TikTok has been dealt a devastating blow as a US bill has been signed into law forcing owner ByteDance to sell within a year or face its removal from app stores. 

The stakes are higher than in 2020—China's opposition to a divestment will make an optimal sale harder to conclude, so all sides must be prepared for a ban.   

The TikTok bill introduces extraordinary new powers in the context of the US and China's broad systemic rivalry, though online consumer benefits will be limited.  

Big news publishers are pursuing licensing deals with AI companies, chiefly OpenAI. Not all publishers will see a substantial return; while some news may be important for training AI models, not all publisher content will be

Litigation is a threat point when negotiations stall (see the New York Times), but the copyright status of Large Language Models (LLMs) is uncertain. In the UK, there has been no government intervention (on copyright or otherwise) that could facilitate licensing 

Publishers’ bargaining position is strongest when it comes to up-to-date material that could be important in powering some AI consumer products. They should seek deals to support their journalism, while bearing in mind the risk that new products may get between them and their readers

 

IFPI reports trade revenues from streaming rose 10% in 2023 to reach $19.3 billion, and we estimate Spotify contributed about $7 billion. Spotify also rewarded music publishers with about $2 billion in royalties. 

Spotify’s Loud & Clear data on royalties paid to the 225,000 professional and aspiring artists served to its 600 million users reveals a bulge in the middle part of the distribution in favour of Spanish language artists as the service expands in Latin America.

The top 1,000 earners are mainly artists at the top of the charts in the US and UK markets, which together contribute half of Spotify’s revenues and thus royalties. Top earner and top all-time streamed artist Taylor Swift earned over $100 million in 2023. 

Streaming profitability beckons, but owes much to the profitable services folded into companies’ DTC segments alongside the headline streamers.

There is a broader move towards bundling and price rises. The former bolsters subscriber additions and lifetime value but is ARPU-dilutive, while price rises will bump up both ARPU and churn.

2024 marks the first year with multiple players at scale in the ad space, as Prime Video entered the market. Other streamers with high CPMs and lower scale may be forced to re-examine their offerings.

Recent advances in 'Artificial Intelligence' have generated excitement, investment and improved valuations, on the plausible promise of greater efficiency in a range of areas, such as health and coding.

It is still not clear who will profit from this boom. Currently chip-maker NVIDIA is cleaning up, propelled by sales to model developers, also driving demand for cloud computing services.

Leverage in the AI value chain depends on differentiation and barriers to entry, which are high in the chips industry. AI services like chatbots have much lower barriers to entry, while deeper vertical integration of more stages of the value chain could shake things up.

Meta's China risk is overstated: the spend from Chinese advertisers is diverse and resilient to everything short of a full-blown trade war. 

Apple (and Tesla) are in the more precarious position of selling directly in-market, and face sharpening domestic competition.

Amazon's exit from selling in China still leaves it exposed: its marketplace strategy is built on Chinese sellers, whose potential routes to market are proliferating with local platforms going global.  

Sony PlayStation’s next CEO will have hard decisions to make: compete against a resurgent multiplatform Microsoft, or retreat and defend an increasingly rickety PlayStation console model.

New gaming hardware will have an outsize influence in the year ahead, giving gamers unprecedented choice, starting with XR headsets and continuing to a likely new Nintendo Switch.

YouTube’s foray into browser-based games will be the service to watch in 2024. If successful, streaming services, including Netflix, will be on track to become heavyweight game platforms.

The metaverse is a radical expansion of online experiences— sparking a host of new safety challenges on harmful content, economic activity, and privacy.

Building safety into the metaverse will take a village: platforms and communities will set policies and moderation. Regulators could struggle to future-proof their tools, especially with decentralised platforms.

AI age verification and moderation is in a race against AI hazards: disinformation, deepfakes and dynamic user content all intensify harms in immersive settings.

YouTube has just introduced Primetime Channels in the UK, following launches in the US and Germany, becoming another video-content aggregator in a crowded market.

The US has carried YouTube's subscription revenue boom—layering on a premium video marketplace in the UK may prove harder to achieve.

Google's NFL Sunday Ticket package offers exclusive, high-end content to US consumers. Primetime Channels' UK launch just a few weeks before the Premier League auction is interesting timing, but will not change the game.

Despite its scale, YouTube can get overlooked. But its tremendous reach and impact across all demographics make it the internet's universal service provider. 

YouTube is still the golden child for creators who want to make a living from their content. For YouTube, this broad base of suppliers ensures a position of strength from which to claim a large revenue share. 

Competition from TikTok took some of the shine off YouTube's usage, and forced it promote lower-monetising Shorts. YouTube is pushing heavily into subscriptions, TV sets, and premium content via sports rights to boost the money it makes per minute spent.