A week after announcing a merger with Gannett in a deal valued at $1.4 billion, GateHouse Media cuts close to 20 reporters at least four papers, reports Poynter. Publishers Daily says the newsroom cuts affected The Oklahoman, Palm Beach Post, Cape Cod Times and the Worcester Telegram and Gazette. The Oklahoman lost 14 employees, including five from the newsroom. GateHouse purchased The Oklahoman last fall, laying off 37 employees, including 15 from the newsroom, according to Poynter.
After receiving complaints by the California New Dealers Association (CNCDA), the California Department of Motor Vehicle’s will investigate the Care by Volvo subscription program, reports Automotive News. The CNDA, which represents more than 1,200 car and truck dealers in California, filed a petition earlier this year, alleging that Volvo is violating the state vehicle code. On August 15, following a public hearing, the New Motor Vehicle Board voted unanimously to investigate the Care by Volvo subscription service and the CNDA’s claims that the service violates the state vehicle code. The NMVB has asked for a written report of the investigation within 180 days.
Amazon is in the hot seat as lawmakers question their business practices. Last week, Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) sent a letter to Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos to ask how products receive the “Amazon’s Choice” badge. Started in 2015, the “Amazon’s Choice” badge is supposed to mark products with the highest customer satisfaction ratings, but the senators believe this practice may be deceptive. They believe the badge may mislead consumer to purchase Amazon’s own, sometimes inferior products instead of a competitor’s products, because shoppers view the badge as an endorsement by Amazon.
Apple has launched a trial run of its Apple Arcade subscription which will be available to iOS, Mac and Apple TV users at launch, reports 9to5 Mac. The early access program is open to Apple employees for the beta test. The first month is free, and the program is $0.49 per month after that. The trial will last until the launch of iOS 13 which is set for mid-September, and it is expected Apple Arcade will launch around the same time.
Last Tuesday, a group of textbook authors filed a new lawsuit against Cengage in the Southern District of New York, reports Publishers Weekly. Authors Douglas Bernstein, Elaine Ingulli, Terry Halbert, Edward Roy, Louis Penner and Ross Parke are seeking class action status in Bernstein et al v. Cengage Learning, Inc. They allege the publisher is not paying them according to their contracts, but instead, is choosing how to pay royalties and from what pool of money. The group of authors is asking the court for damages and restitution for unpaid royalties for Cengage’s digital product
In this week’s subscription news, Microsoft takes away perpetual licensing for Office 2019 for home use, Bloomingdale’s launches a subscription rental service, and MoviePass has been accused of changing the passwords of power subscribers to limit usage. Also, this week, the Pacific Standard lost its financial backing, HBO Max sets a goal of 50 million subscribers in five years, and The Boston Globe’s union is planning a walkout due to contentious negotiations.
Loot Crate is out of loot. The popular subscription box service, who sells subscription boxes to gamers, nerds and pop culture fans, has agreed to be acquired by Loot Crate Acquisition LLC. Loot Crate will voluntarily file for chapter 11 bankruptcy in Wilmington, Delaware this week. The sale and subsequent reorganization will go through bankruptcy court. Bankruptcy code requires that other companies be allowed to submit competing bids for the company’s assets. Loot Crate hopes for the sale to be completed in 45 days.
Last week, CBS reported total revenue of $3.81 billion for the second quarter, a 10% increase over Q2 2018’s revenue of $3.47 billion. The company saw growth across all revenue streams, including 13% growth in affiliate and subscription fees, 12% growth in content licensing and distribution revenue, and 7% growth in advertising revenue. The company’s direct-to-consumer OTT services, CBS All Access and Showtime, contributed to the revenue growth in the affiliate and subscription fee category. CBS has a goal of 25 million direct-to-consumer subscribers by 2022.
If you’ve ever been a parent, you know how quickly kids grow and how hard they can be on clothes and shoes. So does Nike, who hopes to ease that burden in the form of a kids’ shoe subscription service. Nike Adventure Club serves the parents of kids two to 10 who wear sizes 4C to 7Y. Launched just in time for back-to-school shopping, the subscription has three tiers: monthly for $20, bimonthly for $30, or quarterly deliveries for $50. Kids can get four, six or 12 pairs a year, depending on the subscription tier.
The New York Times Company added 197,000 net new digital-only subscribers in the second quarter, a positive step toward its goal of 10 million total subscribers by 2025. The company has 4.7 million total subscribers as of the end of Q2. The company now has 3.78 million paid digital-only subscribers, a 30.7% increase year-over-year. Of the 197,000 new additions, 131,000 came from digital news, and the balance came from NYT Cooking and Crossword.
Maven, a digital publishing, advertising and distribution platform, has completed its acquisition of Jim Cramer’s TheStreet, Inc. (NASDAQ: TST), a financial news and investor information outlet, for $16.5 million in an all-cash deal. The deal is being fully funded through debt financing from Maven subsidiary B. Riley Financial, Inc. Cramer, co-founder of TheStreet and host of CNBC's "Mad Money," his team of financial experts and senior management will remain with the company. The combined companies anticipate revenue of more than $50 million in revenue over the next four quarters, not including a newly announced deal with Sports Illustrated.
This week’s subscription headlines offer everything from password management and TV chat devices to relaunch postponements and consolidation: Disney wants to bring ESPN+ streaming service to cable TV, Facebook wants to work with Netflix and Disney on TV chat devices, and Cengage adds free password management as a benefit to its subscription service. Also this week, Gawker postpones its relaunch and lays off its entire staff, Twitter users can now send and receive tips, and a new warning has been issued over Google Chrome’s ad-blocking plans.
On the heels of Regal Cinemas’ new movie subscription service, AMC Theatres reports a stellar second quarter with revenue of $1.51 billion, a 4.4% increase year-over-year. The company also reported net earnings of $49.4 million, an increase of 122.5% year-over-year, and record ticket sales of 97 million, a quarterly high for the company. In addition, the company now has over 900,000 subscribers to its AMC Stubs A-List subscription program, launched in June 2018, exceeding the company’s expectations.
On Monday, New Media Investment Group (NYSE: NEWM), who owns GateHouse Media, agreed to buy Gannett (NYSE: GCI) in a cash and stock deal valued at $1.4 billion. Gannett is the owner of USA TODAY, the Detroit Free Press, the Arizona Republic and more than 100 other publications across the country. GateHouse Media owns 154 daily newspapers in 39 states. Together, the merged company will operate 263 daily media organizations across 47 states and Guam with a combined audience of over 145 million unique monthly visitors. The merged company will use the Gannett name.
Google is testing Google Play Pass, a new subscription that gives users access to a curated collection of hundreds of premium apps and games for $4.99 a month. The subscription is ad-free and it helps subscribers avoid in-app purchases and download fees, says Variety. The subscription comes with a 10-day free trial and is commitment-free. Subscribers can cancel at any time. Android Police said Google Play Pass will have a family plan, but pricing is not known.