The Warner Bros. straight-to-streaming implications, and Dylan sells out

Warner Bros. decision will have knock-on effects, says GroupM
Warner Bros.’ surprise announcement that 17 feature films would be simultaneously released in theatres and on streaming service HBO Max shocked was widely interpreted as terrible news for the theatre business. But GroupM’s Brian Wieser looked at knock-on effects for marketing and media. Among his conclusions: more cord-cutting, and a potential arms race among streaming services. “This accelerated investment in content in SVOD environments will lead to consumers reducing their time with linear TV… Cord-cutting will likely accelerate and channel-surfing of ad-supported linear TV content will be negatively impacted as well,” he wrote.

Korea changes military service laws for boy bands 
Such is the popularity of K-pop band BTS, the Korean government just changed its laws so that its members won’t have to join the military any time soon. The country requires all able-bodied males to serve at least 20 months in the military once they turn 28 or sooner. The band’s oldest member, Kim Seok-jin, turned 28 on Friday and would have had to leave the band to complete his service, but the government introduced a new age cut-off of 30 for “K-pop entertainers who have received government medals for helping spread or elevate the country’s ​cultural influence around the world,” reports The New York Times. Korea has long granted exemptions for celebrities including classical and folk musicians who enhance the country’s reputation.

African lottery’s winning numbers feel… off
South Africa’s National Lotteries Commission is facing accusations of fraud after 20 people shared last week’s jackpot on the unlikely winning numbers of 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10. While it is common for two players to share a jackpot, 20 winners is highly unusual, said The Guardian. “These numbers may be unexpected but we see many players opt to play these sequences,” the lottery tweeted. However, the NLC also confirmed it was going to investigate. If it stands, the 20 winners would each win about C$475,000.

Ad spend decrease not as dire as expected 
Zenith’s latest ad spend forecast for 2020 was released Sunday and it looks more positive than it did a few months ago, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Total ad spend globally will fall by about 7.5% this year to $587 billion, better than the 9.1% drop predicted in July. Similarly, Magna now expects a 4.2% fall this year to $569 billion, compared to a 7.2% fall predicted in June. Looking ahead, Magna sees a global ad spend rebound of 7.6% to $612 billion globally, while Zenith is projecting a 5.6% rise to $620 billion. “These forecasts assume that the global economy will start a sustained recovery as COVID-19 vaccines are introduced in 2021, and are subject to the wide uncertainty over how rapid this recovery will be,” said Zenith analysts.

Bob Dylan sells his song catalogue
Bob Dylan’s bank balance is a-changin’, in a big way. It was reported today that the music icon has sold his catalogue of more than 600 songs, including anthems like “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “Like a Rolling Stone,” to Universal Music Publishing Group. The price wasn’t disclosed, but some estimates peg its value at $300 million. According to Variety, the deal is notable in that it was made by a traditional publisher rather than an investment fund or private equity firm. There’s already some consternation the deal will lead to a wave of iconic Dylan songs appearing in ads. But Dylan himself has previously shown that he’s not averse to commercialization, doing ads for Chrysler and for Victoria’s Secret.

The public health case for athlete vaccination
Professional athletes are considered to be among the least vulnerable when it comes to COVID, but some public health experts believe they should be among the first vaccinated. Why? “I could envisage celebrity sports figures playing a very constructive role with vaccine hesitancy,” Harvey Fineberg, a former dean of Harvard’s School of Public Health told The Wall Street Journal. “I could imagine a campaign that enlisted professional sports. ‘Let’s get everyone back in the game’ could be one tagline. And then ‘When it’s your turn, take a shot.’” Vaccine hesitancy is also disproportionately high among Black people, with a recent Pew poll showing just 32% saying they definitely or probably will get vaccinated. Many researchers say the reluctance is “lasting fallout of the deceptive, federally run Tuskegee syphilis study of Black men between 1932 and 1972,” reports the WSJ.


David Brown