Morning Consult Entertainment: NBC News to Add More Than 200 Digital Jobs Amid Streaming Growth


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July 28, 2021
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Concern Over Delta Variant Could Spell Trouble for Entertainment Industry 

On the heels of the CDC’s recommendation that vaccinated Americans continue to wear masks in certain indoor settings, the latest from Morning Consult’s Gaby Galvin offers a look at U.S. adults’ feelings about the delta variant of the coronavirus. Overall, 73 percent of U.S. adults said they are concerned about the delta variant, with that number climbing to 83 percent among vaccinated adults, a statistic that could spell trouble for movie theaters, concerts and other entertainment venues as they try to win consumers back. Read more here: As Delta Variant Adds Urgency to COVID-19 Vaccination Drive, About 3 in 5 Adults Back Vaccine Mandates


Top Stories

  • NBC News is adding more than 200 jobs to its digital team as it adds new hours of programming, led by Tom Llamas and Hallie Jackson, among others, to its NBC News NOW streaming service, according to executives. The company said it currently has no plans to put NBC News Now, which averages more than 44 million views and 14 million hours watched each month, or Today All Day behind a paywall. (Axios)
  • Simone Biles will not compete in the women’s individual all-around competition after withdrawing from the team competition, according to USA Gymnastics, which said Biles was focusing on her mental health and would be evaluated daily. Jade Carey will take Biles’ place in the all-around event scheduled for Thursday. (CNN)
  • Spotify Technology SA had 365 million monthly active users as of June 30, a 22 percent year-over-year increase, and 165 million paying subscribers, a 20 percent increase. Quarterly subscription revenue climbed 17 percent to 2.06 billion euros, or $2.4 billion, while advertising revenue totaled 275 million euros, an increase of 110 percent. (The Wall Street Journal)
  • A potential deal between ViacomCBS Inc. and Comcast Corp. is being delayed as the Biden administration increases antitrust scrutiny of acquisitions, according to a source with knowledge of the discussions, who said both parties are waiting to see how the proposed merging of AT&T’s WarnerMedia unit with Discovery Inc. is received. The source said it wouldn’t be surprising if discussions between ViacomCBS and Comcast continued in the fall. (Forbes

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What Else You Need to Know


What Simone Biles’ Olympics Exit Means For Sponsors

Ethan Jakob Craft, Ad Age 

The departure of all-star gymnast Simone Biles in the middle of the women’s gymnastics team final on Tuesday serves perhaps as a warning for brands not to bet all of their sponsorship dollars on one athlete. 


Gap Stands by Biles’s Decision to Pull Out of Competition

Kim Bhasin, Bloomberg 

Gap Inc. is backing the decision by its star athlete endorser Simone Biles to put her mental health first and sit out the gymnastics team competition at the Tokyo Olympics.


Olympians are influencers now too

Scott Nover, Quartz

For the first century of the modern Olympic Games, professionals were barred from competition. The Games were a place the world saw largely unknown and unpaid athletes compete on the international stage.


SAG-AFTRA Members Earned Record $1.5 Billion In First 4 Months Of 2021; Jobs Also Hit “Record High”

David Robb, Deadline 

As production rebounds despite the continuing impact of the pandemic, SAG-AFTRA members earned a record-setting $1.5 billion during the first four months of 2021 — “the highest amount ever for a comparable period,” the union told Deadline.


What Comic-Con Has Planned for COVID-Era ‘Special Edition’ Thanksgiving Show

Jennifer Maas, The Wrap 

Comic-Con will return to the San Diego Convention Center this November, marking Comic-Con International’s first in-person con since the 2020 and 2021 editions of both SDCC and Anaheim’s WonderCon were scrapped due to COVID-19.


After Disney Pulls Execs From CinemaCon, Other Studios Take ‘Wait and See’ Approach

Jeremy Fuster, The Wrap Pro 

Disney threw a wrench in the National Association of Theater Owners’ plans for next month’s CinemaCon with its decision to not have its top executives attend the Las Vegas event. But so far, other major Hollywood studios have not followed suit.


Imax Narrows Losses Despite Slow Global Theatrical Recovery

Etan Vlessing, The Hollywood Reporter 

Giant-screen exhibitor Imax reported a sharp rebound in revenues and a smaller second-quarter loss amid the reopening of its global theater network.


Shooting During ‘Forever Purge’ at California Movie Theater Leaves One Dead, One Injured

Brian Welk, The Wrap 

A shooting at a movie theater in Corona, California during a screening of the film “The Forever Purge” on Monday night has left one dead and another injured, Corona police said in a statement.


Tokyo Olympics Primetime Ratings Stumble, But NBCU Still Eyes Big Ad Revenue

Jason Lynch, Adweek 

The Tokyo Olympics are not immune to the decline in ratings that have plagued other major sports and entertainment events during the past year, with the Games’ early primetime ratings down approximately one-third compared to the 2016 Rio Olympics.


What the F— Will It Take to Get TV to Stop Censoring Titles?

Whitney Friedlander, Vanity Fair 

On a new HBO Max dating show, ripped and oily men who look like cast-offs from a Playgirl magazine cattle call compete for the hearts of three equally gorgeous women—and maybe a cash prize as well.


‘Arthur’ Ending at PBS After 25 Seasons

Dave Nemetz, TVLine 

It’s the end of an era for kids’ television: The perennial PBS favorite Arthur will end with its upcoming 25th season, set to debut next year, an executive producer confirms.

Technology and New Media

Why Is It So Hard to Use NBC’s Peacock to Watch the Olympics?

Jake Dean, Slate

Ahead of the Olympics, NBC heralded its streaming app Peacock as a new outlet for sports coverage where users could watch live events and commentary for free. But kind of like actual peacocks in Southern California, the app has been an annoying mess. 


2020 Summer Olympic ratings are a bust for NBC but a boost for streaming

Stephen Battaglio, Los Angeles Times 

In another sign of the reshaped TV landscape, ratings for NBC’s telecasts of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo are down significantly from 2016 but still among the most-watched TV events of the year.


How Vice, Vox and BuzzFeed Are Cashing In on the Streaming Boom

Sahil Patel, The Information

“Land of the Giants” is a podcast series from Vox Media’s Recode covering the history of tech companies including Amazon and Netflix. It will soon be a TV show, made by Vox for a major cable network for a fee of several millions of dollars, according to people familiar with the matter.


Apple Services Revenue Hits $17.5B, CEO Tim Cook “Proud” of Emmy Nom Haul

Alex Weprin, The Hollywood Reporter 

Apple continues to grow at a torrid pace. The company said Tuesday that its services business, which includes Apple TV+, Apple Music, the App Store and iCloud, delivered $17.5 billion in revenue in the third fiscal quarter of 2021, which ended June 30. 


YouTube Q2 Ad Revenue Hits Record $7 Billion as Alphabet Trounces Estimates

Todd Spangler, Variety 

YouTube accelerated back into high growth for the second quarter of 2021, as ad revenue hit a record $7.0 billion for the period.


BuzzFeed Is Going Public. What Now for Vice and Vox?

Edmund Lee and Lauren Hirsch, The New York Times

Not so long ago, when newspapers and magazines were going out of business all across the country, BuzzFeed and a few other fast-growing web publications seemed like the future of the news business.


Blizzard is encouraging its own employees to attend Wednesday’s walkout with paid time off

Sean Hollister, The Verge 

On Wednesday, Activision Blizzard employees will walk out of work to protest the company’s response to a giant sexual harassment and workplace discrimination lawsuit filed by the state of California.


Television Industry Braces for a ‘Bumpy Road’ as Connected TV Scales Up

Kelsey Sutton, Adweek 

With connected TV ad spend expected to hit $10.8 billion by the end of 2020 and balloon to $13 billion by 2021, the CTV space is undoubtedly having a growth spurt. But that acceleration comes with growing pains—and they are being felt by people on all sides of the industry.


How Streaming Has ‘Opened the Floodgates’ for Spanish-Language Content

Tim Baysinger, The Wrap Pro 

In the streaming era, the appetite for Spanish-language shows and films has been driven by the most unlikely of consumers — those who can’t speak a single palabra of Spanish.


NBCU Says Time Spent on Digital Platforms Will Equal Linear By Late 2022

Mollie Cahillane, Adweek 

On the TV side, NBCUniversal is best known for its linear networks like NBC, USA and Bravo—but the company now projects that consumers will spend an equal amount of time with its digital properties within 18 months—or roughly the end of 2022.


Meet the Studio Behind Substack’s First Podcast Deal

Nicholas Quah, Vulture

Around this time last week, Axios exclusively reported that Substack, the venture-backed newsletter publishing platform that doubles as a synecdoche for a certain strand of digital media anxiety these days, has given out its first official “Pro deal” in the audio world.


Spotify makes paid shows from Slate, Acast, and more playable from its app

Ashley Carman, The Verge 

Spotify wants to be the place you listen to all your podcasts, even the ones you pay for outside the app, so today’s it’s making that a possibility.


Live Music Biz Generated $132.6B in Economic Activity in 2019, Study Finds

Dave Brooks, Billboard 

Concerts are one of the top economic drivers in the U.S. and will be a critical financial engine for igniting the economy once the pandemic has ended, a new study finds.


The Year’s Biggest Concert Belongs to a Christian Rapper

Lucas Shaw, Bloomberg 

One day in the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic, concert promoter Dan Fife was stuck at home when he came across a photo in Pollstar magazine of Mads Langer, a Danish singer-songwriter, performing at a drive-in theater.


SBA Has Awarded Over 10,000 Shuttered Venue Grants Totaling $7.5B

Taylor Mims, Billboard 

A growing number of live entertainment businesses have received good news from the Small Business Administration (SBA). As of today (July 27), more than 10,000 independent venues, promoters, talent representatives and more have been notified of their successful applications for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG). 


Live Music Is Back, but the Musicians Are Out of Practice

Joe Barrett, The Wall Street Journal 

After a long, quiet stretch, Matty Metcalfe suddenly found himself planning the most frenetic week of his 20-year career as a professional musician.


Dua Lipa Fans Want DaBaby Removed From ‘Levitating’ Remix After His Homophobic Rant

Gil Kaufman, Billboard

After DaBaby’s homophobic rant at the Rolling Loud Miami festival Sunday (July 25), Dua Lipa’s fans have asked the singer to remove the rapper from her remix of “Levitating” and add in Megan Thee Stallion instead.


Martin Shkreli’s Wu-Tang Clan Album Sold by U.S.

Corinne Ramey, The Wall Street Journal 

The U.S. government on Tuesday said it had sold a unique Wu-Tang Clan album previously owned by former pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli, who was convicted of securities fraud in 2017.

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