Disney May Buy WarnerMedia's Hulu Stake; Video App TikTok Fined Over Privacy Violation

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Hungry Mouse

Disney is in talks to acquire WarnerMedia’s 10% stake in Hulu, Variety reports. Disney currently owns 30% of Hulu and will pick up 20th Century Fox’s 30% stake if and when the Department of Justice approves their merger. Adding WarnerMedia’s stake and board seat would strengthen its control further. Meanwhile, Comcast’s NBCU, which owns the remaining 30% stake, doesn’t plan to exit the joint venture. The assumption is that under a single owner Hulu would receive stronger backing, removing Disney’s disincentive to make outsized investments that benefit rivals. And Hulu needs a lot of backing. Like every other popular subscription streaming service, it is unprofitable and faces mounting losses as marketing and production costs increase. Comcast, which lost a bitter bidding war to Disney over 20th Century Fox, isn’t sweating Disney’s problem. More.

Time Out

Video app TikTok was fined $5.7 million by the FTC on Wednesday for violating children’s online privacy laws. The app, formerly known as Musical.ly, was flagged by a watchdog group last year for improperly collecting email addresses, phone numbers, full names and photos of children under 13 years old. That’s in direct violation of COPPA, the US law that bans companies from collecting data on consumers under 13 without parental consent. TikTok will launch a separate, age-gated version of its app for under-13s that restricts posting, sharing and commenting on videos, TechCrunch reports. “This record penalty should be a reminder to all online services and websites that target children: We take enforcement of COPPA very seriously, and we will not tolerate companies that flagrantly ignore the law,” said FTC Chairman Joe Simons in a statement. More.

Look East

Despite being banned from the country, Google has built a sizeable ad business in China as homegrown tech companies seek to promote themselves to international audiences. Google’s revenue in China grew 60% last year to more than $3 billion as tech giants like Alibaba and ByteDance spend more to reach global audiences. ByteDance spent more than $300 million with Google last year, The Information reports. Amazon and Facebook, also banned in the region, are experiencing similar growth in China as the economy stumbles and local companies look overseas for expansion. More.

Milk Machine

Amazon just launched its first private-label milk and dairy brand. That may not seem relevant to data-driven marketers, but it could help Amazon’s grocery ambitions because milk is, well, a staple, and anchors weekly purchases. Grocery delivery has been Amazon’s “white whale,” Quartz writes, even with its Whole Foods acquisition. Amazon is an aggressive conquester, and those tactics are on display in the ad copy for its grocery brands. “If you like Lactaid, we invite you to try Happy Belly,” reads the product description for Amazon’s new lactose-free milk, referencing the Johnson & Johnson brand that leads the category. Amazon also invites you to try its private-label granola bars, if you like Quaker Chewy bars, a brand that’s owned by Pepsi. More.

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