Roundup: Paramount on Warburton, Hollywood strikes hurting, News Corp subs


Plus Rupert Murdoch back in headlines, Marketing in movies, Stevie Nicks on Daisy Jones likeness

Business of Media

Paramount returns fire after James Warburton comments in earnings call

10/Paramount has fired back at comments made by Seven CEO James Warburton during an FY23 results presentation, reports TV Tonight’s David Knox.

“I’ve said for a little while now that it’s a two-player market, we’re seeing some of the worst shares we’ve seen on record for the third player,” Warburton told analysts. “The third player is evaporating relatively quickly from a share perspective.”

He added, “We’re probably also taking a small bite out of Nine. Obviously the big two are going head-to-head and the third player is sort of falling by the wayside and getting weaker.”

His comments come a day after Seven and Nine were battling it out at 7:30pm while 10 gave up the fight due to a sporting competition.

But a Paramount ANZ spokesperson told TV Tonight, “The comments made by a competitor this morning are nothing more than a deflection and reflects a business strategy that fails to recognise how media companies are diversifying both domestically and globally. Paramount is a diversified global business with a strong domestic footprint and audience base across linear TV, multi-channels, broadcast video on demand and Paramount+ streaming.

“The imminent launch of Pluto TV this month will further strengthen our unique offering to the market with iconic global titles spanning all genres that will entertain every age group including new and nostalgic fans.

“We have also just won five TV Week Logies Awards, more than any other commercial broadcaster, validating the quality of our content and popularity of our shows.

“We understand our competitors would like to see otherwise but we are confident of our unique offering to the market and we will continue to entertain Australian audiences with fabulous locally produced content and through Paramount’s unrivalled global content pipeline.”

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Hollywood strikes impact hits entertainment earnings as execs size up war chests

In the first round of corporate earnings since the double strike began, the financial hits are starting to come into view, reports The Hollywood Reporter.

While hoping and planning for a resolution in September, Hollywood studios, streamers and affiliated businesses have begun forecasting lower revenue, content spend and, in some cases, a lower outlook for the year. Because while some may be able to stem the tide of a production shutdown in the short term, the financial danger increases as the strike goes on further into the fall and the release schedule suffers.

The biggest impact so far may have been seen with Endeavor, which owns talent agency WME, with CFO Jason Lublin warning Aug. 8 that the company expects to see a hit of about $25 million a month in revenue for the quarter ending Sept. 30. Uncertainty about the length and financial impact of the strike caused the company to pull its full-year guidance.

On Aug. 9, Lionsgate CFO James Barge said the studio expects a revenue hit of about $30 million for the upcoming quarter, primarily in its 3 Arts Entertainment talent and television businesses. Still, management reiterated its operating income guidance of $400 million to $450 million for fiscal 2024, assuming the strikes end in September. “If it goes longer, it has a similar impact, probably, as it rolls quarter-to-quarter,” Barge said. “We’re hopeful that things get resolved, and we’re back to work in the mid-fall.”

Meanwhile, “Netflix took share from traditional TV broadcasters as well as digital video platforms,” a source at the streaming giant says of its upfront negotiations.

Many view Netflix as the best positioned among the streamers to withstand the strike, thanks to its large library of content and international production capabilities. Asked during the company’s July 19 earnings interview whether or when Netflix would run out of original content, co-CEO Ted Sarandos did not commit to an answer, but said the streamer produces “heavily across all kinds of content” including unscripted, scripted, domestically and internationally. That wealth of content could even bring in additional subscribers if the strike persists.

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News Corp tabloids struggle to hit ambitious subscriptions targets

Subscriber growth at News Corporation’s local tabloids has stalled as the publisher grapples with how to reach an ambitious goal to increase the number of readers who pay for news, reports The AFR’s Mark Di Stefano.

The internal figures, contained in filings in New York overnight, show the total number of subscribers at The Daily Telegraph in Sydney, the Herald Sun in Melbourne, The Courier-Mail in Brisbane and the Adelaide Advertiser was at 547,411 as of June 30. That is down almost 2 per cent in a year.

The figures include subscribers to the newspaper and the publications online. They show a fall of more than 10,300 across the mastheads.

The one bright spot for News Corp was the performance of The Australian, the company’s national masthead. The figures show the number of subscribers has grown 15 per cent to 318,417 in the past 12 months.

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Rupert Murdoch in new romance with Russian oligarch’s ex mother-in-law

Months after calling off his fifth wedding, Rupert Murdoch has struck up a new romance with a Russian woman while holidaying on a yacht off the coast in Europe, reports The AFR’s Mark Di Stefano.

Photos emerged earlier this week showing Murdoch, 92, alongside Elena Zhukova, 66, on a rented yacht in the Mediterranean.

Zhukova is a retired scientist who was introduced to Murdoch by the media mogul’s ex-wife Wendi Deng, according to a person familiar with the matter.

She is the mother of Darya Zhukova, who was married to Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich until 2018. Murdoch’s Australian representatives declined to comment.

The former scientist left Russia in 1991 and recently worked as a molecular biologist at the University of California until she retired. She has reportedly been divorced twice.

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See also:
Daily Mail: Drudge Report claims media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, 92, holidayed on yacht with a ‘new woman’ – scientist Elena Zhukova


What do James Bond and Barbie have in common? It’s all in the brand

In Steven Spielberg’s 1982 film classic E.T. the Extra Terrestrial, Elliott (Henry Thomas) lures the film’s alien star out of the woods by setting down a trail of Reese’s Pieces, an American peanut butter candy owned by the confectionery giant Hershey. It is not the first example in film history of product placement, but for many of us it is our earliest memory of it, reports Nine Publishing’s Michael Idato.

Hershey only secured the placement after Mars Wrigley, which owned M&Ms, turned it down. And no money changed hands, technically. Hershey offered to spend $1US million in advertising around the film, and got placement as a gift with purchase. It was worth every cent; sales of Reese’s Pieces shot up 65 per cent within weeks of the film’s premiere.

E.T.’s Reese’s Pieces, Tom Hanks’ desert island companion Wilson – a Wilson volleyball – in Cast Away and Tom Cruise’s transformation of Ray-Ban Wayfarers (in Risky Business) and Ray-Ban Aviators (in Top Gun) from eyewear to cultural icons are the tips of a $US23 billion ($A35 billion) global corporate iceberg that reaches into film, television (scripted and reality) and, now, social media.

So, what’s product placement worth to a brand? And why don’t they just go buy an ad? In one sense, it solves the great riddle of publicity versus advertising. From the perspective of the brand, publicity has the bonus of credibility but comes with zero control, while advertising retains control but lacks the credibility of independent editorial.

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Activist group targets Sam Newman’s podcast after comments slamming the Voice

Cancel Sam Newman?

That’s the earnest hope of Democracy in Colour, an activist group that says it’s against racism, Sam Newman, and the apparent collision of both, reports the Herald Sun.

The StandDownSam campaign wants podcasting service providers to end the soapbox of Newman, who has always thrilled to the notoriety of calling out what he sees as nonsense.

“It is clear that his racism and bigotry will continue unless we get Sam’s podcast removed from major podcasting services,” it says.

“In the first 24 hours over a thousand of you signed the petition, but to get Sam Newman’s racism and bigotry off the air we need to spread this petition far and wide…

“In a recent episode of his podcast, Sam Newman went on a racist, anti-voice tirade. Among other things he mocked Welcome to Country and contested the existence of First Nations history and culture. These self-serving views are steeped in racism and white supremacy.”

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Prime time: The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart sets Australian Amazon Original records

Amazon Original series The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart is now the most successful Australian Original worldwide with the biggest opening weekend viewership globally for any Australian launch.

Prime Video has reported the series has also reached the top five in 78 countries, and top three in 42 countries, since launching on Friday August 4. The series is officially Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes – in mid-August at 80% with an audience score of 95%, as well as receiving an 8.1/10 score on IMDb.

Sarah Christie, senior development executive Amazon Studios, said: “2023 is the biggest year yet for local content for Prime Video, with nine Australian Amazon Originals releasing this year. Following the launch of Class of ’07 and Deadloch earlier this year, the first four episodes of The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart are out now on Prime Video, with episodes dropping weekly every Friday. The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart is a sweeping, raw and emotional drama that spans generations, and we are thrilled to that the series is already gripping audiences around the globe as the secrets and mystery of Alice Hart and her family unfold.”

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Stevie Nicks on Daisy Jones & The Six: ‘Very emotional for me’

Stevie Nicks is sharing her praise for Daisy Jones & The Six, months after the Emmy-nominated series premiered, reports The Hollywood Reporter.

Though author Taylor Jenkins Reid, who wrote the book that the Prime Video series was adapted from, has previously said the novel is not strictly based on Fleetwood Mac, she has admitted that she drew inspiration from the renowned rock band. During an interview with Penguin Books UK in 2019, Reid said she “started with the germ of Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham and Fleetwood Mac,” but also researched many other 70s singers and bands.

Even before the show’s release, fans have been quick to point out parallels between Fleetwood Mac and Daisy Jones & The Six, including each of the band’s members and romantic pairings. Particularly, similarities were noted between Nicks and Daisy Jones (Riley Keough), as well as keyboardist Christine McVie and Karen Sirko (Suki Waterhouse). Now, Nicks has taken to social media to give her input.

“Just finished watching @daisyjonesand6 for the 2nd time,” Nicks wrote on X (formerly known as Twitter) Tuesday. “In the beginning, it wasn’t really my story, but Riley seamlessly, soon became my story. It brought back memories that made me feel like a ghost watching my own story. It was very emotional for me. I just wish Christine could have seen it. She would have loved it. Hopefully it will continue.”

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