In this week’s edition of Five on Friday, The Kansas City Beacon expands to include the new Wichita Beacon, a new media outlet serving the Wichita, Kansas area; ANTENNA shares their Q2 2021 Growth Report showing the growth of premium SVOD subscriptions since March 2020; and
Kansas City Beacon Expands to Wichita After Raising $4M
Nonprofit newsroom The Kansas City Beacon launched in March 2020, and it is already expanding, says Nieman Lab. After raising nearly $4 million from grants, donations and memberships, The Beacon is expanding to Wichita this summer. With 500 subscribers prior to launch, The Wichita Beacon has already hired three reporters (Celia Hack, government reporter; Rafael Garcia, education reporter; and Stefania Lugli, watchdog reporter) and sent out four editions of its newsletter using the Mailchimp platform. The media outlet plans to grow to five reporters by the end of the year.
“We’re thrilled to be building a brand new newsroom for Wichita to help tell stories that aren’t being told. Wichitans want to be informed — to know that journalists are filing record requests, holding officials accountable and taking time to dig into the issues that matter,” said Kelsey Ryan, founder and publisher of The Beacon. “We promise to do our best to serve you, our communities, our readers and our neighbors.”
Focused on public service journalism, the newsletter is initially free to readers. The model is currently surviving on grants, nonprofit funding and donor generosity.
“Our independent newsroom was founded on the principle that transparency about what is happening in our community and government ultimately leads to a better society for all. We’re on a mission to get the full truth to the maximum people at the moments of greatest consequence,” says the news outlet on their website.
“Our best work will be through community partnerships and our emphasis on community listening. This is how the community shares in this work — your perspectives, feedback and story ideas will shape The Wichita Beacon every day,” the news outlet added.
A critical part of The Beacon’s strategy is to focus on listening to and building relationships with the community, said Nieman Lab. To build a media organization and profitable products and services, The Beacon needs to get the support of the community to find out what it wants and to secure their buy-in.
Ultimately, community members who believe in what The Beacon stands for and how they fulfill their mission will guide how much financial support the community is willing to provide. What will not work is doing things the way newspapers have already done. For more on The Beacon’s early days and their model, read “The Kansas City Beacon is expanding to a second city, Wichita, with nearly $4M raised” at NiemanLab.com or visit The Beacon’s website at WichitaBeacon.org.
SVOD Subscriptions Grow 34% from Q1 2020
Since the pandemic hit in the U.S. in March 2020, viewers have been eager for news and entertainment. This has fueled growth in subscription video on demand subscriptions from a wide range of streaming services. Since the first quarter of 2020, premium SVOD subscriptions have grown 34%. While growth has slowed for Netflix, who retains the highest percentage of market share, many other services have joined the mix. ANTENNA shares data from their Q2 2021 Growth Report.
In the chart above, ANTENNA’s data shows that Netflix and Hulu have the largest share of SVOD subscribers at 48%, but they only represent 9% of total growth in the last two years. The rest comes from newer services like Disney+ and HBO Max. That means that the new services are providing a quality subscription service consumers are willing to pay for, and consumers are willing to pay for more than one service.
While the mainstream streaming services have seen significant growth, ANTENNA reports that niche services with specialty audiences like Sundance and BritBox have grown at a faster pace. In a two-year period, 10 specialty streaming services tracked by ANTENNA show a compound growth rate of 74% compared to 30% for the top 10 SVOD services ANTENNA monitors.
Facebook Reports 56% Increase in Total Revenue in Q2
Facebook finished the second quarter of 2021 with total revenue of $29.1 billion with $28.6 billion coming from advertising and $497 million coming from other sources of revenue. Total revenue represents a 56% increase year-over-year. The social media platform reported an average of 1.91 billion daily active users for June 2021 and 2.9 billion monthly active users at the end of June, representing an increase of 7% year-over-year.
In addition, Facebook reported they had made $4.74 billion in capital expenditures during the second quarter, had $64.08 billion in cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities, and they had 63,404 employees. The company reported net income of $10.4 billion, or $3.61 diluted earnings per share, compared to net income of $5.2 billion, or $1.80 diluted earnings per share, in the second quarter of 2020.
“We had a strong quarter as we continue to help businesses grow and people stay connected,” said Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg. “I’m excited to see our major initiatives around creators and community, commerce, and building the next computing platform coming together to start to bring the vision of the metaverse to life.”
On the earnings call, Zuckerberg said he wanted Facebook to be the “best place” for creators to share and monetize their content in all its forms (text, photos, audio, gaming and video). Video is a key area of focus because nearly half of all time spent on Facebook is spent watching video. Reels, Facebook’s answer to TikTok, has helped engagement grow on Instagram.
During the second quarter, on the audio side, Facebook launched Live Audio Rooms and podcasts. They also launched Bulletin, a publishing and subscription service that the platform hopes will garner its share of the hot newsletter subscription market. And to help creators choose Facebook as their preferred platform, Facebook is offering incentives.
“To help grow the creator economy overall, we’re going to keep our creator tools free to use through 2023, and we recently announced that we’re investing $1 billion in creators across Facebook and Instagram,” Zuckerberg said. “I’m optimistic that creators will get more opportunities to do the work they want, and that’s going to lead to people hearing lots of new voices across our different services.”
LinkedIn Isn’t Just for Jobs Anymore
Like all social media platforms, LinkedIn has evolved to meet the changing needs of its users. Though the site was originally a place to post professional profiles, get career advice and find or post jobs, the site is gaining traction as a place for businesses and brands to share a range of article types. A recent article by Digiday shows that publishers are seeing more engagement from everything from the day’s headlines and DIY tips to lifestyle advice and product reviews.
Some outlets like The New York Times, which has 6.6 million LinkedIn followers, share a selection of their published news stories like COVID updates, Gov. Cuomo’s resignation and criminal deathbed confessions, while others are using it to share other types of engaging stories. For example, digital news site Cheddar, which has more than 1.6 million followers, shares more Buzzfeed-type news. For example, recent posts include memes, factoids and videos like a tour of Elon Musk’s 375 square foot tiny house.
Other publishers like Wired, which has 1.7 million followers, are using LinkedIn to share articles, offer explainers, and tell people about their subscription products, reports Digiday. They also experiment with posting at different times of day.
Here are a few takeaways for other publishers interested in maximizing their usage of LinkedIn, or any social media platform:
- Let go of the idea that LinkedIn is just for jobs, careers and recruitment.
- Experiment with different content types – photos, text, video – to see what garners the most engagement and click-throughs.
- Test different times of day and identify peak times. Many brands publish content during the traditional workweek and not as much during the evening or on the weekends.
- In addition to providing content, share promotional offers for subscription products and services. If a user follows you and engages with your content, they will see value and may convert into a paying subscriber.
- Follow the competition. Look at what is working for publishers with similar content and audiences as you.
For more ideas and analysis, read “Dogs on Treadmills: Publishers are finding LinkedIn isn’t just for business and careers news” by Kerry Flynn for Digiday.
Netflix Hopes to Draw and Engage New Audiences with Immersive Gaming
Speaking of evolution, Netflix is evolving too. First DVDs, then streaming video and next gaming! Netflix is experimenting with different revenue sources and products and services. According to Tubefilter, Netflix is working an immersive gaming experience.
The company’s first step in that direction was to hire an experienced pro Mike Verdu, veteran of a Electronic Arts and Facebook‘s virtual reality unit Oculus, as vice president of game development. With his wealth of experience and knowledge of the gaming market, Verdu will help Netflix shape its next iteration.
Why would the top streaming video subscription service need immersive gaming? Here are a few of the many reasons:
- Revenue diversification. At this time, it does not look like Netflix will launch a separate subscription service, or raise prices, to add gaming. However, adding gaming makes this a possibility. As Netflix video growth slows, gaming gives them the option to add other revenue streams.
- Variety of content. Right now, there is demand for a wide range of content types and gaming is among them. The more Netflix can offer, the more subscribers it can attract and retain.
- Competition for attention. Netflix has competition beyond the streaming world. They also compete with social media and gaming platforms, linear TV and audio platforms.
Netflix is at the beginning stages of immersive gaming, but they never do anything halfway. We expect any Netflix experience to be a positive one. They will likely text and tweak before a widespread release, and as the experience evolves, so will the pricing and subscription options most likely.