Tech joins the newsletter stampede — sports betting M&A — Verizon's media gamble

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Hi and welcome to this weekly edition of Insider Advertising, where we track the big stories in media and advertising.

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I'm Lucia Moses, deputy editor here, and here's what's going on:

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Big tech jumps on the newsletter train

It's never been easier for independent journalists to start a newsletter, and now, some of the support is coming from the big tech platforms. 

It was a major shift in 2019 when Facebook started paying news publishers, and Twitter has positioned itself as pro news outlets, with programs to help them monetize their content.

Now, they're joining the flood of companies enabling independent journalists to sidestep traditional news outlets — a reminder of the often changing and uneasy relationship between tech platforms and the news business.

FILE - In this May 2, 2019, file photo, the DraftKings logo is displayed at the sports betting company headquarters in Boston. Sports daily fantasy and betting website DraftKings will debut as a publicly traded company Friday, April 24, 2020, against a backdrop of a near-complete shutdown of athletic competition across the globe due to the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

Sports betting M&A

There's been a windfall of deal activity in the sports betting industry as casino companies rush to shore up their positions, daily-fantasy-sports sites dominate, and other sports-betting operators seek splashy media tie-ups to grow their audiences.

Ashley Rodriguez spoke to six sports-betting bankers, advisors, and analysts about how the talks in the US sports-gambling industry could play out. A sampling of their predictions:

  • The Action Network and others get bought or rolled up.
  • Bally's Corporation makes deals to help it take on DraftKings.
  • A gaming company snaps up AT&T's Bleacher Report.

Read more: 12 M&A deals that could shape US sports betting in 2021 — including a major acquisition by DraftKings and 'generous and creative' bids for Bleacher Report

Guru Gowrappan

Revisiting Verizon's media bet

When you think of recent digital media success stories, Verizon may not be the first company that comes to mind.

Verizon Media Group once had a lofty goal of hitting $20 billion in revenue in 2020. But instead, Verizon wrote down the value of the unit twice, and it's estimated to generate just $4.1 billion in revenue in 2021.

But it's not all bad. Verizon Media marked annual revenue growth in the fourth quarter — its first since 2017 — with revenue from its demand-side platform soaring 41%. While others struggle to make online news profitable, Verizon relies largely on third-party publishers, including Insider, Reuters, and The Guardian, for content.

Verizon is far from a smashing media success, but its lean approach seems to be paying dividends for now.

Go deeper: Yahoo owner Verizon Media is planning a personalized-content 'megalaunch'

Other stories we're reading:

Thanks for reading, and see you next week!

— Lucia


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