Disney secures record $9 billion in upfront ad sales for 2022-23

Disney secures record $9 billion in upfront ad sales for 2022-23
The media powerhouse has been doubling down on sports and live events after a pandemic-induced lull. (Shutterstock image)
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Updated 19 July 2022

Disney secures record $9 billion in upfront ad sales for 2022-23

Disney secures record $9 billion in upfront ad sales for 2022-23

LONDON: Walt Disney Co. has secured a record $9 billion in commitments from advertisers for fiscal 2022-23 as demand soars for live events and the upcoming ad tier of streaming platform Disney+.
Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu brought in 40 percent of the total commitments, Disney said on Monday.
The media powerhouse has been doubling down on sports and live events after a pandemic-induced lull, in an attempt to cushion advertising sales that’s under pressure from record inflation and geopolitical turmoil.
Rival NBC Universal closed upfront advertising commitments exceeding $7 billion for the next fiscal year, Reuters reported last month.
Over the last year and a half, Disney has expanded its rights to the National Football League (NFL), Wimbledon and the Australian Open. It also renewed rights for the popular FA Cup and more on ESPN+.
Last week, it said it would raise the ESPN+ subscription fee by 43 percent to $9.99 a month from Aug. 23.


TikTok launches mental health initiative

Updated 7 sec ago

TikTok launches mental health initiative

TikTok launches mental health initiative
  • #EndTheStigma campaign to raise awareness and facilitate discussion about mental health topics in the MENA region

LONDON: TikTok has announced the launch of a mental well-being campaign to build what it describes as “a supportive space where the community feels empowered to express themselves authentically.”

The Chinese social media platform aims to raise awareness about mental health topics through a host of in-app activations and a dedicated #EndTheStigma hashtag.

“TikTok has always been a place to celebrate entertainment, from dances and songs to adorable animals and comedy, and ultimately spark joy within their global community. But TikTok is also a place where people come to share their unique personal stories, including those around mental health and well-being,” the company said in a statement on Tuesday.

“TikTok is here to support their community as they share their experiences and helpful resources and forge new, meaningful connections across the platform to help #EndTheStigma.”

As part of the campaign, TikTok offers resources directly accessible on the platform, where users can learn about mental health-related issues, and connect with community advocates and organizations.

The platform plans to host live sessions with mental health advocates, as well as launch videos to promote positive conversations and end the stigma surrounding mental health.

“The #EndTheStigma hashtag aims to bring the community together to ensure that everyone has the resources they need to support their mental well-being,” the statement said.

“From checking in on one another, to sharing their own personal journeys, the campaign demonstrates TikTok’s commitment to a world where everyone has a support system to thrive, particularly in the digital age.”

The campaign represents a step forward for social media companies, which are often accused of failing to raise awareness about mental health problems and their consequences on their platform.

Recently, a MENA Mental Health Day survey conducted by YouGov found that 59 percent of Gen Z respondents said they were “feeling uncomfortable talking openly about their mental health for fear of offending friends and family.”

In 2018, a British study found that social media use can affect users’ physical health, and was linked to poor sleep, which is associated with depression, memory loss and low academic performance.


Musk plans to go ahead with original price of $54.20 a share for Twitter

Musk plans to go ahead with original price of $54.20 a share for Twitter
Updated 8 min 59 sec ago

Musk plans to go ahead with original price of $54.20 a share for Twitter

Musk plans to go ahead with original price of $54.20 a share for Twitter
  • The news comes ahead of a highly anticipated faceoff between Musk and Twitter in Delaware’s Court of Chancery on Oct. 17

LONDON: Billionaire Elon Musk is proposing to go ahead with his original offer of $54.20 per share to take Twitter Inc. private, Bloomberg News reported on Tuesday, sending the shares of the social media firm surging.
Twitter shares jumped 12.7 percent to $47.93 before trading was halted for the second time, while Tesla Inc, the electric vehicle company that Musk heads, fell about 3 percent.
Musk made the proposal in a letter to Twitter, Bloomberg reported, citing people who asked not to be identified discussing confidential information.
Twitter and Musk’s lawyers were not immediately available for requests for comment from Reuters.
The news comes ahead of a highly anticipated faceoff between Musk and Twitter in Delaware’s Court of Chancery on Oct. 17, in which the social media company was set to seek an order directing Musk to close the deal at $54.20 per share.
“This is a clear sign that Musk recognized heading into Delaware Court that the chances of winning vs. Twitter board was highly unlikely and this $44 billion deal was going to be completed one way or another,” Wedbush analyst Dan Ives wrote in a note after the news.
Musk agreed in April to buy Twitter for $44 billion, but within weeks said the number of bot accounts was much higher than Twitter’s estimate of less than 5 percent of users.


Meta pushes Reels monetization with new ad formats

Meta pushes Reels monetization with new ad formats
Updated 39 min 51 sec ago

Meta pushes Reels monetization with new ad formats

Meta pushes Reels monetization with new ad formats
  • New features include “post-loop” video ad format and horizontally scrollable carousel ads

LONDON: Meta Platforms Inc announced a series of new ad formats on Tuesday, aimed at creating new revenue streams for the short video and business messaging products that it has identified as key to growth this year.

In a blog post, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram said it was starting tests for a new skippable “post-loop” video ad format to play after its TikTok-like short video product Reels, which it has been promoting heavily.

Another new Reels format features horizontally scrollable carousel ads, which can display between two and 10 images at the bottom of a Reel, the post said.

Describing the company's business strategy at a press event, Meta executives said the new formats could lure Reels creators with ways to earn money from ad placements next to their videos.

“Our goal is to be able to provide the tools and the monetization opportunities, as you are continually growing your creator following across our platforms,” said Nada Stirratt, vice president of Meta's global business group for the Americas.

The executives also touted ads that open direct chats between businesses and prospective customers saying Meta can now use artificial intelligence to optimize whether the ads target new customers or those most likely to make a purchase.

Artificial intelligence would, likewise, power the selection of ads shown in users' Instagram feeds, the company said, citing internal research involving 400,000 advertisers that showed the approach produced more user purchases than other feed ads.

Meta is also opening up new spaces for advertising on Instagram, including the ‘Explore’ tab that users see when they run a search in the app, the blog post said.


Moscow praises Musk's peace plan after Tesla and Zelensky clash in Twitter showdown

Moscow praises Musk's peace plan after Tesla and Zelensky clash in Twitter showdown
Updated 04 October 2022

Moscow praises Musk's peace plan after Tesla and Zelensky clash in Twitter showdown

Moscow praises Musk's peace plan after Tesla and Zelensky clash in Twitter showdown
  • In a Twitter poll the Tesla boss proposed Ukraine permanently cede Crimea to Russia
  • Kremlin spokesperson said Russia welcomes Elon Musk proposal

UNITED NATIONS: Billionaire Elon Musk on Monday asked Twitter users to weigh in on a plan to end Russia’s war in Ukraine that drew immediate condemnation from Ukrainians, including President Volodymyr Zelensky, who responded with his own poll.
“Which @elonmusk do you like more?,” Zelensky tweeted, offering two responses: one who supports Ukraine, one who supports Russia.
Musk, the world’s richest person, proposed UN-supervised elections in four occupied regions that Moscow last week moved to annex after what it called referendums. The votes were denounced by Kyiv and Western governments as illegal and coercive.
“Russia leaves if that is will of the people,” Musk wrote.
The Tesla Inc. chief executive suggested that Crimea, which Moscow seized in 2014, be formally recognized as Russia, that water supply to Crimea be assured and that Ukraine remain neutral. He asked Twitter users to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on the plan.
“Dear @elonmusk, when someone tries to steal the wheels of your Tesla, it doesn’t make them legal owner of the car or of the wheels. Even though they claim both voted in favor of it. Just saying,” Lithuania’s President Gitanas Nausėda tweeted in response.
Musk, who is also chief executive of SpaceX, followed up his first tweet with another poll: “Let’s try this then: the will of the people who live in the Donbas & Crimea should decide whether they’re part of Russia or Ukraine.”
He said he didn’t care if his proposal was unpopular, arguing that he did care “that millions of people may die needlessly for an essentially identical outcome.”
“Russia has >3 times population of Ukraine, so victory for Ukraine is unlikely in total war. If you care about the people of Ukraine, seek peace,” he posted on Twitter.
In February, when Ukraine’s Internet was disrupted following Russia’s invasion, Musk responded to a tweet by a Ukrainian government official seeking help. Musk said SpaceX’s Starlink satellite broadband service was available in Ukraine and that SpaceX was sending more terminals to the country.
“SpaceX’s out of pocket cost to enable & support Starlink in Ukraine is ~$80M so far. Our support for Russia is $0. Obviously, we are pro Ukraine,” Musk posted on Twitter later on Monday.
Ukraine’s outspoken outgoing ambassador to Germany, Andriy Melnyk, had a blunt reaction to Musk’s peace plan. Melnyk himself faced criticism in July for defending the controversial World War Two Ukrainian nationalist leader Stepan Bandera.
“Fuck off is my very diplomatic reply to you @elonmusk,” tweeted Melnyk.
On Tuesday, the Kremlin praised Tesla boss proposal for suggesting a possible peace deal to end the war in Ukraine.
“It is very positive that somebody like Elon Musk is looking for a peaceful way out of this situation,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters in a conference call.
“Compared to many professional diplomats, Musk is still searching for ways to achieve peace. And achieving peace without fulfilling Russia's conditions is absolutely impossible,” he added.
As of 1030 GMT on Tuesday, Musk's original poll had garnered more than 2.5 million votes, with some 60% opposed to the plan.
Peskov said on Tuesday that “bots” - phoney twitter accounts - were “actively participating in the voting”. He provided no evidence.
Moscow had always been open to a negotiated end to the conflict, Peskov added. He criticised a new Ukrainian decree, signed by Zelenskiy on Tuesday, which says Kyiv will not negotiate directly with Putin for an end to the conflict.

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Philippine media groups demand protection after journalist’s murder

Philippine media groups demand protection after journalist’s murder
Updated 04 October 2022

Philippine media groups demand protection after journalist’s murder

Philippine media groups demand protection after journalist’s murder
  • Radio journalist Percival Mabasa killed by two assailants on Monday night

MANILA: A Philippine journalist has been shot dead while driving in the country’s capital, police said on Tuesday, prompting condemnation from media groups and activists, who described his assassination as a blow to press freedom.
Radio journalist Percival Mabasa, 63, was killed by two assailants at the gate of a residential compound in the Las Pinas area of Manila on Monday night, police said.
“That the incident took place in Metro Manila indicates how brazen the perpetrators were, and how authorities have failed to protect journalists as well as ordinary citizens from harm,” said the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.
The national police vowed to bring justice over the attack. The government had no immediate comment.
It followed the fatal stabbing last month of radio journalist Rey Blanco in central Philippines.
At least 187 have been killed in the past 35 years in the Philippines, according to international watchdog Reporters Without Borders, including 32 killed in a single incident in 2009.
Mabasa’s family called his killing a “deplorable crime” and demanded “his cowardly assassins be brought to justice.”
Rights group Karapatan described him as “one of the country’s fiercest truth-tellers.”
Videos on Mabasa’s YouTube channel, which has 216,000 subscribers, showed he had been critical of the previous president and some policies and officials in incumbent Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s administration.
“We are not discounting the possibility that the shooting could be related to the victim’s work in media,” local police chief Jaime Santos said in a statement.