01/22/16: Facebook launches sporting events hub; Chinese censors crack down on streamers; Hulu nabs Triumph the Insult Comic Dog election special


Good morning. It’s Friday January 22, 2016, and this is your first early morning digital briefing.


The NFL playoffs are kind of popular. Facebook seems to have taken note of this. In a new initiative that more than one publication has called a direct competitor to Twitter and its Moments feature, the social media giant is launching Facebook Sports Stadium, a dedicated section allowing users to follow a feed of stats, commentary, and video clips surrounding sporting events. “It’s a second-screen experience that we hope makes watching the broadcast even better,” wrote Steve Kafka, Facebook’s Product Manager, in a blog post. The feature will be available during the upcoming NFL Conference Championships, as well as Super Bowl 50, and will then expand to other sports and sporting events.



The GOP field may be thinning, but audience interest in the 2016 election is increasing by the day. That’s probably why Fox News Channel has partnered with Google for the next Republican presidential primary debate. Under the partnership, Fox will use real-time Google data and trends to pick questions for the candidates. In addition, several (as yet unknown) YouTube stars will have the chance to pose the candidates questions of their own. And on the Google Trends homepage, viewers will see detailed real-time data related to the telecast. The debate is slated for January 28, just days ahead of the February 1 Iowa caucuses.


Finally, a politico with a sharper tongue than Donald Trump. Triumph the Insult Comic Dog will appear in Triumph’s Election Special 2016, set to premiere on Hulu in early February. Hulu acquired the series from Funny or Die. Triumph, the foul-mouthed, cigar-chomping puppet with an extraordinary talent for rattling off nasty witticisms, was created by Robert Smigel and Conan O’Brien
Yahoo has found a new streaming series partner; no word yet on whether said sponsor will be doing Yahoo’s taxes. Tax prep company H&R Block has sponsored Cities Rising: Rebuilding America, a new six part docu-series starring Katie Couric. The series takes a look at urban renewal efforts across the U.S. The first episode premiered earlier this week, while new episodes will debut every other week. You can see them here
TiVo Research announced that it has reached a new data deal with the cloud services company Oracle. TiVo will integrate its data platform into the Oracle Data Cloud, which the companies say will make it easier for advertisers to reach and measure specific TV audiences on digital devices. “By using TiVo Research data through the Oracle Data Cloud, brands can build custom audiences based on TV viewing habits, as well as demographic, purchase intent, and offline purchase data,” said Oracle exec Pieter De Temmerman in a press release.



Be grateful for your free speech rights, folks. Three major Chinese streaming providers – Tencent, iQiyi, and Le Eco (formerly Le TV) – have removed streaming shows from their services in recent days, according to The Wall Street Journal. Some of those shows were big-budget hits, and represent damaging losses for the companies in question. Not surprisingly, the take-downs appear to be the result of government censorship. You can learn more here.


Fresh off eliciting an unwitting confession from a likely serial killer, doc filmmaker and MovieFone founder Andrew Jarecki is trying to make mobile video production easier. Jarecki has launched KnowMe, a new iOS app. Among other features, the app lets users record video clips, then mix them with photos and videos from their personal camera rolls and video libraries. Users can then share their final products with other users of the app, or export them to the likes of Facebook and Twitter. Bessemer Venture Partners and filmmaker J.J. Abrams are among the investors in the new company. You can learn about all of the app’s features here
Go90, the streaming video service launched by Verizon last year, is not likely to be profitable for at least two years, according to Verizon CFO Fran Shammo. It should be noted that he was actually fairly sanguine, saying that Go90 had, as of yet, surpassed the company’s expectations for viewership. But Verizon is still heavily investing in marketing and content for the service, meaning that profit is out of the question for the immediate future. The comments came during an earnings call to investors.
Vimeo is doing its best to help female creators. The video platform has launched Share the Screen, a new program aimed at boosting female-led projects. The program consists of three separate initiatives. First comes the February 18 release of the new Aidy Bryant-starring short Darby Forever. Vimeo will also support development and production – and provide marketing support – for at least five female-led projects this year. Lastly, Vimeo’s blog will begin showcasing and curating female-led projects. Learn more about the new initiatives here.
Okay, this is pretty cool. YouTube has added a new feature making it significantly easier to play videos on a loop. Just right click on any video, then click the “loop” button. It’s that simple. Go ahead, try it on Gangnam Style. You know you want to.


Tuesday, February 9  I  New York City

Programmed to be an educational springboard for media professionals looking to leverage ratings and Nielsen’s Total Audience Measurement tool in preparation for the 2016 Upfront season. This highly focused training will provide critical tools, strategies and insights to help you get up to speed in the fast-moving measurement landscape.

Early Bird rates end January 29, register soon: http://www.cynopsis.com/event/cynopsis-boot-camp/ .


The truth is out there – if you’re willing to watch Ryan Reynolds get snarky. The new mini-series revival of The X Files debuts January 24 on Fox. It’s a standard linear TV affair, with the usual advertising format…unless you choose to watch it on Fox.com or the Fox Now mobile app. Then all you have to do is experience 60 seconds worth of advertising for the upcoming superhero flick Deadpool, and the rest of your experience will be ad-free. The advertising comes in two parts – first a traditional 30-second trailer, then a more interactive feature. Learn more here.
You stream, I stream, we all stream for Ustream – especially IBM. The tech giant announced that it has acquired Ustream, a video streaming and hosting service. IBM will also be launching the new IBM Cloud Video Services unit, of which Ustream will be a part, along with other IBM acquisitions and R&D labs. No official deal terms were announced, though Fortune says that IBM paid $130 million for the company.
When did the BBC start taking its cues from high-tech espionage thrillers? During the fall, the company apparently employed facial recognition technology from the tech company CrowdEmotion, using webcams to gauge users’ reactions to content marketing campaigns. The first test run observed 5,000 subjects. The BBC will now be unveiling the feature more widely for clients of its StoryWorks studio. Learn more here.
When it comes to ad-blocking, it’s a brave new world. Brave, a new web browser launched by former Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich, is out to change the ad-blocking model. Instead of simply removing ads, the browser replaces them with new ones. Those new ads will then split their revenue between network partners, publishers, users, and Brave itself. It’s a pretty fascinating, complicated, and controversial business model, and it remains to be seen just how successful it can be. Learn more here.



Do you know anyone who deserves to be nominated for the
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Standalone streaming services, or TV Everywhere apps? That’s the question. And by at least one measurement – popularity on Roku – the standalones are performing better.  According to a new study from Shodan, standalone services from HBO and Showtime are far more popular on Roku than any TV Everywhere apps. The standalone HBO Now service ranks as the fourth-most popular third party app on Roku, while Showtime’s standalone service is the fifth. The only third party apps that place higher on the list are Hulu, Amazon Video, and Netflix.  The top-ranked TV Everywhere app on the list, HBO Go, ranks as the fifteenth-most popular third-party app. You can see the full list here.
By the conclusion of 2015, the digital platform NBCU Hispanics Plus reached more than 30 million users, according to a release. That represents a 16% increase over 2014. The growth, the release said, was fueled by original content, as well as Telemundo’s digital properties.


A couple of new executive hires from SuperAwesome, a U.K.-based digital marketing startup aimed at pre-teens. Jeff Imberman, formerly an ad sales exec at Nickelodeon, will serve as Chief Revenue Officer. The company has also hired Paul Nunn as Chief Commercial Officer. Nunn formerly served as Managing Director of Outfit7, the entertainment developer best known for creating the Talking Tom and Friends brand.



It’s very easy to be skeptical of these kinds of reboots, but you’ve gotta admit, Fox’s upcoming revival of The X Files looks undeniably cool. Check out a teaser here.

See you Monday,
David Teich

Roberta Caploe: Associate Publisher @robertacaploe
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