Waiting on the News Corp news

August 4, 2008

murdoch.jpgCome Tuesday, all eyes will be on News Corp.

The company’s earnings report should cast some more light on what’s happening in the media world — both in the United States and abroad. This is, after all, a media company with enormous reach and one whose shares have been hammered this year on worries about a slowdown.

For those who are impatient, Rupert Murdoch made some comments today that are worth noting. First and foremost, he said television advertising in the United States was good, despite a slowing economy (it’s easier to say that when your network is home to “American Idol”).

“Our advertisement on television and the Internet is very, very good, except for local television,” he said. “Cable networks are all sold out for 12 months,” he said, adding that Britain was holding up “very well”.

As the Wall Street Journal points out, however, investors will be looking at far more than just advertising from its television assets. In an article today, the paper raises the issue of how News Corp plans to draw advertising bucks from MySpace.

One initiative that could be critical to MySpace’s success, according to media buyers and industry analysts, is a system that lets marketers aim their ads at particular groups of users. As part of this “hypertargeting” system, MySpace has analyzed the profiles of its users to gauge their interests and then categorized them into more than 1,000 “buckets,” including rodeo watchers, scrapbook enthusiasts and “Dancing With the Stars” viewers.

MySpace, which has cheap advertising rates, like other social networks — only a few dollars, at most, for 1,000 displays of an ad, compared with the $50 or $60 per thousand charged by some niche sites — says it can charge roughly double those rates by offering targeting.

There’s more to watch, too, in tomorrow’s earnings. Investors will be keen to hear any discussion of News Corp’s plans for the global expansion of WSJ and integration of parent Dow Jones nearly a year after its acquisition deal was reached, not to mention any view offered on the progress of Fox Business Network. And, of course, the big question: the health of the global economy.

Keep an eye on:

  • General Electric has no plans to sell its NBC Universal media unit and is on track to double its China annual revenue to $10 billion by 2010  (Reuters)
  • Mainstream news media hope to capitalize on a presidential race that is drawing huge interest from Americans (NY Times)
  • Olympic sponsors are launching possibly the largest advertising and marketing campaign ever, aiming to etch their brands in the minds of a new generation of Chinese consumers for far beyond the upcoming Games (Reuters)
  • Satellite television operator DISH Network posted disappointing second quarter subscriber defections as it loses ground to cable and phone companies amid a weaker U.S. economy (Reuters)

(Photo: Reuters)

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