2019.07.19 Last Week in Digital Media

  • Netflix Q1 results came out and the company missed subscriber forecasts, losing 126,000 subscribers. Global subscriber growth also slowed. missing forecasts by 2.3MM. In a letter to Netflix shareholders (PDF link), the company cited “price increases” as the key driver rather than competition. Netflix also downplayed any move into advertising, stating “speculation that we are moving into selling advertising, be confident that this is false“. In the short term, instead of advertising, Netflix is experimenting with mobile-only plans (in India) as a way of reducing subscription costs.
  • the yet-to-be-launched mobile streaming service Qibi has inked a deal with NBC to create original news content for the Quibi platform. NBC has confirmed that the content will be different to that NBC distributes on Snapchat and unique to Quibi.
  • the scrutiny over Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency continued, with a US Senate Banking Committee hearing on the cryptocurrency during the week. The short summary is that lawmakers don’t trust Facebook, seeing it as a “national security issue” to Senator Brown stating “Like a toddler who has gotten his hands on a book of matches, Facebook has burned down the house over and over and called every arson a learning experience” and that “Facebook doesn’t deserve our trust“. For what it’s worth, this just a small sample of the general tone of the sessions and Democrats have proposed a bill called “Keep Big Tech out of Finance Act” which would ban platforms from performing banking functions.
  • the FTC is holding a public workshop in October to review possible changes to COPPA laws to broadly review how COPPA works in a world where children use apps and services not necessarily targeted at them. Also in scope are voice assistants that collect audio recordings and how parental consent applies to apps and services used in educational settings. Any client managing for COPPA compliance should mark October 7th in their calendar.
  • New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is continuing to seek to hold platforms accountable for terrorist content. Prime Minister Ardern will be making representations to the United Nations in September, to put pressure on social media companies to take down terrorist content before it reaches users.

In UK non-digital but digital adjacent news, Alan Turing who did much of the foundational work on computing, AI, and cryptography will be the face on the new UK £50 note. Alan Turning was appallingly treated by the UK Government during his life so it’s good to see him posthumously recognized.

Have an amazing week.