Deal News: April 29, 2020

(This was originally shared in today’s Monetizing Media newsletter. Sign up here.)

Digestible Media


  • WarnerMedia‘s Turner Broadcasting Europe division acquired The Widget Company (aka TWC), an Amsterdam-based, 30-person firm that designs OTT applications for media companies. (Read more)
  • Sony is negotiating to make a large investment in Eleven, the UK production company behind Netflix hit show “Sex Education”. Its investment will reported involve buying out Channel 4’s 20% stake. (Read more)
  • Dish Network is saying it isn’t obligated to pay ESPN $80-100m in April carriage fees because there are no live sports and their contract includes a force majeure clause. ESPN unsurprisingly disgrees. (Read more)
  • YouTube ad revenue in Q1 was $4 billion, up 25% yoy but down 14% from Q4. (Source)
    • Last year was the first time Alphabet broke out YouTube earnings, so it unclear what past Q4 to Q1 revenue change has been for YouTube. Media co’s often seen Q1 declines from Q4 due to holiday ad spending.
  • YouTube added fact check panels to search results in the US. (Read more)
  • News Corp‘s Fox News hit a new record in TV ratings this month, averaging 3.68m primetime viewers. It has had 2.2m viewers on average overall (its 2nd best month ever). (Read more)
    • NBCUniversal’s MSNBC: 2.03m primetime, 1.25m overall
    • WarnerMedia’s CNN: 1.94m primetime, 1.36m overall
    • In the 25-54 age group, CNN was up 179%, Fox up 83%, and MSNBC up 54%. (Source)
  • NCAA announced its support for allowing college athletes in the US to get paid for endorsements and other use of their name/likeness so long as their school isn’t involved. (Read more)


  • Niche, a publisher whose platform shares content for comparing different US colleges, raised $35m in Series C funding from Radian Capital, Salesforce Ventures, Allen & Co., and Tim Armstrong. (Read more)


  • Spotify Q1 earnings report:
    • Audience (+ change from Q4)
      • 286m MAUs (+5%)
      • 130m paying subs (+5%)
      • 163m free tier MAUs (+7%)
    • Revenue (yoy / qoq)
      • Total: €1,848m (+22% / 0%)
      • Subscription: €1,700m (+24% / +4%)
      • Subscription ARPU: €4.42, -6% from Q4 due to longer trials, emerging market expansion, and popularity of family/duo bundles.
      • Ads: €148m (+17% / -32%)
    • Maintained 25.5% margin from Q4 with gross profit of €474m. Premium gross margin increased to 28.3%.
    • Covid-19 impact: while hours of listening declined, subs and DAU:MAU ratio were steady. Without commutes people aren’t listening as much within each day. Listening on at-home devices (TVs, smart speakers) and game consoles soared.
  • Tencent Music Entertainment invested in Radio Music Warehouse, a Chinese streaming platform providing music on commercial licenses to businesses (kind of like Spotify spin-out Soundtrack Your Brand). (Read more)


  • Spotify Q1 earnings:
    • 19% of MAUs listen to podcasts, from 16% in Q4.
    • Of 1 million podcasts on Spotify, 60% are created via Anchor. In Q1, 70% of new podcasts used Anchor.
  • US podcast downloads went back up for the first time since much of the country went into lockdown in early-mid March, according to Podtrac data. (Read more)

Interactive Media

Interactive Stories

  • Neon Media spun out of HBO as its own Seattle-based, 7-person firm focused on developing interactive stories and story-driven games. (Read more)


  • Funtap, a Vietnam-based mobile games studio, raised a Series A from Makers Fund, DT&Investment, Colopl Next, and Soulbei. (Read more)
  • Epic Games is temporarily requiring user to verify their account with two-factor authentication in order to redeem free games from the Epic Store. It’s a move to encourage better account security by gamers. (Read more)
  • Riot‘s new game Valorant is having a lot of issues with player harassment, something executives — who say they’ve also been harassed in their game — are pledging to address. (Read more)


  • Marco Polo, a video chat app focused on asynchronous conversations (sending videos back and forth), added a subscription tier and claims 20m messages were sent on its app in one day. (Read more)


  • Arctos Sports Partners, a new PE firm led by David O’Connor and Ian Charles that is focused on buying stakes in pro sports teams, is raising $1-1.5b for its first fund. (Read more)
    • Per Axios, $500m is already committed, with LPs including Goldman Sachs’ fund of funds Petershill.