BOTW: Rocketman strangles the bird; The curious Kyle ratings; Subscription winners; Amazon's other best job
Welcome to Best of the Week, written on a cloudy morning at Sisters Beach, Tasmania.
Happy Start a Rumor Day for tomorrow.
Today’s writing soundtrack: Bruce Springsteen - Only the Strong Survive. Speaking of rumors, apparently he’s on The Project on Monday night. I wonder if an Australian tour is afoot.
Today: This morning’s developments in Musk’s Twitter disaster, my suspicions about the Kyle & Jackie O ratings, and how News Corp is winning the subs battle with Nine
Cool people don’t sign up for Twitter Blue. Cool people use their company credit card to support independent journalism by becoming a paying member of Unmade.
#GameOver at Twitter?
Over the last fortnight, the first order of business on waking up has been to check Twitter to see how much worse Elon Musk has made things while we were asleep.
It’s exactly a week - although it feels much longer - since Musk threatened to go “thermonuclear”(by which he meant unleash his nutty right wing fans) on any advertisers who have the temerity to stop advertising on what’s suddenly become a brand risky platform.
The week’s main developments were the resignation of several key management execs, apparently because they feared criminal (not civil - criminal) prosecution if they allow Musk to take the privacy and security shortcuts he wants.
And the bodged rollout of Musk’s new Twitter Blue quickly became a joke as it destroyed the company’s verification system.
Yesterday, drug company Eli Lilley’s market capitalisation slumped by millions of dollars after Twitter allowed somebody to invest eight dollars in buying a blue tick and announce that the company would provide insulin for free.
We woke up this morning to the development that Musk has suspended Twitter Blue. For now at least, those fake verifications are no longer up for grabs.
I wonder who will get the first book out about the Twitter disaster. In the history of business, there’s never been a time when so much brand value was destroyed so fast. (The below two minute history is worth watching).
This morning, Musk had a new target to try to blame for the disaster - the “media elite”. Apparently it’s all a plot to stop him championing “citizen journalism”.
If Twitter isn’t seeking bankruptcy protection by Christmas I’ll be amazed.
How News Corp is outgunning Nine in video and news subs
We learned a fair bit about the state of streaming subscriptions this week. Foxtel Group was most forthcoming, as part of the News Corp quarterly update.
The organisation says it’s got 2.8m streaming subscribers, including 1.34m for Binge, 1.26m for Kayo, 191,000 for Foxtel Now and 15,000 for Flash.
Nine also (sort of) updated its number for Stan. After Thursday’s AGM, CEO Mike Sneesby and chairman Peter Costello held a press briefing. Sneesby’s speech to the AGM had referenced the 2.5m Stan subscribers disclosed at the end of the financial year. He clarified ro the briefing that the number remains the same four and a half months on. He also said there were no plans to follow Netflix and Binge with a lower priced advertising tier on Stan. He alluded instead to the possibility of using the ad supported 9now as an additional entry point in to Stan.
And numbers emerged for Optus Sport too, via parent company Singtel’s half yearly accounts. Subscribers are down from 1m, to 922,000.
It’s been an amazing transformation of consumer behaviour over the last eight years, but we do now seem to have hit peak streaming subs.
Meanwhile, we saw greater transparency (in the UK) around Netflix viewing numbers. Looking to add credibility around its advertising tier, Netflix has joined BARB - the British version of OzTam. More than a million Brits watched the first episode of the new season of The Crown in its first 24 hours. Last time I asked a couple of weeks back, there were no plans for Netflix to join OzTam (not that its owners Seven, Nine and Ten would be keen anyway, I suspect).
And financials season also proved another interesting point of comparison. News Corp said it had reached 1.012m digital subscribers in Australia, including 929,000 to its news mastheads. That’s roughly double that of Nine’s newspaper mastheads which (with the exception of the AFR) have paywalls that are easier for Incognito Mode-savvy consumers to slip past.
And some other things…
And a few random thoughts from the week:
The mystery of Kyle & Jackie O
Since I wrote about the extraordinary jump in The Kyle & Jackie O Show’s ratings numbers on Wednesday, I’ve been thinking about them some more. Something just doesn’t add up.
Yes, controversy about the Kiis FM show may have put it top of mind when the listener sample filled in their diaries. But that’s happened plenty of times before.
Yes, they’re very talented broadcasters, with a stable, talented production team behind them. But that’s been the case for a long time. So why now?
The way their cumulative audience has shot up in the last two surveys just doesn’t make sense. What’s suddenly changed for them to grow their audience by 69% in little more than a year?
Maybe it’s a sample quirk of whoever happened to be filling out the latest surveys. The speed of the jump just makes no sense.
There’s a missing piece to the jigsaw.
Nine’s tennis deal
Status quo is less remarkable than a change, which is why Nine’s extension to its deal with Tennis Australia - announced to the ASX yesterday - created less of a ripple than it deserved.
The broadcaster now has its summer schedule secured through til the end of the decade, at an average price of $85m per year. That’s more than the previous $50m-$60m per year deal, and a bit less than the predicted $100m per year (although the price will rise annually). It looks like a good outcome for both Nine and tennis.
The only major sport deals still left in play are cricket and the Olympics.
Amazon - the best job since the last best job
A new promotional campaign from Amazon’s Prime Video felt a little familiar this week.
The organisation will hire - for three months, anyway - a “Prime Video Buff” to watch its shows and walk the red carpet.
Sounds like the best job in the world, doesn’t it? By which I mean Tourism Australia’s Best Job In The World, created by Cummins Nitro. Back in 2009 it won just about every advertising award going for the idea of somebody getting to live the Australian dream for a living. Now the dream is sofa-based.
Unmade Index breaks the chain
The Unmade Index joined the rest of the ASX yesterday in bouncing upwards on the glimmer of hope that US inflation might have peaked. Our index of locally listed media and marketing companies rose by 3.85%.
Despite the bounce, the index remains below 700 points, and currently sits 31% off its opening at the start of the year. The jump also follows six consecutive days of falls, and the Unmade Index is now back in the same place it was a week ago.
Yesterday’s biggest rise came from real estate platform Domain, up by 5.12%. Ooh Media was not far behind on 4.88%.
Before I go: In our members-only email yesterday, I promised a review of the big Christmas TV campaigns today. However, Substack’s dashboard tells me this post is already too long. I’ll return to the topic when I can do it more justice, during the coming week. In the meantime, do let me know what you think of this year’s crop.
Time to leave you to your weekend. In the unlikely event you haven’t had enough of me, our friends at the Fear & Greed podcast invited me to be guest arbitrator for today’s Weekend Edition debate on the business stories of the week. No spoilers, except to say it was a close run thing…
Meanwhile, I’ll be heading for Melbourne this week, for our Marketing In 2023 pub event on Tuesday night. I hope to see you there.
Have a great weekend.