Consumer behavior insight has long been of interest to the media sphere, never more than in times of change and the resulting stress. Fortunately, researchers stand at the ready to satisfy that hunger with tasty morsels. The recently released Global Generational Lifestyles report from big research house Nielsen shows, for example, somethings change and somethings stay the same as people get older.
In the European subset of the global study, conducted online last spring, younger and older folks diverge quite dramatically on playing video games. One in five 15 to 20 year olds occupy spare time with video games compared with one in 50 folks over 65 years, hardly unexpected. In the global universe, 60 countries, leisure time preferences for the youngest are topped by listening to music, the oldest travel, gardening and reading books. (See Nielsen presser here)
Preference for social media as a news source also appears age dependent, decreasing, whereas traditional media - TV, radio, print newspaper - as a news source preference increases with age. Accessing search engine news sites and online newspapers is rather consistent across age groups in the European subset. Meal-time without technology - TV, smartphones and everything in between - is most rare among those between 50 and 65 years (41%), increasing among those 65 and older to 52%.
Wall Street Journal publisher Dow Jones, subsidiary of News Corporation, entered the French media market for the first time, investing €2 million for roughly a 10% stake in the diminutive daily newspaper L’Opinion. The “liberal, pro-business, pro-Europe” publication was founded two and a half years ago by former Les Echos and Le Figaro editor Nicolas Beytout. There were the expected warm words from both parties about synergies.
“This gives us a bit of status,” said M.Beytout, quoted by Le Monde (November 24). “We are no longer just a small Franco-French thing. We have the recognition of an international actor.” L’Opinion has a staff of about 40, mostly on the editorial side. Its website is “strictly” behind a paywall. (See more about media in France here)
“This investment will amplify our international ambitions and extend our digital reach in the heart of Europe, providing robust digital opportunities to the benefit of both Dow Jones and L’Opinion elite customers,” said Dow Jones CEO William Lewis, in a statement. “We are delighted to help support the important work they do in the great country of France and beyond.” There’s a five-year licensing agreement that includes content sharing and marketing support. L’Opinion content will be available on Dow Jones information portal Factiva.
“We are in the same sphere of ideas: a generally liberal corpus, even though they are slightly less pro-European,” said M.Beytout. (See more about News Corporation here)
Where the “liberal corpus” is not appreciated, Dow Jones and Financial Times publisher Pearson have agreed to exit shareholdings in Russian business publication Vedomosti, announced later last week. Finnish media house Sanoma sold its one-third stake several weeks ago to former Kommersant publisher Demyan Kudryautsev, who picks up the stakes ahead of Russian laws limiting foreign ownership coming to effect. Mr. Kudryautsev also acquired English-language Moscow Times. Editors at both publications have recently exited. (See more about media in Russia here)
In the transaction agreement, reported rbc.ru (November 23), Mr. Kudryavtsev and his company assumes accrued company debt. A licensing agreement allows content sharing and limited use of the Dow Jones, Wall Street Journal and Financial Times brand names, though no longer displayed as “publishers.” Should Mr. Kudryavtsev decide to off-load Vedomosti to another party Dow Jones and Pearson will have certain approval rights.
Mr. Kudryautsev’s tenure with Kommersant coincided with the newspaper’s ownership by the late Boris Berezovsky, who fell afoul of Russian authorities. Rupert Murdoch was also a business partner of Mr. Berezovsky, owning several Russian radio stations, divested long ago. Associated with Mr. Kudryautsev’s transaction with Sanoma for its Vedomosti holdings is Martin Pompadur, once head of News Corporation’s Eastern and Central European businesses. In the new company owning Vedomosti Mr. Pompadur is a board member.
In six months the Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) will be held in Stockholm, Sweden. R’n’B singer Xavier Naidoo will not be participating, circumstances prompting much tittering (and Twittering) in Germany. Regional public broadcaster NDR (Norddeutsche Rundfunk), charged with selecting the next German contestant, named Mr. Naidoo last week then did a backflip two days later.
Famous in Germany for huge hit tunes, including the 2006 football World Cup theme song, Mr.Naidoo’s initial selection seemed to give a boost to ESC 2016 prospects. The German contestant placed last - dead last, zero points - in the 2015 edition. The ESC, with millions of viewers, is something of a badge of courage for public broadcasters. Winning and succeeding to host the next event carries both marketable acclaim and huge expense. In the court of public opinion - always led by media critics - losing is unforgivable. German singer Lena won the 2010 ESC. (See more about the Eurovision Song Contest here)
But Mr.Naidoo came with certain baggage, from homophobic and anti-Semitic song lyrics to association with the far-right Reichsbürger movement. "It was clear that his nomination would polarise opinions,” said NDR entertainment director and public TV network ARD entertainment coordinator Thomas Schreiber, “but the ferocity of the reaction took us by surprise. We misjudged.” (See more about media in Germany here)
NDR chose Mr. Naidoo without the usual nationwide telecast and traditional tele-voting. “We are working now on how the German contestant for the ESC will be found,” said NDR spokesperson Martin Gartzk, quoted by meedia.de (November 23). NDR has picked the German ESC contestant since 1996. ARD has distanced itself from NDR, if not the hubbub, program director Volker Herres saying he would have preferred having the selection “routed” first through ARD channels.
From Last Weeks ftm Tickle File
The United Nations, back in 1996, designated November 21st World Television Day. Some would say it must have been a slow work week. But, here it is, celebrating the most popular and lucrative mass medium.
Through the miracle of physics and - not to forget - the genius of experimenters many long forgotten television brought the world to many living rooms. Three generations of television watchers have been entertained, informed and pitched goods and services. There is fear, among some, that television’s eminence is fading, a new generation moving on.
Major TV support groups, welcoming World Television Day, note that young people in Europe still watch a lot of traditional TV. The medium, they say, is adapting, entering a “second golden age.” Platforms may change but TV remains the thing to watch. (See joint EBU, ACT and egta statement on World Television Day here)
“This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire,” said fabled US journalist Edward R. Murrow in 1958. “But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it is merely wires and lights in a box. There is a great and perhaps decisive battle to be fought against ignorance, intolerance and indifference.”
Brand strength figures significantly among every consumer metric. After all, a brand that people just can’t live without is richly rewarded, usually. Media brands on the great consumer shelf-space play an indispensable role.
Discount retailer Hema was again voted the brand people in the Netherlands can’t live without, in the annual EURIB (European Institute for Brand Management) Top 100 Essential Brands survey released this week. Hema primarily sells house brands - and lots of take-out food - in over 500 shops in the Netherlands. It’s a huge advertiser. In the EURIB online survey 69% of respondents said Hema is an essential brand. It’s been number 1 every year since the survey was launched in 2008.
Also a big advertiser is online retailer bol.com, ranked number 2. Ikea, known worldwide, ranked number 3, followed by health and beauty retailer Kruidvat and online payment and money transfer service iDEAL.
Dutch media brands perceived value is undergoing real change. Main public TV news show NOS Journaal ranked 8th (59%), the best of any TV or radio program. In 2013 it was ranked 2nd. The three channels of public broadcaster NPO fell sharply against last year’s results, blamed in the EURIB report on a name change “at a time when watching TV through traditional channels was already crumbling.” RTL Nieuws news program ranked 54th, lower at 38% from 44% (37th) year on year. (See more about media in the Netherlands here)
Gaining brand traction more than most is cable TV operator Ziggo, ranked 75th and voted essential by 35% of respondents, up from 28%. Ziggo was acquired by Liberty Global a year ago. Earlier this month Ziggo launched free-to-air sports channel Ziggo Sport.
Publishers have long offered readers diverse opinions, typically from writers with a particular gift with words. Big publishers will compete for the services of big name commentators. It’s the same with certain radio and television channels. The world is a better place with debate well crafted.
German publisher Axel Springer terminated its relationship this week with Die Welt columnist Matthias Matussek “with immediate effect,” said its spokesperson, quoted by meedia.de (November 17). No other details were disclosed officially. Previously culture editor at Der Spiegel, Herr Matussek has often expressed views that diverge from polite conversation; homophobic, racist and generally distasteful. (See more about media in Germany here)
Over the weekend he posted on social media a comment that “terror in Paris will move the debate over open borders and a quarter of a million unregistered young Islamic men in the country in a fresh new direction.” In postscript, he added a smiley face. Social media comments by employees raises perplexing issues for publishers, broadcasters and, frankly, every employer. (See more on social media here)
The social media outburst dismayed Die Welt editor-in-chief Jan-Eric Peters, who responded, in kind, that the newspaper “stands for other values, for freedom and humanity.” An editorial conference was called, deputy editor Ulf Poschardt in charge. Herr Matussek, reported various German sources, participated in person or by telephone, referring to Herr Peters with the colorful German term durchgeknalltes Arschloch.
After being fired Herr Matussek, through an attorney, denied being in the meeting or calling Herr Peters a crazy asshole. Sources with Axel Springer say they are confident about their understanding of the events.