Brands Brief: Comcast Goes Up Against Murdoch and Disney by Making $31 Billion Offer for Sky

Top Stories

  • U.S. cable company Comcast offered a tentative $31 billion offer for European broadcaster Sky, challenging 21st Century Fox for ownership of Europe’s biggest pay-TV group. A successful purchase would boost Comcast’s international presence and peel away from Disney one of the top assets Disney had agreed to buy from Fox at a later date in a separate deal worth $52 billion. (Reuters)
  • CNN President Jeff Zucker called on regulators to pay closer attention to the “monopolies” that are Google Inc. and Facebook Inc., as media companies adapt to a shifting digital landscape. The environment that includes the two tech giants makes monetization of digital and mobile increasingly difficult, Zucker said, and he asked the tech and advertising industries to help find new ways monetize content, “otherwise good journalism will go away.” (Variety)
  • In response to boycott threats over the company’s discounts for National Rifle Association members, FedEx said it would continue to offer a discount of up to 26 percent to the organization’s members but emphasized that the company does not align itself with the NRA’s positions on gun policy. FedEx said it views assault rifles as “an inherent potential danger to schools, workplaces, and communities when such weapons are misused” and that it believes “urgent action” is required to prevent tragedies like the school shooting that occurred in a Parkland, Fla., on Feb. 14. (Business Insider)

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Events Calendar (All Times Local)

Traffic & Conversion Summit 7 a.m.
eTail West 2018 conference 7:25 a.m.
High Five 2018 conference 8 a.m.
Digital Marketing Innovation Summit 8 a.m.
Mobile Innovation Summit 8 a.m.
ConveyUX conference 8:30 a.m.
Social Media Week Austin 9:30 a.m.
PRSA Crisis and Issues Management webinar 3 p.m.
Traffic & Conversion Summit 7 a.m.
eTail West 2018 conference 7:45 a.m.
High Five 2018 conference 8 a.m.
Mobile Innovation Summit 8 a.m.
Digital Marketing Innovation Summit 8 a.m.
ConveyUX conference 9 a.m.
Social Media Marketing World conference 9 a.m.
Social Media Week Austin 9:30 a.m.
AdMonsters Future-Proof Your Rate Card webinar 1 p.m.
ANA production trends webinar 1 p.m.
Social Media Marketing World conference 6 a.m.
eTail West 2018 conference 7:50 a.m.
ConveyUX conference 9 a.m.
Social Media Marketing World conference 6 a.m.
PR Daily next-generation infographics virtual summit 12 p.m.

A data-driven look at the future of mobility

An exclusive look at new survey research data that explores consumer receptivity to auto industry innovations, including electric and self-driving cars, energy sources, and even auto insurance.


Lexus Has ‘Black Panther.’ BMW Has ‘Red Sparrow’
Staff, Advertising Age

Lexus made quite an impression—and made many of them, too—with its tie-in with Disney-Marvel’s blockbuster “Black Panther.” But it’s not the only automaker playing the Hollywood game. BMW makes its way onto this week’s top 10 video campaigns by marketers (not counting movie previews, which would otherwise overwhelm the ranking) with a co-promotion for the upcoming Jennifer Lawrence thriller “Red Sparrow.”

JWT Shakes Up Its Leadership With Several Changes, Including a New North America CEO
Lindsay Rittenhouse, Adweek

J. Walter Thompson today announced it’s shaking up its U.S. and global leadership team with several C-suite level appointments, including that of Simon Pearce to CEO of North America. Pearce previously served as mcgarrybowen’s U.S. CEO.

‘The year of the RFI’: Advertisers step up supply-side partner reviews
Seb Joseph, Digiday

More advertisers are starting to ask better questions of the supply-side platforms their demand-side platforms use to hopefully yield better results. Hiring a DSP, for many advertisers, previously rested solely on the media objective — selling cars via the cheapest cost per acquisition, for example — it could deliver.

Duopoly Shares More Data With Brands, But There Are Snags​
Allison Schiff, AdExchanger

Sizable brands and top-tier publishers can use their clout to pressure media platforms into sharing more measurement data – but what are advertisers actually getting? Just enough to keep them spending, said Chris Kane, founder of programmatic consultancy Jounce Media.

Brands Are Using Poetry to Cut Through the Noise and Grab Viewers’ Attention
Kristina Monllos, Adweek

On Super Bowl Sunday, Coca-Cola debuted a new spot in the fourth quarter featuring an inclusive message in the form of an original poem for the brand by poet and Wieden + Kennedy copywriter Becca Wadlinger. Earlier this month, Microsoft rolled out a 60-second ad featuring Academy Award winner Common reciting a poem about the power and possibility of artificial intelligence.

Media and Entertainment

Comcast challenges Murdoch with $31 billion offer to buy Sky
Kate Holton, Reuters

Comcast Corp , the biggest cable operator in the United States, offered on Tuesday to pay $31 billion to buy Sky, challenging Rupert Murdoch’s Fox and Bob Iger’s Walt Disney for the European pay-TV jewel. Comcast, a $184 billion media giant which owns NBC and Universal Pictures, said it was offering 12.50 pounds per share, significantly higher than the 10.75 pounds per share agreed by Fox. Shares in Sky soared 18 percent.

CNN Boss Jeff Zucker Calls on Regulators to Probe Google, Facebook
Stewart Clarke, Variety

Jeff Zucker has called upon advertisers and tech firms to help find new way to monetize news content on mobile platforms, and on authorities to pay closer attention to the power wielded by Google and Facebook, as news providers try and adapt to the changing digital landscape. “In a Google and Facebook world, monetization of digital and mobile continues to be more difficult than we would have expected or liked,” Zucker said, Monday, in a keynote address and discussion at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Liberty Media Makes a Play for Radio Giant iHeart
Soma Biswas, The Wall Street Journal

John Malone’s Liberty Media Corp. is making a play for iHeartMedia Inc., offering to pump $1.16 billion in cash into the nation’s largest radio broadcaster in return for 40% stake in the reorganized company following an eventual bankruptcy filing. A deal between iHeart and Liberty, which owns Sirius XM, presents the possibility that Mr. Malone could combine the biggest radio broadcaster, scrubbed of billions in debt after bankruptcy, with the leading player in satellite radio.

BBC Gets Judge to Dismiss Lawsuit Over Use of ‘Cosby Show’ Clips
Eriq Gardner, The Hollywood Reporter

BBC and Sugar Films Limited have prevailed in a copyright lawsuit brought by the producer of The Cosby Show over use of clips in a documentary titled Bill Cosby: Fall of an American Icon. On Monday, a California federal judge dismissed the complaint from Carsey-Werner Company due to lack of personal jurisdiction.

“The Newsroom Feels Embarrassed”: Backfires And Explosions At The New York Times As A Possible Future Chief Re-Invents The Paper’s Opinion Pages
Joe Pompeo, Vanity Fair

“I’ve lost the capacity to gauge the opprobrium—what’s irrational versus what’s a reasonable amount of Internet outrage these days,” said James Bennet, editorial-page editor of The New York Times, and someone talked about as a future contender for the Times’s top newsroom job. “Look,” he went on, “we’re recruiting different types of writers than we have traditionally, and I’ll make some mistakes. It’s just gonna happen.”

N.Y. Times Developing Television News Series
Patrick Shanley, The Hollywood Reporter

The New York Times is developing a television news program, according to a recent job listing on their site for an editor/executive producer. Described as “an ambitious television news series that seeks to combine the range and authority of Times journalism with immersive storytelling, innovative visuals and best-in-class production values,” the show promises “groundbreaking investigations, on-the-ground reporting, agenda-setting interviews and new formats yet to be invented.”

How a Deal to Sell the Weinstein Company Fell Apart
Brooks Barnes, The New York Times

Two weeks ago, the embattled Weinstein Company looked like it had finally found a way forward. An investor group had emerged with a plan to buy 90 percent of the studio’s assets, including rights to “Project Runway” and a 277-film library.

Social Media and Technology

Big Consumer Brands Don’t Have an Answer for Alexa
Saabira Chaudhuri and Sharon Terlep, The Wall Street Journal

The growing popularity of voice-search assistants poses a threat to the biggest makers of household staples. Already grappling with upstart rivals, changing consumer tastes and the rise of e-commerce, personal-care and packaged-foods makers have yet to figure out how to leverage the technology.

YouTube’s brand-safety efforts are forcing YouTube networks to cut small channels
Sahil Patel, Digiday

YouTube has instituted new ad rules that “demonetize” small channels on the platform. The changes are forcing several YouTube networks to release creators with channels that fall below YouTube’s thresholds from their contracts.

YouTube’s algorithms can drag you down a rabbit hole of conspiracies, researcher finds
Ashley Rodriguez, Quartz

It starts with a single video. A YouTube search for keywords like “crisis actor,” a term used last week to discredit the outspoken survivors of a school shooting in Parkland, Florida, can drag viewers down a rabbit hole of conspiracy-related content, a researcher found.

Apple Plans Giant High-End iPhone, Lower-Priced Model
Mark Gurman and Debby Wu, Bloomberg

Apple Inc. is preparing to release a trio of new smartphones later this year: the largest iPhone ever, an upgraded handset the same size as the current iPhone X and a less expensive model with some of the flagship phone’s key features. With the new lineup, Apple wants to appeal to the growing number of consumers who crave the multitasking attributes of so-called phablets while also catering to those looking for a more affordable version of the iPhone X, according to people familiar with the products.

Avid Technology ousts CEO, citing improper conduct
Andy Rosen, The Boston Globe

The chief executive of Burlington-based Avid Technology has been ousted from his job because of allegations of improper workplace conduct, the company said Monday morning. Avid, whose products include the music production program Pro Tools, said it had cut ties with Louis Hernandez Jr. for “violations of company policies related to workplace conduct.”

PR and Marketing

FedEx promises to stay loyal to the NRA amid boycott threats — but says it doesn’t agree with the gun group
Kate Taylor, Business Insider

FedEx has responded to boycott threats in response to the company’s ongoing deal for National Rifle Association members. On Monday, the company said in a statement that it did not agree with the NRA’s gun-policy positions — but that it would continue to offer members of the gun-rights group discounts.

Instacart to team up with Walmart’s Sam’s Club for same-day delivery, countering Amazon-Whole Foods
Deirdre Bosa, CNBC

The grocery delivery landscape just got a lot more interesting. Sam’s Club, a division of Walmart, is partnering with Instacart to offer same-day delivery.

‘Amazon Effect’ Is Hiking Pay and Fueling Land Rush in U.S.
Michael Sasso and  Steve Matthews, Bloomberg

On a recent weekday morning, a handful of job seekers were filling out applications at desktop computers in the Jefferson, Ga., office of Hire Dynamics, a staffing company with several locatiodns across the South. All were there to tap the warehouse boom in Jackson County, about 50 miles northeast of Atlanta.

Johnnie Walker Embraces Feminine Side to Woo Women Drinkers
Saabira Chaudhuri, The Wall Street Journal

Diageo plans to roll out a female-branded version of its Johnnie Walker scotch brand called Jane Walker, the latest move by the liquor giant to woo female drinkers. Diageo, the world’s biggest spirits maker, on Monday said Jane Walker, a limited-edition version of Johnnie Walker black label, will go on sale starting next month.

GE names accounting, turnaround experts to board
Arunima Banerjee and Ankit Ajmera, Reuters

General Electric Co nominated top aviation and industrial executives and an accounting expert to its board on Monday as it battled new challenges to its share price and the restructuring of one of the largest industrial conglomerates in the United States. The Boston-based multinational said on Friday it was facing potential legal action by the U.S. Department of Justice in connection with subprime mortgages.

Opinions, Editorials, Perspectives and Research

Microsoft’s Legal Cloud Cover
The Editorial Board, The Wall Street Journal

Tech firms seem to be clashing more with law enforcement, though their interests needn’t be irreconcilable. On Tuesday the Supreme Court will consider if U.S. internet providers can subvert federal law and public safety.

Filling the Toys ‘R’ Us Void
Elizabeth Winkler, The Wall Street Journal

Retail stocks are riding a wave of unexpected optimism after a strong holiday season. For many, there will be a windfall from the tax cut as well.

Macy’s Should Unleash Its Secret Weapon
Sarah Halzack, Bloomberg

Macy’s Inc. can’t catch a break these days. Even when it delivered improved holiday sales results in January, investors sold its shares, apparently convinced the department-store giant was just coasting on better consumer sentiment.

Hollywood Diversity Report 2018
Dr. Darnell Hunt et al., University of California Los Angeles

This is the fifth in a series of annual reports to examine relationships between diversity and the bottom line in the Hollywood entertainment industry. It considers the top 200 theatrical lm releases in 2016 and 1,251 broadcast, cable and digital platform television shows from the 2015-16 season in order to document the degree to which women and people of color are present in front of and behind the camera.

2018 Uber and Lyft Driver Survey Results
The Rideshare Guy

At the beginning of every year, I send out a detailed survey to rideshare drivers across the country in order to get their take on the driving experience and see what’s changed since the year prior. This year’s survey was sent out on 1/25/18 and we collected nearly 1,200 responses from drivers on our email list and through social media.