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Netflix’s Next Big Plan to Win Streaming Wars: Merch, Ad spending surge makes Big Tech bigger, and other top news.

Few key things happened around the Ad Tech & Media Tech world this week.

 

Netflix’s Next Big Plan to Win Streaming Wars: Merch

Hulu has live sports and HBO Max has Mare, but now Netflix has something just as powerful: merch. The streaming service launched Netflix.shop yesterday to sell Lupin throw pillows, a Yasuke clothing line, and products from other Netflix content that may pop off in the future. Netflix has done collabs with retailers including Walmart, Sephora, and Target to sell clothes and other branded items from its most bingeable shows, but this is the company’s first step into selling those products itself. Josh Simon, the head of Netflix’s consumer products division, told the NYT that with its own online storefront the company will be able to ship you your BoJack Horseman Prozac (pending) faster—we’re talking within days of a character trending on Twitter. To launch the store, Netflix partnered with Shopify, the titan of product drops and unwieldy checkout traffic. When the home of Bridgerton released its earnings report in April, things were about as hot as Season 2 with no Duke…More

 

Ad spending surge makes Big Tech bigger

Get ready for even more ads in your social media feeds. GroupM, the media investment arm of WPP, revised its 2021 forecast for how much companies will spend on advertising in the United States and is now expecting growth of 22% year-over-year versus the prior 15% increase. Excluding political campaigns, the total $276 billion ad haul is $37 billion more than what was spent in 2019. A rise in newly-public companies, from Airbnb (ABNB.O) and to the hundreds of companies merging with SPACs, is fueling some of the uptick. They have mindshare to grab and profit estimates to hit. The beneficiaries are Alphabet’s (GOOGL.O) Google, Facebook (FB.O) and Amazon.com (AMZN.O), which had knockout first-quarter results. The trend isn’t expected to abate: Digital ad growth is eating up so much share that in five years, GroupM reckons it will represent 69% of the total U.S. ad market. Antitrust watchdogs with Silicon Valley in their sights will have even fatter targets to aim for…More

 

Microsoft announces Xbox TV app and its own xCloud streaming stick

Microsoft is working with TV manufacturers to make an Xbox app available on devices soon. The software giant is planning to bring its Xbox Game Pass service to TVs through its xCloud streaming technology, opening up more ways to get access to Xbox games. This will be available as both an app on TVs, and with Microsoft’s own dedicated streaming stick. “We’re working with global TV manufacturers to embed the Game Pass experience directly into internet-connected TVs so all you’ll need to play is a controller,” says Liz Hamren, head of gaming experiences and platforms at Microsoft. Microsoft isn’t announcing exactly when this Xbox app will be available on TVs, nor which manufacturers will bundle it on their devices. Xbox chief Phil Spencer previously hinted at an Xbox app for TVs late last year, noting he expects to “see that in the next 12 months.” Spencer also hinted at Microsoft’s own Xbox streaming stick last year, something Microsoft now says will appear soon. “We’re also developing standalone streaming devices that you can plug into a TV or monitor, so if you have a strong internet connection, you can stream your Xbox experience,” reveals Hamren…More

 

Streaming Update: Sinclair Reportedly Looking at $23 Per Month for Direct-to-Consumer in 2022

Finally, a substantive update on Sinclair’s efforts to create an a la carte, direct-to-consumer, streaming-only option for its Bally Sports regional sports networks (formerly the FOX RSNs, and some others). I’ll start with the update, and then I’ll work backwards to fill in the background if you forget a lot of why this matters. Per a report from the New York Post, Sinclair is aiming to launch a new streaming service in 2022 that would bundle up all of its Bally content – all of its RSNs, all the sports – for $23 per month (in-market, though apparently Sinclair is also going to try to secure out-of-market rights, too). That might sound expensive at first blush, but given that regional sports previously have been available only as part of $100+ cable/satellite packages, it is not more than I would’ve expected. Cable partners pay huge carriage fees to the teams’ RSNs in order to include their network channel on their cable package, and thus can charge subscribers huge monthly fees. So if they were going to allow Sinclair to offer a streaming-only option – thus encouraging even more cord-cutting – it was going to have to be for a really significant monthly price…More

 

ZEE5, The World’s Largest South Asian Streaming Platform, Is Coming To The US on June 22

ZEE5, the world’s largest streaming platform for South Asian content, has announced it will launch in the United States on June 22. The US marks the final and largest launch for ZEE5, setting the stage for its rapid growth in a market with a large South Asian population that maintains its deep cultural and language connection to content from their home countries during a time where many Indians and South Asian individuals cannot visit home. ZEE5 will officially announce its launch in the US at a virtual event where its platform and content will be unveiled. The company will share key details about its plans for the market and its local partnerships, launch the brand campaign, and more. With 130,000 hours of content across 18 languages, ZEE5 open up access to the largest catalog of South Asian i.e., Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi content…More

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