The BizBeat – September 29, 2016

Each Thursday, MediaFile’s Business section publishes The BizBeat, an overview of the past week’s news in media organizations and industry. Have a tip, see something we missed, or want to put something on our radar? E-mail Shiplett@Mediafiledc.com.

Making Headlines

  • Monday night’s Trump-Clinton debate broke the record for the most-watched debate of all time, averaging 84 million viewers across 13 channels, according to Nielsen. Fox News led cable viewership with 11 million viewers, and NBC led broadcast networks with more than 18 million viewers. The debate also registered as the “most tweeted” debate ever,  with Twitter reporting that the number of tweets sent during the event surpassed the 10.3 million messages sent during the 2012 election’s first debate. Although historic, Recode notes that the high viewership numbers still do not come close to beating Superbowl audiences.

Monday night's presidential debate set a new record for Nielson ratings. Trump and Clinton drew 80-point-four million viewers across multiple commercial networks for their one-on-one showdown. That number doesn't even include the viewers for PBS, which estimates about 3 million, and C-Span, which hasn't released ratings yet. Combine those viewers with the people who watched online, and the ratings easily bea the previous record set by Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter in 1980.

  • Last week, Yahoo! Inc. revealed that over 500 million users’ account information, including passwords and contact information, had been stolen in what it is calling a “state-sponsored” hack. Although the exact source of the breach has not yet been confirmed, the number of users affected ranks the hack as one of the biggest in history. The crisis comes at a pivotal point for Yahoo, whose recent acquisition by Verizon Communications for $4.8 billion in July is still pending approval from a number of regulatory bodies. For the time being, Yahoo has encouraged all users to change their passwords and update their security settings. Read more with MediaFile’s report on the hack.

Getting Down to Business

  •  Jann Wenner, the founder of Rolling Stone, is selling 49 percent of the magazine to “an Asian billionaire’s son,” Bloomberg reports.  Wenner Media LLC, the holding company for Rolling Stone that is being sold, also owns US Weekly and Men’s Journal. Analysts note that this is the first time that selective Wenner has admitted an outside investor, potentially highlighting the magazine industry’s fight to stay relevant and profitable in the digital age. The new investor is BandLab Technologies, which is based in Singapore and was founded by Kuok Meng Ru, the son of a Singapore agribusiness tycoon.

On the Radar

  • Reuniting and it feels so good: After almost a decade after Sumner Redstone split Viacom and CBS, it appears as though the two may soon be exploring options to rejoin. The Wall Street Journal reports that National Amusements Inc., the Redstone family’s holding company led by Sumner’s daughter, will be urging the boards of both companies to consider a merger in a letter sent before markets open on September 29th. According to Reuters and sources close to both companies, a merger would have a variety of benefits, including market consolidation and saving $400 million in operating costs, but there may still be hesitations on both sides.
  • Reports surfaced this week that Twitter may be joining the Disney family, as sources say that the media powerhouse made famous by a mouse is working with an adviser on a potential bid for the platform. A number of companies, including Salesforce, Google, and even Microsoft have been previously rumored to be potentially eying a purchase of Twitter, with Salesforce also working with Bank of America to evaluate a potential bid. After news of a potential acquisition, Twitter stocks soared 21 percent last Friday following reports of talks with pursuing companies, and are projected to climb as deliberations continue.

Arrivals

  • YouTube has hired music industry heavyweight Lyor Cohen, former Warner Music Group executive, to head its music operations as it looks to strengthen relationships with the music industry. In the past, YouTube has had a rocky relationship with many musical artists, who have complained that the streaming service does not pay them enough for their music. In a letter to YouTube staffers, Cohen emphasized his desire  to “embrace the technological shifts” in the music industry to take “confusion and distrust” out of YouTube’s relationship with artists. Cohen previously served as the chief executive and co-founder of the 300 Entertainment record label.

Departures

  • After 22 years as the anchor of “CBS Sunday Morning,” Charles Osgood has officially signed off for the last time. This past Sunday’s show was his last with the newsmagazine program, and was a dedicated tribute to Osgood’s long career in broadcast journalism. Osgood, 84, will make occasional appearances on the show and continue to host his Osgood Files segments on CBS Radio. Jane Pauley, a current contributor on the show, will begin as the new host beginning on October 9th.CBS2s Vanessa Murdock has more.
  • The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review announced on Wednesday that it will be shutting down its print operations as of November 30th to become a digital-only publication. As a result, the company will lay off 106 full and part-time staff, and has already offered more than 400 buyouts as it annouced the closings and sales of smaller local branches. President and CEO Jeniffer Bertetto said that the outlet will “continue to maintain a Pittsburg-based newsroom,” but simply use “a different platform to deliver the news.” With the closing of the Tribune-Review, the Pittsburg Post-Gazette will remain as the only daily print newspaper in the city.

Taking Stock

Prices as of closing on Wednesday, September 28. Changes reflect difference from last week’s report. 

  • Time Warner Inc. (TWX): $78.56 $76.66 (up $1.90)
  • Twenty First Century Fox Inc. (FOX): $24.31 (up $0.31)
  • CBS Corp. (CBS): $54.15 (up $4.07)
  • News Corp. (NWS): $14.27 (down $0.01)
  • The New York Times Company (NYT):  $12.05 (down $0.24)
  • Viacom (VIA): $40.92 (up $0.41)
  • Gannett Co. (GCI): $11.88 (up $0.38)
  • Tribune Media Company (TRCO): $37.02 $34.70 (up $2.32)

In Other News

  • A squished berry: BlackBerry announced Wednesday that it will no longer produce its smartphones, long after its market share collapsed to single digits in North America and Europe after the iPhone’s popularity surge. While there may not be many left using BlackBerry phones, they remain a fond memory of the “crackberry” cultural phenomenon. Sorry, Obama.
  • Former Texas Governor and once-Presidential candidate Rick Perry was eliminated from Dancing With the Stars on Tuesday Night. But for entertainment’s sake, here’s a video of him dancing anyways

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