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This is an extract from The Drum’s Future of Media briefing. You can subscribe to it here if you’d like it your inbox once a week.

John McCarthy here. This week we look at Slate’s podcasting efforts, how cinema can thrive post-pandemic and at some of the biggest moves in media at Facebook and TikTok. 

If you don’t podcast, you’re last

US magazine Slate knows that around half of the people who pay for its content do so because they were enticed by its podcasts. So now, it is pushing its own Patreon-styled podcast platform, Supporting Cast, inviting third parties to make it their home with the promise of boosting revenues all round. 

Slate, which began life with an emphasis on the written word, has been ramping up its podcast infrastructure because the medium looks to drive subscriptions, and Supporting Cast’s standout feature is dynamic subscriber messaging.

In plain English, podcasters can record and deliver audio to specific audience segments before each show, be that thank-yous for joining, warnings about expiring credit cards, invitations to upgrade to higher-priced tiers or even targeted pleas to check out other shows.

Building upon a feature that used email to deliver these warnings, Slate thinks the host-reads will drive subscriptions and retentions for its own and third-party podcasts. 

Slate claims it is the only platform with this feature. But for how long?
 

Cinema’s return can’t just be a re-run

Tom Jarvis of the Wilderness came with some radical ideas about how the embattled cinema sector should restructure. I’ve bullet-pointed the takeaways, but you should read the piece.

  • There should be no more theatrical window. Films should be released on all channels at the same time. Then, studios might not churn out quite as many explosive thrillers/reductive superhero franchises. 

  • Cinemas should focus on getting people to actually, truly, want to be there. It comes down to what really can be magical about the cinema – the experience of communal viewing.

  • Content could be the finale of a hit TV show. Or the World Cup. Or the Olympics. It could be a classic film at the right time of year. Anything that can bring people together in a positive, shared way.
     

Lucio out at Facebook

“I came in with eyes wide open, I knew that this was challenging,” said Antonio Lucio, Facebook’s chief marketing officer, on taking the role two years ago, months after the Cambridge Analytica scandal diminished trust in the social giant.

Now, after a rough ride, the marketing veteran is clocking out in the twilight of his career to dedicate his time to “diversity, inclusion and equity” in the ad industry.

Electoral interference, misinformation concerns and malfunctioning metrics were just some of the issues Lucio had to navigate, while the suite of apps expanded beyond 3 billion users.

Did he do any good at Facebook? In his departing comment, he said he was “grateful to Mark [Zuckerberg] for his curiosity, support and commitment, and for always listening attentively even when we disagreed“.

I wonder what they disagreed about?
 

Mayer away from TikTok

And there was another big move this week. TikTok’s chief executive Kevin Mayer announced he is quitting as the platform faces the threat of being banned in the United States.

President Donald Trump passed two executive orders prohibiting American companies from doing business with WeChat and TikTok, and the platform was to be sold to a US-operated company.

Mayer had left Disney to join TikTok in May, so he had a fairly short stint bedding TikTok into the US.

What will happen next?
 

Positive ITV

Back to the UK. Profit or purpose? It’s not an either-or according to ITV’s social purpose leader Clare Phillips.

“Often, we talk about this split between profit or purpose, ethics or economics. It’s a false dichotomy. We are going to find that ’business as usual’ is all about doing the right thing and contributing to society,“ said Phillips, who is this year’s chair of The Drum Awards for Social Purpose. 

Purpose can be baked into even the most unexpected of places, she said. “Take a show like Coronation Street, which has been around for decades. It has been incredible in changing people’s attitudes to some interesting social subjects, like transgender people, equal marriage, online grooming and domestic violence.”

Read more here. 

Well, that’s this week’s round-up. If you missed last week’s, I’ve summarised it here.

If you’ve anything to share – a tip, a correction, a complaint – or if you just want to chat, you can get me at john.mccarthy@thedrum.com or @johngeemccarthy on Twitter.