street will evaluate the streaming sector.

  • Most of Netflix's streaming peers are not yet consistently profitable.

Zoom in: The new metrics reflect changes to Netflix's business model.

  • Because the company has reached saturation in several mature markets, it's starting to drive more revenue from its existing users through things like ads and password-sharing crackdowns.
  • It's also investing in new business lines, like games and live programming, to improve user engagement.
  • Netflix has begun experimenting with some live programming and sports, but it hasn't indicated any plans to invest as heavily in that arena as its traditional media rivals, like Disney/ESPN and Warner Bros. Discovery.

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6. John Heilemann joins Puck

Photo: Brigitte Lacombe.

Puck, the subscription newsletter company, today will announce it has hired veteran journalist and TV commentator John Heilemann as its chief political columnist and partner, Puck's cofounder tells Axios.

  • He will author a weekly column, titled "Impolitic," and will anchor a new Sunday edition of Puck's daily political private email, "The Best & The Brightest," per Jon Kelly, Puck's cofounder.
  • Heilemann will also appear on Puck's daily "Powers That Be" podcast throughout the week alongside the outlet's other political writers, including Tara Palmeri, Julia Ioffe, Peter Hamby, Tina Nguyen and Abby Livingston, Kelly said.
  • Puck will also relaunch Heilemann's podcast, "Hell & High Water," which has been on a hiatus, under the new name "Impolitic with John Heilemann."

Between the lines: Heilemann most recently launched and sold a video news startup called The Recount.

  • With that in the rearview and "The Circus" ending its run for now, Heilemann will now devote most of his energy and focus to Puck.
  • "As a partner of Puck, he (Heilemann) is a part of the same profit-sharing structure as every other partner," Kelly said.
  • "When I said this is gonna be my home, I meant that," Heilemann added. He will remain an on-air analyst with NBC News and MSNBC.

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7. The safe space election

President Biden tapes the "SmartLess" podcast in Manhattan in March. Photo: Courtesy of Biden for President

President Biden and former President Trump have one big thing beyond old age in common: They duck difficult questioning by reporters, with historic stubbornness, Axios' Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei write.

Why it matters: Biden is more likely to talk to mainstream outlets, and Trump to echo chambers. But both pop up for questioning with sycophants, supporters and sympathetic journalists.

  • During his 3+ years in office, Biden has refused to give a single interview to White House reporters for the New York Times, the Washington Post or the Wall Street Journal. But he sat down twice with friendly comedian Jason Bateman and his podcast pals on "SmartLess."
  • This is the first time in 60+ years that the sitting president has stiffed the newsroom of the New York Times for a formal interview.

The other side: Trump frequently visits Fox News and ideological outlets. Exceptions this year include a marathon phone interview with CNBC's "Squawk Box" in March, and an interview with Spectrum News 1 Wisconsin.

The tonal and topic contrast between Biden and Trump is stark. Trump has mixed it up in Vegas with the mixed martial arts podcast "UFC Unfiltered."

  • Last month, he welcomed Brexiteer and Trump ally Nigel Farage to Mar-a-Lago for an interview on Britain's right-leaning GB News, which bills itself as "the People's News Channel."

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