Ad Vendors / Platforms / Data

  • For the first time ever, Apple has let outside payment providers in the App Store. The company complied with a Dutch mandate to open up third-party payments for dating apps. Although this is only a segment of apps within one country, opening up App Store payments to third-parties is a major step. Apple is fighting it every step of the way, but it's likely to happen in other countries, too. In December, Korea ordered Apple and Google to allow third-party payments for all apps, and Apple told the Yonhap News Agency that it respects Korean law. (Insider)

  • In an unusual merger some hope could serve as a national model to preserve local journalism, Chicago’s NPR station plans to acquire the Chicago Sun-Times. The deal is expected to be complete by Jan. 31. Public radio stations have acquired for-profit news competitors in the past — but never at this scale. This is the first time a major public radio organization has acquired a big-city newspaper. (Washington Post)

  • In 2020, 36.0% of US marketers used TikTok for influencer marketing, a 33% growth from the prior year. That number rose slightly to 42.0% in 2021 and will continue to rise through 2025, as TikTok continues to close the gap with Facebook for influencer marketing use. Only Instagram and Facebook beat out TikTok's popularity among influencer marketers. More marketers plan to use TikTok than YouTube, Twitter, or Snapchat in 2022. (eMarketer)

  • For the first time, Fox Corp. will hold a unified in-person upfront presentation on May 16 that includes entertainment programming on the Fox broadcast network, as well as pitches for streaming service Tubi, Fox Sports and Fox News. (THR)

  • Ahead of Valentine’s Day, Snapchat has shared a new report with valuable insights for advertisers to capitalize on. These insights include higher engagement in both lens and stories and more. (Snapchat)

  • Google is launching an experiments page in Google Ads. This page will let users create, customize, manage, and optimize experiments in one place. (Google)

Awards / Festivals / Industry Events

  • The 64th annual Grammy Awards ceremony has been rescheduled and will now broadcast live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Sunday, April 3 on CBS (it also will be available to stream live and on demand on Paramount+). It’s the first time the show will take place in Vegas. It was postponed earlier this month amid the omicron surge from its original date of Jan. 31, when it was scheduled to take place at the Arena (formerly known as the Staples Center) in Los Angeles. (THR)

  • The 49th annual Annie Awards for animation has moved to a virtual format and will stream live March 12. Previously, a live ceremony was scheduled for Feb. 26 at UCLA’s Royce Hall. (THR) Similarly, the Casting Society of America is moving its March 17 Artios Awards show to an intimate virtual event for members. (THR)

Cinemas / Theatrical

  • A Hollywood release in China these days is rare; Sony has yet to secure a date for Spider-Man: No Way Home in the world's biggest movie market. But Woody Allen’s three-year-old rom-com A Rainy Day in New York has been granted an official China release on Feb. 25. In 2018, Amazon pulled the star-packed film in the U.S. in the wake of sexual abuse allegations against Allen. (THR)

  • With Disney deciding to forgo a theatrical release for Turning Red due to a COVID-19 surge, the decision means three Pixar films in a row have headed straight to streaming. (THR)

Gambling / Casinos

  • 56% of regular sports bettors — defined as those who bet at least once a month — said they bet online or via their mobile phones. Nearly half of regular sports bettors (48%) said they would be “very interested” in participating in live betting on the same screen as live video of the event they are betting on, with another 34% saying they would be “somewhat interested.” Enthusiasm was particularly high among Millennial and Gen Z sports bettors, as well as those who said they bet on esports, soccer, combat sports and tennis. (Morning Consult)

  • Adults 44 and under are significantly more likely to say they participate in sports betting than their older peers. 31% of respondents ages 35-44 said they bet on sports at least monthly, along with 28% of those ages 21-34. By comparison, just 10% of adults ages 45-64 and 5% of those 65 and older said they bet regularly. (Morning Consult)

Live Events / Attractions

  • Adele abruptly announced last Thursday the postponement of her Las Vegas residency due to COVID impacting her crew and unspecified "delivery delays." The concert series was scheduled to start Friday at Caesars Palace and run through July 2. She vowed to reschedule all the missed residency dates, while profusely apologizing. Caesars also issued a statement supporting the decision to delay the show. (EW)

  • A stage adaptation of the best-selling novel “The Kite Runner” will be presented on Broadway in July. The play, which began its life in California in 2007 and has been widely produced since, is planning a limited run, from July 6 to Oct. 30. The announcement is encouraging news for Broadway, which has been clobbered by closings as the pandemic continues to roil the industry. (NY Times)

Music / Audio / Podcasts

  • Spotify has more paying subscribers than any other audio streaming service operating globally, but its market share is declining. At 31%, Spotify had the highest subscription market share in the global streaming business as of Q2 2021, from 33% in (Q2 2020). In spite of its declining share, Spotify added more subs in the 12 months prior to Q2 2021 than any other DSP globally. It's 165M global premium subscriber base was up 20% year-on-year, and up by 4% from Q1 2021.

  • Fox Sports has launched a podcast network, with an initial slate featuring shows hosted by Skip Bayless and Nick Wright. A third show in the lineup at launch is a documentary from All Madden co-director and Fox Sports reporter Tom Rinaldi about the murder of former Major League Baseball player Lyman Bostock. While the podcast network is new, Fox has already produced a number of podcasts in addition to Sharpe’s show including baseball show Flippin’ Bats and college football entry The No. 1 Ranked Show. (Deadline)

  • ABC News is launching new podcast series and adapting Good Morning America for audio. Beginning last Thursday, the first two hours of GMA will be available as podcasts, allowing for more portable consumption of the program. ABC Audio will also launch a new entertainment podcast, Close Up, on Feb. 9 led by journalist Kelley Carter. (THR)

NFT / Crypto / Blockchain

  • Mastercard has partnered with cryptocurrency exchange platform Coinbase to make purchasing NFTs easier. The partnership will let people buy NFTs with Mastercard cards on Coinbase's NFT marketplace once it goes live. With this move, Mastercard and Coinbase hope to make purchasing NFTs as simple as purchasing anything else on any e-commerce site. (c|net)

  • While crypto evangelists with lots of skin in the game continue to predict six-figure values, Bitcoin is in meltdown mode. It lost as much as 8.7% Friday and dropped below $38,000 to its lowest level in six months. Since its November peak, it’s lost 40% of its value. Other digital currencies have been smacked around as well, with Ether and meme coins mired in similar drawdowns. (Bloomberg)

  • Bloomberg Media and Twitter have announced a global multiyear renewal of their partnership starting in January 2022, covering all major media markets across North America, EMEA, LatAm and APAC. The two companies will continue the news team’s exploration of the way cryptocurrencies and blockchain are reshaping the world by providing exclusive video and written content for Twitter. In addition to the new @Crypto series, Bloomberg Media will launch additional new video franchises on Twitter in 2022 and 2023. (Mediaweek)

OTT / Streaming

  • Buoyed by the smash success of Squid Game, Hellhound and half a dozen other shows, Netflix is doubling down on Korean content in 2022. The streamer said last week it will release 25 Korean films and series this year, its largest annual slate from the country to date. (THR)

  • SamsungTVs are streaming device of choice for 27% of Americans. Samsung’s market share is getting larger and there’s a new member of the Big 3, according to the latest Parks Associates report. (The Streamable)

  • Disney will close several Pay TV linear channels across Spanish-speaking Latin America and Brazil at the end of March. Services being shut down are Disney XD, Nat Geo Kids, Nat Geo Wild, FXM and Star Life channels, as well as the shutdown of Disney Junior and the rebranding of Star Life into Cinecanal in Brazil. Disney says "a selection of content offered by the channels due to be shut down will be available on other linear channels owned by the company.” (TAVILatam)

  • Australia’s free-to-air channels are demanding that the government legislates to force smart TV makers to display them prominently on home screens, claiming they are becoming “increasingly hard to find” among global streaming rivals. (Guardian)

  • Netflix’s saw its share price dive almost 20% in a day last week as it predicted a slowdown in subscriber growth. The SVOD, like many of its rivals, saw customers flock to the service during the pandemic but is now facing slowing demand. Netflix said it expects to add just 2.5M new customers by the end of Q1 2022, and ended 2021 with 18M net subscribers, against the 37M it secured in 2020. (DigitalTVEurope)

Retail / Lifestyle / Travel

  • Walmart will join Facebook, Nike, Ralph Lauren, Bumble, Disney, and a string of other companies with plans to claim their own corner of the metaverse. The retailer has filed several trademark applications, which describe extensive plans to sell virtual merchandise. Walmart lists a variety of virtual goods it plans to sell, including electronics, appliances, apparel, home goods, toys, and personal care products. A separate filing shows the company's interest in creating its own cryptocurrency payment method and collection of non-fungible tokens, or NFTs. (Insider)

  • Most Americans now believe that both exhibit and performance-based organizations should require proof of vaccination. On the whole, 56.8% of adult Americans and 71.1% of likely visitors (people who actually attend these organizations) now believe US cultural entities should require visitors to show proof of vaccination. In September, only 48% of likely visitors believed that proof of vaccination should be an admission requirement. (Colleen Dilenschneider)

  • In H1 2021, Mercado Libre scooped up more than $13B in digital sales across Latin America, making it the region’s biggest ecommerce company. Americanas S.A. and Magazine Luiza rank second and third, each earning over $3B. Impressive as their figures are, these retailers can’t compete with international giants like Alibaba, whose gross merchandise value in China topped $78B during the 2021 Singles’ Day event alone. (eMarketer)

  • The first Amazon Style store, located in the LA suburb of Glendale, CA, will open later this year. It will feature women’s and men’s apparel, shoes, and accessories. Shoppers will see “display items,” featuring just one size and color of a given product; remaining inventory will kept in the back of the store. Customers can use the Amazon app to scan the item's QR code to view additional sizes, colors, ratings, etc., and add the item to a fitting room or send it to a pickup counter. (CNBC)

Social Media

  • TikTok is testing support for paid subscriptions, paving the way for creators on the platform to charge for their content. The company didn’t share details about when it might roll out to creators, how many creators are currently testing it, or what the pay structure might look like. If adopted, it would be the latest move by TikTok to help its creators monetize their content; it introduced its Creator Next hub with monetization tools, and rolled out its tipping feature to eligible creators in December. (The Verge)

  • Instagram has begun testing subscriptions for creators to help them earn a more “predictable” income. Instagram Subscriptions allows creators to grow their recurring monthly income by giving subscribers access to exclusive content and benefits within Instagram. (AdNews)

  • Twitter has released its “Birdseye Report,” a new industry trends report compiled by Twitter data partners like Hootsuite and more. The report provides in depth-insights for multiple industries based on tweet discussion. (Twitter)

Video Games

  • Tech giant Microsoft will buy video game publisher Activision Blizzard in a $68.7B deal that would reshape the gaming landscape. The deal, if completed, would bring together Microsoft's Xbox game platform and the Xbox Game Studios and Activision, owner of the Call of Duty, Warcraft and Tony Hawk franchises, among others. Microsoft will become the world’s third-largest gaming company by revenue, behind Tencent and Sony, when and if the deal closes. (THR)

  • GSC Game World announced last month that the new S.T.A.L.K.E.R. would incorporate NFTs players could buy and sell of items like clothing for their in-game characters. The company heralded the move as a “transformative step” toward the metaverse. Fans were incensed and raged on social media against the plan; the game maker, they said, was simply looking to squeeze more money out of its players. The backlash was so intense that GSC quickly reversed itself and abandoned its NFT plan. (NY Times)

  • Last week, Hong Kong game publisher Animoca Brands raised $359M in a funding round valuing the seven-year-old firm at $5B, more than double its valuation three months ago. Animoca offers a slew of blockchain-based games in genres like car racing and tower defense. But what’s making the startup truly valuable is its investment portfolio of more than 150 projects and companies involved with non-fungible tokens—holdings it said were worth around $16B as of November. (Bloomberg)

Interesting Campaigns / Creative

  • Francis Bourgeois, the 21-year-old TikToker who went viral for his trainspotting videos, has been hired by Gucci and The North Face for a native partnership with streetwear blog Highsnobiety. "It's actually nice seeing someone so wholesome get brand deals like this rather than problematic influencers," one user commented on Bourgeois' video showcasing the campaign. "It's amazing." (Insider)

  • Pepsi's Superbowl Halftime Show Trailer brings together hip hop icons in an epic spot fans can rally around. It celebrates the unique personalities of each while setting the stage for the show in Los Angeles. (YouTube)


  • The UK government published its national AI strategy, which outlines its long-term vision for the technology and its impact on society.

  • Rodney Brooks, the creator of the Roomba, throws cold water on the idea that AI will surpass human intelligence in the near future.

  • A unique look behind the curtain at how one VC fund increased returns.

  • How Peloton uses design and gamification to keep people on the exercise platform.

  • If you think gentrification is about new coffee shops and high rents, you are missing an essential aesthetic element.

  • Watch out for the Trisolarians! Scientists might have found the first-known planet orbiting three stars at once.

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