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The Metaverse Poses a Threat to the TV Channels and Its Audiences, Experts Say

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TV companies will need to radically adapt themselves to the fast-evolving world of online entertainment if they hope to survive, experts have warned.

Broadcasters are already playing catch-up with online gaming giants in the battle for the attention of young audiences and the advertising dollars that follow.

On the horizon is the so-called “metaverse” — a loose term covering the growing eco-system of interactive online worlds, games and 3D meeting places that are already attracting millions of users.

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While older consumers are still wedded to traditional TV, viewership among under-35s has halved in a decade, according to Statista, and will drop precipitously as the metaverse develops.

“Young people have evolved from passive spectators of TV to active players, and they’ve turned away from screens to smartphones,” said Frederic Cavazza, co-founder of Sysk, a French firm specialising in digital transformation. “TV channels are going to die with their audiences.”

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To reach young people, broadcasters will have to compete with gaming platforms like Roblox, Fortnite and Minecraft — seen as precursors to the metaverse — that are already establishing a dominant position.

Half of all 9-12-year-olds in the US use Roblox at least once a week, according to media research firm Dubit — doing everything from playing games to watching concerts to just hanging out with friends.

The audiences can be enormous: 33 million people watched rapper Lil Nas X perform on Roblox in 2020 — more than three times the number that watched him on TV at the Grammys this week. Broadcasters must choose whether they are sticking with a shrinking market for traditional TV programming, or start bringing their characters and brands into metaverse platforms, said Matthew Warneford, co-founder of Dubit.

“It means bringing people into a world, making them part of the story, playing alongside their friends — the same way that Disneyland allows you and your friends to be in their world with Mickey Mouse,” he said.

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TV companies have time to adapt, but they face a major challenge in catering at once to older people watching traditional broadcasts, middle-aged people shifting to streaming and young people wanting interactive and social entertainment.

“If we want to stay relevant, we will have to position ourselves across all these usages,” said Kati Bremme, head of innovation for France Televisions.

The national broadcaster is still in research mode, she said, toying with augmented and virtual reality to build immersive cultural and sporting experiences.

The biggest challenge, however, may be financial. Up to now, TV firms have been insulated from tech disruption because their advertising revenue was largely unaffected — unlike other traditional media like newspapers.

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That could change “faster than people realise,” said Warneford. It was previously hard to move TV ads into the gaming world because they were created by individual companies “who locked them down and captured all the value,” he said.

But with the more open field of the metaverse, brands will have much more scope to promote themselves and sell goods directly to users.

Indeed, fashion and luxury labels are already making millions selling virtual clothes and accessories on Roblox, Fortnite and other platforms.

“If they want to reach young people, do companies keep going to TV or do they go to where young people actually are — in gaming and the metaverse?”


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Meta Says Will Share More Political, Social-Issue Advertisements Targeting Data in Public Database

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Facebook owner Meta Platforms will share more data on targeting choices made by advertisers running political and social-issue ads in its public ad database, it said on Monday.

Meta said it would also include detailed targeting information for these individual ads in its “Facebook Open Research and Transparency” database used by academic researchers, in an expansion of a pilot launched last year.

“Instead of analysing how an ad was delivered by Facebook, it’s really going and looking at an advertiser strategy for what they were trying to do,” said Jeff King, Meta’s vice president of business integrity, in a phone interview.

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The social media giant has faced pressure in recent years to provide transparency around targeted advertising on its platforms, particularly around elections. In 2018, it launched a public ad library, though some researchers criticised it for glitches and a lack of detailed targeting data.

Meta said the ad library will soon show a summary of targeting information for social issue, electoral or political ads run by a page.

“For example, the Ad Library could show that over the last 30 days, a Page ran 2,000 ads about social issues, elections or politics, and that 40 percent of their spend on these ads was targeted to ‘people who live in Pennsylvania’ or ‘people who are interested in politics,’” Meta said in a blog post.

Meta said the additional information in the ad library will be added in July. It said the data for vetted researchers will be available at the end of May and will show information since August 2020.

The company has run various programmes with external researchers as part of its transparency efforts. Last year, it said a technical error meant flawed data had been provided to academics in its “Social Science One” project.

In 2021, the company said it had disabled the accounts of a group of New York University researchers studying political ads on its platform because of user privacy concerns.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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Elon Musk-Twitter Deal Is a ‘Breath of Hope’, Says Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro

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Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro called Elon Musk’s proposed takeover of Twitter a “breath of hope” as the two met in Brazil on Friday, adding he hoped the US billionaire would help end the “lies” about his widely criticised stewardship of the Amazon rainforest.

Bolsonaro and Musk, the CEO of electric carmaker Tesla and rocket company SpaceX, met to discuss rural Internet connectivity and monitoring of the Amazon. The meeting comes at a sensitive time for both men.

Bolsonaro faces an uphill battle to get re-elected in the October, and has become increasingly isolated on the global stage, while Musk was on Thursday accused of sexual harassment in a news report – an allegation he denies.

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Bolsonaro, a far-right nationalist, has blasted major social media platforms for their efforts to combat disinformation, including taking down his baseless comments linking COVID-19 vaccines to developing AIDS. Musk, who Bolsonaro called a “legend of liberty,” has vowed to defend free speech on Twitter.

Bolsonaro has been globally condemned for advocating more mining and farming in the Amazon and for Brazil’s environmental backsliding. Recent satellite data show deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon has surged to a 15-year high under Bolsonaro.

Speaking alongside Musk at an upscale hotel in the countryside near Sao Paulo, Bolsonaro hailed the billionaire’s bid for Twitter, saying “it was like a breath of hope.”

“We need, and are counting on Elon Musk for the Amazon to be known by all in Brazil and the world, to show … how we have protected it, and how much harm is caused by those who spread lies about that region,” he told a news conference.

Later, in a press conference without Musk, Bolsonaro gushed about meeting the US billionaire. “It’s the start of a relationship which I’m sure will soon end in marriage,” he said.

Bolsonaro added that Musk’s Twitter purchase would represent “the freedom of press that we always want and desire, total freedom, without limit,” he said.

Bolsonaro also said that he was making Brazil’s Alcântara space base near the equator available to Musk’s rockets.

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Musk tweeted on Friday afternoon that he aimed to discuss further monitoring of the rainforest and an effort to bring broadband internet to rural areas – a scheme that he had previously discussed with members of Bolsonaro’s government.

Musk was not asked about harassment allegations when he took questions after arriving in Sao Paulo, where he was also greeted by business leaders such as Telecom Italia Chief Executive Pietro Labriola and Banco BTG Pactual Chairman Andre Esteves.

Musk’s meeting with Bolsonaro, a longtime conservative firebrand who defends Brazil’s 1964-1985 military dictatorship, is indicative of the right-ward drift of his personal politics. On Wednesday, he said he previously voted for Democrats, but will now vote for Republicans.

For Bolsonaro, who has worried international observers as many fear that he may refuse to hand over power if he loses the October election, Musk’s visit was a public relations coup.

Bolsonaro lost an ally when former US President Donald Trump lost his 2020 re-election bid, and has not spoken with US President Joe Biden since the Democrat took office.

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© Thomson Reuters 2022


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WhatsApp Request Account Inform Feature Rolling Out on Desktop: Report

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WhatsApp has reportedly started rolling out a beta update that lets users request their account information on WhatsApp desktop. The feature was initially introduced on Android and iOS to comply with EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The Request Account Info feature is said to only be available after updating your WhatsApp desktop to the latest beta version. The feature seems to be rolling out slowly, and is said to currently only available to beta testers. WhatsApp earlier this week also began introducing free cloud-based API services in a push to get more businesses using the app. A recent report had also indicated that WhatsApp Premium, a subscription-based model, is being tested for WhatsApp Business.

As per a recent report by WhatsApp features tracker WABetaInfo, the social media app has started rolling out a beta update that lets users Request Account Info on WhatsApp desktop. The feature was limited to WhatsApp on Android and iOS till now. Users will be able to access the “Request Account Info on Desktop” feature only after updating their WhatsApp desktop beta to the latest – it has currently been spotted in v2.2219.3 beta, but was initially spotted in development in the v2.2204.1 beta version – though at time, it was not visible to testers. Even now, the report mentions that the feature may only be available to certain beta users.

The WhatsApp Request Account Info feature was introduced for Android and iOS in 2018 as a part the company’s compliance with the EU’s GDPR rules. When users request a report from WhatsApp, it gets ready in three days. However, users may have to wait for some more time before they are able to download it. The report will encompass details including all activity information, contacts device details, or privacy settings.

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In other news, WhatsApp this week announced it is also introducing free cloud-based API services in a push to get more businesses using the app. WhatsApp already has an API, or type of software interface, for businesses to connect their systems and engage in customer service chats on the service, which generates revenue for Meta.

A recent report had also indicated that WhatsApp Premium, a subscription-based model, is being tested for WhatsApp Business. Under this model, business accounts may choose to pay a certain sum for various features and capabilities. Reportedly, WhatsApp Business profile owners can also opt out of WhatsApp Premium and continue using the current version. The first mention of a subscription plan was in April when it was reported that the feature will allow businesses to link up to 10 devices after they subscribe to a plan.


Should you pick Vivo over Galaxy S22 and OnePlus 10 Pro? We discuss this on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.

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