Rearview Reflections: Look Back on the Week’s Most Important Media/Tech News

Rearview Reflections: Look Back on the
Cheyne Gateley/VIP

With media/tech news flooding your inboxes daily, the VIP+ team has begun hosting action-packed discussions on Clubhouse every Friday at 11:30 a.m. PT, where we sift through the biggest industry stories of the week in search of golden insights. 

Ahead of today’s go-round, our analysts have summed up the development most worthy of your attention. Agree — or disagree — with our picks? Want to make some of your own? Join us next Friday, and let us have it. Now, here are the experts’ picks for what media/tech news really rattled our cages this week… 

Heidi Chung, Media Analyst/Correspondent 

It seems like nothing can keep Teflon tech down for long. There were more record highs this week for mega-cap tech stocks Alphabet, Facebook and Microsoft. The tech-heavy Nasdaq rose 2.5% over the past week. This was a sharp turnaround after the sector got beat down due to rising yields earlier this year. 

In February, bond yields began spiking, and that put a lot of pressure on growth stocks including tech, as investors began to flock toward less risky trades. This caused a rotation out of growth into value, like the financials and energy. But this month, tech came roaring back, and this week’s strong performance proves big tech is resilient, even in the face of rising bond yields and a slowdown in work-from-home trades.  

However, in addition to rising yields and the wind-down of work-from-home trades, heightened regulatory scrutiny remains a massive headwind for the tech sector this year. The biggest question for investors now is whether the sector will be able to continue its rebound and withstand the challenges ahead — or was the underperformance from February and March a signal of more rough times ahead?  

Gavin Bridge, Senior Media Analyst 

The news that the United States is considering boycotting the Beijing Winter Olympics next year will have sent a shiver down the spine of Comcast execs and left them wondering if their relationship with the global competition is cursed. The Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics were supposed to be the centerpiece around the launch of Peacock and help drive subscriptions to the premium platforms.  

No wonder Comcast never release a subscriber count or number of monthly average users for the streaming service, instead trumpeting a worthless figure of the total number of people who have ever signed up for an account. That figure, by the way, includes all Comcast and Cox subscribers who have activated their complimentary access to Peacock Premium and doesn’t represent the number of people who have purposefully gone out of their way to download the service. 

Back to the Olympics, if the U.S. team is not at the 2022 Winter Games, public interest here will be very low. The one plus to the Summer Olympics being postponed a year was it would mean a bumper seven-month period with two Olympics and a Super Bowl across Comcast’s TV networks and streaming services. Ideally, it would also have led to continued interest among the public in watching Peacock, which would be used to introduce key content in the hopes of either getting new subscribers or free users to monetize ads against. These plans will be in tatters once more if the boycott goes ahead. 

Kevin Tran, Media Analyst 

Apple’s original podcast ambitions have never been clearer: The company earlier this week debuted an original podcast series focused on the story of former Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher and announced it will launch a companion podcast to Jon Stewart’s forthcoming Apple TV+ show that’s set to launch in the fall. The former podcast precedes the launch of a four-part Apple TV+ series focused on the same topic launching in the fall.  

These announcements might make you think Apple is readying an aggressive Spotify-esque podcast originals push, but that’s not really Apple’s M.O. here. For one, the Gallagher series (called “The Line”) is accessible on podcast platforms other than Apple’s (via RSS feed), and it would be surprising if the same doesn’t turn out to be true for the Stewart companion pod. Remember that Apple’s “For All Mankind” companion pod that debuted in February wasn’t an Apple Podcasts exclusive.   

Apple’s podcast productions are mainly aimed at driving up usage of Apple TV+, which has already extended yearlong free trials for some users by as much as eight months (i.e., the SVOD is hungry for engagement). It’s a smart strategy, seeing as how dominant Apple’s podcast platform is. Apple could easily advertise these companion podcasts prominently within Apple Podcasts and have buttons on each show page that direct listeners to each podcast’s corresponding Apple TV+ show, for example. 

Kaare Eriksen, Information Editor 

Amazon-owned livestreaming service Twitch announced Wednesday the adoption of a policy that holds users accountable for offline behavior. Streamers can now face suspension for anything ranging from violent offenses, threats and terrorist acts or recruitment to all forms of sexual misconduct and hate speech occurring offline. This follows the disabling of President Trump’s account after the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.  

Twitch ramped up efforts in 2020 to form exclusive deals with big names like Ninja, who signed a multiyear commitment with the service in September following a similar eight-figure contract with Microsoft’s Mixer service, which shut down in July. 

Given the money being doled out for such streaming talent, Twitch is right to establish strict measures that contend with the reality of toxic behavior frequently seen in the gaming space. In February, streamer KillaMfcam was banned after an abusive tirade against his child appeared to be caught on camera. 

With YouTube’s demonetization of influencer David Dobrik hanging over the content creation space following allegations of sexual assault against a former member of his entourage, now is as prescient a time as ever for user-driven content hubs to take steps that better enforce zero-tolerance measures for personal and professional misconduct to alter the sense of safety on their platforms. 

Andrew Wallenstein, Chief Media Analyst 

Lionsgate has gotten butchered by Netflix in recent weeks. After the studio lost the rights to the sequels to its popular “Knives Out” franchise, its Starz subsidiary is severing ties to Sony Pictures, which is shifting its U.S. Pay 1 movie deal over to the leading streaming service beginning in 2022.  

That means Netflix is getting top titles like “Spider-man” and “Jumanji” in a window approximately nine months after they’ve run in theaters and home video. The pact also gives Netflix rights to other movies that won’t play in theaters from Sony, which has no streaming service of its own where it could steer these titles.  

This agreement means there’s just one major output deal to look out for: a Universal Pictures pact with HBO that expires next year. That sets up an interesting strategic dilemma for Universal parent Comcast, which could really help Peacock by steering its movie studio’s titles to its in-house streaming service but could also conceivably make even more money licensing them to a rival. 

This is just the tip of the iceberg for current media/tech news, and more will be coming at us next week. We here at VIP look forward to seeing you at our next 30-minute Clubhouse conversation