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Future of Media: Ryan Reynolds' soccer gambit, Discovery+ reveal and BBC audio

The Drum's senior reporter and media correspondent John McCarthy rounds up the latest media trends and developments. Also available in your inbox every Thursday as The Drum's Future of Media email briefing. Sign up here.

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 with your weekly Future of Media briefing.

This week, we've got Ryan Reyolds, Discovery, the BBC and out of home advertisers all pushing into new frontiers. Let's reflect on what we've learned.

Reynolds on the ball

Ryan Reynolds is the best content marketer out there. His body of work largely involves some heavy winks to camera – he's enjoying his stint as a 'sell out' but he's also profiting from it – like when he sold Aviation Gin to Diageo based on how hot his marketing made the property.

His attention has now turned to humble Welsh non-league football club Wrexham AFC, with a business venture intended to save the obscure team.

Simon Oliveira, managing director of KIN Partners, explained that Reynolds and comic-buddy Rob McElhenney will make their money back simply by turning their tenure into an underdog tale for a popular streaming service. The football club investment will pay itself due to the star power involved.

Read more on how the media-marketing-sport deal might work out here.

The + side

Discovery has relaunched ad-funded streaming service Dplay as Discovery+, with an additional paid tier affording on-demand access to its pay TV channels.

It joins the streaming plus party: there's Disney+, Apple TV Plus, ESPN Plus, Hulu Plus, Samsung TV Plus, BET Plus and Paramount Plus. Going deeper, it shares a ‘Dis+’ with the hugely successful streaming behemoth Disney+.

James Gibbons, Discovery’s executive vice president general manager UK & Nordics, kindly talked me through how he sees it playing out.

It is coming to market with AVOD and SVOD tiers and faces huge competition, but on the plus side, it enjoys a big share of UK audiences and stands to grow it with the move.

BBC's audio strategy

BBC Global News' Project Songbird has enlisted a synthetic voice to read articles from and in doing so, will make its stories work harder for it.

The text-to-speech-based commercial proposition will allow audiences to listen to their favourite feature articles hands-free without the need to actively click and browse. It dials into the rise of smart speaker listening, podcasting and more, and will be a useful exercise in determining the voice medium's true value to the masses.

What does it mean for the BBC, with audio being the new frontier of search?


The out of home industry took a real kick in the **** when people got locked down at home. But it got smarter. It had to.

Andrew Newman, chief executive of, reflects on some of the best innovation using dynamic data the digital out-of-home advertising industry has seen this year, arguably during its most difficult year, ahead of The Drum Out of Home Awards.

Other stuff


With our 2020 festivals coming to a wrap, I'm proud to share some of the media conversations we posted.

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

Got a tip, a correction, a complaint, want a chat? I'm at or @johngeemccarthy on Twitter.

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