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Good morning from Austin, where we're about halfway though South by Southwest. Noticeably absent from the festival this year is a breakout app. Noticeably present are policymakers, from EU officials to Sen. Mark Warner, talking about regulating big tech.
Facebook is getting ready to launch a news section for its Watch platform and it's testing different video partnerships with roughly ten publishers, Axios has learned.
Why it matters: This would be the first standalone news product for national news in Watch. The tech company previously launched several products, like Instant Articles and Facebook Live, with an array of publishers which included but was not limited to news companies.
Facebook is in touch with both legacy and digital-first news publishers to test a daily video feature that would run for at least a year, according to multiple sources familiar with the effort.
The big picture: Facebook is trying to create more meaningful engagement on its platform. While executives have said they don’t know exactly how they will measure meaningful engagement through comments and shares, creating a news product that’s native to the platform and includes content from vetted publishers will hopefully drive less passive engagement and curb the spread of misinformation on its platform.
“Timely news video is the latest step in our strategy to make targeted investments in new types of programming on Facebook Watch."— Campbell Brown, Head of News Partnerships for Facebook, in a statement to Axios responding to request for comment
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser / Axios
Apple has acquired Texture, the online news service dubbed "the Netflix of magazines" that lets users access to more than 200 magazines for $10 per month. It's expected to continue operating as a standalone service.
Why it matters: While it's unclear how Apple plans to integrate the service into its current product suite, including Apple News, the acquisition makes obvious Apple's plans to invest in news distribution.
What they are getting: According to data from Apptopia, Texture has ...
Apple's purchase of Texture raises tantalizing possibilities for publishers eager to jumpstart their digital business. But it's not the first time publishers have hoped Apple would save their business and so far redemption has yet to come from Cupertino or elsewhere.
The big picture: Publishers have become more vocal about their gripes with Google and Facebook as news distribution partners, mostly because of monetization issues.
Apple is emphasizing that it will help continue to provide high-quality journalism from trusted sources to its customers, a distinguishing factor from some of its technology competitors that have struggled to embrace free speech while curbing misinformation.
Flipboard is becoming one of the biggest mobile traffic drivers to news sites on mobile, according to data from media analytics firm Parse.ly.
The Supreme Court is currently weighing whether to side with American Express in a ruling that will make it a lot harder for companies with two-sided businesses (companies with two distinct sets of customers) to be tried for anti-competitive behavior.
Why it matters: Most of the biggest tech monopolies, like Google, Facebook, etc. serve two distinct sets of customers — advertisers and everyday users.
How it works: If the Supreme Court sides with American Express in Ohio v. American Express Co., anyone suing a company with a two-sided business would need to prove that the business is not just a threat to one set of customers, but that those threats in turn hurt another set of customers.
Social streaming properties are aggressively going after sports streaming rights, with Facebook nabbing exclusive rights to stream 25 regular season MLB games, and Twitter and Major League Soccer announcing a three-year agreement covering live matches.
The news follows months of live-streaming announcements by social streaming properties for major sports leagues. Notably, YouTube TV recently brokered deals with two MLS teams, the Los Angeles Football Club and the Seattle Sounders, to stream a handful of their games exclusively — meaning they will have rights to them and traditional TV broadcasters won't.
The big picture: The push into professional sports has gotten even more intense as professional leagues begin to reevaluate their distribution contracts to reach younger audiences.
Note: Data reflects regular season viewership where available as opposed to playoffs or finals; Data: MAGNA U.S. Sports Report, Sept. 2017; Chart: Chris Canipe / Axios
The median age of people watching live sports on television has increased across every nationally-broadcasted sport, according to Magna Global's latest U.S. sports media report.
Why it matters: Per Digiday, which has a nice summary of the changes to television programming in a digital-first landscape, some networks are able to squeeze more ad dollars out of reduced commercial times by making inventory more scarce, thus increasing ad rates significantly.
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser / Axios
The White House last night blocked Broadcom’s proposed $117 billion purchase of Qualcomm, saying preventing the deal was “necessary to protect the national security of the United States,” Axios’ Dan Primack and Ina Fried report.
Why it matters: It is unprecedented for the U.S. government to block a deal like this one. The purchase — which would have been the largest tech deal in history — hadn’t even been agreed to yet by the two companies. Blocking it also shows the Trump administration’s aggressive stance on perceived threats from foreign investors and the growing technological might of China.
The big picture: U.S. lawmakers have been weighing how to clamp down on some investments and acquisitions in light of concerns that they could give America's biggest rivals, mainly China, access to sensitive technologies that that are crucial to the U.S.'s economic and national security priorities, as I wrote in January.
They're also worried about giving Chinese companies access to data about U.S. citizens through some targeted acquisitions.
China is set to abolish the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT), the regulatory body which currently oversees the media and entertainment sector, Variety reports: