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The battle to become the next big sports streamer is underway, but unlike the entertainment streaming wars, there isn't a single dominant incumbent that's captured U.S. market share, Axios' Kendall Baker and I write.
Why it matters: Sports could be more consequential than entertainment to the future of live television.
The big picture: Until more exclusive rights are freed up from linear TV contracts, streamers are focusing on a mixture of live events and niche sports content, as well as other types of sports commentary and on-demand programming.
Authenticated streaming: Most sports leagues still sell their biggest rights packages to live TV networks. Many sporting events are still streamed digitally through authenticated cable and satellite subscriptions or through digital skinny bundles (vMVPDs) that license network content.
League-specific streaming: All of the biggest sports leagues in the U.S. offer their own direct-to-consumer streaming plans and products.
Networks: Most big sports broadcasters have created their own over-the-top sports streaming apps that can be purchased standalone or as add-ons to Pay-TV packages. These apps offer a mix of mostly sports news and original programming, as well as niche sports rights.
Yes, but: Despite a plethora of paid options, many consumers still access sports games through pirated channels on Reddit and other websites where feeds are illegally embedded.
Google searches about the El Paso shooting surged more than any other recent mass shooting — but the horror, outrage and interest toward the murder of innocent lives never seems to last long enough to provoke much change, Axios' Stef Kight and I write.
Why it matters: Mass shootings have become more common, but fading public interest relieves pressure on lawmakers to address the underlying issues.
Key takeaways: The bigger shooting events are loosely correlated with more search interest.
What to watch: Searches for "mass shooting" have been steadily growing beyond the spikes that immediately follow attacks.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
A merger announcement between CBS and its former sister company Viacom is expected as soon as this morning, according to multiple reports.
The combination of CBS and Viacom could be the first part of a much bigger plan for Shari Redstone. Reports suggest that Redstone is looking to acquire other entities to give the combined company more scale.
Yes, but: A combined CBS-Viacom company would still be small compared to the entertainment giant created through the merger of Disney and most of Fox last year. It'd also be much smaller than tech giants like Amazon and Netflix.
Our thought bubble: Scale for scale's sake can be a risky business. Verizon's media acquisition spree has not worked out as planned.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
Verizon is selling the social network Tumblr to Automattic Inc., the owner of online publishing tool Wordpress.
Yes, but: A source familiar with the deal tells Dan that the price-tag was around $3 million, Or, put another way, 0.27% of the $1.1 billion Yahoo originally paid for Tumblr before being acquired by Verizon.
Why it matters: For Verizon, selling Tumblr was a fire sale for tax purposes, Dan writes. It also was another way to unload media assets that don't seem to interest Hans Vestberg, who became CEO after the Yahoo purchase. (Yes, Yahoo screwed it up. But Verizon did no better.)
Between the lines: Pornhub had expressed interest in Tumblr back in May, after Verizon banned porn from Tumblr and put the business up for sale. We hear there were other bidders, although it's unclear if PornHub was among them.
Facebook is funding 2 new BuzzFeed shows as a part of its effort to bolster news video on Watch, according to an internal memo by BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith that was sent to staff late last night.
Details: The first show — called Did You See This? — will launch as a daily news program this September with a rotating cast of BuzzFeed News reporters and pop culture experts. The daily news roundup will unfold "using the Facebook Messenger feature in BuzzFeed’s fan-favorite video format," writes Smith.
Yes, but: Buzzfeed's current show on Watch called Profile, which has completed its one-year run, isn't getting renewed, which sources say can be attributed in part to its long-form format. Smith says "we’re not ruling out using the Profile brand in another context, and we’re working toward defining what that is."
The big picture: Facebook said in June that it would launch a new series of shows on its video tab Watch this year, using learnings from the shows it funded over the past year. Reports have suggested that Facebook is spending around $90 million to invest in news shows on "Watch."
Be smart: A source tells Axios that Facebook won't actually be licensing articles, but rather will be paying for links to articles and snippets of news. In Europe, regulators passed a controversial "link tax" last year, charging major web platforms for using snippets of news content online.
Between the lines: BuzzFeed has now had to take a clinical approach to transforming its video business.
The Spectator, the world’s oldest English-language magazine, is launching a U.S. monthly print version for the first time in its history this fall, after starting a U.S. digital presence last year.
Why it matters: The publication has been published in the UK continuously since it launched 1828 as a weekly. Its former editor, Boris Johnson, just took the reins as the UK's new prime minister.
What's next: The first issue of the monthly publication will debut in October 2019, with a glossy, high-end look and feel — more like a coffee table magazine than for a doctor's office.
The big picture: Some of the other big names in UK print media are doing ok, and their U.S. expansion efforts also seem to be working.
Group Nine Media is launching a slate of podcasts across its four brands — NowThis, The Dodo, Seeker and Thrillist — exclusively with iHeartMedia, one of the largest commercial podcast publishers. iHeart will co-produce all of the content, a source confirms to Axios.
Details: The partnership will kick off with two new original podcasts from NowThis and Thrillist set to launch this fall. The deal will eventually also include a podcast from JASH, Group Nine's LA-based Studios team.
The big picture: The deal includes a production partnership, as well as an advertising revenue partnership. It's meant to be a more intimate, strategic relationship than just a content licensing agreement.
Traditional television advertising continues to grow, despite cord-cutting causing Pay-TV to reach fewer homes than it did just a few years ago.
Why it matters: Television advertising inventory is still a high-demand product, because marketers believe it can drive a high return on investment to a wider audience than digital. But with fewer TV viewers, the demand has actually increased, allowing networks to charge more for ad spots.
By the numbers: Almost every major TV network posted positive advertising growth last quarter. Viacom reported its first quarterly ad sales gain in 5 years.
Yes, but: The conventional wisdom here is that this isn't sustainable. Experts see the traditional TV advertising ecosystem eventually facing the same fate as the traditional print advertising industry. That industry eventually collapsed when viewership (or in this case, reach) sank so low that hyper-inflated rates were no longer efficient enough for ad buyers to justify the rising costs.