×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Strictly Business Podcast: Group Nine’s Ben Lerer on How Digital Publishers Deal with Facebook

It’s not easy for any digital publisher to make money in the age of the very powerful platforms that dictate the terms of the content business. Despite the challenges, Group Nine CEO Ben Lerer is sanguine about the future of the digital media ecosystem.

In the latest episode of Variety‘s “Strictly Business” podcast, Lerer acknowledges the current state of play with Facebook in particular is not ideal but there’s progress worth noting.

“Do we feel like we’re being fairly compensated for the value we’re creating on Facebook today? No,” he tells Variety co-editor-in-chief Andrew Wallenstein. “Do we feel we’re being better compensated than we were a year ago? Yes.”

Lerer called on Facebook to move faster toward sharing revenue from its News Feed, as opposed to just from other ancillary components of the platform like the Watch video hub. But while he thinks Facebook could do more to grease the wheels of monetization, he’s also critical of unrealistic expectations some in the industry have about the platform paying content companies.

“I don’t think there we’re going to get to the place where Rupert Murdoch and a lot of people would like us to get to, which is where we are just going to get an affiliate fee,” he observed. “But I do believe there will be some version of an affiliate fee that will be paid out in a meritocracy where the brands that create the best content and best engagement will be able to share in the wealth Facebook creates.”

Lerer believes he’s well positioned to participate in that wealth given how aggressive he’s been with programming for Facebook with Group Nine, a holding company launched last year with backing from Discovery Inc. that includes Thrillist, Seeker, the Dodo and NowThis.

He’s betting the economics of digital media will evolve to the point where brands will eventually build businesses that rival those of TV channels.

“The smart big media companies can see a world where that happens, and if they’re not set up for it and they’re not making investments, partnerships and acquisitions with the best digital publishers, it’s going to be really, really unpleasant for them because then they will have let the massive advantage they have slip away,” Lerer noted. “[Discovery CEO David] Zaslav is not waiting for the other shoe to drop. He’s seeing where the future is going. We’re really lucky to be in business with him.”

“Strictly Business” is Variety‘s weekly podcast featuring conversations with industry leaders about the business of entertainment. Listen to the podcast below for the full interview, or check out previous “Strictly Business” episodes featuring comedian/actor/producer Kevin Hart, ICM Partners agent Esther Newberg, and HBO chairman/CEO Richard Plepler. A new episode debuts each Tuesday and can be downloaded on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, and SoundCloud.

More Digital

  • 2019 Variety Predictions

    2019 Predictions: What's in Store for Film, TV and Music Next Year?

    It would be hard to top the drama of 2018. From media mega-mergers to the rise of Time’s Up, it was a year that had more than its fair share of twists and turns. Leslie Moonves resigned in disgrace, AT&T snapped up Time Warner, Disney inched closer to subsuming Fox and “Black Panther” shattered box [...]

  • apple brooklyn october 2018 event

    Apple Looking to Launch Magazine Subscriptions in Early 2019 (Report)

    Apple is preparing to relaunch Texture, a news subscription app it acquired in March, as a premium tier of Apple News early next year, according to a Bloomberg report. To prepare for the launch, Apple has been trying to get prominent newspapers including the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal to come on [...]

  • Tencent Music Raises $1.1 Billion for

    Tencent Music Raises $1.1 Billion for IPO, Much Less Than Expected

    China-based music streaming company Tencent Music Entertainment Group said it raised nearly $1.1 billion in its U.S. initial public offering, according to Reuters. Earlier this year, the company was expected to be valued at as much as $30 billion and raise $4 billion for its IPO, but those estimates were slashed in September. he IPO [...]

  • Netflix Orders ‘I Am Not Okay

    Netflix Orders ‘I Am Not Okay With This’ From Producers of ‘Stranger Things’

    The producers of “Stranger Things” and creator and director of “The End of the F***ing World” series are making “I Am Not Okay With This” for Netflix, a coming-of-age tale about a girl with mysterious powers. 21 Laps will make the series, which was co-created by Jonathan Entwistle, who was behind Channel 4 and Netflix show [...]

  • Netflix Logo

    Netflix’s India Content Head Swati Shetty Makes Exit

    Swati Shetty, who has headed Indian content operations at Netflix is to step down from the global streaming giant. She joined the streamer in August 2016 as director of international originals and acquisitions. The company said it is placing more emphasis on India and that the role should ideally be fulfilled form Mumbai, rather than [...]

  • Oculus Rift

    ZeniMax Agrees to Settle Facebook VR Lawsuit

    Game company ZeniMax Media said it is has agreed to settle litigation against Facebook, Oculus and individual executives alleging misappropriation of its virtual-reality technology. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed. ZeniMax sued Facebook in 2014 after Id Software co-founder John Carmack joined Oculus as chief technology officer. In the suit, which sought as much as $4 billion in damages, alleged [...]

  • Lisa Utzschneider - IAS

    IAS Taps Ex-Yahoo Sales Boss Lisa Utzschneider as CEO of Ad-Verification Firm

    Integral Ad Science (IAS), a digital ad verification company, hired Lisa Utzschneider as CEO and board member. Most recently, she was Yahoo’s chief revenue officer, exiting Yahoo with Verizon’s acquisition of the company last year. Utzschneider starts at IAS effective Jan. 7, 2019, replacing president and CEO Scott Knoll, who after eight years in the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content