Week of Oct. 19th-25th: Your Media News Update


The last week has seen a flurry of activity around topics related to automated content moderation and product design as well as ways to develop communities and keep them engaged. The many news stories and reports that have been discussed are a treasure trove of best practices we can learn from, including:

  • Twitch’s decision to amp up its live-streaming moderation and establish a “three strikes” rule before suspending a streamer’s channel
  • Microsoft’s testing of new content filters for its Xbox Live messaging system as a way to reduce the amount of toxicity on its platform
  • The Telegraph’s ability to achieve a 49% growth in subscriptions by optimizing its homepage

To continue learning and staying up-to-date with the latest and greatest industry news from the past week, read on.

Content Filtering and Moderation Reaches a New Level (for Some)

Content filtering and moderating live-streamed content have significantly evolved over the years. Twitch, one of the most popular video live-streaming services in the world, is leading the charge by providing a space for online communities to develop in a positive way. CEO Emmett Shear has been a big proponent of stream moderation as a way to empower streamers in creating the type of community they want. 

Twitch isn’t an “anything goes” type of platform. It’s very explicitly not a free speech platform, which differs from Twitch’s competitors. Shear says, “We’re a community. And communities have standards for how you have to behave inside that community. And so we think that it’s not anything goes.” 

When it comes to the digital world, community guidelines need to be set and enforced to keep platforms safe and productive.

More and more companies are also taking steps to adopt automated content moderation systems as a way to create safer online communities for the masses. For example, Microsoft is now testing content filters for its Xbox Live messaging system to reduce toxicity on its platform.

Microsoft has managed moderation on Xbox Live for almost 20 years, including the ability to report messages, usernames, and photos. Their new content filters empower players to have control over what kinds of messages are instantly hidden. The company also aims to protect live audio calls with real-time bleeps, similar to broadcast TV. Microsoft is now trying to be more open and transparent about how it moderates Xbox Live and the choices it makes to enforce these filters across the community.  

Facebook, on the other hand, still lacks in its commitment to content moderation based on its current automated filtering tools. The company has now publicly announced its shortcomings in an attempt to challenge a European Court of Justice ruling. 

When the top EU court decided earlier in the month that Facebook must use automated content moderation to detect “defamatory content,” the company responded by saying its tech was simply not good enough. Facebook described their own moderation tools as a “blunt instrument,” unable to properly understand the context, and therefore, make correct decisions.

Publishers Tap Into Creating Better Product Designs to Increase Subscriptions

Many publishers are trying to move away from relying on advertising income as the main source of revenue. To be financially sustainable in the long-run, more companies like The Telegraph are continuing to think about a subscriber-based revenue model. Consequently, there is a new thought emerging about how products reflect and align with this type of model. 

All of The Telegraph’s products, for example, now revolve around subscribers. Mathias Douchet, Director of Product at The Telegraph, says that “we had to move away from an ad strategy to a more user-engagement, user-centric strategy with our own products.”  

To do this, The Telegraph rebuilt its website’s homepage. Its old homepage offered hundreds of stories but very little in the way of editorial curation. It was also difficult to group content around a theme and make content stand out.

Since the Telegraph’s homepage is a key product that many subscribers turn to on a daily basis, it was revamped to offer top-notch user experience and ongoing engagement. 

The homepage redesign has resulted in very positive outcomes for the publisher. All consumption and engagement KPIs are up, subscriptions have increased by 49% and advertising revenue has increased but with fewer ads.

The Guardian has also released a daily app for paying subscribers as part of its quest to reach two million financial supporters by 2022. The appeal of the new app is that it won’t carry ads and will offer news in a streamlined way.

The new app lets users scroll horizontally through different news sections in depth. It also lets users read the previous week’s worth of papers. 

Publisher app users are typically highly valuable because they consume more content more regularly and for longer periods of time. For these reasons, publishers are beefing up their apps for subscribers. This includes The Economist, which last year launched an app to help drive retention. The app design takes its cue from the digital user experience of music streaming apps like Spotify. Similar to publishers, music streaming apps also face the challenge of displaying massive amounts of content grouped by genre in an intuitive way.

Successful businesses are no longer making products and decisions that revolve completely around advertising; they revolve around subscribers

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