Netflix explores investing in live sports, bids for streaming rights

The move comes as Netflix has been struggling to add new subscribers as competition from rivals including Walt Disney Co., Apple and Amazon increases. (AFP/File)
The move comes as Netflix has been struggling to add new subscribers as competition from rivals including Walt Disney Co., Apple and Amazon increases. (AFP/File)
Short Url
Updated 09 November 2022

Netflix explores investing in live sports, bids for streaming rights

Netflix explores investing in live sports, bids for streaming rights
  • Streaming platform reported bidding for acquiring rights of tennis, cycling and surf events

LONDON: Netflix Inc. is exploring investments in live sports broadcasting and has recently bid for the streaming rights for sports leagues, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday, citing people familiar with the matter.
The company recently bid for the streaming rights for the ATP tennis tour for some European countries, including France and the UK, but dropped out, the report said.
Netflix declined to comment, when contacted by Reuters.
The company also discussed bidding for other events, including UK rights to the Women’s Tennis Association and cycling competitions, and was in talks late last year to acquire the World Surf League, the WSJ said.
Netflix executives have considered buying lower-profile leagues to avoid the mounting costs of bidding for sports rights, according to the report, while some of them believe they could boost lesser-known sports into franchises given the size of the platform.
The move comes as Netflix has been struggling to add new subscribers as competition from rivals including Walt Disney Co., Apple and Amazon increases. This month, Netflix launched an ad-backed tier in an attempt to boost revenue and subscriber growth.
Streaming platforms are also looking at live sports to gain market share in an already saturated market.
Disney and Liberty Media-owned Formula One extended their broadcast partnership last month, while Major League Soccer and Apple TV announced a partnership to stream every game on the app for the next decade.


Disney to cut 7,000 jobs in Iger’s company ‘transformation’

Disney to cut 7,000 jobs in Iger’s company ‘transformation’
Updated 24 sec ago

Disney to cut 7,000 jobs in Iger’s company ‘transformation’

Disney to cut 7,000 jobs in Iger’s company ‘transformation’
  • Iger said Disney is embarking on a “significant transformation” that management believes will lead to improved profitability at the company’s streaming business

LOS ANGELES: The Walt Disney Co. will cut about 7,000 jobs as part of an ambitious companywide cost-savings plan and “strategic reorganization” announced Wednesday by CEO Bob Iger.
The job cuts amount to about 3 percent of the entertainment giant’s global workforce and were unveiled after Disney reported quarterly results that topped Wall Street’s forecasts.
Iger returned as CEO in November following a challenging two-year tenure by his handpicked successor, Bob Chapek. The company said the job reductions are part of a targeted $5.5 billion cost savings across the company. As of Oct. 1, Disney employed 220,000 people, of which about 166,000 worked in the US and 54,000 internationally.
In a statement, Iger said Disney is embarking on a “significant transformation” that management believes will lead to improved profitability at the company’s streaming business.
The company, which owns Star Wars, Marvel and Pixar, will focus more on its core brands and franchises, Iger said.
The executive also announced changes to how executives will operate Disney’s various divisions. Specifically, creative executives will now be responsible for determining what movies, TV series or other content to produce, as well as the marketing and distribution.
“Our new structure is aimed at returning greater authority to our creative leaders and making them accountable for how their content performs financially,” Iger said during a call with Wall Street analysts.
In its latest results, solid growth at Disney’s theme parks helped offset tepid performance in its video streaming and movie business.
Disney said Wednesday that it earned $1.28 billion, or 70 cents per share, in the three months through Dec. 31. That compares with net income of $1.1 billion, or 60 cents per share, a year earlier.
Excluding one-time items, Disney earned 99 cents per share. Analysts, on average, were expecting adjusted earnings of 78 cents per share, according to FactSet.
Revenue grew 8 percent to $23.51 billion from $21.82 billion a year earlier. Analysts were expecting revenue of $23.44 billion.
Disney said sales at its parks, experiences and products segment grew 21 percent to $8.74 billion, from $7.23 billion a year earlier. While revenue for the segment that includes Disney’s movie business edged up 1 percent to $14.78 billion from $14.59 billion a year earlier.
The company’s direct-to-consumer business, which includes its streaming services, posted a $1.1 billion operating loss amid higher programming and production costs at Disney+ and Hulu.
Disney+ ended the quarter with 161.8 million subscribers, down 1 percent from since Oct. 1. Hulu and ESPN+ each posted a 2 percent increase in paid subscribers during the quarter.
The company rolled out new price tiers for its US Disney+ service in December that raised the monthly price for ad-free viewing from $7.99 to $10.99 and created a new basic Disney+ service with ads that costs $7.99 a month.
Management said Wednesday that Disney+ plus will achieve profitability by the end of its next fiscal year in September 2024.
The latest results marked the first quarterly snapshot since Iger’s return as CEO.
The move to revamp the company and slash costs comes as Disney is under pressure to turn its business around.
Activist investor Nelson Peltz, CEO of Trian Fund Management, is vying for a seat on Disney’s board of directors, arguing that the company’s recent operating performance has been disappointing and the result of self-inflected problems stemming from failed succession planning efforts, a flawed direct-to-consumer strategy and “over-the-top” compensation practices, among other concerns.
Disney has urged shareholders to vote against Peltz and last month named board member Mark Parker as its chairman. Parker, who also serves as executive chairman at Nike Inc., has been tapped to head Disney’s newly created succession planning committee, which will advise the board on CEO succession planning.
Iger also announced Wednesday that he intends to ask the board to approve the reinstatement of a “modest” dividend by the end of this year. The company suspended its dividend in the spring of 2020, in the early days of the pandemic.
Shares in Disney, which is based in Burbank, California, rose almost 6 percent in after-hours trading.


Twitter scrambles to fix meltdown as many unable to tweet

Twitter scrambles to fix meltdown as many unable to tweet
Updated 38 min 33 sec ago

Twitter scrambles to fix meltdown as many unable to tweet

Twitter scrambles to fix meltdown as many unable to tweet
  • Users first noticed the problem when they tried to send tweets and received a message saying they had reached their “tweet limit”

Many Twitter users found themselves unable to tweet, follow accounts or access their direct messages on Wednesday as the Elon Musk-owned platform experienced a slew of widespread technical problems.
“Twitter may not be working as expected for some of you. Sorry for the trouble. We’re aware and working to get this fixed,” the company tweeted from its “support” account.
Further details were unavailable Wednesday afternoon and an email seeking comment from the company’s press account went unanswered. Twitter has dissolved its media relations team.
Users first noticed the problem when they tried to send tweets and received a message saying they had reached their “tweet limit.”
While Twitter has for years limited the number of tweets an account can send, it is 2,400 per day — or 100 an hour — far more than most regular, human-run accounts send on the platform.
Accounts also had trouble when they tried to follow another Twitter user, getting a message “You are unable to follow more people at this time” with a link to the company’s policy on follow limits.
Twitter’s long-standing limit on how many accounts a single user can follow in a single day is 400 — again, more than a regular Twitter user would generally reach on any given day.
It is not clear what caused Wednesday’s meltdown, but Twitter engineers and experts have been warning that the platform is at an increased risk of fraying since Musk fired most of the people who worked on keeping it running.
Already in November, engineers who left Twitter described for The Associated Press why they expect considerable unpleasantness for Twitter’s more than 230 million users now that well over two-thirds of Twitter’s pre-Musk core services engineers are apparently gone.
While they don’t anticipate near-term collapse, the engineers said Twitter could get very rough at the edges — especially if Musk makes major changes without much off-platform testing.
One Twitter engineer, who had worked in core services, told the AP in November that engineering team clusters were down from about 15 people pre-Musk — not including team leaders, who were all laid off — to three or four before even more resignations.
Then more institutional knowledge that can’t be replaced overnight walked out the door.
“Everything could break,” the programmer said.


Backlash for Charlie Hebdo cartoon mocking Turkiye earthquake

Backlash for Charlie Hebdo cartoon mocking Turkiye earthquake
Updated 09 February 2023

Backlash for Charlie Hebdo cartoon mocking Turkiye earthquake

Backlash for Charlie Hebdo cartoon mocking Turkiye earthquake
  • The magazine shared on the day of the quake a drawing gloating over the death of thousands
  • Commentators described the cartoon as "racist" and "vile"

LONDON: A cartoon scoffing at the deadly earthquake that has killed more than 11,000 people in Turkiye and Syria has received a severe backlash online for its insensitivity.

French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo published a cartoon captioned “drawing of the day” and showing collapsed buildings and piles of rubble with “earthquake in Turkiye” written on top and “no need to send tanks” at the bottom, sparking outrage on social media as well as criticism from journalists.

Many deemed the cartoon “racist” and “vile,” condemning it for mocking the pain of thousands of innocent victims.

“Just vile, racist, and immensely insensitive,” tweeted Islamophobia scholar Khaled Beydoun.

“It is really disgusting to make fun of the suffering of others and far from the ethics of journalism, assuming it sticks to it, and I doubt it,” wrote Abdulla Al-Amadi in a tweet.

Lebanese journalist Giselle Khoury described the cartoon as “shameful,” demanding the magazine explain how this constituted “freedom of expression.”

Rana Abi Jomaa, also a Lebanese journalist, wrote that “there are no limits to Charlie Hebdo’s racism,” wondering “who would defend this abhorrent satirical French magazine after today?”

“Charlie Hebdo is faithful to its famous hate speech, bigotry, mediocre unethical journalism and colonialist scorn,” wrote Tunisian journalist Mourad Teyeb. “Nothing to do with press freedom!”

Khalil Rammal, on social media, denounced the magazine’s “racist” cartoon, namely for “gloating over” the tragedy of thousands.

Challenging the outrageous cartoon, Ouissal Harize shared a video of a rescued toddler who lost his family in the catastrophe, and wrote: “This is the tragedy you are mocking.” 

Another user, Shireen Mazari, wrote: “Hatred and Islamophobia at its peak when a natural disaster draws this kind of reaction from Charlie Hebdo! Sickening to the core.”

Commentators recounted the Jan. 7, 2015, attack on Charlie Hebdo’s headquarters in Paris, reminding the magazine of its demand for global support under the slogan “Je suis Charlie.”

“Mocking a natural disaster with the death of thousands and the complete destruction of infrastructure in an already fragile state with ‘didn't even need to send tanks’ is everything I need to know about ‘Je suis Charlie.’ Inhumane,” wrote Twitter user Yasmeen.

Political analyst Oznur Sirene reminded the magazine of how many Turks showed solidarity following the 2015 attack, only to be rewarded with mockery.

“Today you dare mock the suffering of an entire people,” she wrote. “One must really have some nerve to do this while there are still babies waiting to be rescued.”

Others condemned the magazine for “having a history of mocking victims of catastrophe,” with several resharing the cartoon that made fun of Italy’s earthquake in 2016.

Charlie Hebdo received a backlash for a cartoon it shared in September 2016 mocking the victims of the 6.2 magnitude earthquake that hit Italy at the time. Shortly after, the magazine shared another cartoon demonizing critics.

In January 2016 the magazine published a cartoon making fun of Alan Kurdi, the Syrian child whose body was found on a Greek beach in 2015. 

People in Turkiye and Syria woke up on Monday to a deadly magnitude 7.8 earthquake, which killed more than 11,000 people, according to CNN, and destroyed thousands of buildings.

Syria’s devastated infrastructure and freezing weather conditions are obstructing rescue operations, which have been ongoing since the disaster struck.


Twitter restricted in quake-hit Turkiye

Twitter restricted in quake-hit Turkiye
Updated 08 February 2023

Twitter restricted in quake-hit Turkiye

Twitter restricted in quake-hit Turkiye
  • Platform has been widely used to seek help and establish personal contact
  • Turkish authorities have limited access to social media during previous national emergencies

LONDON: Twitter is facing restrictions in Turkiye as the country struggles to deal with the aftermath of the devastating earthquake, sources reported.

Independent global internet monitor NetBlocks confirmed that the social media platform has been restricted on multiple network providers, including TTNet and Turkcell, on Wednesday.

“Real-time network data show Twitter has been restricted in Turkiye,” Netblocks said in a tweet.

“The filtering is applied on major internet providers and comes as the public come to rely on the service in the aftermath of a series of deadly earthquakes.”

Twitter is widely adopted in the country and its restriction disrupts critical communication for rescue efforts.

NetBlocks Director Alp Toker said that this is the first time the company detected social media restrictions during a natural disaster.

“Twitter has been in use extensively in the aftermath of the earthquakes, both to seek assistance and rescue equipment and by those trying to get back in touch with loved ones,” Toker said.

Turkish authorities have not given any formal explanations, but NetBlocks said that Turkiye often acts to prevent alleged disinformation during national emergencies.

In November, following a terrorist attack in central Istanbul that killed six people and injured more than 80, authorities imposed a 10-hour social media ban.

Some users also reported that TikTok might have been affected by the restrictions.

In a statement, the video-sharing app said it was aware of the technical difficulties and is “investigating the matter and hope access is restored as soon as possible as platforms like TikTok remain a critical way to stay in touch during crises.”

NetBlocks and some Twitter users have reported that users in Turkiye can still access the platforms through VPNs.


Dubai Lynx launches Young Lynx Academy in partnership with Publicis Groupe

Dubai Lynx launches Young Lynx Academy in partnership with Publicis Groupe
Updated 08 February 2023

Dubai Lynx launches Young Lynx Academy in partnership with Publicis Groupe

Dubai Lynx launches Young Lynx Academy in partnership with Publicis Groupe
  • Hosted over 3 days, program will feature keynote talks, workshops, competition
  • Dubai Lynx festival director Thea Skelton: We are seeing an increasing number of agencies from KSA enter and win at Dubai Lynx

DUBAI: The Dubai Lynx International Festival of Creativity has launched the Young Lynx Academy in partnership with multinational advertising company Publicis Groupe.

Aimed at mentoring young professionals in the Middle East and North Africa region, the academy will run from March 12 to 14.

Thea Skelton, festival director of Dubai Lynx, told Arab News: “As we know, the region is using creativity as a driving force for growth.

“We are seeing an increasing number of agencies from KSA enter and win at Dubai Lynx and it’s very exciting for us to watch young talent from the Kingdom grow.”

The academy is designed to support young talent within the creative communications sector by offering them a free mentorship opportunity.

Hosted over three days, the program will include keynote talks, workshops, and a 24-hour hack competition involving participants working on a charity brief.

Skelton said: “Creativity is a key part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 plan, and the training and development of young people in this sector is very much a part of this.

“We’re excited to see how young creatives from Saudi Arabia will perform this year and pave the way for many more people from the region to excel,” she added.

The academy will be open to professionals aged 30 or younger who have worked for a minimum of one year in the creative, media, digital, or social sectors in the MENA region. Successful applicants will also receive tickets to attend the festival and Lynx party on March 14.

The deadline for entries is Feb. 27. More details are available on the Young Lynx Academy website at https://www.dubailynx.com/talent-and-training/young-lynx-academy