David Jackson and Gary Marx, investigative reporters for the Chicago Tribune, are desperately seeking a solution to a possible acquisition by Alden Global Capital, a hedge fund that currently owns 32% of Tribune Publishing. In addition to the Chicago Tribune, the publisher owns The (New York) Daily News, The Baltimore (Maryland) Sun, The Hartford (Connecticut) Courant, The Orlando (Florida) Sentinel, The (South Florida) Sun-Sentinel, the Daily Press (Virginia), The Virginian-Pilot (Virginia) and The Morning Call (Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania). The New York Times published an op-ed piece by Jackson and Marx on January 19.
Dana Neuts is Subscription Insider's Senior Staff Writer, covering our daily subscription news as well as member features, case studies, and reports.
Dana is also a writer, editor, marketing professional, speaker and the publisher of iLoveKent.net. Her work has appeared in AARP Bulletin, The Seattle Times, Seattle Business, 425 Business, 425 Magazine, South Sound Magazine, Northwest Travel and more. She is the immediate past president of the Society of Professional Journalists. Her specialties include business writing, community news, senior issues, travel and, of course, subscriptions!
Acquisitions appear to be in the air this month. Last week, Colgate-Palmolive Company (NYSE: CL) announced it plans to acquire Hello Products LLC, a premium oral care brand that sells a variety of dental products for everyone from three-month-old infants and toddlers to teens and adults. Available in the United States, Hello sells toothpaste, mouthwash, toothbrushes, dental floss, teething gel and other products in retail stores, online and via subscription. Their products use natural ingredients and are not tested on animals.
Tracks, tiers and textbooks top the subscription news headlines this week. Cengage launches a $69.99-per-semester subscription tier for students who can’t afford or don’t need Cengage Unlimited; SoundCloud, now boasting more than 200 million tracks, hits revenue over $200 million; and The Daily Telegraph ditches circulation audits to focus on subscribers first. Also this week, Chase offers DoorDash’s DashPass as an incentive to credit card customers, Noom quadruples revenue (again), and Luminary drops its price to lure more content and subscribers.
Last week, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced that the State of Minnesota had reached a settlement with Comcast/Xfinity to the tune of $1.14 million. The settlement was reached over Comcast’s business practices which included adding services and equipment customers had not asked for, for overcharging customers and failing to follow through on promotional promises. Customers who had Comcast service between December 21, 2012 and the present who fit into any three of those categories may be eligible for a refund.
It is hard to believe that we are four weeks into the new year already. We hope your year is off to a great start! As we look ahead to 2020, others are looking at 2019 results and planning for the coming year. In this week’s edition of Five on Friday, The Guardian and Digiday report that publishers are losing digital ad revenue because of blacklisted content, Amazon Prime grows to 112 million U.S. members, the governor of Kansas proposes taxation of digital streaming services, Americans spent more than $25B in home entertainment last year, and 2Checkout shares eCommerce trends to watch for in 2020. As an added bonus, House of Kaizen shares a new subscription job opportunity. Have a great week!
Digital sports media startup The Athletic has raised $50 million in its Series D funding round, bringing the total raised to date to $139.5 million since its 2016 launch, reports Axios. The funding round was led by Bedrock Capital with participation from Emerson Collective, Powerhouse Capital, Matthew McConaughey, Plus Capital, Founders Fund, Evolution Media and Y Combinator. The Athletic told Axios it would use the money to expand overseas. The company is currently valued at approximately $500 million.
Despite dire predictions that Netflix would falter following the launch of Disney+, the company finished 2019 strong. Netflix grew fourth quarter revenue 31% year-over-year, and it brought in more than $20 billion in revenue for the full year. The company reported operating income of $2.6 billion, a 62% increase year-over-year. During Q4, Netflix also grew its international paid memberships to over 100 million. Other highlights for the fourth quarter and full year 2019 include the following:
Last week, nonprofit technology company Mozilla announced it would lay off 70 employees because the company failed to reach its goals with new subscription products, reports TechCrunch. Mitchell Baker, Mozilla chairwoman and interim CEO, shared the news with employees in an internal memo. The company had hoped to increase revenue through subscription and non-search-related products. Doing so has taken longer than anticipated, so the company is estimating 2020 revenue more conservatively. In addition, Baker said the company has “agreed to a principle of living within our means” and not spending more than they take in. The laid off employees will receive “generous exit packages and outplacement support.”
After months of speculation, NBCUniversal allows Peacock to strut its stuff, revealing new details about the streaming service. Peacock will be a free, premium, ad-supported streaming video on-demand service. It will feature subscription tiers and offer over 600 movies and 400 TV series. In addition, Peacock fans can access live and on-demand news, sports, late night and reality programming, including fan favorites like Law and Order, Kevin Hart, Jimmy Fallon and the Summer Olympics. Xfinity X1 and Flex customers will get early bird access to Peacock April 15. Peacock will be available nationally on July 15.
If you are tired of political volleyball, check out this week’s subscription headlines. In this week’s news, YouTube TV announces new channels and new features, Facebook won’t stop political adv targeting or false claims under the new rules, and Netflix tests cheaper, mobile-only subscriptions. Also this week, Dwell launches a digital subscription as it names a new CEO, Mastercard launches its first music single, and Apple News reportedly expanded 18%, boasting 100 million daily users.