Village Soapbox: Amazon, Comcast, FB, Sinclair, Fox Sports, Nat Geo and More

By Media Minute with Jeff Minsky Archives
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Highlights from MediaVillage and the News: Tech Talks to Congress (again), Quarterly Earnings (Amazon, Comcast, Facebook, Apple), Sinclair STIRR, FOX Sports Content Studio, National Geographic

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In less than one week (perhaps a few days later) we will have greater clarity on the future of our country! Let's hope that no matter the outcome, we can come together, especially as we fight this common enemy of COVID-19, with respect for ourselves and each other and heal the divide that has infiltrated our lives, our friends, and our families.

The heads of Google, Facebook, and Twitter appeared together, yet again sans Amazon, before Congress. Sundar Pichai, Mark Zuckerberg, and Jack Dorsey were called in to discuss censorship concerns, sparked in large part by the Hunter Biden story, and also specifically the topic of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act which has provided 'safe harbor' status for social platforms. Unsurprisingly, the session turned into a partisan pre-election posturing exercise with both sides criticizing the tech giants for partisanship in their content management and foreign influence. One of the most interesting things that we learned was that six months ago, based on social media signals, Facebook notified the FBI of the plot to kidnap Michigan's Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

The number of Amazon Prime members who stream Prime video grew by more than 80% year over year and global customers more than doubled the hours of content that they view versus a year ago. During their Q3 2020 Earnings call we learned that Amazon is focused on simplifying their programmatic ad platform, as well as focusing on developing a cohesive attribution system, in which Amazon truly is in a unique position.

Comcastwas strutting its feathers in their quarterly earnings call, as their streaming OTT service, Peacock, reached over 22 million registered users. Comcast is crediting Peacock with reducing churn and improving net additional subscribers to the Xfinity Broadband product. In Q3, Comcast added 663,000 net new high-speed Internet subscribers and overall 556,000 net new customer relationships, both of which are the best quarterly numbers in the company's history. Advertising revenue at Comcast in Q3 was up 12% year over year and reflected a 70% increase in spending over the last presidential election in 2016. Excluding political, the quarter was down 6.8% year over year.

Facebook announced that they currently reach 2.5 billion people around the world daily, 3.2 billion monthly. They also have more than 10 million active advertisers across their services. Between March and September of this year, they rejected political ads 2.2 million times for trying to target the U.S. without authorization. Additionally, Facebook has launched an Ads Library where you can see any ad that's running on Instagram or Facebook. For political and social issue ads, you can see who paid for the ad and what audience that ad reached. Facebook also reported that in Q3, the total number of ad impressions served across the service increased 35% and the average price per ad decreased 9%. They attributed the decline in ad price to ongoing mix shifts towards geographies and Stories ads which monetize at lower rates.

Apple reported phenomenal earnings. While they did not break down each of their services (Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, Apple News+, and Apple Card) individually, collectively they experienced "strong double-digit growth) with paid subscriptions growing more than 35 million to a total of over 550 million subscribers, up from 130 million a year ago. That is growth. Tim Cook, CEO, did mention in the Q&A that production for Apple TV+ has been severely impacted by the pandemic with production not yet started in a significant way.

Before we get to the overview of all the great stories we published this week on MediaVillage, our Founder and CEO, Jack Myers, would appreciate three (3) minutes of your time. He invites you to read, Fellow Media Professionals, Lend Me Your Ears for 3 Minutes, or go directly to the three-minute podcast!

TV expert and host of the Tomorrow Will Be Televised podcast, Simon Applebaum takes a look at how changing consumer media habits during the pandemic has been a boon to Sinclair Media's  aggregator streaming platform STIRR. Sinclair's STIRR: Live, Local, and Multi-Channel Mix in Expansion Mode

Very few know how truly difficult it is to fully analyze and make an informed prediction about the future as our Kent  M. Harrington, former senior CIA analyst. Hear all the talk about what the world is going to look like after COVID? Kent shares why you may not want to put too much stock in those in his piece, Prophesying the Post-Pandemic World: Buyer Beware.

Columnist Bill Harvey, whose column, In Terms of ROI, is ever focused in covering those areas that bring rigor and accountability to advertising, turns his sights to the growing importance of Advertising Attention. He shares some new technology that may help in optimizing attention based on contextual signals. Don't miss Predicting Attention is Worth More than Measuring It.

Our Alli Romano spent some time with creative masterminds at the FOXSports Content Studio to check in on their latest branded integrations and content, like the big GMC Hummer EV integration that launched during Game 1 of this year's World Series. Read all about it in FOX Sports Content Studio Helps Brands Score with Fans.

Chief Content Critic for MediaVillage, Ed Martin, breaks down Quibi's breakdown in Why Did Quibi Qwumble?

Ed also has an additional piece this week sharing some insights behind A+E Network's first ever "Content Showcase" event in Previewing 2021 Programming on A&E, HISTORY, and Lifetime which is billed as "more casual, less sell".

Jacqueline Cutler takes us behind the scenes of the most-watched docu-series on Showtime which itself takes us behind the scenes of the 2020 Presidential campaign in Showtime's The Circus Delves Beyond the Usual Three Rings of Politics

As if we weren't already anxious enough after eight months of a pandemic, Jacqueline also gives us a sneak peak of Virus Hunters on Nat Geo. The new show, airing on Sunday Nov. 1, takes us deep into the If Halloween didn't scare you, then make sure to read Virus Hunters, on Nat Geo, Reveals the Worst Could be Yet to Come.

As consumers have moved to multi-device, cross-platform media consumption, everyone agrees that a macro-level measurement and attribution system is necessary. As Brian Jacobs, columnist of The Cog Blog points out in Measurement Watch not everyone agrees who should pay for that system.

The Advancing Diversity Education Fund, underwritten by, MediaVillage and members of the media community, is highlighting one of their fund recipients, The organization, founded by 30 year magazine industry veteran David Carey, creates short form videos of diverse accomplished industry leaders sharing their wisdom to help the next generation of leaders. Learn more in David Carey's Mentors Playlist: Scaling Career Readiness for Underserved Communities by Raquelle Zuzarte.

Wishing everyone a wonderful, safe, and healthy weekend!

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