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Netflix reportedly plans to cut spending by $300 million this year

Netflix is planning to cut its spending by $300 million this year, according to a new report from The Wall Street Journal. The report indicates that part of the reason the streaming giant is looking to cut costs is because it delayed its plans to crack down on password sharing in the U.S. and elsewhere from the first quarter of the year to the second quarter, which means that revenue from the move is now expected to come in toward the second half of the year.
The company urged staff earlier this month to be sensible with their spending, including in relation to hiring, but noted that there would not be a hiring freeze or additional layoffs.
A Netflix spokesperson declined to comment.
It’s worth noting that although Netflix plans to cut costs by $300 million this year, this number represents a small fraction of the company’s overall expenses. For instance, Netflix’s operating expenses last year were about $26 billion.
The streaming giant beat estimates for the first quarter of the year but reported a lighter-than-expected forecast last month. Netflix raised its estimate for the amount of free cash flow it aims to generate in 2023 to at least $3.5 billion, up from $3 billion.
Netflix has been exploring new ways to generate revenue. The company launched its crackdown on password sharing in Canada, New Zealand, Portugal and Spain earlier this year. In these countries, Netflix requires paying users to set a primary location for their account. If someone they don’t live with uses their account, Netflix alerts them to “buy an extra member.” Netflix allows up to two extra members per account for a fee, which varies from country to country.
In addition, the company launched a new ad-supported plan called “Basic with Ads” last November. The tier costs $6.99 per month, which is $13 less than Netflix’s Premium plan, nearly $9 less than the Standard plan and $3 less than the Basic plan. With this plan, Netflix is competing with other major streaming services that offer ad-supported options, including Disney+, Hulu, HBO Max, Paramount+ and Peacock.
In an effort to lower costs, Netflix conducted a series of job cuts last year. In May 2022, the company laid off approximately 150 staffers. A month after that, the company laid off 300 more people, which represented about 3% of its workforce at the time. Netflix then laid off another 30 employees in September who were part of its animation department.
Netflix’s password sharing crackdown is expected to hit the U.S. on or before June 30.

Netflix will crack down on password sharing this summer

Netflix reportedly plans to cut spending by $300 million this year by Aisha Malik originally published on TechCrunch
Netflix reportedly plans to cut spending by $300 million this year

YouTube Music officially rolls out podcasts for listeners in the US

YouTube Music is officially adding podcasts to its platform in the United States on Android, iOS and the web. The rollout comes a few months after YouTube podcasting head Kai Chuk revealed that podcasts would be added to YouTube Music soon.
The update allows users watching podcasts on the main app to continue listening to them on YouTube Music. The company notes that all users can listen to podcasts on-demand, offline, in the background, and while casting and can seamlessly switch between audio-video versions on YouTube Music.
“This podcast listening experience is different from our music listening experience where you need a Premium or Music Premium subscription to enjoy some of these features,” the company wrote in a blog post. “This new podcast listening experience complements the podcast video experience on YouTube.”
Podcasts in YouTube Music will be available regardless of whether you have a YouTube Premium subscription. YouTube even notes that paying customers may encounter host-read endorsements or sponsorship messages when listening to podcasts on YouTube Music.
Image Credits: YouTube
YouTube is rolling out the update to all of its listeners in the United States gradually, which means not everyone may see it yet. The company said it plans to bring podcasts to YouTube Music to users outside the United States soon but didn’t provide any specific launch details.
The YouTube Music Home tab now includes a new “Podcasts” tab that takes you to a dedicated feed, which will display your favorite podcasts and recommended episodes.
YouTube is advising creators that if their podcast is audio-only, they should consider uploading a video with a static image or use audiograms or other dynamic video formats. The company notes that it will soon offer creators the option to directly upload their audio podcasts via RSS feeds to both YouTube and YouTube Music.
According to previous reports, YouTube isn’t looking to sign exclusive deals with podcasters, which has been a key strategy at Spotify. YouTube instead seems to be focused on melding the experience of listening to podcasts on video and audio.

YouTube Music contractors win historic union vote

YouTube Music officially rolls out podcasts for listeners in the US by Aisha Malik originally published on TechCrunch
YouTube Music officially rolls out podcasts for listeners in the US

Roku gains 1.6 million active streaming accounts in Q1, warns of continued ad uncertainty

Roku delivered its first-quarter results on Wednesday with better-than-expected revenue and the addition of 1.6 million active streaming accounts in the period. Although the company’s results came in above analyst estimates, Roku told investors that it sees its advertising business remaining challenged.
The company’s revenue for the quarter reached $741 million, up just 1% from the year-ago quarter, and a net loss of $193.6 million.
Notably, the company revealed that it reached 71.6 million active accounts, a 17% year-over-year increase. Streaming hours reached 25.1 billion, up 4.2 billion hours or 20% year-over-year. Average revenue per user fell 5% year-over-year to $40.67.
“Similar to our viewpoint during our last earnings call, we expect macro uncertainties to persist throughout 2023,” the company wrote in a letter to shareholders. “Consumers remain pressured by inflation and recessionary fears, and thus discretionary spend is likely to remain muted. Accordingly, we expect the advertising market in Q2 to look much the same as it did in Q1, with ad spend from certain verticals improving (travel and health and wellness), while others remain pressured (M&E and financial services).”
In its letter, Roku wrote that it was the most popular streaming platform for this year’s Super Bowl with approximately half of all streams. The company notes that of those viewers, 12% started the game through either its Sports experience or a game-related ad.
Roku expects Q2 total net revenue of about $770 million, total gross profit of roughly $335 million and adjusted EBITDA of negative $75 million.
The company’s earning results come a month after Roku conducted a second round of layoffs and let go of 6% of its workforce, or around 200 employees. Roku disclosed the cuts in an SEC filing, explaining that the decision was part of a larger plan to lower its year-over-year operating expense growth and prioritize projects that it believes will have a higher return on investment. The company had laid off 200 U.S. employees back in November, citing economic conditions in the industry.

Roku announces a second set of layoffs impacting 200 employees, or 6% of its workforce

Roku soars past revenue expectations as it bets on streaming devices to boost growth

Roku gains 1.6 million active streaming accounts in Q1, warns of continued ad uncertainty by Aisha Malik originally published on TechCrunch
Roku gains 1.6 million active streaming accounts in Q1, warns of continued ad uncertainty

Comixology vets return with their own publishing company

Comixology was genuinely a gamechanger. Before the platform came along, I knew very few people who had ever read a comic on a phone or tablet. There was entirely too much friction in the process to prioritize screens over print. The app proved a viable option, courtesy of a stocked store and a clever UI that both embraced and adapted the sequential form.
In 2014, Amazon gobbled up the startup, as it continued a Galactus-style buffet through the publishing world. There’s plenty of cause to be concerned when a major corporation acquires a beloved startup (particularly one in the habit of…let’s just say cornering markets), but the retail giant proved mostly a good steward, launching a subscription service in 2016 and its own in-house publisher two years later.
The last few years were less kind, however. Amazon’s push to integrate the brand into its exciting service was an unforced error that’s eroded more than a decade of good will. More recently, Comixology has reportedly been disproportionately impacted by mass layoffs, leading many wondering if it’s past the point of no return.
Co-founder and one-time CEO David Steinberger and former head of content Chip Mosher can claim credit for much of the good that came out of the service. The pair had become — as my friend Heidi MacDonald puts it — the public face of Comixology. But no one sells a company to a monolith like Amazon without understanding that there’s a reasonable chance things might eventually go pear shaped.
Steinberger left Comixology in February of last year to help Amazon launch a new internal business he said he had been pitching for some time. The project remains in stealth.
“We had a great run,” Steinberger says of his time at the company. “I learned a lot from Amazon. I feel like when you sell a company, it’s not yours anymore. Eventually you’re ready to let it go.”
Not long after, both he and Mosher would leave Amazon entirely. “We had a great eight-year run,” says Mosher. “Comixology Unlimited, Comixology Originals. We got to support a ton of different shows and events: Though Bubble, CXC, SPX, TCAF. We got to do a hell of a lot of good stuff in the comics community and learned a whole hell of a lot.”
The pair reunited not long after their respective exoduses, launching a new company that has remained in stealth until this morning. In spite of a name that screams Web 2.0 whiskey app, DSTLRY finds Mosher and Steinberger embracing the comic roots. The firm describes itself as a “next-generation comics publisher,” with feet in both digital and print publishing.
Mosher quickly pushes back on the suggestion that this a less than ideal moment to enter the print publishing business. “I violently disagree,” he says. “I think this is a great time to start a new company. Bookscan did a presentation in February, where they said that most people are going to be retrenching into older IP, not doing stuff, not taking risks. Whenever you have a marketplace where no one is taking risks, I think it’s the best time to come out and do something new.
DSTLRY prides itself on a creator-first approach, offering “Founding Creators” equity in the firm. The list at launch includes:
Scott Snyder (Batman, Wytches), Tula Lotay (Barnstormers), James Tynion IV (Something Is Killing the Children, The Joker War), Junko Mizuno (Pure Trance, Ravina the Witch?), Ram V (Detective Comics, The Many Deaths of Laila Starr), Mirka Andolfo (Sweet Paprika, Mercy), Joëlle Jones (Lady Killer, Catwoman), Jock (Batman: One Dark Knight, Wytches), Becky Cloonan (Wonder Woman, Batgirls), Brian Azzarello (100 Bullets, Joker), Elsa Charretier (Love Everlasting, November), Stephanie Phillips (Grim, Harley Quinn), Lee Garbett (Spider-Man, Skyward), Marc Bernardin (Adora and the Distance, Star Trek: Picard) and Founding Editor Will Dennis (Y: The Last Man, Snow Angels).
More writers and artists will be announced before year’s end. An additional 3% equity will be portioned out to additional creators who join up in the first three years, based on the performance on their individual series.
Print issues buck the standard comics single issue floppy, with a larger design and 45 pages. Mosher says the company will distribute books to “all the comic shops in North America and beyond,” with news around its specific partners coming down the road.
Unsurprisingly, digital is probably the biggest piece of the puzzle here. DSTLRY’s books will be available through its marketplace and available in its app. The company considers resale to be the real secret sauce on that side, however. It’s offering that aspect of the marketplace without NFT and blockchain technologies, which have become highly controversial topics among cartoonists, among others.
“The idea was, how do you take the best parts of whatever you want to call web3 or NFTs and then make that work,” says Steinberger. “That allows us to have things like provable ownership, the capability to resell something and an actual perpetual royalty back to creators as those things get sold. You don’t need the environmental impact of a public blockchain to do that. You don’t need to have crypto in a wallet to do that.”
The other (largely unspoken) aspect to all of this is something that’s propped up the big two comics companies for years: IP. One doesn’t need to look any further than the investors backing the company (DSTLRY has yet to announce a dollar amount). Publishers Kodansha USA and Groupe Delcourt are joined by gaming vet John Schappert, Michael Vorhaus of Vorhaus Advisors and Lorenzo di Bonaventura, who produced the G.I. Joe movies, among others. Those three will also serve as advisors.
“Everything we’re doing tries to align the creators to bring epic work to publish with us, because that’s where you start,” says Mosher. “The [IP factory] idea is a non-starter for us. We are making great works that will sell well as comic books, first and foremost. The rest of it is gravy.”
Comixology vets return with their own publishing company by Brian Heater originally published on TechCrunch
Comixology vets return with their own publishing company

T-Mobile to provide free MLB.TV subscriptions to customers through 2028

T-Mobile announced today that it has extended its partnership with Major League Baseball to allow its customers to continue receiving free MLB.TV subscriptions through 2028. An MLB.TV subscription typically costs $150 per year. The extended partnership comes as T-Mobile has offered MLB.TV as a free perk for its customers for the past eight years. MLB.TV lets you stream out-of-market home and away games live or on demand. The service also gives subscribers access to pregame and postgame shows. T-Mobile notes that for the first time, MLB.TV now also provides fans with access to their favorite team’s affiliates’ games in the MLB app. Fans can catch games on their favorite supported devices and enjoy live game DVR controls to pause and rewind the action in HD.
“T-Mobile and MLB are embarking on a six-year journey to deliver breakthrough fan experiences, and it’s all thanks to our leading 5G network,” said T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert in a press release. “We’re enhancing the game on and off the field to give fans across the country even more ways to enjoy the game we all love — on top of showing our customers love with free MLB.TV.”
It’s worth noting that the deadline for this year’s free signup period for MLB.TV has already passed, unfortunately, as the last day to sign up was April 4. T-Mobile notes that more customers redeemed their free MLB.TV subscription this year than ever before.
T-Mobile also announced that it will work with the MLB to test an automated ball-strike system (ABS) powered by the company’s private 5G network during some Minor League games. The carrier says real-time ABS data and video will be transmitted securely to help prevent signal interference via devices and the ABS application.

Here’s how to stream Major League Baseball games in 2023

T-Mobile to provide free MLB.TV subscriptions to customers through 2028 by Aisha Malik originally published on TechCrunch
T-Mobile to provide free MLB.TV subscriptions to customers through 2028