Media Beat
Media Beat

Media Beat: January 23, 2019

iHeart restructuring hands ownership to bondholders

The plan reduces its debt from $16.1B to $5.75B and hands over proprietorship of the company to a group of bondholders led by Franklin Advisers Inc. after about a decade of control by private-equity firms Bain Capital Partners LLC and Thomas H. Lee Partners LP.

The company said chairman and CEO Bob Pittman and Rich Bressler, president, COO and CFO, have extended their contracts by four years. The execs will remain in their respective roles following the completion of the restructuring process. – Variety, MarketWatch

The Mouse is streaming red ink

Disney is losing big money on streaming — and it hasn’t even launched Disney+, its new, trademark streaming service, yet.

The Mouse House lost more than $1B in 2018 combined between Hulu and BAMTech, the technology that powers its ESPN+ streaming service, according to an SEC filing on Friday. Hulu drove a $580M equity investment loss during Disney’s fiscal year, which ended on Sept. 30, while BAMTech was the primary reason for a $469M loss in its direct-to-consumer segment. – The Wrap

Wall Street’s take on TV’s future

In a few years, television will revolve around four global mega-companies — Netflix, Amazon, Disney and Apple, Steve Cahall of RBC Capital boldly predicted during a NATPE panel of Wall Street media analysts Tuesday. – TVNewsCheck

Stations have growing options for local OTT

Sinclair Broadcast Group has launched a free, ad-supported streaming service comprising a mix of national networks and local channels with news and other programming produced by Sinclair’s stations.

It is one of the most ambitious OTT undertakings by a broadcaster yet and underscores the growing interest in the digital medium among others seeking new viewers and revenue opportunities.

Such broadcasters have options in setting up their channels or channels. They can go to turnkey providers like ATV, Ooyala, Syncbak, TownNews, ATV Broadcast and Verizon Digital Media Services or piece together their own OTT infrastructure from the likes of Akamai.

Here’s a look at some of those options: – TVNewsCheck

What’s next for media in 2019

  • 2019 is set to be a transformational year for media as more companies jump into the streaming content business.

  • Expect to see the results from last year’s big media and tech mergers towards the end of the year.

  • Apple, AT&T, Amazon, Netflix, Disney and more are expected to boost content spending and offer new streaming services as more viewers ditch traditional satellite and cable services. – J Boorstin, CNBC

Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. launches direct-to-consumer streaming platform

The rollout of the free ad-supported service begins with 20 networks, including Cheddar and the Dove Channel, with plans to grow to more than 50 channels by year-end. Users can also access national and local news channels where Sinclair has existing stations. The introduction of Stirr underscores the growing necessity to catch up to changing viewer habits as digital and mobile media emerge as go-to options. – AdAge

Walmart abandons plans for video streaming service

Here’s a plot twist — one company is deciding not to launch a new streaming video service.

At a time when NBC, Disney, AT&T, Viacom, Apple and others are considering subscription services for cord cutters, Walmart is abandoning its plans, according to people familiar with the matter. – CNBC

Worst job in showbiz: why will no one touch the world's glitziest gigs?

The Oscars have no host, Rihanna turned down the Super Bowl, and the White House dinner will be MC’d by a historian. What’s behind the sudden demise of entertainment’s biggest jobs? – Louis Wise, The Guardian

Does journalism have a future?

If journalism has been reinvented during the past two decades, it has, in the main, been reinvented not by reporters and editors but by tech companies… – Jill Lepore, The New Yorker

Welcome to the world of surveillance capitalism

It is no longer enough to automate information flows about us; the goal now is to automate us. These processes are meticulously designed to produce ignorance by circumventing individual awareness and thus eliminate any possibility of self-determination. As one data scientist explained to me, “We can engineer the context around a particular behaviour and force change that way… We are learning how to write the music, and then we let the music make them dance.” – Shoshana Zuboff, The Guardian UK

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