Roundup: Optus takes a hit, 35 years of Home & Away, Disney

Seven Home & Away

Netflix, Jeremy Clarkson, Australian Survivor, Australian Open

Business of Media

Optus suffers $1.2b brand hit as Woolies tops rankings

The Optus brand suffered a $1.2 billion blow after last year’s cyberattack, plummeting down the rankings of Australia’s most valuable brands, that was topped by Woolworths, Telstra and Commonwealth Bank, reports Nine Publishing’s Sam Buckingham-Jones.

Medibank’s brand would also have likely been hit hard by its massive data hack, which wiped $1.8 billion from its market value in one day, but Brand Finance’s calculations for its 2023 list were compiled in early October – two weeks before the health insurer’s breach.

Brand Finance Australia’s annual analysis of the country’s most valuable brands found the Woolworths brand is worth $16.2 billion, an 18 per cent jump on last year. Bunnings, meanwhile, ranked as Australia’s “strongest” brand.

Optus was on track for one of its biggest years of growth in brand value before a cyberattack in September resulted in a serious customer data breach. The attack meant that instead of growing from its $4 billion brand valuation in 2022 to a forecast $4.5 billion, it instead fell to $3.3 billion.

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Disney says investor seeking board seat ‘does not understand’ company

Robert A. Iger is coming out swinging, reports The New York Times’ Brooks Barnes.

Iger, chief executive of the Walt Disney Company, counterattacked the activist investor Nelson Peltz on Tuesday in a securities filing and aggressively defended his track record with acquisitions, especially the 2019 purchase of 21st Century Fox assets for $71.3 billion. Peltz started a proxy battle last week to put himself on the Disney board, saying that it was a “company in crisis” and urgently needed shaking up.

“Nelson Peltz does not understand Disney’s businesses and lacks the skills and experience to assist the board in delivering shareholder value in a rapidly shifting media ecosystem,” Disney said in the filing, noting that Peltz lacked a track record in media and technology. Disney added that, in conversations with its board, Peltz had “no strategy, no operating initiatives, no new ideas and no plan.”

Trian Partners, the investment firm led by Peltz, declined to comment. Trian has taken a roughly $900 million stake in Disney, and has said it may increase its position further.

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Bob Chapek’s Disney severance deal valued at more than $20M, 2022 pay package was $24.2M

In what turned out to be his final full year as CEO of The Walt Disney Co., former CEO Bob Chapek earned $24.2 million in total compensation during the company’s fiscal 2022 year (ending Sept. 30), down slightly from 2021, according to Disney’s preliminary proxy filing, which it submitted on Tuesday morning, reports The Hollywood Reporter’s Alex Weprin.

In addition, Disney revealed that Chapek should receive a severance package valued at $20.4 million, though the exact number will depend on Disney’s share price over time. Chapek was terminated by the Disney board after Disney’s last fiscal year ended. That severance package includes Disney stock currently valued at $12.6 million, with the rest in cash.

Meanwhile, current Disney CEO Bob Iger, who stepped down from the company at the end of 2021, earned $15 million in compensation during Disney’s last fiscal year (he worked for the company as executive chairman for part of that period). Disney CFO Christine McCarthy was paid $20.2 million in fiscal 2022.

Iger, of course, re-joined Disney in November, with a pay package valued at about $27 million in annual target compensation, including a $1 million salary, a $1 million target bonus, and the rest in equity.

Chapek was paid $32 million in fiscal 2021, while Iger received $46 million.

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Netflix set for slowest revenue growth as ad plan struggles to gain traction

Netflix Inc is expected to report its slowest quarterly revenue growth on Thursday as its ad-supported plan struggles to attract customers in the saturating U.S. market, which could pressure the company to pull back on content spending this year, reports Reuters’ Eva Mathews.

The streaming pioneer has been reeling under strained consumer spending, rising costs of financing production and increased competition from Disney+ and Amazon Prime.

It had pinned its hopes on the launch of the ad-supported tier, but analysts say they have not seen a burst of subscriptions.

The company is expected to have added 4.5 million subscribers in the fourth quarter – the lowest addition for the holiday period since 2014. It added 8.3 million subscribers a year ago.

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Amazon likely to part ways with Jeremy Clarkson after final commissioned shows go to air

Amazon Prime Video is likely to be parting ways with Jeremy Clarkson mere weeks after his comments about Meghan Markle were published in British tabloid The Sun, reports Variety’s Manori Ravindran.

Sources tell Variety that the streaming service won’t be working with Clarkson beyond seasons of The Grand Tour and Clarkson’s Farm that have already been commissioned. This means that the notorious Top Gear presenter likely won’t be appearing in any new shows on Prime Video beyond 2024 (though there’s every chance a final Grand Tour episode could carry over into 2025).

Prime Video already has a number of shows in the works with Clarkson, which are going to go ahead, but the decision effectively means that Clarkson’s Farm will end with Season 3 (expected in 2024). It also means that motoring format The Grand Tour, one of Prime Video’s biggest shows, will also come to an end. Variety understands the series will conclude after four more special episodes — the last of which is expected to land in late 2024.

Prime Video declined to comment on this story.

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Home & Away turns 35, Ray Meagher signs new 5 year contract

Yesterday marked 35 years since Home & Away launched on Australian television, reports TV Tonight.

Alan Bateman came up with the concept of the show during a trip to Kangaroo Point, New South Wales, where he noticed locals were complaining about the construction of a foster home and against the idea of foster children from the city living in the area.

Patriarch Ray Meagher is staying in the Bay, having recently signed a new contract to stick with the Seven soap.

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Filming Australian Survivor in Samoa not all paradise for LaPaglia

Given they were back filming Australian Survivor in the tropical paradise Samoa rather than the searing heat of the Aussie outback, you’d think life was pretty sweet for host Jonathan LaPaglia and the crew, reports News Corp’s Lisa Woolford.

Think again. Quite apart from the challenges of the remote location – food poisoning and Covid swept through production.

LaPaglia dodged the tummy troubles but was struck down with his first dose of the virus, testing positive on the last day of filming Season 8 of the local version of the much-loved global franchise. And he was out for the count.

“I heard a lot of anecdotal stories, you know, people saying it was nothing but a little cold and it was done and dusted,” the former doctor said.

“But it kicked my arse. It knocked me out for about six weeks.”

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Sports Media

‘The Netflix curse?’: US media giant haunts the Australian Open

When news broke that Nick Kyrgios had pulled out of the Australian Open because of injury this week, tennis fans started to notice a worrying trend, reports Nine Publishing’s Mark Di Stefano.

Kyrgios is the fourth player to star in Netflix’s new docuseries, Break Point, to bow out of the year’s first grand slam without serving a ball.

“The curse of Netflix strikes again,” one fan posted online after the withdrawals of Australian Ajla Tomljanovic and Spaniards Paula Badosa and Carlos Alcaraz – three other stars of the series. “We gotta investigate Netflix,” another joked.

It is more than unfortunate timing for the sport and the US media giant, which co-ordinated the release of the first five episodes of Break Point with the first week of the tournament.

The Netflix stars might be dropping like flies at the Australian Open, but sources in Melbourne say the documentary makers are following players around the courts, which suggests the streaming giant has already renewed it for a second season.

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