“Broadcast news in the UK is very expensive to do,” says Gill Hind, head of TV at media analysts Enders Analysis. “Even if you have economies of scale and pool resources abroad as some outlets do, it’s really expensive to get content up and running.”

“Not surprisingly, if you’re an advertiser, a lot of the time you don’t want your company or product to appear in the news environment,” says Enders’ Hind. “And you can understand why you might night want your brand to appear immediately before or after something that happens in Ukraine, for example.

“This means that the income you get for the news programme if you’re ITV, or news channel if you’re Sky, is a lot less per viewer delivered than it would be for lighter, entertainment programmes.”

Niamh Burns, a senior analyst at Enders Analysis, argues that OpenAI and the FT share enough incentives to sign a deal, but publishers and tech companies bring different perspectives to the negotiating table.

“Publishers say using their content to train LLMs is against their terms of use and that licensing is essential. OpenAI says it doesn’t breach copyright, and frames deals as voluntary support of the journalism sector,” she says.

“Licensing is still a grey area, but these early deals are setting some precedents. The problem for publishers is we have no idea what AI products will look like in a year’s time. They might not even know what to ask for.”

Niamh Burns, a senior analyst at Enders Analysis, said an agreement was bound to be reached ultimately because the presence of UMG content on the platform suited both sides.

“TikTok’s content is way more engaging when it comes with a good music catalogue,” she said. “On the other side, the promotional benefits to UMG and its artists of being on TikTok are clear. You can see that in how Taylor Swift decided unilaterally to return to the platform before her new album was released.”

In part the title was vulnerable because of its very nature as a digest of diverse content, says Abi Watson, a senior research analyst at media specialists Enders Analysis. In the digital media revolution, she says, “the brands and the magazines that have done well tend to be those that are specialist” – what she terms a “flight to niche” content.

A bigger challenge for Reader’s Digest, however, was the ageing, decidedly analogue demographic of its readership. It’s not impossible to survive with older readers, says Watson, but you do need to keep finding new ones as, put bluntly, they die off. “Because Reader’s Digest didn’t have a particularly strong digital presence, they’re not refreshing that audience. So they lost that input at the top of the funnel.”

Niamh Burns, a senior research analyst at Enders Analysis, said the FT’s “high-quality” content would be attractive to OpenAI and improve its chatbot’s responses.

“Its material will be of real value to OpenAI for powering a chatbot that can output accurate, high-quality responses to user queries needing up-to-date information,” she said. “The FT’s product and brand strength also means that it is among the most insulated from any substitution risk that comes with AI products gaining steam among users.”

“I can see Amazon taking an interest because it’s much more willing to experiment than, say, Apple, and TikTok’s push into shopping would give Amazon a world of possible integrations,” said Jamie MacEwan, senior research analyst at Enders Analysis.

Even MacEwan said he doesn’t think Project Texas is a strong enough argument for why Oracle should be considered.

“It [Oracle] will struggle with the business-critical aspects, like ensuring a clean technical and operational separation from ByteDance,” MacEwan said. “And then whether TikTok needs to rebuild the algorithm or is allowed to transfer critical technology from ByteDance, you really need a strategic corporate buyer to make that a successful transition. Otherwise it’s TikTok going it alone – which also runs into the trust issue of are they truly shutting down all the backdoors as they transfer systems to the US? Either way, it will take years to get right.”

The early results have been mixed, which is partially a function of timing, according to Abi Watson, senior media analyst at Enders Analysis. By the time Le Monde launched its English-language product in 2022, many members of its target audience—English-speaking news consumers with an international bent—had likely already subscribed to a primary and even secondary news source.

“They were quite late to market for an international play, especially in English language,” Watson said. “Its appeal is obviously more niche than they might have hoped at launch.”