Amazon To Buy MGM Studios; Antitrust Pressure Looms

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Power Player

Can Amazon get any bigger? Per CNBC, the planned acquisition of MGM Studios for $8.45 billion marks the company’s boldest move yet into the entertainment industry and is expected to turbocharge its streaming ambitions. The deal gives Amazon access to MGM’s huge content catalog of 4,000 films and 17,000 TV shows –  from “Ben-Hur” to the James Bond franchise to “The Real Housewives” – and bolsters Amazon Studios, its film and TV division. Amazon has been looking to beef up its content library and spent $11 billion on video and music content last year to clinch more Prime subscribers. The deal comes as other media companies are consolidating in part to take on streaming giants like Amazon, Disney and Netflix, including AT&T’s announcement that it is spinning off WarnerMedia to merge with Discovery. Even ViacomCBS is reportedly a potential acquisition target. 

Fresh Allegations

Still, the MGM deal could heighten antitrust concerns for Amazon, coming just a day after new anticompetitive claims were levied against the company by District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine. According to the lawsuit, Amazon is using its contracts to prevent third-party sellers on its platform from offering their products anywhere else at lower prices than those on Amazon, NBC reports. Until 2019, the suit said, Amazon flat-out barred sellers on its marketplace from offering their items for cheaper elsewhere. Per Business Insider, it's believed to be the first time that Amazon has been sued by the US government over antitrust allegations (even though Racine isn’t making a federal case out of it, literally, since it was filed in D.C. Superior Court). Amazon is already facing ongoing probes by multiple federal agencies, state attorneys general and Europe’s antitrust watchdog. And in October the House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee issued a sweeping report that found Amazon has monopoly power over third-party sellers on its marketplace.

Squared Away

The marketing and customer analytics startup Contentsquare clinched $500 million in Series E funding, an investment that was led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2. Read the release. The new round brings Contentsquare’s total funding to $810 million, and values the company at $2.8 billion. The deal will fuel Contentsquare’s partner integrations and AI capabilities for brand marketers, as well as the company’s expansion into Asia and potential M&A (Contentsquare purchased two other startups in the past year). The Wall Street Journal has more.

But Wait, There’s More! 

How publishers plan to recoup lost event revenue. [Adweek]

The IAB’s upcoming terms and conditions update could feature a revised flexibility standard. [Digiday]

Despite identity concerns, new research by MMA Global finds that nearly 50% of marketers believe that multi-touch attribution is still the future of marketing measurement. [release]

During this month’s Upfronts, advertisers were urged to shift more spending to digital as networks came to terms with the idea that they’re now in the streaming business and need to compete with giants like Google, Netflix and Amazon. [The Hollywood Reporter]

The Out of Home Advertising Association of America (OAAA) has launched OpenDirect 1.5.1, an update to the specification that will allow OOH media companies to offer premium inventory through an automated workflow. [release]

FatTail has launched its AdBook Premium Supply Platform to connect publishers and programmatic buyers to the $275 billion direct advertising market. [release]

Startup Datacy has raised $2.4 million to help consumers monetize their own data. [TechCrunch]

Verizon Media is beefing up its global in-game advertising capabilities through a partnership with Anzu.io. [ExchangeWire]

You’re Hired

DDB New York has added two members to its leadership team, Darla Price as its president and Auro Trini Castelli as the office’s chief strategy officer. [Ad Age]

Forsman & Bodenfors has hired Toby Southgate as global CEO. [CampaignUS]

Growth marketing agency 3Q Digital has named Dentsu Aegis vet Fidel Parente as EVP of client services. [release]

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