Media Beat
Media Beat

Media Beat: August 09, 2019

Canada’s Stingray is taking on the music streaming giants? Its chief executive thinks so!

Here’s a taste of what Stingray is up against in its pursuit of global domination. Stockholm-based Spotify Technology SA is worth about US$27 billion. Apple Music, the other big name in the streaming business, is owned by Apple Inc., which has a market cap of about US$874 billion and a reserve of unused cash worth more than US$200 billion.

Stingray is a 12-year-old company with a market capitalization of about $370 million. The company is a welterweight gunning for the heavyweight title.

“The Spotify model is broken,” chief executive Eric Boyko told me last month. “They pay 70 to 80 per cent (of revenue) on rights … and they are fighting against Google, Apple and Amazon. So it’s not sustainable.” Stingray’s focus is “lean-back music,” a strategy that avoids negotiating with the likes of Beyoncé and Taylor Swift. Boyko said 90 per cent of listeners just want a channel that plays songs they like, and that relatively few care whether they can access the entire AC/DC catalogue. “We want to be towards the 90 per cent and not the 10 per cent,” he said. – Kevin Carmichael, Financial Post

Quebecor Q2 earnings grow as discount Fizz Mobile adds customers

Quebecor Inc. reported significantly improved second-quarter earnings as its discount cellular carrier Fizz Mobile attracted more subscribers.

The Montreal-based company’s net income attributable to shareholders was $140.2 million, or 55 cents per share, up from $42 million, or 18 cents per share in the same quarter of 2018 — figures that have been restated to reflect a change in accounting requirements for lease agreements. – Ross Marowits, The Canadian Press

Cineplex Q2 gets a boost from its media, arcade and Rec Room businesses

The owner of Canada’s largest chain of movie theatres says its strategic diversification into multiple forms of entertainment helped drive the company’s second-quarter revenue to a record high $439.2 million.

In the main theatre business, Cineplex Inc. said a 1.7 per cent decline in attendance from last year was offset by higher box office revenue per patron and higher concession revenue per patron. – David Paddon, The Canadian Press

Prices of communications services trended downwards in 2018

Prices for most communications services decreased in 2018, according to the CRTC’s Communications Monitoring Report pricing publication issued this week. The national monthly average reported price for wireless, Internet, television and home phone services (combined) was 11% lower in 2018 than in 2016.

The most significant price reduction was in the mobile wireless market. The four mobile packages analyzed in the CRTC’s report showed that prices dipped by an average of 28% from 2016 to 2018, with the most significant drop being for services offering 5 gigabytes (GB) of data or more. For example, the average monthly price for a mobile service with unlimited voice, text messaging and 5 GB of data fell by as much as 35% in 2018, from $78.36 in 2016 to $51.05.

As for the CRTC’s target broadband speeds of 50 megabits per second (Mbps) for download and 10 Mbps for upload, the average monthly reported price decreased by 3.2%, from $82.05 in 2016 to $79.40 in 2018.

The Communications Monitoring Report also shows a price drop of 8% from $27.64 to $25.55 for the average price of basic television packages between 2016 and 2018.

While prices have been trending downwards, Canadians’ appetite for the latest mobile devices, more data and faster broadband speeds are contributing to a general increase in their communications bills. In addition, the prices paid by Canadians will vary depending on other factors, such as region and service provider. - CRTC

Miracle treat day at Dairy Queen

Dairy Queens across the province will donate one hundred percent of net proceeds from each Blizzard Treat sold to Jim Pattison Children's Hospital Foundation- the only Saskatchewan member of Children's Miracle Network Hospitals.

Ever since the partnership between Dairy Queen and Children’s Miracle Network began in 1984, the chain has become a top corporate contributor with $135 million raised to-date in support of sick and injured children across North America. In Saskatchewan alone last year, $241,505 was raised across 43 locations. – Landon Field, Discover Weyburn

Jewish radio program censured for ‘abusive’ comments

In a July 31 decision, the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) said Toronto’s multicultural CHIN Radio station breached the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ Code of Ethics and Equitable Portrayal Code for “abusive and unduly discriminatory comments and unduly negative stereotyping about Muslims,” in an episode of the Zelda Young Show, a Jewish interest program that has aired on CHIN for more than 30 years.

The council acted on a complaint from a listener about a March 24 episode of the program, on which Young interviewed U.S. conservative author and political commentator Diana West.

In a transcript of the show attached to the decision, West said, “When you get an Islamic demographic, you do see an upsurge in anti-Semitism and … it is something that is inculcated in the religion of Islam, just as it is anti-Christian. So, this is just what you see as a consequence of Islamic immigration … this is what happens when immigration is not calibrated to include people who are with you before they get here and don’t want to transform you to something you are not.” – Ron Csillag, Canadian Jewish News

Cumulus podcast revenue up 139%

According to Cumulus CEO Mary Berner, podcasting is now a meaningful contributor to Cumulus' top and bottom lines. She says Cumulus podcasts are now being downloaded 67 million times per month and the profit margin for podcasting is better than some of Cumulus' core business products. – Radio Ink

iHeartMedia US will start airing its own podcasts on over 200 of its radio stations every Sunday

iHeart is playing to its strengths. Like NPR, it’s leveraging its stations to build a brand following that can cross over to on-demand podcasts. People who listen to the radio might not yet listen to podcasts, or they might never have heard the podcasts on iHeart’s roster. Another major radio company, Entercom, sees the same potential as iHeart. Yesterday, the company announced that it acquired two podcasting companies, Pineapple Street Media and Cadence13, to help it build its podcast advertising business as well as its show catalog. It wouldn’t be surprising if Entercom began airing its own podcasts on its more than 235 radio stations across the US, too. – Ashley Carmen, The Verge

Google brings podcast listening to desktop and mobile search

Google, which announced the forthcoming service earlier this year, will serve episodes based on the search algorithm’s understanding of what is being discussed on a podcast. Soon, people searching for podcasts won’t even need to enter the term “podcast” to find the content. For now, the service is limited to the US. – Laurie Sullivan, MediaPost

Netflix signs duo behind Game of Thrones

In a blow to HBO, Amazon and The Walt Disney Company, the longtime producing partners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the creators of the television juggernaut “Game of Thrones,” signed a deal with the streaming company to create new TV shows and feature films. – John Koblin and Nicole Sperling, The New York Times

News Corp advertising revenue weakened by print and marketing division

News Corp’s advertising revenue was dragged down by a weak print market in the year to June.

The news conglomerate posted a 7% decline in advertising revenue to US$2.7 billion, impacted by a “weak” print advertising market, lower revenues at News America Marketing and negative impact from foreign currency fluctuations. Total revenue for News Corp was US$10.1 billion, a 12% increase compared to $9 billion the year prior, impacted by the consolidation of Foxtel for the full year and growth at its real estate services, REA and realtor.com. –Marian Cheik-Hussein, AdNews

Shoot-'em-up videogames don't warp minds—Big Tech does

The real public danger from Silicon Valley companies is the exploitation of people inhabiting a virtual world they are discouraged from ever leaving, rather than some nasty digital habits—extremely nasty habits—crossing over into the real world. People in such isolated circumstances can become vulnerable to all manner of deception and manipulation, including racist, hate-filled propaganda. Denied real-world resources and relationships to lean on, they are ill-equipped to defend themselves. – Noam Cohen, Wired

Amazon requests FAA approval of delivery-drone plans

Amazon is requesting permission to use its custom MK27 drone for deliveries before the FAA grants the aircraft a certificate of airworthiness, and an exemption from drone-specific rules, including a requirement that they only be operated when an operator can see it.

The company also requested to be excused from complying with aviation regulations more commonly associated with planes, such as requirements that pilots fly above certain heights, carry extra fuel, and fly with documentation including maintenance logs aboard the aircraft. – Gregory Wallace, CNN Business

More than 20% of millennials claim to have no friends, poll finds

Even if younger Americans are overstating their isolation, the jarring numbers reflect long-term rising trends in loneliness. Studies have indicated that loneliness has myriad negative mental and physical health effects.

Curiously, in addition to 22% of millennials saying they’re friendless, 25% in the age group said they also had zero acquaintances — possibly reflecting a misunderstanding of the question. (Unless they don’t work or go outside...) – Tim Balk, NY Daily News

The real summer of ‘69

… When Woodstock rolled around that summer, Appel notes, there were only three current top 40 hits performed there — “Green River” by CCR, “Marrakesh Express” by Crosby, Stills & Nash, and “Spinning Wheel” by Blood, Sweat & Tears. “The hottest song that week was by an act that couldn’t possibly perform there, and was strictly AM Top 40, the Archies.”

The rift between rock and pop, as veteran rock writer (and Ross On Radio editor) Ken Barnes notes, had been developing for a few years but was “cast in much sharper relief with the advent of bubblegum, and as acid rock, garage rock, freakbeat, and psychedelia irrevocably hardened into downer rock.” Barnes drove cross-country that summer with AM radio and remembers the music as “dangerously thin.”

Even a very young Sean could tell. By the summer of 1969, I’d been listening to current pop and R&B music for two years. I heard the hits coming out of the counselors’ radios at day camp that year. I certainly didn’t hear them with the same discernment as my colleagues quoted here. But after two years when almost everything on the radio was good to me — even “This Guy’s in Love With You” and other hits that definitely weren’t for little kids — I remember not enjoying things as much by 1969.

Bubblegum wasn’t a problem for me. Not as somebody in the target demo, and not now. What I couldn’t articulate, but likely sensed even then, was how some hit music was becoming ponderous. I can now describe “In the Year 2525” as dreary and dystopian (in a way that goes beyond lyrically describing dystopia). At the time, I just found it off-putting. But Barnes remembers it as a low point as well. –  Sean Ross, Radio Insight

We’re fooling ourselves in the Internet’s trick mirror

The New Yorker culture writer Jia Tolentino was brought up in a Southern Baptist megachurch in Houston. She says the "lasting legacy" of that upbringing is a lifelong desire to replicate the ecstatic feelings she had experienced in the religion — which she sought out via hallucinogenic mushrooms and the drug MDMA, or Molly.

In her new book of essays, Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion, Tolentino writes about how social media shapes identity, public discourse and political engagement, particularly for millennials such as herself. "The Internet has obviously been an incredible ground for social movements being organized," she says. – Terry Gross, WMRA/WEMC

Randy Rainbow takes on racism in the House of POTUS

Leonard Cohen's Prince of Asturias speech - No overdubbing on YouTube

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