Mediaweek Roundup: Foxtel staff cuts, Gumtree acquisition, Netflix + more

• Facebook, Gold Coast Music Awards 2020, 10 All Access, Nine and NRL

Business of Media

Foxtel axes 70 marketing & creative jobs in latest restructure

Foxtel is making a further 70 staff redundant as part of a restructuring aimed at creating a business that can compete more aggressively with global streaming platforms, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Zoe Samios.

The redundancies affect Foxtel and Fox Sports’ marketing and creative divisions and are the third major round of job cuts to take place at the business this year.

“These are changes we had to make to face up to the impacts of COVID-19 on our business and a very different future for everyone involved in the media, entertainment and sporting industries,” a Foxtel spokesman said.

“The changes in marketing and creative reflect a new way of working following the merger of the Fox Sports and Foxtel teams last year that is now seeing us reduce our internal creative spend and centralise, outsource or consolidate some marketing functions.”

Foxtel employed about 2500 staff until last month, but sources have indicated the company is trying to reduce its staff below 2000.

[Read more]

ACCC clears Gumtree’s acquisition of Carsguide and Autotrader

The ACCC has granted unconditional merger authorisation to Gumtree’s proposed acquisition of Cox Australia Media Solutions (Cox Media), allowing Gumtree Cars to be combined with Cox Media’s Carsguide and Autotrader sites.

“We authorised this merger because we concluded it was not likely to lead to a substantial lessening of competition, including in the supply of online automotive classifieds in Australia. Therefore it was not necessary to consider the public benefit limb of the authorisation test,” ACCC chair Rod Sims said.

Carsales is the leading provider of online automotive classified advertising in Australia and is a significant competitive constraint on Gumtree and Cox Media. Facebook Marketplace is also a growing competitor to Gumtree and Cox Media in the supply of online automotive classifieds services.

“Our investigation showed that Carsales and Facebook Marketplace are likely to continue to provide significant competition in online automotive classifieds after Gumtree acquires Cox Media,” Sims said.

“We also found that Gumtree and Cox Media focus on different segments, with Gumtree focussing on private seller listings and Cox Media focussing on dealer listings.”

Gumtree is a subsidiary of eBay Classifieds Holding BV, whose ultimate parent company is eBay Inc. eBay operates a multi-category general classifieds website in Australia.

Cox Media is a subsidiary of Cox Automotive, which is 70 per cent owned by Cox Automotive International Sarl and 30 per cent owned by DealerMotive Ltd, a consortium of Australian dealer groups. Carsguide and Autotrader provide automotive editorial content and automotive classifieds.

Facebook points to ‘signs of stability’ as ad declines flatten

Facebook cautioned Wall Street this week that it could face intensifying difficulties in its advertising business from the coronavirus pandemic, but also indicated that the toll would not be deep, reports The New York Times.

The company, which reported rising revenue and profit for the first three months of the year, said that it experienced a significant reduction in advertising in the last three weeks of March and that its business would continue to be affected by “issues beyond our control.” It added that it would not give forecasts about future financial results because of the coronavirus impact.

But the ad declines flattened in April, Facebook said, adding that it had “seen signs of stability” and that “advertising revenue has been approximately flat compared to the same period a year ago.”

Coupled with relatively robust financial results from Google’s parent company, Alphabet, on Tuesday and from Microsoft on Wednesday, Facebook and other tech giants appear to be limiting the pain from the pandemic as people flock to their digital services while in lockdown.

[Read more]

Entertainment

Tones and I, Amy Shark perform for Gold Coast Music Awards 2020

It is a tough time for the music industry due to COVID-19, but last night Gold Coast musicians got the recognition they deserved in an award ceremony like no other, reports News Corp’s Sophie Chirgwin.

The sixth annual Gold Coast Music Awards forged ahead despite the coronavirus lockdown, with thousands gathering online to celebrate the local music industry.

The night was filled with highlights including special guests Byron Bay’s Tones and I, Gold Coast’s Amy Shark, Sophie Monk and Michael Chugg delivering warm messages among loungeroom performances.

Days after hitting No.1 in the ARIA country album charts, Casey Barnes took home the top gong of Artist of the Year.

Barnes was due to have his biggest year yet, but touring his new album Town of a Million Dreams was halted due to government restrictions.

Other big winners of the night included roots duo Busby Marou, who won Release of the Year for their album The Great Divide; and Breakout Artist went to young indie rock band Eliza and the Delusionals.

[Read more]

Television

Can 10 All Access compete in streaming wars against Netflix and others?

When Network 10 went into administration in mid-2017 reports emerged CBS was circling an acquisition, with particular interest in launching a localised version of its streaming platform CBS All Access.

Fast forward to three years later, what do we make of 10 All Access, which launched in December 2018? asks TV Tonight.

Stacked side by side against Netflix, Stan, Amazon Prime and even newcomers Disney+ and Apple TV+, its offering in original content is meagre at best.

But some observers think 10 All Access is struggling in a competitive market.

TV critic Colin Vickery said, “The battle between streaming services is even more competitive than free-to-air. When you have Netflix rolling out smashes like Tiger King plus quality content from Foxtel and Stan and the introduction of Disney+ in tight economic circumstances you have to bring your A-game or you risk becoming irrelevant.”

But 10 All Access spokesperson disagreed, noting Q1 marked its most watched quarter to date.

“We are regularly adding new content to our library. With over 10,000 episodes on the platform including classics, originals and favourites from Australia and around the world ready to be binged, 10 All Access provides great value for its subscribers,” they said.

[Read more]

Netflix partners with Denmark’s DR to bring back political drama Borgen

Netflix and DR, the Danish Broadcasting Corporation, have announced that Borgen is back. For the first time ever, the first three seasons of Borgen will be available on Netflix globally later this year, with brand new episodes of the critically acclaimed political drama landing on the service in 2022.

The Danish political drama was originally screened in Australia on SBS.

The new Borgen, which will premiere on DR before becoming available on Netflix around the world, reunites the creative team and talent behind the BAFTA Award Winning series. That includes creator Adam Price and lead actresses Sidse Babett Knudsen as Birgitte Nyborg and Birgitte Hjort Sørensen as Katrine Fønsmark

Borgen will be produced by SAM Productions, a Danish screenwriter-based production company, and is written by Adam Price (Borgen, Ragnarok). The executive producer is Meta Louise Foldager Sørensen (Antichrist, Melancholia) and the producer is Stine Meldgaard Madsen (Ragnarok, Something’s Rockin’).

In the new Borgen audiences will again follow Birgitte Nyborg (Sidse Babett Knudsen), her staff and the media tasked with covering her, this time in her role as Foreign Minister. The show will also follow Katrine Fønsmark’s (Birgitte Hjort Sørensen) journey. After being Birgitte’s head of press for a while, in the new season she is back in journalism where she has landed a job as news director for a large, nationwide television station.

Borgen is a Danish political drama series that originally launched in 2010, the second season in 2011 and the third season was launched in 2013.

Sports Media

Peter V’landys fighting fires but TV storm awaits for NRL

ARL Commission chair Peter V’landys will personally address a selection of players on Friday morning as he looks to put out one brushfire before moving onto a raging storm in the shape of talks with the game’s broadcasters, reports The Australian’s Brent Read.

V’landys has pledged to work his backside off to ensure the players receive 80 per cent of their salaries for this season, his determination coming amid dissension in the playing ranks over the uncertainty that continues to surround the code’s return. Broadcasting talks are at the heart of the matter, discussions with the Nine Network and Foxtel dragging on despite the NRL’s decision to announce a 20-round schedule that will stretch the competition into November.

It is understood Foxtel and the Nine Network are largely aligned on the season’s value.

The Nine Network is agitating to pay less given the loss of four rounds and the prospect of State of Origin being played in November. It would be folly to think Foxtel would not follow suit given they too could save themselves millions.

[Read more]

Foxtel seeks multimillion-dollar discount for resumed NRL season

The NRL’s hopes of quickly finalising its broadcast deal have hit a hurdle, with sources close to the negotiations on Thursday suggesting Foxtel wants to reduce the amount it pays for this year’s competition, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Michael Chammas.

After the Herald revealed that Nine Entertainment Co was prepared to only pay for a 17-round resumed competition, Foxtel appears to have followed suit by telling the NRL it will not pay for any more rounds than the free-to-air channel.

Sources close to the negotiations say the News Corp-owned pay-TV network wants a further three-round discount after initially agreeing to pay for 20 rounds. That would mean a further $28 million reduction on the $190m Foxtel is contracted to pay in 2020 and a $53m discount in total.

Nine wants a reduction of $28m from the $118m it is contracted to pay under the current broadcast deal. The reduced payments from Nine and Foxtel would leave the NRL facing a shortfall of $81m for the year.

[Read more]

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