Evening Standard Business Awards 2019: Media Company of the Year nominations
It’s been a turbulent year in the media world. Giants Sky and 21st Century Fox have fallen to multi-billion dollar take-overs, while on the small screen new stars have been created and hit shows aired against a backdrop of a rapidly changing advertising market. The industry might be going through interesting times, but as the companies short-listed in the Evening Standard Business Awards, in association with London City Airport, demonstrate, talent and creativity is still plentiful in this media city.
The rate at which Sir Martin Sorrell, the veteran dealmaker and advertising guru, has bounced back to establish his new venture, S4 Capital, after leaving WPP abruptly last year has been breathtaking. In the first quarter of 2019, revenues jumped 38% to £40.9 million. S4 Capital pitches itself as a purely digital advertising and marketing services business that can help clients navigate an industry now dominated by Google and Facebook. Big clients like Procter & Gamble, Nestlé and Mondelez have already signed up to the “faster, better, cheaper” model.
ITV has a track record for producing some of the UK’s most-loved TV hits — I’m a Celebrity, Coronation Street and the sun and sex hit Love Island. With loyal watchers deserting to streamed content, and advertisers spending more online, ITV has chosen to double-down on light entertainment and high-quality drama, producing shows like Vanity Fair. Negotiating with its arch-rival the BBC to create a Netflix competitor, Britbox, is potentially a risky move, but also a game-changer.
DAZN (pronounced Da-Zone) is a media player that has yet to launch in the UK but is fast making a global name for itself in sports streaming. The Hammersmith-based company is owned by Sir Len Blavatnik, the billionaire businessman and donor to the Tate Modern. Its rocketing user numbers around the world are starting to put more-traditional media companies that buy sports rights under pressure. Now valued at about £3 billion, DAZN takes its lead from Netflix by refusing to lock fans into expensive, long-term contracts. It is making big bets on buying up sports rights and, with the firepower of its owner, could give much bigger companies a run for their money.
Global, the UK’s largest commercial radio company, is home to many of the UK’s best-loved radio stations, including Heart, whose presenters include Emma Bunton, as well as Capital, Smooth and Classic FM. But it is LBC, with two million listeners, which has got people talking about Global in the past year. The talk radio station has been leading the Brexit debate by allowing its star presenters huge editorial freedom. Global’s commitment to build radio brands that can challenge the BBC was underlined by its decision to poach PM host Eddie Mair, who joins star presenters including Nick Ferrari and James O’Brien. Now Global plans to expand its news programming and will launch national breakfast shows across each of its stations in September.
This adland agency has a knack for creating ads which tend to go viral. While the rest of the ad industry has struggled against an uncertain economic environment, T&P has seen record growth. Backed by WPP, its corporate clients include News UK, for which it produced The Times’s recent Politics Tamed campaign, and TalkTalk in London. It also has new party Change UK as a pro bono client, which means founder Johnny Hornby, who worked with Tony Blair, will have an influence in this week’s European elections. Other key clients include Argos and RBS.
Visual effects firm DNEG has grown over 20 years to become one of the industry’s biggest success stories. The company, whose credits include Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War, has brought home the Oscar for best visual effects four times in the past five years. What started as a small studio in London in 1998 now has nine facilities in four countries. TV work includes Doctor Who, Black Mirror, and the latest big budget mini-series, Chernobyl, a co-production for Sky and HBO.