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Former HBO Max Executives Launch New Media Venture

“We have spent our entire professional lives in the content business, building and nurturing vital relationships with creatives and executives.”

Maddy Troy

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Jennifer O'Connell, Rebecca Quinn LILY RO PHOTOGRAPHY www.hollywoodreporter.com

Six months ago, HBO Max laid off approximately 70 non-fiction employees as part of a workforce reduction. This was following the merger of WarnerMedia with Discovery. The estimated 14% workforce cut was made in an attempt to reduce costs by CEO David Zaslav. 

Two of the top executives to leave HBO Max were Jennifer O’Connell and Rebecca Quinn. O’Connell was the Executive Vice President of nonfiction and live-action family originals at HBO Max, while Quinn served as Senior Vice President of nonfiction original programming.

Now, after leaving the legacy media company, the pair have announced the launch of a new media venture. Velvet Hammer Media (VHM) is a production company specializing in premium original nonfiction content.

The company has also announced it will be launching an initiative called “Inside Access” alongside VHM. Inside Access is reportedly an initiative that is meant to “ensure a line item in every production budget to hire exceptional BIPOC talent behind the camera”.

Quinn and O’Connell will serve as co-CEOs and executive producers at their new media company. VHM will create, produce and distribute media formats, special-event programs, and documentaries. 

Velvet Hammer Media and its founders are making a statement on the values, and the financial commitments of the company from the very beginning. “Inside Access will be applied to 100 percent of VHM’s productions, even if it means covering costs out of the company’s own fees,” a report from The Hollywood Reporter claims.

“We have spent our entire professional lives in the content business, building and nurturing vital relationships with creatives and executives, and we look forward to furthering those collaborations and friendships through VHM”, O’Connell and Quinn said in a joint statement. 

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Media Business

Warner Bros. Discovery Sees 14% Drop in Ad Revenue in Q4

“This business is not without its challenges.”

Barrett News Media

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A photo of the Warner Bros. Discovery logo

Warner Bros. Discovery hosted its fourth-quarter earnings call Friday, and while the company reported hundreds of millions in losses, it was trying to view that as a positive.

The company reported a loss of $400 million, which is down sharply from the loss of $2.1 billion it experienced in the same time frame in 2022.

Additionally, Warner Bros. Discovery — the parent company of CNN — saw a 14% decline in advertising revenue during the final three months of 2023.

“This business is not without its challenges,” Chief Executive Officer David Zaslav said during the company’s fourth-quarter earnings conference call, according to CNBC. “Among them, we continue to face the impacts of ongoing disruption in the pay TV ecosystem and a dislocated, linear advertising ecosystem. We are challenging our leaders to find innovative solutions.”

The comapny did report an 86% increase in free cash flow, which now sits at $6.16 billion.

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Media Business

Jeremy Boreing: Every Outlet ‘Suffering From Facebook’s Massive Shift Away From News’

“Mark Zuckerberg remade the news landscape when he moved his company into the space, and then gutted it when he moved out.”

Barrett News Media

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A photo of Jeremy Boreing
(Photo: The Daily Wire)

In recent years, Facebook has shifted its focus away from a news and link-sharing platform to become more focused on social interactions between users. That shift has been detrimental to news publishers, according to The Daily Wire co-founder Jeremy Boreing.

In a statement to Mediaite, the digital media executive wasn’t shy about his stance that the shift from Facebook has been detrimental not only to his organization but to the industry as a whole.

“Everyone is suffering from Facebook’s massive shift away from news. Mark Zuckerberg remade the news landscape when he moved his company into the space, and then gutted it when he moved out,” Boreing said. “A capricious trillion dollar company can crush entire industries without much effort. Daily Wire is disproportionately impacted because we were built with a focus on Facebook. Now, our focus has shifted to more premium content.”

The comments from Jeremy Boreing coincide with a report that conservative digital outlets have seen a dramatic drop in viewership, especially compared to figures seen in 2020. One outlet — Breitbart — has seen a drop in traffic of 87% compared to the tumultuous 2020 year that included the start and heights of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as a contentious presidential election between Donald Trump and Joe Biden.

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Media Business

Court Approves Audacy Reorganization Plan

“We have achieved a speedy confirmation of our prepackaged Plan, which will enable Audacy to pursue our strategic goals and opportunities in the dynamic audio business.”

Barrett News Media

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Audacy Logo

A United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas has approved a plan for Audacy to reemerge from its bankruptcy proceedings.

Under the plan, Audacy will equitize more than $1.5 billion of funded debt, which reduces its debt load by 80%, down from $1.9 billion to $350 million.

Audacy Chairman David Field was encouraged by the development.

“Today’s announcement marks a powerful step forward for Audacy, positioning the Company for an exciting future,” said David Field, who also serves as the President and CEO of Audacy. “As expected, we have achieved a speedy confirmation of our prepackaged Plan, which will enable Audacy to pursue our strategic goals and opportunities in the dynamic audio business.

“We aim to drive accelerated growth and financial performance, capitalizing on our scaled, leadership position, our uniquely differentiated premium audio content and the robust capital structure that we will have upon emergence,” continued Field. “I also want to express my gratitude to our team, who continue their outstanding work to serve our listeners and customers with excellence and fulfill our commitments without missing a beat.” 

A statement from the company claims the restructuring “will enable Audacy to continue its strategic digital transformation and capitalize on its position as a scaled, leading multi-platform audio content and entertainment company differentiated by its exclusive, premium audio content.”

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