Aug 26, 2014

Media briefs: Williams on News … Emmys ratings … terroir terror …

Kim Williams reports on tales from Sydney's public transport system. Plus other media tidbits of the day.

And the award for biggest drop in revenue goes to ... It's the Emmy Awards night in Los Angeles at the moment. Let the back slapping, capped teeth, obligatory teary-eyed cries of joy from the winners (anyone thanking God this year?) and contrived humility from the losers begin! But in the boardrooms of the TV and cable networks, you’d likely see a more sombre atmosphere -- just a big frown really (or several) as they prepare for yet another ratings battle. This year, US media analyst group, Media Dynamics (pdf) says the free-to-air (FTA) networks and cable channels saw a 6% fall in ad revenues from their upfronts to US$18.13 billion. That was down US$1.1 billion from the all time high of US$19.31 billion in 2013-14. Some analysts reckon the fall in ad revenues for the FTA networks and cable channels isn't due to the health of the economy or lower spending by big US consumer products companies. The rise and rise of streaming video companies such as Netflix, Hulu or Amazon is now being blamed (along with soaring mobile ad revenues), although getting accurate ad revenue figures for this sector is very hard. Another media analytics group, EMarketeer puts ad revenue for the video streaming industry at around US$6 billion (which is 50% more than for the entire Australian FTA sector). -- Glenn Dyer Out with the old. It's just not the dying print media suffering weak revenue and audience figures, and chopping costs as a result. Less than a month after fighting off Ruper Murdoch's US$85 billion offer, Time Warner is taking the axe to its Turner Broadcasting cable business by cutting more than 500 jobs -- mostly people aged 55 years, or older, and mostly senior managers. Turner is Time Warner's major business unit, accounting for more than half the giant's annual profits from cable channels such as CNN (which is very weak domestically, but much stronger internationally), TNT, TBS and the Cartoon Network. US media reports say the cuts will be achieved by buying out the contracts of these older managers and employees who have spent a long time at the company. The aim is to get rid of high cost, older employees. Time Warner will cut the jobs in the US because in other countries it is constrained by labour laws preventing job cuts targetting older workers. US media reports say Time Warner will offer those employees thinking of leaving “enhanced severance benefits” to help them make up their mind.Turner’s cable networks have been hit by falling ratings and slower ad revenue growth. Turner’s ratings fell 10% in the June quarter. Its 4.6% rise in ad revenues was also slower than in the past, but higher than Time Warner's company-wide 2.7% second quarter growth in revenues. The media reports say Time Warner sources say more job cuts will be announced around October. With other TV networks and channels in a similar position, it won't be the first company to make cuts in coming months. -- Glenn Dyer Video of the day. There's been no shortage of Kim Williams interviews in recent days, but we think David Speers' 20-minute grilling is one is the best. Our favourite bit is where Williams explains what happened when he stopped being News Corp CEO."Since I left News Corp, I have used public transport extensively around the city of Sydney and Melbourne. What fascinates me is you very rarely, if ever, see someone reading a newspaper on a train or a bus." Fascinating stuff indeed ...

Front page of the day. An earthquake in California's Napa Valley sent wine bottles and barrels flying. Talk about terroir terror ...

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