Weekly Discussions

This Week in Media: May 7, 2021

Variety Intelligence Platform president and chief media analyst Andrew Wallenstein, senior media analyst Gavin Bridge, media analyst and correspondent Heidi Chung, media analyst Kevin Tran and information editor Kaare Eriksen convened for another Friday discussion covering significant items and developments of the week in media and tech.

With one week down in the Epic Games v. Apple trial, Eriksen spoke to one hurdle the “Fortnite” developer encountered in its effort to prove that Apple’s App Store policies are unfairly monopolistic and limit third party developers’ ability to earn revenue.

“There would have been a way for Epic Games to essentially create an alternate payment scheme off the [Fortnite] app,” explained Eriksen, referring to a point Apple’s lawyers made with regard to Epic’s decision to create an in-app payment system that skirted the 30% cut Apple normally takes on in-app purchases.

“All [Epic] would have had to have done was add a redirect that could have…taken players to Safari or a different web browser on their phones,” continued Eriksen. “Epic never wanted to do this because what matters to them most is player convenience,” he added, explaining how the judge saw this as a potential example of Epic’s preference for payment models that support impulse buying, due to the ease in which players can make small purchases within that add up over time within the “Fortnite” app.

Tran and Chung both touched upon the recent decision made by the Facebook-affiliated Oversight Board to continue Donald Trump’s ban on the company’s platforms.

“It doesn’t particularly surprise me that they upheld Facebook’s decision to…indefinitely suspend Trump, but I think the interesting thing to everyone following the case was that they made a decision but also didn’t make a decision,” said Tran, referring to the Oversight’s Board determination that Facebook would have six more months to come up with a permanent decision on what to do with the former U.S. president’s social accounts.

“This is Mark Zuckerberg’s worst nightmare,” added Chung. “He set up this entire ‘Supreme Court’ of Facebook, if you will, so that he didn’t have to bear the responsibility of making these kinds of decisions, yet here we are,” she mused.

To hear more about these topics and others that led the business of entertainment over the week, watch the full conversation above.