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Ads, AI, M&A: Q2 earnings recap for media companies

Kerry Flynn
Aug 14, 2023
Illustration of a reverse symbol icon made from a money pattern.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Second-quarter earnings brought some major deal news:

The big picture: Beyond M&A, some other themes stuck out, notably the ad market seems to be improving, artificial intelligence is top of mind, and media companies remain focused on profitability. Here's a look at the landscape:


  • Alphabet: YouTube's ad revenue bounced back. After three consecutive quarters of decline, it reported a 5% increase from a year ago to $7.7 billion.
  • Meta: Ad revenue for Facebook parent Meta exploded, up 16% compared to the prior year, leading to overall revenue growth in the quarter after — again — three consecutive quarters of decline.
  • Spotify: Audio advertising rebounded with the Stockholm-based audio giant reporting 12% growth year-over-year.


  • Netflix: Its ad-supported tier and password-sharing crackdown are working, so much so that it is axing its cheapest ad-free subscription tier in the U.S. and the U.K.
  • Disney: Bob Iger seemingly got wind of the financial benefits of a password-sharing crackdown, saying Disney+ will explore that option next year.
  • Lionsgate: The separation of its studio and streaming businesses is delayed until early 2024, with CEO Jon Feltheimer citing the eOne acquisition and the strike's impact.


  • New York Times: The Athletic's losses are decreasing, down 38% to $7.8 million this quarter compared to the prior year, as it boosts advertising there and folds the Times' sports department.
  • BuzzFeed: The company is still struggling after receiving a delisting notice in June, having missed its estimates. CEO Jonah Peretti touted AI investments with AI-generated quizzes, games and chatbots.
  • News Corp.: CEO Robert Thomson said his company is in discussions with AI companies, as he argued these platforms are "fatally undermining journalism."
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