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Axios on HBO debuts this Sunday at 6:30 p.m. The first episode will feature an exclusive interview with President Trump. First look.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
Tragic events ahead of the midterms are causing a contentious media blame game over who to blame for the increasing radicalization of American citizens.
Why it matters: The media infighting is itself the byproduct of a nation that's become radicalized by a collision of geopolitical events over years, and it's being compounded by an economic crisis around news, where the most profitable information online and on TV is often the most inflammatory.
Between the lines: The blame game is coming to a head at Fox News, where news and opinion programming differs, but viewers often struggle to discern the difference between the two. In the last week:
The bigger picture: Axios Future Editor Steve Levine notes in a feature on democracy that similar geopolitical and technological forces are causing radicalized information environments and populations around the world.
Yes, but: In some cases, the infighting is putting pressure on players in the media ecosystem to make changes that might improve the quality of coverage and conversation moving forward. For example, Twitter says it's considering banning "likes" in an effort to incentivize healthier conversations on the platform.
What's next: Experts predict that the radicalization of Western populations will only get worse, and in places like the U.S., it will continue to force people to take on tribal mentalities, which will continue to be reflected in the media.
The Athletic Twitter
The Athletic, a subscription-based digital sports media company, raised $40 million in a series C funding round.
Why it matters: The company, which makes money from consumer subscriptions, thinks it can meet high growth expectations from venture capitalists, many currently facing poor returns on investments in ad-based digital media companies.
Details: The round is being co-led by Founders Fund, a San Francisco-based venture capital firm that specializes in technology, and Bedrock Capital, a venture capital firm that specializes in early stage investments. Sources say Founders Fund has contributed a larger investment.
Between the lines: The founders pitch The Athletic as both a direct-to-consumer brand and a digital media company.
By the numbers: The company has 300 full-time employees, over 100,000 subscribers and a 90% renewal rate. It's roughly the same size as The Los Angeles Times' digital subscription audience, but is 30 times smaller than The New York Times'.
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
The media and advertising industries are anxiously awaiting driverless cars, hoping they will create more opportunities to serve more people more content.
Between the lines: It's not clear if or when people will be able to fully take their eyes off the road to consume more content. The media industry is planning for all scenarios.
The big question: Right now, drivers own their own data. But because cars will have different levels of driver participation, there's no consensus around the future of data ownership.
The bottom line: Whoever owns the data will ultimately decide who controls the content and ads — or at least who gets the revenue.
Go deeper: How privacy plays into all of this.
TV networks that are trying to cut back on ads are having trouble shedding that ad load, according to a Pivotal Research analysis of Nielsen data, highlighted in GroupM's most recent video report. Overall, total US ad load keeps rising.
Why it matters: TV networks like Fox, NBC and Turner have all vowed to cut back on ad load, in an attempt to lure back viewers who are abandoning linear TV in droves for ad-free streaming platforms.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
The U.K. government plans to introduce a new "digital services tax" in 2020 that would force big American companies like Google, Amazon and Facebook to pay a tax of 2% of their British revenue, which mostly comes from ads.
Why it matters: The tax, which is expected to raise £400 million annually, is inspiring other international efforts to levy stiffer corporate taxes that would hit U.S. tech giants hard.
Details: The U.K. tax would apply to profitable companies making at least £500 million ($640 million) annually in revenue. Unprofitable companies like Netflix and Uber would be exempt.
The big picture: Some global tech companies have perfected the art of moving profits to countries with low tax rates. In response, countries are proposing to tax revenue instead of profits. That's because it's much harder for a company to move revenue than it is to move profits.
Go deeper: Felix and I have more in the Axios stream
AT&T is wasting no time building its big Netflix competitor, which it hopes will be the anchor of its media business, WarnerMedia (formerly Time Warner).
Over the past two weeks, WarnerMedia started that consolidation, shuting down three digital video services that catered to niche audiences:
Why it matters: Executives believe that a Netflix-like subscription video platform, that includes evergreen content in a library of franchise-driven titles, will be the driver of WarnerMedia’s success. (WarnerMedia is now one of the four core pillars of AT&T’s business.)
The big picture: AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson has said that capital reallocation is a part of the company’s strategy to boost its streaming efforts.
Photo by Victor Chavez/Getty Images
With kids TV ratings in decline, a glut of shows on streaming services and the demise of Toys "R" Us, Paw Patrol may be the last dominant children's entertainment franchise, according to Bloomberg's Gerry Smith.
Go deeper. “I have not seen anything like this in preschool in all of my years.”