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Illustration: Axios Visuals
Facebook announced Monday that it will begin prioritizing local news content in the News Feed. The news follows Google's confirmation last week that it's testing a hyper-local news app called Bulletin.
Why it matters: Local and national news outlets have for months been split on the way they view their publishing relationships with Google and Facebook.
What we're hearing:
"I see [the Google local news app] potentially as a very good thing... It can actually be helpful data."— Rusty Coats, CEO of the Local Media Consortium
Speaking to Axios' Jim VandeHei at NYU's Skirball "Future of Media" event last night:
Go deeper: Watch Plepler and Lack gush about Snapchat
Photo by Schöning/ullstein bild via Getty Images
CNN will sunset a number of digital initiatives this year in an effort to stay nimble, Axios has learned. The company will also launch new projects as it continues to test what resonates best with its audience and drives revenue.
Why it matters: Big-money projects and restructuring are part of the network's commitment to pivoting its business model towards profitability, even if it means cutting ties with major investments.
CNN has a mandate to fail fast, meaning initiatives that don't show a promising return on investment after a few months will be re-evaluated in order to stay competitive.
The big picture: CNN's digital focus is a part of Turner 2020, the six-year initiative from CNN's parent company to focus its efforts on profitability. The company has hired more than 200 staffers to work on CNN digital since the fall of 2014. Per comScore, CNN pulled in 110 million domestic uniques last month.
At the heart of CNN's big bets is Great Big Story (GBS), a millennial video startup funded in full by CNN that is driving massive audience growth, particularly among millenials, for the network.
Flashback: NYT's Jan. 2017 2020 Group strategy report: "We're no longer in a period when most coverage leaders have the luxury of 'figuring it out' over multiple years."
BuzzFeed is working to establish new shows and partnerships that will launch exclusively with other platforms, like Twitter, Spotify, and others new ones to be announced, according to sources familiar with the company's thinking.
Its daily Spotify news briefing, “Reporting to You," will launch today, and will anchor the launch of other partnerships coming throughout the year.
Why it matters: The viral content site has been planning the video pivot away from Facebook for some time.
"Facebook is still in the early stages of figuring out how and whether news organizations can build a business on Facebook... So we've invested in our own and other platforms."— Editor-in-chief Ben Smith, who I caught backstage at yesterday's NYU Skirball event
The company has seen success in off-platform video partnerships in the past year, including the launch of what Smith says is Twitter's most-watched show, AM to DM, last September.
On average, AM to DM attracts over 1 million views per show, with nearly a third of the its audience coming from outside the U.S. — joining from the U.K., Canada, India, Australia, South Africa and Mexico.
MoviePass, the mobile app that allows users to access one theater movie ticket daily for a $9.95 flat monthly fee, has withdrawn from 10 of AMC’s popular theaters, resulting in a standoff between the country's largest theater chain and the digital subscription service that MoviePass says drives the majority of AMC's revenue.
Why it matters: The same economics problem that led to the collapse of the newspaper industry, and that's currently haunting cable, is also happening to the theater industry: Viewership (in this case, admissions) is down, and the average price of movie tickets continues to climb.
Digital home viewing and price increases have forced theaters to strike distribution partnerships with upstarts like MoviePass in order to retain admissions. That power dynamic is causing angst amongst theater chains.
MoviePass continues to skyrocket in growth, surpassing 1.5 million annual subscriptions in January.
“We have been driving tens of millions of dollars to the big three (Regal, AMC, Cinemark) and all we’ve been asking for is small portion of incremental profit, but they continue to just believe they can take all the advantage but not share in the wealth ... We can’t keep doing that.”— Mitch Lowe, CEO of MoviePass
Read more in the Axios news stream.
Cinema revenues are rising (slightly), but are being far outpaced by digital video rentals while the DVD business is dying, as expected.
Big things we're watching:
Ad Meter—the annual industry barometer that measues public opinion on Super Bowl commercials, is turning 30 this year.
The poll, sponsored and published for decades by USA Today Networks, has seen immense growth in recent years, so much so that it's launching a 30-on-30 bracket for viewers to vote on their favorite commercials from the past 30 years — March Madness style.
A few themes: