'Friends' is still must-see TV (on Netflix). Plus, more news on the Les Moonves scandal: Wednesday Wake-Up Call

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The 'Holiday Armadillo' episode of 'Friends'
The 'Holiday Armadillo' episode of 'Friends' Credit: Netflix, Warner Bros. Television

Welcome to Ad Age's Wake-Up Call, our daily roundup of advertising, marketing, media and digital news. You can get an audio version of this briefing on your Alexa device. Search for "Ad Age" under "Skills" in the Alexa app.

What people are talking about today
"Friends" debuted in 1994, when Bill Clinton was in the White House, Michael Jackson was married to Lisa Marie Presley, and Justin Bieber was wearing diapers. But in today's streaming era, "Friends" is still hot content. As Ad Age's Anthony Crupi writes, fans panicked this week at the suggestion the old NBC show might no longer be available on Netflix in 2019. But – phew! – everything will be OK. Under a new agreement with owner Warner Bros., the sitcom about a group of beautiful-but-goofy New Yorkers "will remain in the Netflix library through next year—whereupon it is expected to make the jump to its parent company's new digital offering," Crupi writes.
In other words, Netflix wants to stream "Friends," and so does AT&T's WarnerMedia, which is at work on its own forthcoming Netflix-type service. Netflix "re-signed 'Friends' on a non-exclusive basis, so that means 'Friends' could go on our platform as well," AT&T Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson told a conference Tuesday. Moral of the story: "Friends" is an oldie-but-goodie that people still want to watch, and beloved content comes at a steep price in the streaming era. According to The New York Times, Netflix shelled out a whopping sum to keep licensing it: $100 million.

Disturbing details
Scoop from The New York Times: It got hold of a draft report that lawyers hired by CBS put together on longtime chairman and CEO Les Moonves, who was pushed out amid multiple sexual misconduct allegations. At issue is Moonves' $120 million severance package; the lawyers' report says the network would be justified in denying him the exit money, The Times reports. The lawyers' 21,666-word document alleges that Moonves destroyed evidence and misled investigators to try to salvage his reputation. One detail: When investigators asked for his iPad, he allegedly turned in his son's instead. And The Times report includes sordid details: The Times reports that "the outside lawyers were told by multiple people that CBS had an employee 'who was 'on call' to perform oral sex' on Mr. Moonves."
What Moonves' lawyer says: The Times quotes Andrew J. Levander as saying Moonves "denies having any nonconsensual sexual relation" and "cooperated extensively and fully with investigators."

Empire-building
Martin Sorrell is adding a puzzle piece to his newish advertising venture, S4 Capital. After months of buzz about an impending move to buy San Francisco-based digital media and programmatic consultancy MightyHive, the deal was finally announced Tuesday. As Ad Age's Megan Graham writes, the deal is valued at $150 million, and it follows S4's purchase of Dutch digital production house MediaMonks.
Let's pause here and consider what kind of year it's been in adland. In January, who would have guessed that Sorrell would leave WPP, the ad giant he spent three decades building, after a personal misconduct probe? And that Sorrell, 73, would immediately turn around and launch a new venture? It's been a head-spinning 2018.

Just briefly:
He'd like the thank the Academy:
Kevin Hart will host the Academy Awards; the ceremony is Feb. 24 on ABC. Hart called it "the opportunity of a lifetime." Read more from The Hollywood Reporter.

Hidden code: Google removed two popular apps from Cheetah Mobile and Kika Tech from its Play store; BuzzFeed News reports that a Google probe found they "contain code used to execute ad fraud techniques known as click injection and/or click flooding."

Wins: "Wingstop Inc. has picked Leo Burnett Chicago and 3Headed Monster as its new creative agencies as the restaurant chain keeps pushing for growth," Jessica Wohl reports in Ad Age.

'Meh' marketing: "In an era of female empowerment and #MeToo, finance brands are falling behind when it comes to marketing to women," Ad Age's Adrianne Pasquarelli writes, based on a study from Kantar.

Tough times in media, part 1: Thomson Reuters says it will cut 3,200 jobs, or 12 percent of its workforce, over the next two years. It's not clear which divisions at the news and information provider will be affected. Read more from … Reuters.

Tough times in media, part 2: The editor of conservative magazine The Weekly Standard told staff that the publication's fate is uncertain, CNN Business reports. The publication has been strongly critical of the Trump administration.

Moving on: NPR's chief executive Jarl Mohn is stepping down, The Wall Street Journal reports. Mohn's contract ends in June, but he might stay beyond that for the transition if needed. Also, Mohn "and his wife will donate $10 million to the network," The Journal says.

Ad of the day: Burger King will offer up one-cent Whoppers. But there's a catch, as Ad Age's Jessica Wohl writes: Customers have to place the order on the Burger King app while they're inside or near a McDonald's. Wohl writes that the campaign from FCB New York wasn't easy, "since they had to geofence nearly every McDonald's restaurant in the U.S." Read more here.

Friendly reminder: There are two weeks left to apply for Ad Age's Agency A-List & Creativity Awards. The deadline is Dec. 18. Here's the link to learn more.

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