Mediaweek Roundup: Federal Election, Walt Disney, Facebook, Conde Nast

All the early morning news you need for Thursday, May 16

Business of Media

Campaign ad spend: Election had good and bad news for agencies

The latest election ad spend by political as monitored by Nielsen helps explain why many marketers are keeping away from media until after the 2019 Federal Election campaign ends, thankfully in just two days.

Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party is making big waves with the size of his spend. While that is good news for some, including the media getting the lion’s share of the investment, it is drawing negative comments from many and making many brands wary of a noisy marketplace.

Earlier this month SMI reported on the March media agency revenue numbers:

Australia’s media agency market continues to be hobbled by lower business confidence ahead of the Federal election, reporting its sixth consecutive month of lower demand in March with total bookings back 4.7% on an underlying basis to $583.6 million from last year’s record high.

SMI AU/NZ managing director Jane Ractliffe said it was now unlikely the market will start to pick up until well after the Federal election.

“We already know this year’s April data has been negatively impacted by the extended Easter and ANZAC Day break in April this year compared to the smaller timing impact in April last year when Easter started at the end of March,” she said.

“The downturn in media investment is not going to start to pick up until after the election when hopefully the new Government will be able to restore business confidence and therefore inspire businesses to start reinvesting in advertising.

The good news for major media is that SMI has always seen large upticks in advertising expenditure following periods of lower growth…the only question is when that growth will start to kick in.”

SMI’s Jane Ractliffe will be talking to Mediaweek on Your Money today at 2.30pm.

Nielsen said that in the last week alone, United Australia Party spent $5.3m, more than what the Liberal and Labor party combined tipped into media.

Since September, UAP has spent $44.4m with messages for Australian voters. That is more than double the combined spend of Liberal and Labor ($11.5m each).

Here is a graphic showing election ad spend for last week (6/5 – 12/5).

Adelaide Festival sets new box office record with $6m

This year’s record smashing $6 million Adelaide Festival box office result helped generate an estimated $76.8 million in associated spending for the state, a new economic assessment report has found, reports The Advertiser’s Patrick McDonald.

The report, by Barry Burgan of Economic Research Consultants, also revealed that 19,046 visitors came from interstate or overseas for the Festival with visitor bed nights increasing to 141,258 from 138,021 in 2018.

Artistic directors Neil Armfield and Rachel Healy’s third annual program was the most successful in the Festival’s 59-year history.

Total new expenditure related to the Festival was $20 million (up 11 per cent) while net impact or newly created incomes on the Gross State Product was estimated at $23 million (up 10 per cent), creating the equivalent of 216 full time jobs.

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Walt Disney battles Netflix: Will control Hulu, Disney Plus, ESPN+

As it rolled out its TV years for advertisers in New York this week, The Walt Disney Company and Comcast have announced Disney will assume full operational control of Hulu, effective immediately, in return for Disney and Comcast entering into a “put/call” agreement regarding NBCUniversal’s 33% ownership interest in Hulu.

Under agreement, as early as January 2024, Comcast can require Disney to buy NBCUniversal’s interest in Hulu and Disney can require NBCUniversal to sell that interest to Disney for its fair market value at that future time. Hulu’s fair market value will be assessed by independent experts but Disney has guaranteed a sale price for Comcast that represents a minimum total equity value of Hulu at that time of US$27.5 billion.

The deal means Disney will continue running Hulu in addition to launching its own Disney Plus streaming platform launching later this year and the one-year-old ESPN+ sports offering.

“Hulu represents the best of television, with its incredible array of award-winning original content, rich library of popular series and movies, and live TV offerings. We are now able to completely integrate Hulu into our direct-to-consumer business and leverage the full power of The Walt Disney Company’s brands and creative engines to make the service even more compelling and a greater value for consumers,” said Robert A. Iger, The Walt Disney CompanyCEO.

Comcast has agreed with Hulu to extend the Hulu license of NBCUniversal content and the Hulu Live carriage agreement for NBCUniversal channels until late 2024 and to distribute Hulu on its Xfinity X1 platform.

All details of the deal have not yet been finalised, but it is expected Hulu will be aimed more at adults, while Disney Plus will focus on the big family franchises.

Social Media

Facebook joins tech companies supporting Christchurch Call to Action

Facebook’s vice president for Global Affairs and Communications Nick Clegg has joined G7 government and industry leaders for a meeting in Paris on how to curb the spread of terrorism and extremism online. At the meeting, hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Facebook along with Microsoft, Twitter, Google and Amazon signed up to the Christchurch Call to Action. The technology companies also committed to a nine-point plan that sets out concrete steps the industry will take to address the abuse of technology to spread terrorist content. The following is a statement from all five companies:

The terrorist attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand, in March were a horrifying tragedy. And so it is right that we come together, resolute in our commitment to ensure we are doing all we can to fight the hatred and extremism that lead to terrorist violence.

The Christchurch Call announced today expands on the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT), and builds on our other initiatives with government and civil society to prevent the dissemination of terrorist and violent extremist content. Additionally, we are sharing concrete steps we will take that address the abuse of technology to spread terrorist content, including continued investment in technology that improves our capability to detect and remove this content from our services, updates to our individual terms of use, and more transparency for content policies and removals.

Regarding Livestreaming, the statement said:

We commit to identifying appropriate checks on livestreaming, aimed at reducing the risk of disseminating terrorist and violent extremist content online. These may include enhanced vetting measures (such as streamer ratings or scores, account activity, or validation processes) and moderation of certain livestreaming events where appropriate. Checks on livestreaming necessarily will be tailored to the context of specific livestreaming services, including the type of audience, the nature or character of the livestreaming service, and the likelihood of exploitation.

Photo: Jacinda Adern (left) in Paris with French President Emmanuel Macron and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau


Conde Nast marketplace: Sells Brides & Golf Digest titles

Australian publisher of Golf Digest welcomes Discovery acquisition

US magazine giant Conde Nast is a little bit smaller this week after revealing it has sold two of its magazine brand.

First title to find a new home was the Golf Digest brand, which also has an impact on the licence for the title in Australia.

Discovery is the new home for the brand and it plans to combine the title with its GolfTV channel, which is available to subscribers globally, including Australia.

Golf Digest is a world-class brand that has become the ‘go-to’ authority for millions of golf enthusiasts, professional players and global advertisers,” said David Zaslav, president and CEO of Discovery, Inc. “It’s a natural strategic fit with Discovery’s goal to be the leading golf media platform in the world. Through our investments with the PGA Tour, the European Tour and our partnership with Tiger Woods, we wanted to bolster GolfTV’s international offerings with Golf Digest’s award-winning journalism, broad consumer reach and deep content library while also creating the largest US digital golf business. Jay Monahan and the PGA Tour have been great partners and we are excited to expand our mutual vision to bring these amazing players and all of their terrific play to more people on more devices in every market in the world.”

Nick Cutler, managing director of CMMA Digital & Print Pty Ltd – publishers of Australian Golf Digest and New Zealand Golf Digest – said the deal reinforces where both titles stand in their respective markets.

“Since we acquired Australian Golf Digest in July 2015, we have set about building the brand beyond print to encompass a full suite of digital assets,” Cutler said. “With only a third of our monthly reach now coming from the print magazine, the rest of the 450,000 golfers engage with us across our digital, social and web broadcast assets. More recently we have mirrored this investment in launching New Zealand Golf Digest with great success. With this Discovery acquisition of Golf Digest, this takes us to a whole new level.

“The Discovery – Golf Digest deal is brilliant for golf, particularly in Australia and New Zealand. The investment in the broadcast alone (GolfTV) across the range of tours will simply mean golfers will be able to see more golf than ever before.”

“The content and marketing potential for combining the resources of Discovery, the PGA Tour, Tiger Woods, GolfTV and Australian Golf Digest is the stuff that dreams are made of in our industry,” says Australian Golf Digest editor-in-chief Brad Clifton. “Except now it’s a reality for us here in Australia.”

Owner of Tinder is also now the owner of Brides magazine

Conde Nast sells Brides brand, new owner closing print edition

It has been revealed this week that Conde Nast is also selling its Brides brand. The magazine used to be thick with advertisers wishing to reach a lucrative market. However the new owner has revealed they will be closing the print edition.

The magazine has been one of several Conde Nast has been offering for sale.

Brides, founded 85 years ago, has been the leading authority in the wedding space that inspires, encourages, and guides from a proposal through engagement, to the wedding and honeymoon. The property is a cornerstone brand in the wedding category with a strong reputation among consumers and advertisers, said its new owner, online publisher Dotdash.

“We’re excited to build on the historical excellence and incredible reputation of the Brides brand,” said Neil Vogel, CEO, Dotdash. “Adding Brides to our portfolio of brands gives us a powerful platform to take on the wedding space and extends our ability to reach young women at key moments in their lives.”

The Brides print magazine will be discontinued after the August/September issue in the US and the September/October issue in the UK.

Dotdash is among the largest publishers online, and its brands include Verywell, The Spruce, The Balance, Investopedia, Lifewire, TripSavvy, Byrdie, MyDomaine, Brides and ThoughtCo.

Dotdash is controlled by IAC, which is chaired by US investor Barry Diller. IAC is also the owner of the dating app Tinder.


UK broadcaster ITV cancels long-running reality show after death

ITV has explained why it cancelled its long-running daily reality show:

As we have said, everyone at ITV and The Jeremy Kyle Show is shocked and saddened at the news of the death of a participant in the show a week after the recording of the episode they featured in and our thoughts are with their family and friends. We will not screen the episode in which they featured.

Given the seriousness of this event, ITV has also decided to suspend both filming and broadcasting of The Jeremy Kyle Show with immediate effect in order to give it time to conduct a review of this episode of the show, and we cannot comment further until this review is completed.”

Carolyn McCall, ITV’s CEO, aid: “Given the gravity of recent events we have decided to end production of The Jeremy Kyle Show.

The Jeremy Kyle Show has had a loyal audience and has been made by a dedicated production team for 14 years, but now is the right time for the show to end.

“Everyone at ITV’s thoughts and sympathies are with the family and friends of Steve Dymond.”

ITV said it will continue to work with host Jeremy Kyle on other projects.

The broadcaster also explained the safeguards it has when dealing guests on its various programs:

“ITV has many years experience of broadcasting and creating programs featuring members of the public and each of our productions has duty of care measures in place for contributors. These will be dependent on the type of show and will be proportionate for the level of activity of each contributor and upon the individual. All of our processes are regularly reviewed to ensure that they are fit for purpose in an ever changing landscape.

“In the case of The Jeremy Kyle Show, the programme has significant and detailed duty of care processes in place for contributors pre, during and post show which have been built up over 14 years, and there have been numerous positive outcomes from this, including people who have resolved complex and long-standing personal problems.

“Prior to the show a comprehensive assessment is carried out by the guest welfare team on all potential contributors. The guest welfare team consists of four members of staff, one consultant psychotherapist and three mental health nurses.”

George Clooney previews Catch-22, how he avoided journalism career

In bringing Joseph Heller’s iconic novel Catch-22 to the screen almost six decades after it was published, director, producer and actor George Clooney says the passage of time has given it new meaning, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Michael Idato.

Sensibilities change, says Clooney. “Sometimes that’s what dates films and television shows. And sometimes it makes them more prescient.

“This is one where, I think, the reason the book is a classic is because the basic standard tenets really sort of remain,” Clooney adds. “Which is, shit rolls downhill, authority is to be made fun of, red tape and bureaucracy particularly, and war is insane. All those things.”

The series, like the book, follows the exploits of the fictional 256th Squadron, based on the island of Pianosa in the Tuscan Archipelago, off the west coast of Italy.

Clooney, whose production company made the series, plays the parade-obsessed training officer Scheisskopf. The series launches on Stan on May 18.

For many people, Clooney included, Catch-22 is remembered as a book that was read in their youth, typically off a high school required reading list.

“It’s hard reading, it took a while,” Clooney says. “But at the time it felt like the kind of writing, the style of writing that we hadn’t seen much of. We’ve seen some of that style copied since then. But it’s nice when you go back and read a book 40 years later and it doesn’t let you down.”

When Clooney first read the book, he had no idea he would ever be in a position to bring it to the screen, he says.

At the time his ambition was to go into broadcast journalism, following in the footsteps of his father, Nick Clooney, who had been a news presenter on regional US television and later hosted a morning news magazine program.

“That was what my father was doing and that’s what I wanted to do, and I studied that at school and paid attention to that,” Clooney says. “I only lacked talent,” he adds, laughing. “That’s the thing that kept me out of it.”

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10’s new dramas a welcome break from the onslaught of reality TV

In the battle for ratings what’s left for Australia’s commercial television networks after the last few years of reality television excess? Asks The Age’s Craig Mathieson.

We’ve had cooking shows where both the food and the contestant comments were tasteless, while romance competitions and marriage quests have become so malignant that even cancer cells are offended. In an era of staged kisses, sabotage scoring, and drink throwing, the bottom of the barrel is scraped clean.

The most radical response belongs to Network 10, which this month has debuted a pair of scripted local series that reveal a strange and conflicted place called Australia. While Mr Black and Five Bedrooms are respectively a succinctly farcical comedy and a communal drama with a hefty haul of pathos, their attitudes and even antics reflect the country we actually live in, instead of a giant Instagram follow button. That’s hugely refreshing.

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Medicine or Myth? Home remedies put to the test on SBS series

Suffering from cold sores and desperate for a cure? How about smearing a little ear wax on your lip? Unconventional, sure, but apparently it works. And don’t worry if you haven’t enough of your own wax to do the job – you can use anyone’s. At least according to one home remedy pitched on Medicine or Myth?, SBS’s new reality TV program, reports The Age’s Kerrie ‘Brien.

Hundreds of people applied to appear, all keen to share their passion for home-grown treatments, including using sauerkraut for acne, sage tea for hot flushes and even a beer that cures a cough.

Assessing the wild and sometimes wacky home treatments is a panel of three health professionals. Neurosurgeon Dr Charlie Teo leads the group, alongside family and women’s health expert Dr Ginni Mansberg and associate professor in immunology Ashraful Haque.

Medicine or Myth? is Teo’s first television role. His presence lends credibility to the show and he saw it as a chance to allow people a voice; it underlines his thinking that sometimes the unorthodox is worth considering. “I’ve always thought that the medical fraternity suffered from closed-mindedness.”

Produced by Warner Bros International, the eight-week series was filmed over five days, starting at 5.30am and finishing at 10.30pm. As an in-demand brain surgeon, Teo has a fairly hellish schedule; to enable him to participate in the program, filming was organised around his availability.

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Game of Thrones breaking TV records, but finals eps dividing fans

Game of Thrones’ final season may be smashing Australian pay TV records, but its standing among online critics is a completely different story, reports The Age’s Broede Carmody.

In recent weeks the fantasy blockbuster’s Rotten Tomatoes rating has nosedived. So much so that the online review aggregator claims season eight of HBO’s critically acclaimed drama is the least popular in the show’s history.

The season kicked off with an approval rating above 90 per cent, according to the site. The second episode, A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms, netted an 88 per cent approval rating while its successor – The Long Night – continued the downward trend.

Monday’s controversial instalment, The Bells, saw a Game of Thrones episode snare an approval rating below 50 per cent for the first time. The show’s penultimate episode dragged season eight’s overall approval rating down to 73 per cent, which is also an all-time low. (Every other season of Game of Thrones has an average approval rating of 91 per cent or higher on Rotten Tomatoes.)

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