News & Insights

The Deadline: AI Turntable: NYT Sends a Harsh AI Warning, Murdoch Contemplates the Future of AI at Fox

By Rebecca Epps

The Deadline - Media Intelligence Newsletter.

Key Highlights

  • Making Ends Meet – As the Hollywood writer’s strike enters over 100 days, those out of work are turning to what they call “survival jobs”.
  • Worldwide Leader in Sports (Betting)? – ESPN’s mega-deal with PENN Entertainment calls into question the authenticity of the sports TV coverage.
  • Broadcasts Unusually Bad Year – Streaming vs. bunny ears. More and more people are pulling the plug on cable. So, what does it mean for the future of broadcast?

Industry News

X CEO Talks Getting Rid of Twitter Name and More in CNBC Interview

It didn’t take long for Linda Yaccarino to be in the hot seat after becoming the CEO of X, formerly known as Twitter. In an interview with CNBC’s Sara Eisen, Yaccarino said that the company’s decision to get rid of its Twitter branding is a reflection of Elon Musk’s vision for the social media site. Yaccarino said Musk has been talking about X for a very long time, even before she was joining the company and that she was brought on to partner with Musk to transform Twitter into X, “the everything app.” Yaccarino also talked about the company’s plans to enable payments on the app. She added that she has “autonomy” under Musk and saying that advertisers should be comfortable returning to the platform. This comes as questions have swirled about Yaccarino’s ability to operate under Musk given his extensive control over the company and reports around his contentious leadership at Tesla and SpaceX.

News Corp Explores AI-Powered Future Amidst Profits Slump

News Corp has reported a notable profit decrease, leading Rupert Murdoch’s media empire to reportedly contemplate a potential shift towards AI-driven strategies. News Corp is evaluating its strategy and pivoting toward innovative solutions to revitalize its position in the ever-evolving media landscape by integrating AI into its operations, possibly to enhance content creation, distribution, and engagement. While specific details remain scarce, News Corp’s interest in AI reflects the growing trend of incorporating advanced technologies to stay competitive and relevant in the digital age.

Hollywood Writers Strike Enters 100 Days, Writers Embark on Side Hustles 

There could be some long-awaited progress in the Hollywood strike as negotiators for film and TV writers met with studio representatives last week. The Writer’s Guild of America members have been on strike for more than 100 days. The strike escalated in mid-July when film and TV actors joined the picket lines. According to the LA Times, the meetings were more productive than previous talks in reaching a deal for a new three-year contract between the WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. The strike has largely kept the entertainment industry at a standstill. Now, more than 100 days into the protest, many writers are seeking out “side hustles” or taking what they call “survival jobs” to make ends meet. As CNBC reports, writers say they have started working as servers, substitute teachers, retail associates, temp agency roles and more.

Chief Legal Officer of Fox Corp Announces Departure

Viet Dinh, Fox Corp.’s Chief Legal Advisor, is scheduled to depart Fox Corp. Dinh had been with the media conglomerate for five years. The move comes in the aftermath of Fox’s resolution with Dominion Voting Systems. While Fox Corp. confronts ongoing legal hurdles, Lachlan Murdoch has expressed appreciation for Dinh’s contributions and shared the news of Dinh’s transition into the role of Special Advisor at Fox Corp., emphasizing the continuation of his involvement.

NYT Sends a Message About AI: Don’t Use Our Content for Training Purposes

As the buzz around artificial intelligence heightens, some news publications are putting a clear message forward: “don’t use our content to train your AI systems.” In an update on its terms of service, the New York Times included an AI-specific addition that applies to its content, aiming to prevent AI companies from using the media organization’s content to train their systems. The move comes as many brands are making it clear they don’t want their products and content to increase the AI systems success (and profits) for Google, Microsoft and OpenAI. Google and the New York Times Co. currently have a commercial agreement in place, but the deal is centered on working together on “tools for content distribution and subscriptions.”

Fox News Bounces Back: Stock Price Recovers Amid Challenges

After a challenging start to 2023 marked by a $787.5 million settlement with Dominion Voting Systems and the departure of Tucker Carlson, Fox News bounces back on the stock market. In just over three months, the network’s stock price has rebounded. Following Carlson’s exit and the Dominion settlement in April, both ratings and stock prices dipped as critics questioned Fox decisions and suggested potential long-term consequences. However, recent figures show a strong stock resurgence as investor faith in the network’s trajectory is renewed.

Sports Broadcasting Mega-Deal Creates Challenges for College Athletics

The sports broadcasting world took a major turn when ESPN and PENN Entertainment announced a blockbuster $2 billion deal that would bring ESPN, the so-called “Worldwide Leader in Sports”, into the sports gambling market with a major push. As part of the deal, ESPN and PENN will launch a branded sportsbook called ESPN BET, where PENN currently operates mobile sportsbook. As Forbes reports, for college sports, the hope is that the deal will also further drive viewership, engagement and grow revenue for both ESPN and athletic conferences. Experts say it’s likely that sports gambling partnerships are playing a significant role in driving the new wave of conference realignment. With FOX owning 61% of the Big Ten Network and ESPN, CBS, NBC and other channels controlling the top broadcast inventory in college football – in exchange for more media dollars, universities have sought to new revenues coming from gambling.

Fox Business to Host Second Republican Presidential Debate

The Republican National Committee has announced that the second Republican presidential debate will take place in California on September 27. The event will be televised on Fox Business in collaboration with Univision and Rumble. As part of the debate participation requirements, the RNC has introduced a candidate pledge, obliging contenders to endorse the Republican nominee in the general election, abstain from unapproved debates, and forgo running as an independent or on another party’s ticket. Candidates such as entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, have already signed the pledge. Republican nomination front-runner and former President Donald Trump said he does not plan to sign the loyalty pledge and stated he will announce later this month whether he plans to attend the first primary debate.

Media Startup Puck Raises Over $10 Million in Series B Round

Puck Media, a dynamic startup covering the intersections of Hollywood, Silicon Valley, Wall Street, and Washington, has successfully secured over $10 million in its recent Series B growth round. The funding round, led by J Rothschild Capital Management, with participation from existing investors Standard Investments and TPG, marks a significant achievement in the current media landscape. Puck’s multifaceted approach includes newsletters, events, and podcasts, and it empowers journalists to build their individual brands, fostering strong connections with their audience. The company plans to use the funding to expand its team, enhance core subscription and advertising offerings, and further develop its licensing business.

Paramount+ Reaches 61 million Subscribers as Streaming Losses Trimmed

Paramount Global has announced a marginal increase in Paramount+ streaming subscribers, reaching 61 million by June-end, reflecting slight growth from previous quarters. Notably, the company has curbed streaming losses and achieved substantial growth in subscribers and digital advertising, driving a 21 percent rise in subscription revenue. Despite projecting a Q3 loss of around 1 million subscribers due to a Latin America bundle deal restructuring, Paramount foresees stronger subscriber growth in the latter half of the year. Paramount+ aims for a 20 percent growth in average revenue per user by 2024, driven by domestic price adjustments, new international tiers, and Showtime synergies.

Career Moves

  • Katie Drummond, a pioneering figure in tech journalism, is set to lead Wired as its global editorial director. Drummond previously served as the Senior Vice President of global news and entertainment at Vice Media.
  • Renowned political strategist Jamal Simmons has joined CNN as an on-air political commentator. Simmons previously worked as the Deputy Assistant to President Joe Biden and Communications Director to Vice President Kamala Harris. He has a vast political and media career spanning three decades, including contributions to CBS News and NPR.
  • John Wagner assumes the Editor role for The Washington Post’s politics breaking news team. Wagner joined the outlet in 2004 and played a key role in launching the politics breaking news team in 2018.
  • Laura Jarrett, NBC News Senior Legal Correspondent, will become the co-anchor of the Saturday edition of “Today” alongside Peter Alexander. She will be succeeding Kristen Welker, who is taking over as the moderator of “Meet the Press.”
  • Ashlyn Still has been appointed as the Deputy Director of Elections, collaborating with Elections Director Rachel Van Dongen at The Washington Post for the upcoming 2024 election coverage.
  • The Washington Post names Susan Levine as Deputy Editor of the America teams. Levine has been with the Post for over 22 years.
  • Associated Press announces Nomaan Merchant as the newest U.S. politics editor. Merchant will work closely with teams in Washington and international bureaus to produce a sophisticated political report as the 2024 presidential election approaches.
  • Priya Dogra, who was promoted to President and Managing Director of Warner Bros. Discover for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa just 16 months ago, is leaving. With an almost 14-year tenure at Warner Bros., Dogra held various roles, including leading WarnerMedia’s operations in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.
  • Tim Carter has been named Executive Producer of CNN Newsroom with Jim Acosta. Previously, Carter served as Supervising producer for The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.


Zooming Out: Broadcast Is Having a Uniquely Bad Year
The medium for visual storytelling seems to be losing a heated competition with streamers and social media platforms like TikTok to reach audiences. According to a recent CNN report, Nielsen’s monthly snapshot of TV viewership, The Gauge™, saw linear TV including broadcast and cable viewership drop below 50% for the first time ever. At the same time, streaming reached an all-time high. While news outlets are embracing these media channels for additional reach, the exodus of audiences from traditional broadcast is translating into slumping ad revenue.

Slumping revenue coupled with an uncertain economic outlook has led to turbulent times for media employees, who have experienced mass layoffs from various outlets throughout the year, including broadcasters like Yahoo Finance and Cheddar (which is also up for sale). At the same time, strong leadership seems to be lacking as media executives struggle to navigate the current environment – CNN fired Chris Licht after only one year, Noah Oppenheim is stepping down as President of NBC, and, most recently, Neeraj Khemlani is stepping down from CBS News. We’ve also seen executives like Disney CEO Bob Iger contemplate selling TV assets, including ABC News, due to the turbulent environment.

Why is this important? Now, more than ever, corporate storytelling needs to be done in a mindful way because of the ever-shifting (and ever-shrinking) media landscape. Media relations experts and clients need to closely monitor the media landscape in the coming months for what may be inevitable broadcast consolidations, changes in ownership and leadership, and changes in editorial direction. Further, they should align on their audience, the best medium/media to leverage, the outlets they consume, and the assets they have to create the best storytelling experience.

Sign-up for Our Newsletters

Sign up to receive The Deadline and Digital Dive weekly

You may opt out any time. View our Privacy Policy.
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.