Digital media company Salon Media Group is for sale, including intellectual property rights and the Salon.com website, according to a May 8 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The sale price is $5 million and “Salon.com LLC” is named as the buyer. A 10% deposit of $500,000 has already been made. This will be part of the $550,000 due in cash at closing, $100,000 of which will be deposited into escrow. The balance of $3.85 million is due in two installments over the next two years, half due at 12 months and the remainder at 24 months. This balance is secured with a promissory note.
It is every man for himself. When WarnerMedia launches its own streaming video subscription service later this year, it is likely to retain – or regain – licensing rights to popular shows like Friends and Seinfeld that were previously licensed to rival services, says the Hollywood Reporter. AT&T’s purchase of Time Warner for $85 billion last year gives the company’s entertainment division, now called Warner Media and run by Bob Greenblatt, a vast range of existing content to choose from.
Amazon made headlines last week when it made a $575 million investment in Deliveroo, a London-based food delivery service. Amazon was the lead investor in Deliveroo’s Series G funding round, joining existing investors T. Rowe Price, Fidelity Management and Research Company and Greenoaks Capital. The Series G round brings total raised to date to $1.53 billion. A current valuation has not been calculated, but after Deliveroo’s last funding round in September 2017, the company was valued at $2 billion, reports Forbes.
Last Thursday, Gannett (NYSE: GCI) shareholders proclaimed a resounding “no” to MNG board candidates, electing eight of its own candidates instead. MNG Enterprises, also known as Digital First Media, has been trying to take over Gannett since January when it made an unsolicited bid to buy the media organization for $1.4 billion. Gannett rejected the bid, saying it undervalued Gannett, that MNG’s offer was not credible, and it was not in the best interests of its shareholders.
Media and marketing company Meredith Corporation (NYSE: MDP) reported total company revenue of $743.4 million, an increase of 14.1% year-over-year, for the third quarter of its fiscal year 2019. Total revenue growth was driven by significant increases in advertising and consumer categories. Advertising revenue was $365.6 million, a 12.7% increase year-over-year, and consumer revenue was $359.0 million, 27.6% increase year-over-year. Consumer revenue includes subscriptions, brand licensing, affiliate marketing, lead generation, affinity marketing and paid products. Meredith’s “other” revenue was $18.8 million, compared to $45.2 million for the same period last year.
In this week’s subscription news, EA Access says it is coming to PlayStation 4 gaming consoles soon, FuboTV is looking an expanding into ad-supported original content, and Utah’s Megaplex Theatres will launch a subscription service for two movie tickets a month for $14.95. Also the week, Roku stock is doing well, McClatchy reports big increases in digital subscriptions, and rental startup Feather raises $12 million to fight ‘fast furniture.’
Next year, NBC will join streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, CBS All Access and Disney+, but it is putting its own twist on the direct-to-consumer model. NBC’s ad-supported streaming service will be free to those who pay for live TV, whether it is through a cable or satellite TV company, reports CNBC. For cord cutters, NBC’s streaming service will likely be in the $10 per month range, but it will not give subscribers access to the same level of content.
Last week, news site Quartz joined the ranks of publishers who have put up a metered paywall to generate revenue. Readers can access a limited number of articles for free, and Quartz email newsletters and apps will remain free. However, full access to Quartz content will now require a membership, available for $100 a year or $15 a month, following a seven-day free trial. Nieman Lab reports that the membership program actually began about six months ago, but the paywall is new.
Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) announced its acquisition of StoryBots, creators of the award-winning, original Netflix series “Ask the StoryBots,” for an undisclosed sum, reports CNBC. To date, StoryBots has produced two seasons of its series with a third expected later this year. The program is currently available in 22 languages in 190 countries, says CNBC. Once the deal closes, StoryBots will create even more educational kids’ content for Netflix. This move may help Netflix replace Disney content which will be pulled from Netflix later this year when Disney+, a direct-to-consumer streaming video subscription, launches. Netflix will have to compete with Disney content including The Simpsons, Disney originals, Marvel, Star Wars and Pixar.
Last week, News Corp reported unexpected results for the third quarter of its fiscal year 2019 for the period ended March 31, 2019. The company reported net income of $23 million, compared to a net loss of $1.1 billion for the same period last year. Earnings per share were $0.02, compared to ($1.94) year-over-year. The company also reported total revenue of $2.46 billion, a 17% increase over the prior year. New Corp attributed the strong results to the consolidation of Foxtel and strength of its book publishing business segment.
Last week, Edgewell Personal Care Company (NYSE: EPC), parent company to brands including Schick, Edge, Skintimate, Wet Ones and Hawaiian Tropic, added another brand to its family of products – Harry’s, Inc. – for $1.37 billion in a cash and stock deal. Founded in 2013 by Andy Katz-Mayfield and Jeff Raider, Harry’s is a direct-to-consumer shaving subscription startup with a factory in Germany and headquarters in New York City. In the U.S., Harry’s razors and related personal care products are available via subscription as well as in retail stores.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms, grandmas and others who have been like mothers to us! We hope you have a wonderful weekend. Now onto the subscription headlines. This week, Spotify launches a limited U.S. test of voice-enabled ads, Verizon is looking to sell Tumblr, and owners of The New Orleans Advocate buy The Times-Picayune and NOLA.com. Also this week, Stripe announces its plans to hire more than 100 remote software engineers, photographers panic as Adobe tests new subscription options online, and Zynga wants to know if users will pay to play.
The 148-year-old Salt Lake Tribune wants to become the first U.S. legacy newspaper to try nonprofit status on for size. Attorneys representing the newspaper are seeking IRS approval for an endowed nonprofit foundation supporting independent journalism in Utah, while also pursuing 501(c)(3) status. If approved, ownership would be transferred from owner Paul Huntsman to a public board.
Yesterday, The New York Times Company (NYSE: NYT) delivered strong first quarter financials, driven by three subscription products, including the company’s news, NYT Cooking and Crossword products. During the first quarter of 2019, The Times added 223,000 net new digital-only subscriptions, including 144,000 for news. This brings the company’s total number of subscribers to 4.5 million, keeping it on pace to reach 10 million subscribers by 2025.
Last week, two educational publishing powerhouses – McGraw-Hill and Cengage – announced they would merge in an all-stock deal on equal terms. The deal will combine the strengths of both publishers to form a new global learning company, benefiting students, educators and related professionals. The boards of both companies have unanimously approved the deal. According to Publishers Weekly, the deal is expected to close by early 2020. It will retain the McGraw-Hill name and be led by Michael Hansen, the CEO of Cengage.