June’s Baker’s Dozen

Debate ratings dwindle, the Post continues to reel, and more.


Elon Musk joined X chief Linda Yaccarino in an attempt to win back advertisers to the platform at the annual marketing festival in Cannes. Apple, Disney and IBM are among the top brands that have boycotted X over concerns regarding Musk’s erratic management style and the site’s perceived rightward lean since he purchased it. Advertisers will be just some of the people keeping a close eye on X as the election cycle reaches a fever pitch. 


Marketing departments 

Toys ‘R’ Us became one of the first big brands to produce an ad entirely from AI, using Sora, OpenAI’s text-to-video generator, to build a one-minute origin tale about founder Charles Lazarus dreaming of a fanciful toy store and its giraffe mascot. Reactions were mixed, with some praising the visuals and compact storytelling while others, including those in the marketing industry, saying the commercial “should terrify you.” 

Sora is not yet available to the public, but it and similar tools will be stoking this type of controversy as they gain steam along with the perception, accurate or not, that they threaten audiovisual professionals. 

New York Times podcasts 

Podcasts are the latest Times feature to go behind a paywall, following sports coverage (The Athletic), the Cooking section and the paper’s wildly popular stable of word games. It’s a bit of a gamble–subscribers complain more and more about the rising cost of accessing all of the publisher’s content–but it shouldn’t hit too much resistance if the recent past is any indication. 


The Disney animation unit is enjoying a big comeback as its Inside Out 2 becomes the first bonafide box office sensation since Barbieheimer. This isn’t just great news for the studio, which many griped had lost its Midas touch creatively and financially, but Hollywood more generally following a string of much-publicized flops. The movie will soon pass $1 billion internationally. 


Understandably lost in the stunned reaction to Thursday’s presidential debate was some disappointing ratings news. Fifty-one million Americans watched the event across various networks and digital channels. That made the debate the most-watched non-sports broadcast this year, but the number trailed those for the first debates in 2020, when 73 million tuned in, and 2016, when a massive 84 million Americans watched Donald Trump face off against Hillary Clinton. It was the lowest-rated debate in 20 years. 

That such a hyped battle couldn’t overcome the general trend of shrinking election coverage audiences bodes poorly for the next four months. 




The three major record labels are in talks with YouTube to license their music for training AI on the platform. The Google-owned video juggernaut has already offered fat payments to the labels, but the artists they represent are wary of AI potentially undermining the field, and chipping away at musician-songwriter royalties already vastly diminished by the streaming revolution. Could the current negotiations convince the artists? 

The Tonys 

Live TV is struggling outside of politics coverage. Just 3.5 million people watched this year’s Tony awards, down 15% from last year and the second-lowest result on record. The show honoring the best of Broadway has never been a ratings juggernaut, but the marked decline was a disappointment following increases for the Oscars and Grammys earlier this year. 

The Daily Telegraph

The Washington Post 

Robert Winnett announced that he would stay put at the UK’s Daily Telegraph rather than take the top editor role at the Post, an assignment by the DC paper’s new chief executive, Will Lewis, that tipped the already-unsettled newsroom into a full-blown crisis. The loss of Winnett, a Fleet Week vet whose ruthless scoop tactics–paying sources, phone hacking and other dubiously obtained records–did not fly on this side of the pond, offered the Post a spot of relief. But don’t expect its current troubles to fade anytime soon.;