Facebook Makes Another Run At News; HBO Max Could Include Ads

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Picking Up The Tab

Facebook has long demurred that it’s a technology platform and not a publisher. But Friday marked a milestone: Facebook is going to pay publishers for content and it’s hiring journalists to curate top stories for a dedicated news tab on mobile, a la Apple News. Algorithms will recommend other stories based on user interests and reading habits. The first wave of media partners includes The Wall Street Journal, Business Insider, BuzzFeed News, The Washington Post and, interestingly, News Corp, a vocal critic of Facebook and other large tech platforms. Publishers could be paid hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars annually, depending on their audience and content on the service. The news tab is in test mode with around 200,000 US users. It’s a promising idea, but Facebook has a rocky history with news publishers. “After the pivot to video. After Instant Articles. After news was deleted from the News Feed. Once more, Facebook dangles extra traffic, and journalism outlets leap through its hoop and into its cage,” writes Josh Constine at TechCrunch. Buzzfeed CEO Jonah Peretti was more sanguine, noting in an internal memo on Friday that “it’s a good day for the internet,” CNN reports.

Ads In HBO

AT&T’s WarnerMedia will introduce an ad-supported version of its upcoming HBO Max streaming service, according to Reuters. Unnamed “insiders” estimate the date for an ad rollout to be 2021, adding that WarnerMedia will also incorporate live programming in a future version of the service. HBO Max is expected to cost around $14.99, significantly higher than competitors. An ad-free option would presumably lower that cost and make the service more competitive with offerings from Netflix, Disney and Apple. CEO John Stankey has also hinted at the possibility of bundling HBO Max with AT&T wireless subscriptions. T-Mobile gives away Netflix to some customers, and Verizon is providing a free year of Disney+ to some customers. Read more.

Death By Programmatic

Condé Nast thrived for decades by indulging readers’ aspirations to affluence. But now Instagram influencers have unseated the magazine in that regard, and rich people can be targeted on Instagram and YouTube “without the lure of expensive photo shoots,” writes The New Republic’s Kyle Chayka in a profile of the century-old publisher. Platforms “make life easier for the brands, who no longer have to deal with ad departments or picky editors-in-chief; they just check the demographic boxes on the tech companies’ platforms and upload their assets.” Long read here.

But Wait, There’s More

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