What a difference a week makes. Bauer Media was last week telling reporters the closure of iconic women’s mag Cleo was “pure speculation”, after the Daily Tele wrote that the mag’s closure was “imminent”. No one really believed the company’s protestations, and this morning’s release shows they were right to be sceptical.
In a statement, Bauer revealed the February issue of Cleo would be the last. Meanwhile Dolly is moving to a “digital first” approach, which seems to come down to Dolly being a bi-monthly rather than monthly publication.
Cleo and Dolly controversially merged editorial teams in 2013, with the reporters answering to the same editor.
The truth is out there. Finally, Fairfax websites get to the heart of it …
She’s back? UK media reports (The Financial Times, Guardian and various blogs) are reporting that Elisabeth Murdoch is about to return to the independent TV business by helping back the new venture of Jane Featherstone, the former CEO of Shine’s drama business, Kudos. She is best known for the UK TV hits Spooks and Broadchurch. Murdoch built Shine into a major global TV content maker (MasterChef is the best-known program) before selling it to dad’s company News Corp for more than US$670 million several years ago. Shine went with 21st Century Fox in the Murdoch empire split and Liz Murdoch stayed on as chair until it was merged with Endemol (which was owned by hedge funds), with Fox retaining a 50% stake. Now she is reported to be negotiating to back Featherstone’s new venture. The new company is called Sister Pictures, and joining it will be Kudos development executive Katie Carpenter (which is another loss for the Shine Endemol joint venture and brings the number of senior executives lost in the last few months to six senior creative and development people, which is starting to raise eyebrows).
Netflix saves the market. Well, we won’t know for certain until all the kids return to the playrooms on Wall Street tonight, but the initial reaction from stayers-behind in the aftermarket this morning to Netflix’s fourth-quarter figures is encouraging. The shares jumped 10% at one stage and ended 3.7% higher after Netflix did better overseas than forecast, but worse in the huge US market. So in those now familiar words of market reporters, it was a “mixed” result. Helping encourage the market was a confident outlook for the current quarter. The company had net income of US$43.2 million, down 48.2% from the December quarter of 2014, on revenues up nearly 23% at US$1.82 billion (which were cut by the higher dollar). The company made a lot of money inside the US, but that was more than enough to pay for the US$109 million lost overseas in supplying more and more markets (including Australia), and to leave some left over for profits. It also added more offshore subscriptions than expected: 4.04 million, for a total of 30.02 million.
But inside the US, Netflix had another low-performing quarter: it added 1.56 million subscriptions — fewer than the 1.65 million it expected — bringing the total to 44.74 million. But the fourth-quarter lift was almost double the unusually weak 881,000 reported for the third quarter, which triggered doubts late last year about Netflix’s growth outlook. The company said it crossed 75 million subscriber mark on January 1, the day after the quarter ended, with 17 million net additions last year in the US and around the world. For the current quarter, Netflix expects to add 1.74 million new subscribers in the US and 4.35 million internationally with its announcement earlier this month that it will make its service available in another 130 countries (including India, but not China, so far). Interestingly, the company acknowledged the increasing problem of maintaining subscriber growth in the US market, with CEO Reed Hastings saying in a statement: “Our high penetration in the U.S. seems to be making net additions harder than in the past.” Nextflix has already revealed plans to spend US$6 billion this year on lifting original programming to 600 hours, from 450 hours last year. — Glenn Dyer
Front page of the day. The fallout continues …