Why the subscription media boom is fading 

Future News 106

It’s time to get your flash sales out, folks. The figures are in from Wall Street and subscription sign-ups are below analyst expectations for the big media companies. Last week it was Disney, which, despite registering more than 103m subscribers for Disney+ for the three months to the start of April, has unexpectedly slowed

The quarterly results followed Netflix’s own earnings. The platform now has around 208m subscribers, but, like Disney, its sign-ups slowed at the start of the year. The outlier is new kid on the block Paramount+, which saw nearly 30m global subscribers according to parent company ViacomCBS. In news media land The New York Times registered its own slow-down, as detailed in FN 105

This all comes as Covid-19 vaccination roll-outs continue at pace in North America and Europe, especially in the UK, and countries begin to open their economies up. We also have summer just around the corner. That’s why the reported launch of GB News, the BBC News challenger, makes sense. 

The Telegraph claims it will get out of the gate by the end of the month, before UK viewers head en masse for the pubs and outdoors. But a spokesperson for the outlet cautioned: “No date has been decided for the launch of live programming. That decision will not be made for some time, possibly weeks.” 

The other broadcaster apparently planning to make big moves in the UK is DAZN, which, if The Athletic is right, will be teaming with Matchroom Boxing from 1 July both in the US and UK. Sir Len Blavatnik’s global facing platform is back on the frontfoot after fresh investment and a restructure. 

Notably, the company has hired Shay Segev, formerly of Entain, as co-CEO and brought in Kevin Mayer, ex-Disney and ex-CEO of TikTok, as chairman. As for The Athletic itself, the Wall Street Journal has reported that its talks with Axios have halted and a deal with The New York Times could be on the cards.

When asked about its acquisition strategy, a spokesperson for The New York Times told FN: “The company regularly reviews potential investments, and it’s our policy not to comment beyond what we share publicly including in our quarterly earnings reports.” 

AT&T’s Warner Media company, meanwhile, is apparently on the precipice of launching its own streaming offering with Discovery. The deal could be worth $150bn. It’s last orders at The Publishers’ Arms, gentleman, try and get those final Covid-driven subscriptions over the line before closing time.


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