Aug 8, 2017

Axios Media Trends

By Sara Fischer
Sara Fischer

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NEW: Time 📉 and CBS 📈 — Time's Q2 earnings out this morning had the company missing on revenue, due to a decline in print and advertising sales. CBS' Q2 earnings out last night had the company beating expectations on earnings and revenue, largely due to the success of their "All Access" streaming platform, which it announced will expand internationally this year. CBS chairman and CEO Leslie Moonves also teased a 24/7 sports-only streaming channel debuting later this year.

1. Exclusive: Snap's first original series grew 45% in its second season

In its second season, Snapchat's first original program, Good Luck America, averaged over 5 million unique viewers per episode, Axios has learned. The season totaled 29 million total unique viewers globally, 45% more than the prior season. Almost 75% of those viewers are under the age of 25, and over 90% are under age 35.

Why it matters: This is the first time Snapchat has released an episode average for a completed season of its own content. Of course, Snapchat uses its own measurement techniques that are different from television ratings (they measure a view as a video being opened), so a direct comparison cannot be made to TV, but the success of GLA as well as the launch of a daily news program on the app, demonstrate a major shift in how TV news will transition to mobile in the digital age.

How other programs are doing: Several other TV network shows are also seeing high performance on Discover:

  • In its first season, Vertical Networks' Phone Swap averaged 11.4 million viewers per episode globally.
  • Recent episodes of E!'s The Rundown are now averaging close to 8 million viewers per episode, with the largest reaching well over 10 million unique viewers.
  • On its second earnings calls, Discovery said 12 million viewers watched Shark Week on Snapchat Discover.

Be smart: Snap CEO Spiegel is under tremendous pressure internally and externally to drop what some call a standoffish, secretive approach and start telling the Snapchat story with more punch and imagination.

Looking forward: Snap reports earnings on Thursday.

Read more on this in the Axios Stream.

2. New data: Twitter wants a piece of the TV pie, too

Twitter is releasing new data this morning from a report it commissioned from Nielsen showing it can help advertisers reach TV audiences because Twitter:

  • Adds new digital viewers: Twitter provided an average of 6% incremental reach to TV (meaning it expanded its audience with viewers that are digital-only) for target demographics.
  • Reaches a young audience: Twitter saw an average of 25% additional digital reach to TV programs amongst adults 18-24.
  • Offers precision: Twitter had a higher percentage of its impressions reach target audiences than did TV, to a tune of 40% more on average across the campaigns. Earlier this year, Twitter announced 16 new video streaming partnerships, including a 24/7 news network partnership with Bloomberg, but a Q2 user base and advertising slump has put increased on the platform to step up its live video content.

Why it matters: Facebook and Snapchat have released similar data touting their ability to engage TV audiences with mobile video. Many of the major tech platforms are competing to win exclusive content deals from TV networks, in an effort to increase user time spent on their platforms and take a bite out of the $70 billion U.S. television ad market.

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3. Gut check: Digital video ad spending is growing but TV still dominates

Just as a reminder, tech giants are positioning themselves to win over content deals, but there's still a long way to go.

Despite the explosion of mobile video, Americans still watch TV more than any other medium. Per Nielsen's Total Audience Report, U.S. adults spent 86% of their media viewing time with traditional TV, compared to only 14% for all other screens combined.

The bottom line: The money follows the audience.

4. New right-wing boogeyman: Sinclair

Opposition is coalescing against the $3.9 billion Sinclair-Tribune merger, Axios' David McCabe reports.

Why it matters: Pushback against Sinclair's growing dominance is coming in all forms, shapes, and sizes — even from its ideological allies. Last week, Sinclair stock slipped following reports that its biggest rival, 21st Century Fox, may pull Fox affiliate stations from the broadcasting behemoth. The Murdoch-controlled company, which also considered buying Tribune stations, is concerned that a post-merger Sinclair would have increased leverage in negotiations for carrying the programming.

Our thought bubble: The regulatory winds still look good for Sinclair. It's got an anti-regulatory FCC and close ties to the White House. Monday was the deadline for entities to ask the FCC to block the deal.

5. All the rage: entertainment skinny bundles

Entertainment and lifestyle media cable companies are repackaging their programming to enter the streaming market.

  • FX Networks announced Monday that its creating a commercial-free streaming video on-demand (SVOD) service called FX+, available as an add-on to Comcast Xfinity subscribers for $5.99/month.
  • Rival entertainment network AMC announced earlier this summer a similar premier product for Xfinity customers.
  • Discovery and Viacom are likely eyeing similar deals. Discovery said last week it will acquire Scripps Inc. and TEN (The Entertainment Network), which will give it access to more entertainment and lifestyle programming, as well as its first-ever streaming platform (acquired via TEN). Viacom president and CEO Bob Bakish said on last week's earnings call: "Low price entertainment packs will be a reality. This will be a critical development in the arc of pay-TV subscriptions and it will be a positive development for Viacom."

Why it matters: For some of these companies, individual skinny bundles may be their best bet to get into the streaming market, as not all over-the-top streaming services will carry their programming. (Hulu and YouTube TV, for example, don't carry any of Viacom's shows.)

Analyst firm MoffettNathanson estimates that a cheap entertainment-only channel bundle (priced around $10) could potentially draw 4.6 million new subscribers into the pay-TV ecosystem.

6. Digital media's secret weapon: newsletters

A whopping 97% of digital-first news outlets use email newsletters to reach their audiences, according to the latest digital media report from Pew Research Center published Monday. The study also found that 92% have an official presence on Apple News, an increasingly popular destination for news publishers looking to better monetize their mobile reach. Three quarters of outlets also use podcasts to expand their audiences.

7. Tech and media struggles with media leaks, too

Some of the most notoriously tight-lipped companies, like Google, Snapchat, and Apple all fell victim to internal leaks over the past few weeks. (An internal Apple presentation earlier this year on how to handle leaks, was rather ironically leaked in June.) Media companies too, like WSJ, have suffered from embarrassing internal leaks in recent weeks.

Why it matters: A slew of unauthorized disclosures in the tech and media communities show that internal leaking isn't just a political problem, it's an industry-wide communications trend. There are times when leaking is used by the PR teams ("sanctioned leaks") to drive certain narratives and get news out there without having their fingerprints on it, but this doesn't seem to be the case for most of these incidences.

8. 1 fun (surprising) thing: WWE is in the top 5 OTT networks

WWE is the fifth-largest streaming network in the U.S., with more paid over-the-top video subscribers (over 1.5 million) than Sling TV, HBO Now, and Showtime, according to research from Parks Associates.

How'd they do it? WWE was one of the first networks to really dive into the streaming market in 2014. They've since been able to up-sell subscribers paying for individual matches on pay per view (up to $50+ per event) to buying an all-inclusive monthly streaming package for $9.99, which includes live matches, archival content libraries, entertainment, and original content

WWE women craze: Four WWE female superstars rank in the top 10 most-followed female athletes on both Twitter and Facebook and 40% of WWE fans are women. Netflix recently released "GLOW," a fictional series about female entertainment wrestlers that's been getting rave reviews, including a 95% ranking on Rotten Tomatoes.

Sara Fischer