Elon Musk Eyeing X Streaming Video App to Take on YouTube

Elon Musk’s X (formerly Twitter) social media platform is readying a streaming video app aimed at offering users access to video entertainment similar to market behemoth YouTube.

In an April 23 social media post, Linda Yaccarino, CEO of X, said the app, which remains under construction, would become the “go-to companion” for televised entertainment.

“Soon, we’ll bring real-time, engaging content to your smart TVs,” Yaccarino wrote.

Since its launch, Google-owned YouTube remains the No. 1 viewed U.S. streaming platform with 9.7% market share in March, which was nearly 20% greater than Netflix.

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House Votes to Force TikTok Social Media Video App to be Sold or Face Ban in the U.S.

The U.S. House of Representatives March 13 voted 352-65 to ban the use and distribution of the TikTok social media app in the United States unless the platform is sold by its Chinese owner ByteDance. The bill (H.R.7521), which required a two-thirds vote majority to pass, now goes to the U.S. Senate for ratification.

The legislation prohibits distributing, maintaining, or providing internet hosting services for a foreign adversary-controlled application (i.e. Beijing-ByteDance). However, the prohibition does not apply to an app that is primarily used to post product reviews, business reviews, or travel information and reviews.

The bill authorizes the Department of Justice to investigate violations of the bill and enforce the bill’s provisions. Entities that violate the bill are subject to civil penalties based on the number of users.

TikTok, which has an estimated 102.3 million monthly users in the United States, allegedly affords the Chinese government inside access to millions of American social media accounts, which the government deems a national security threat.

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The bill requires that any TikTok user in the U.S. be able to access all available personal account data (including posts, photos, and videos) at the user’s request before the ban takes effect.

The bill gives the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia exclusive jurisdiction over any challenge to the bill. Further, a challenge to the bill must be brought within 165 days after the bill’s enactment date. A challenge to any action, finding, or determination under the bill must be brought with 90 days of the action, finding or determination.

Notably, the House vote undermines former president and current GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump’s effort to save TikTok. As president, Trump had sought to ban TikTok, but now claims doing so would embolden Facebook.

“There’s a lot of good and there’s a lot of bad with TikTok. But the thing I don’t like is that without TikTok, you can make Facebook bigger, and I consider Facebook to be an enemy of the people along with a lot of the media,” Trump told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on March 11.

E-Marketer contends a ban of TikTok in the U.S. would result in Facebook owner Meta taking between 22.5% and 27.5% of TikTok’s U.S. ad revenue. The research firm estimated the ban would also benefit Google-owned YouTube with a revenue bump between $1.74 billion and $1.94 billion due to TikTok leaving the U.S. market.

“While there are plausible reasons to believe Meta’s Facebook and Instagram could see increased ad revenue following a hypothetical TikTok ban in the U.S., the actual outcome would depend on a range of market, regulatory, and competitive responses,” Jeremy Goldman, senior director of the marketing, retail, and tech briefings at Insider Intelligence, wrote in a blog post.

Redbox, Crackle Connex Ink Deal With TikTok

Redbox and advertising platform Crackle Connex, both Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment companies, have announced they are now working with entertainment platform TikTok.

TikTok will provide Redbox with top content from the platform, which will be featured on more than 3,000 video screens on top of Redbox kiosks nationwide, and brands will have the opportunity to advertise alongside it.

“TikTok is the go-to destination for short-form video consumption by over a billion people globally,” Philippe Guelton, Crackle Connex chief revenue officer, said in a statement. “This new partnership provides advertisers a unique opportunity to reach new audiences and drive engagement. Our Redbox kiosks are in high-traffic locations where millions of people frequently shop, such as grocery stores or value retailers. We look forward to working with TikTok on expanding this partnership as our DOOH [digital out-of-home] network expands.”

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“People come to TikTok to experience the entertainment, joy, and creativity of our community and we are excited to expand that experience to Redbox kiosks,” Dan Page, TikTok head of global distribution, new screens, said in a statement. “This partnership allows us to bring together the power of our exceptional content with the high-visibility of Redbox kiosk locations, creating an effective and fresh approach to advertising.”

CNN Boss Chris Licht Stepping Down After 13 Months; Tucker Carlson Bows New Show on Twitter to ‘Huge’ Numbers

Warner Bros. Discovery June 7 announced that Chris Licht, chairman and CEO of CNN Worldwide, has stepped down, effective immediately, just 13 months after being hired to rejigger the liberal-leaning news network in the face of plummeting ratings.

Licht had come under fire following media reports of his handling of a recent Town Hall featuring former President Donald Trump, among other issues.

As the company looks for a replacement, CNN’s interim leadership team will include Amy Entelis, EVP of talent and content development, Virginia Moseley, EVP of editorial, and Eric Sherling, EVP of U.S. programming, as well as David Leavy, chief operating officer, on the commercial side.

Chris Licht

“I have great respect for Chris, personally and professionally,” David Zaslav, president/CEO of  Warner Bros. Discovery, said in a statement. “The job of leading CNN was never going to be easy, especially at a time of huge disruption and transformation, and he has poured his heart and soul into it.

Licht assumed his position in May 2022 after a stint as EVP of special programming at CBS and executive producer and showrunner for “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.” Prior to that, he was VP of programming for CBS News and executive producer of the network’s morning news program, “CBS This Morning,” which he helped launch in 2012. Prior to CBS, Licht was the co-creator and original executive producer of MSNBC’s morning news show, “Morning Joe.”

“While we know we have work to do as we look to identify a new leader, we have absolute confidence in the team we have in place and will continue to fight for CNN and its world-class journalism,” Zaslav said.

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Separately, former conservative Fox News opinion host Tucker Carlson launched his new solo show, “Tucker on Twitter,” with a 10-minute episode that reportedly generated 27 million views on the Elon Musk-owned social media platform. While the tally would appear to greatly exceed the 3 million daily viewers of his former Fox show, the Twitter tally reportedly counts anyone whose social media feed includes Carlson — regardless whether they actually watched the video.

 

Peacock Bowing ‘Watch With’ Feature Enabling Streamers to Interact With Content Talent in Real Time

NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming platform is launching a new social media feature that enables viewers to interact with talent on select shows in real time, including during Q&A sessions.

Dubbed “Watch With,” the feature is set to launch Feb. 24 at 9 p.m. ET, a day after the season two premiere of “Bel-Air,” with stars  Jabari Banks and Olly Sholotan. Pending content utilizing the feature includes “Eurovision” with two-time Winter Olympian and NBC figure skating analyst Johnny Weir and “The Real Housewives Ultimate Girls Trip” with Candace Dillard Bassett and Marysol Patton.

The concept was first tested last year with the “Real Housewives of Miami” reality show featuring Larsa Pippen and Patton.

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“After exceeding our viewership forecasts, we’re highly encouraged by the first test of ‘Watch With’ as a way to super-serve fans with a live communal viewing experience,” John Jelley, SVP of product and UX for Peacock and direct-to-consumer at NBCUniversal, said in a statement.

The feature is set to join Peacock’s other interactive feature — “Choose Your Reality” — enabling viewers to delve deeper into select scenes of the third season of “The Real Housewives Ultimate Girls Trip.”

“We’re looking to continue experimenting with in-product innovations that enhance the streaming experience and break into the cultural zeitgeist,” Jelley said.

Hub: Average Home Uses 12.5 Sources of Entertainment, Spearheaded by SVOD

The average U.S. household now uses 12.5 sources of entertainment, driven by subscription streaming VOD, according to new data from Hub Entertainment Research. Citing an October survey of 3,000 adults with high-speed internet access, the report found that age plays a role on the number of entertainment sources.

Survey respondents between the ages of 18-34 used more than 15 sources of entertainment, which also include social media, video games, music, AVOD, pay-TV, online TV, podcasts, books, audiobooks and sports.

Younger respondents use more video services (6.6 sources) — driven by big-name SVOD services such as Netflix, Hulu and HBO Max — than older demos. After SVOD (3.7 sources), social media and gaming (6.0) combined dominate entertainment choices.

Among older respondents (35+), the average household includes 10.6 sources of entertainment, also driven by SVOD, but in a lower amount (2.7). In fact, older demos overall access fewer (5.3) video sources than younger demos. An even bigger drop includes social media and gaming (3.1), which is just 50% of younger demos.

Among all survey respondents, the number of “must-have” entertainment sources topped six, increasing to eight among the younger demo and 4.9 among the older.

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“The focus on the video “streaming wars” obscures the fact that social media entertainment, gaming, and streaming music occupy just as much share of mind as video (and among some consumer segments, more),” Hub wrote.

The research firm contends marketers and content aggregators have an opportunity to reduce churn among entertainment sources by bundling platforms across multiple genre categories. For example, Walmart recently added streaming access to Paramount+ on its Walmart+ membership platform. The company is looking to add Peacock and Disney+, among others.

Disney reportedly is considering a membership program for its parks, streaming and consumer products that would emulate the Amazon Prime membership platform.

“It’s the physical and digital aspects of your Disney lifestyle,” CEO Bob Chapek told The Wall Street Journal. “We’re trying to build a toolbox our creators at Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Lucas can use to tell stories in a more customized and personal way.”

Elon Musk Closes $44 Billion Twitter Acquisition, Fires Top Executives

Elon Musk, the world’s richest man and founder/owner of electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla, has reportedly closed his controversial $44 billion acquisition of Twitter, one of the world’s largest social media platforms.

“The bird is freed,” Musk tweeted late Oct. 27.

Musk, who had an Oct. 28 deadline to close the deal (or face litigation) that would return Twitter to private ownership, reportedly fired the San Francisco-based company’s CEO Parag Agrawal; CFO Ned Segal; Vijaya Gadde, the platform’s main legal policy executive; and general counsel Sean Edgett.

Gadde is reportedly best known for pushing the executive decision to permanently ban former President Donald Trump from Twitter.

It wasn’t immediately clear who is formally running the company, but Musk has changed his moniker to “Chief Twit,” leaving little doubt who is in charge.

In a tweet to advertisers, Musk said he purchased the platform to provide “a common digital town square where a wide range of beliefs can be debated in a healthy manner without resorting to violence.”

Musk warned that Twitter cannot become a “free-for-all hellscape, where anything can be said without consequences!”

The billionaire is expected to hold a company town hall today addressing Twitter’s 7,700 global workforce.

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Disney/Hulu Switch Course, Will Allow Political Issue Advertising

The Walt Disney Company has reversed a policy not allowing politically-themed advertising on Hulu or Hulu + Live TV. The move comes after Democrat political ads targeting Republicans on gun control and abortion were banned from the platforms.

“After a thorough review of ad policies across its linear networks and streaming platforms over the last few months, Disney is now aligning Hulu’s political advertising policies to be consistent with the company’s general entertainment and sports cable networks and ESPN+,” Disney said in a statement. “Hulu will now accept candidate and issue advertisements covering a wide spectrum of policy positions, but reserves the right to request edits or alternative creative, in alignment with industry standards.”

Hulu and Hulu + Live TV, which ended the most-recent fiscal quarter with 41.4 million and 4.1 million subscribers, respectively, had found itself in the the middle of a social media backlash with the hashtag #BoycottHulu gaining strength.

“Hulu’s censorship of the truth is outrageous and offensive,” the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee posted on Twitter July 25. “Voters have the right to know the facts about MAGA Republicans’ extreme agenda on abortion — Hulu is doing a huge disservice to the American people.”

Regardless, Disney has already announced that it will not accept any political ads, marketing of alcohol products or streaming rivals on the pending Disney+ ad-supported plan.

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Deloitte Digital Media Survey: Paid Streaming Service Churn Rate High, Especially Among Younger Generations

Paid streaming services are facing challenges. Churn is high, especially among younger people, and younger generations, especially Gen Z, actually prefer playing video games to watching video and spend a lot of time watching user-generated content rather than TV shows and movies.

That’s according to Deloitte’s 16th annual digital media trends survey. The U.S. survey was fielded by an independent research firm in December 2021 and employed an online methodology among 2,000 U.S. consumers. All data was weighted back to the most recent census data to give a representative view of consumer sentiment and behaviors. The survey was also fielded in the United Kingdom, Germany, Brazil and Japan in December 2021 and January 2022. All data from the global markets was weighted to be nationally representative.

The U.S. paid streaming service churn rate averaged 37%, with 33% of respondents both adding and canceling a service and 4% canceling a service in the past six months. The churn rate was even higher among Gen Z and Millennials, with more than half of those respondents either canceling or canceling and adding paid services in the past six months. The trend also held true globally, with average churn in the international territories surveyed at 30% and younger generations more likely to move in and out of services.

While access to original content (39%) and a broad range of content (38%) were the top two reasons U.S. consumers said they were subscribing to paid SVOD services, U.S. subscribers said they’re canceling paid SVOD services due to cost (41%), price increases (30%) and lack of new content (30%).

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While older generations said they prefer watching TV and movies at home, Gen Z respondents preferred video games as their favorite form of digital entertainment. About four in 10 (41%) U.S. consumers said they spend more time watching user-generated video content than they do TV shows and movies on video streaming services — a sentiment that increased to around 60% for Gen Zs and Millennials.

In the United States, 81% of social media users said they use social media services at least daily and 59% said they use these services several times a day, with younger generations (including Gen Z, Millennial, and Gen X) leading the pack on social media usage.

In the United States, 80% of both men and women said they play video games, and half of smartphone owners said they play on a smartphone daily. Gen Z and Millennials said they play video games an average of 11 and 13 hours per week, respectively. Gen X gamers followed closely behind with around 10 hours of game play every week.

“While streaming video on-demand business models look much the same as they did when they were created 15 years ago, social media and gaming companies have quickly evolved their offerings, leveraging technology, and capitalizing on behaviors,” Jana Arbanas, vice chair, Deloitte LLP and U.S. telecom, media and entertainment sector leader, said in a statement. “Social media is free and available anywhere, anytime, offering both passive and interactive experiences with endless streams of personalized content, without the cost of a subscription. And more people are interacting and socializing in game worlds that host millions of users, brands and franchises, and major non-gaming events. SVOD companies aren’t just competing with each other for audiences, they are also competing with different, more social and immersive forms of entertainment.” 

Hub: Social Media, Gaming, Online Videos Downsize TV Viewing Time

Social media activities, including online video and separately, video games, continue to eat away at the time consumers spend watching television. New data from Hub Research found that TV and movies account for 48% of all the time consumers say they spend with screen-based entertainment. That’s down 5% from a year ago, and down 11% from 2019.

The stats come from a December 2021 survey of 2,179 U.S. consumers aged 13-74, who watch at least one hour of TV per week and have broadband service. 

Notably, the older the survey respondent, the more time s/he spends in front of the TV. At just 35 years old, Hub saw a significant shift toward the consumption of TV and movies as the primary source of entertainment time. Among respondents over the age of 35, about 60% of their time was spent watching TV and movies.

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“When it comes to sources of screen-based entertainment, younger and older consumers could not be more different,” Peter Fondulas, Hub principal and co-author of the study, said in a statement.

The analyst wonders whether today’s young consumers will always prioritize non-traditional content — or whether they’ll start to resemble older consumers as they grow older.

“Our prediction is that their behaviors are so ingrained that non-traditional content will always be a significant part of their entertainment consumption,” Fondulas said.