What in the World—Week of October 18

Lebron lands new investors for his content company
Lebron James’ content and marketing business SpringHill has just completed a new round of financing that values the company at $725 million, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The investors are Nike, Epic Games, Fenway Sports Group and RedBird Capital. James and his longtime friend and business partner Maverick Carter will retain majority ownership of the company. SpringHill includes a media and apparel division, and a marketing consultancy working with brands like General Motors, Sprite and JP Morgan Chase. Its entertainment division produces TV shows and films, including this summer’s big-budget Space Jam: A New Legacy. “We started this company with the tagline ‘More than an athlete,’ which still defines everything we do to this very day,” said Carter in a statement. “We are an incredible team of athletes, artists, writers, designers, musicians and countless other creators.”

Instagram frets about losing teen users
Instagram’s loss of teenage users to other social platforms poses an “existential threat” to the photo-sharing app, according to a 2018 marketing presentation and subsequent internal documents, as reported by The New York Times this weekend. “If we lose the teen foothold in the U.S. we lose the pipeline,” the Times quoted an internal strategy memo laying out a marketing plan for 2021 as saying. Instagram has been dedicating almost all of its US$390 million global marketing budget to targeting teenagers, with a particular emphasis on a group it called “early high school,” classified as 13- to 15-year-olds. According to the Times, Facebook was hoping that Instagram would attract more young people capable of replenishing the aging base for its flagship app. While Instagram remains popular with teens, rival apps such as TikTok and Snapchat are “nipping at its heels,” says the Times.

Netflix, Walmart partner on digital store
Netflix is partnering with Walmart to create a new digital storefront on the retailer’s website that will sell merchandise relating to shows such as Stranger Things and its latest “it” series, Squid Game. The partnership is part of a broader effort by Netflix to develop new revenue streams beyond its core subscription business, and market content away from its own platform, says The Wall Street Journal. The Netflix hub at Walmart.com is the first time the streaming video series has partnered with a national retailer, although it does have its own online store at Netflix.shop. Revenue will not be the sole measuring stick for success, Netflix’s vice-president of consumer products Josh Simon told the Journal. “The real value is in reinforcing fan love for the shows and films they see on Netflix.”

The Beatles come together on TikTok
Picture yourself on a boat on a river… creating a Beatles themed TikTok video. That will now be possible after the world’s most famous band has made its music available on TikTok. According to Variety, TikTok creators will now be able to create videos sound-tracked by 36 of The Beatles’ most famous songs, including “Hey Jude,” “Love Me Do,” “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” and “Day Tripper.” The Fab Four’s appearance on TikTok coincides with the release of the deluxe edition of their album Let It Be, and just ahead of director Peter Jackson’s upcoming documentary film Get Back, offering a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the Let It Be album, debuting on Disney+ next month.

Privacy is good for Apple’s ad sales
Apple’s decision to tighten privacy controls for its customers has led to a huge spike in mobile app advertising revenue in six months. According to a report in the Financial Times (paywall), interest in Apple’s Search Ads—the sponsored slots in the App Store—have surged after Apple started asking its users if they agreed to be tracked by rivals like Facebook, Google and Snap. “Branch, which measures the effectiveness of mobile marketing, said Apple’s in-house business is now responsible for 58% of all iPhone app downloads that result from clicking on an advert. A year ago, its share was 17%,” reported FT.  “It’s like Apple Search Ads has gone from playing in the minor leagues to winning the World Series in the span of half a year,” Branch’s Alex Bauer told FT.

David Brown