Media Insider: Local News Viewership Rises, Vox Media Settles Lawsuits, NowThis Launches Kids Brand

Welcome to Media Insider, PR Newswire’s round-up of media stories from the week.

Stack of newspapers

Work from Home Drives Local News Resurgence

According to new research from Nielsen, the company thinks the reduction in commuting during the pandemic is driving an increased interest in local news. That may come as a relief to the many local publishers and broadcasters that have struggled to gain audience attention in an increasingly crowded media universe in recent years, though it may make the recent decline in ad revenue harder to swallow. Findings of Nielsen’s Remote Workers Consumer Survey show, among other things: new homeworkers spend less time using media than traditional homeworkers, and a larger share of that media time is via digital and connected TV devices. So, what does the new media time look like? The data shows most people listen to music during their work time, but a majority also watch or stream TV during breaks. News leads the categories when homeworkers do watch TV or video, and local news is the category most respondents said they watch.

Tow Center has launched an online survey about the health and future of local newspapers in the U.S. 

Vox Media Agrees to Settle Worker-Exploitation Lawsuits for Millions

Vox Media is set to pay out millions of dollars to settle collective action lawsuits that cover more than 450 workers who managed or wrote for SB Nation, according to a proposed settlement agreement filed in federal court. SB Nation was founded in the mid-aughts as a casual collection of blogs by and for sports fans. As it grew, the bloggers at the bottom of the operation were still expected to operate as “fans,” grateful to have a platform and maybe a chance at getting a real sportswriting job, while doing the work of full-time or nearly full-time employees: churning out content against which Vox Media could sell ads, garner pageviews, and draw massive investments. According to the terms of the settlement, $2.5 million “will be apportioned based on weeks worked and a point-system, which is tied to whether the person was a Site Manager or a Contributor and whether the class member worked in California, New Jersey or elsewhere in the United States.” The proposed settlement covers three different lawsuits brought against Vox Media for misclassifying SB Nation team site workers as independent contractors and for violating the Fair Labor Standards Act by not paying fair wages.

In more legal news, a photographer won a lawsuit against BuzzFeed, setting a precedent regarding copyrights.

Media Giants Look Abroad to Build Next Round of Streaming Services

Facing saturation and stiff competition in the U.S., media giants are planning to launch new streaming services internationally to accrue more subscribers. Growth in streaming video is exploding, particularly since the pandemic began, and media companies seem to see a lot of unclaimed territory out there. Streaming made up 25% of TV usage last quarter, up from 19% at the same time last year, according to Nielsen’s latest total audience report. A slew of TV networks announced new international streaming plans this week: Fox News is launching Fox News International, a new live streaming service that includes programming from Fox’s two linear channels, Fox News and Fox Business; ViacomCBS plans to launch a paid international streaming service in early 2021; Disney will launch a new general entertainment streaming service overseas in 2021; and Discovery recently announced plans for a new streaming service that will focus on non-fiction and unscripted content.

On the flip side, Comcast abandoned its plans to launch an international news streaming service, NBC Sky World News. 

NowThis Launches Kids News Brand

Group Nine brand NowThis has launched its first kids brand, NowThis Kids, which delivers fresh content three times a week and is hosted by 13-year-old activist Naomi Wadler. The brand is designed to appeal to kids and parents through a dedicated YouTube channel. Wadler will host a video series featuring interviews and segments on young people positively impacting their communities. It also includes a podcast delivered on Wednesdays and a Friday-morning newsletter that collects the most important news from the week about kids impacting their communities. The kids brand is a natural extension of NowThis, which reports reaching a monthly total audience of 120 million people across the U.S.  Some 64% of that population have children between the ages of 6 and 11.

Another Group Nine brand, The Dodo, launched a new pet health and wellness destination, DodoWell. 

Meredith sues Sports Illustrated rights holder theMaven for over $1 million

On Monday, it was announced that Meredith is suing theMaven, the new owner of Sports Illustrated, for more than $1 million in unpaid bills. Meredith had agreed during the ownership transition last year that it would provide some operational services, like accounting, HR, and IT, to Sports Illustrated. “Meredith spent months attempting to work with Maven in good faith to arrange for payment of its outstanding obligations, and Meredith even agreed to extend the (contract’s) termination date to accommodate Maven,” attorneys wrote in a complaint in the U.S. District Court of Delaware. “Instead of paying its full obligations or agreeing to a payment plan, Maven stalled and has refused to make full and timely payment as required.”

Another sports-focused outlet, The Ringer, is out this week with a profile of @nyttypos, the one-man Twitter account on a “quest to proofread The New York Times.”

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Maria Perez is Director, Web Experience & Operations at Cision. In her spare time, she runs Bags of Love Foundation, a local nonprofit that provides cancer patients with care packages aimed at making their treatment more comfortable. She also enjoys kickboxing, baking, and cuddling with her dog Toody, who thinks he rules the world.

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