April 09, 2024

Today's Media Trends, copy edited by Sheryl Miller, is 1,984 words, a 7½-minute read. Sign up.

👯‍♀️ Situational awareness: More women are movin' on up.

  • The Los Angeles Times named Terry Tang as its first woman executive editor in its newspaper's 142-year history.
  • Fortune has appointed Anastasia Nyrkovskaya, its former CFO, as the company's first female CEO in its 95-year history,

1 big thing: Magazine comeback

Nylon's April 2024 edition, courtesy of BDG Media. Photo: Domen & Van de Velde

Nylon, the 25-year-old fashion outlet, will release its first physical magazine this month since stopping print editions and becoming a digital-only publication in 2017, executives tell Axios.

Why it matters: The move is part of a larger revival of print as a marketing tool and potential advertising opportunity amid an otherwise grim digital ad outlook for publishers, Axios' Kerry Flynn and I write.

  • "Nylon is a brand that was born in print, and it has been our goal to return it to that format since we acquired it in 2019," said Emma Rosenblum, chief content officer for Nylon's parent company, BDG Media.

The big picture: A slew of legacy publications have returned to print or reinforced their commitment to the medium under new ownership over the past year.

  • Complex's new owners NTWRK plan to relaunch its flagship magazine as a way to drive brand awareness and engagement in the next year.
  • Swimming World stopped print editions in 2022. Earlier this year, the new owners announced their acquisition of the 64-year-old magazine brand and the return of print with a 76-page issue.
  • Sports Illustrated will continue print publishing under Minute Media after its previous owners said it would cease those operations.
  • Saveur, the 30-year-old food magazine, brought back print this year after discontinuing it in 2020. Longtime editor Kat Craddock bought the publication from Recurrent last year.
  • Ebony published a fall print issue celebrating 50 years of hip-hop after suspending print in 2019.

☕ State of play: The reemergence of print as specialty magazines means that the published editions are often larger, glossier and less frequent — resembling a coffee table book rather than what one would traditionally find on a magazine stand.

Yes, but: Efforts to revitalize print won't offset the overall outlook for the U.S. consumer magazine industry, which shrunk by more than 20% between 2017 and 2022, per PwC data.

  • And even with some expanded advertising opportunities, many publishers see magazine experiments as marketing plays, not profit drivers.

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2. 🎨 Exclusive: Puck acquires Substack newsletter Artelligence

Photo courtesy of Puck

Puck has acquired Artelligence, a Substack newsletter about the global art market authored by veteran art director and journalist Marion Maneker, Puck editor-in-chief Jon Kelly tells Axios.

Why it matters: It's the first time Puck has acquired an existing newsletter instead of hiring an author to build a new one.

Zoom in: The newsletter — which boasts 32,000 free and paid subscribers, according to Substack — will be integrated and rebranded within Puck's portfolio, Kelly says. Puck plans to rename the newsletter "Wall Power."

  • Puck paid to acquire the email list from Substack, but it can't transport over the paid subscriber relationships.
  • The company will conduct a marketing campaign over the next month to convert Artelligence's paid Substack subscribers to Puck subscribers.

Zoom out: The deal serves as a test case for acquiring other newsletters in the future, Kelly says.

  • It also speaks to Puck's push to invest in news-adjacent verticals for high-net-worth individuals who are underserved amid the fallout of print trade publications.
  • That thesis has been validated by Puck's hiring of veteran fashion writer Lauren Sherman to author a newsletter around the business of fashion.
  • Puck's co-founder Liz Gough has already secured Christie's as a launch partner for the new art vertical.

By the numbers: Including Maneker, Puck now boasts 17 journalists and 12 newsletter products.

  • The company, which has raised a total of $17 million from private investors, has 45 employees total.
  • The firm has roughly 40,000 paid subscribers and earned more than $10 million in revenue in 2023, a source says, confirming figures reported earlier this year by the Wall Street Journal.

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3. 👀 Exclusive: Campbell Brown's new gig

Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Peabody

Media veteran Campbell Brown is joining TollBit as a senior adviser, Brown tells Axios. The startup is building a marketplace between AI companies and media outlets to broker IP licensing deals.

Why it matters: Brown was highly sought after following her exit from Meta last year, given her experience brokering news licensing deals.

  • Sources tell Axios she was in discussions with OpenAI and other firms after her exit.
  • Brown would not comment on other opportunities she considered, but says she ultimately landed on TollBit "because I believe this is the right solution."

"We have to coalesce around an impartial marketplace. It's the only way to ensure the flow of accurate, reliable information across the internet," Brown says.

  • Before leading news and media partnerships at Meta, Brown was an Emmy award-winning journalist and anchor for CNN and NBC. She co-founded The 74, a nonprofit news company focused on education.

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4. Paramount investors cry foul over Skydance talks

Chart: Axios Visuals
Chart: Axios Visuals

Paramount Global faces growing opposition from investors angry about deal talks with Skydance Media that they say will leave shareholders in the cold, Axios' Michael Flaherty and I write.

Why it matters: Shareholder resistance, if it builds further and spreads, could impact the exclusive merger talks between Skydance and Paramount and force Shari Redstone to entertain Apollo Management's all-cash offer.

State of play: The deal in consideration would see Paramount acquire Skydance Media, an independent studio backed by KKR and RedBird Capital Partners, for around $5 billion in stock. Redstone's National Amusements (NAI) would receive around $2 billion in cash, according to a source, confirming a WSJ report.

  • That deal comes as Apollo Management has offered $26 billion to acquire all of Paramount.

Driving the news: Two Paramount investors on Monday wrote separately to the board of directors, arguing the Skydance deal prioritizes Redstone's interests over that of company shareholders.

  • Paramount's stock fell 7% on Monday due, in part, to the investor pushback.

Yes, but: Both letters refer to what's been reported in the media, as no public information exists to date with specifics about what Skydance and Paramount are actually hashing out.

  • One of Axios' sources said the long-term benefits of Paramount's Class B shareholders are very much under consideration in the deal talks.
  • Another added that the board currently prefers the strategic value and future potential of the Skydance deal over Apollo's takeover bid. Paramount, Skydance and Apollo declined to comment.

The big picture: Facing mounting debt and fierce competition in the streaming space, Paramount and Redstone are running out of time.

  • The company's debt was cut to junk status late last month over concerns about the worsening picture of its TV business. Paramount has $15.9 billion in long-term debt, according to FactSet.

Reality check: NAI owns 10% of Paramount's stock but controls the company via around 80% of Class A voting shares, so her say in whatever transaction emerges will go a long way.

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5. Ad industry lauds new national privacy bill

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Lawmakers on Sunday unveiled the American Privacy Rights Act, reviving efforts to pass a comprehensive data privacy law at the national level.

Why it matters: The ad industry is responding positively so far, but there's no guarantee this proposal will become a law before a new Congress is sworn in early next year.

  • The new bill is an update to a previous privacy bill that failed to get Senate support in the previous Congress.
  • The U.S. is years behind Europe in passing a national privacy law, but such efforts haven't been a priority for Congress, which has forced states to introduce their own conflicting laws.

Zoom in: The new measure, which has support from both parties in both chambers of Congress, would preempt state laws while preserving sector-specific state laws that protect financial, health, employee and educational data, Axios' Ashley Gold and Maria Curi write.

  • Consumers would be able to sue when companies violate their privacy rights and seek monetary damages, among other forms of relief.

What they're saying: In a statement, the Interactive Advertising Bureau, which represents over 700 brands, publishers, agencies and ad tech firms, said it was happy with the progress, but wants to make sure the bill will fully preempt all state-specific privacy measures.

6. 🏀 NCAA women's championship ratings cement women's sports surge

Data: Sports Media Watch, Nielsen; Note: 2020 NCAA Championships canceled due to COVID-19; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Sports Media Watch, Nielsen; Note: 2020 NCAA Championships canceled due to COVID-19; Chart: Axios Visuals

A whopping 18.7 million people watched the South Carolina-Iowa women's NCAA title game on Sunday — a new record for a women's college game and a five-year high for any basketball broadcast, according to ESPN.

Why it matters: The unique star power of Iowa guard Caitlin Clark — hailed as one of the greatest college hoops players of all time — is driving unprecedented momentum around women's sports, Axios' Noah Bressner and I write.

State of play: The star power behind Clark, LSU's Angel Reese and other women college players is expected to push newfound interest in the WNBA, which is currently negotiating for a new TV contract beginning in the 2025 season.

  • The WNBA is banking on its brands to help double the value of its existing media rights deals from around $50 million a year to $100 million, beginning next season.

The intrigue: It's unclear whether the NCAA will continue to draw such high ratings in the absence of some of this season's biggest stars.

  • Friday's Final Four game, for example, between NC State and South Carolina drew just 7.1 million viewers. That was half of the average audience that tuned into Clark's winning performance against UConn that same evening.
  • On the other hand, South Carolina's title was driven by freshmen who will return next year and potentially build followings of their own.

⚡ What's next: Join me in New York on April 23 for the Business of Women's Sports Summit hosted in partnership with Deep Blue Sports + Entertainment featuring UCLA Bruins starting guard Kiki Rice, soccer legend Megan Rapinoe and many more.

➡️ Tickets are selling fast. More info here.

7. Robinhood launches Sherwood News

Photo: Sherwood News

Retail trading giant Robinhood on Tuesday officially launched a website for its new media outlet, Sherwood News.

  • The launch also includes a rebrand of its popular financial newsletter Snacks, which has been has expanded to include new interactive content, like quizzes.

Why it matters: Sherwood News wants to be a revenue-driving business for Robinhood, not just a customer acquisition tool, says Joshua Topolsky, editor-in-chief and president of Sherwood News.

Zoom in: The new website is launching with original stories across several dedicated content sections, including markets, business, tech, crypto, power, world, personal finance and culture.

  • The editorial is produced by nearly two dozen veteran journalists. At launch, the company will have roughly three dozen employees. It hopes to have around 40 full-time staff by the end of the year, Topolsky says.

The big picture: More media companies are looking to combine news and information with trading platforms, a practice long championed by Bloomberg.

  • Yahoo acquired CommonStock, a social platform designed for retail investors to share insights based on information linked directly to their brokerage accounts, last year.
  • Betting companies are increasingly partnering with sports media companies to launch branded products.

Yes, but: Few media companies have successful track records of building businesses independent of their parent company.

  • Bloomberg Media is not profitable. Penn National sold Barstool Sports back to its founder Dave Portnoy for $1 after losing more than $800 million on the deal.

What's next: The company is looking to expand its product suite to podcasts, events and even a print magazine in the back half of this year.

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8. 🤑 1 fun thing: Nine-figure dudes

Dude Perfect walks the runway during the unveiling of the MLS/Adidas 2020 Club Jersey's at Penn Plaza Pavilion on February 5, 2020, in New York City. Photo: Michael Owens/Getty Images

Dude Perfect, a group of sports and comedy show hosts that started on YouTube 15 years ago, has raised more than $100 million from private investment firm Highmount Capital, Axios' Kerry Flynn and I write.

The big picture: The deal is part of a bigger trend of private investment firms investing in YouTube-grown talent to take their massive online audiences to more established platforms and grow other revenue streams.

  • Blackstone-backed Candle Media acquired CoComelon parent company Moonbug Entertainment for roughly $3 billion in 2021.
  • Recurrent Ventures, a venture equity-backed digital media rollup company, acquired Donut Media, the largest automotive brand on YouTube, in 2021.

Zoom in: The investment is Dude Perfect's first raise. Revenue is estimated to exceed $50 million this year, according to the company, up from $25 million in 2022.

  • The money will help drive Dude Perfect's expansion into a larger media company, building out more opportunities beyond YouTube,

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