02/11/16: Amazon picks up new German series and Thunderbirds revival; Grammys plot multi-platform initiative; Twitter announces timeline changes

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CYNOPSISDIGITAL
02.11.16

 

Good morning. It’s Thursday February 11, 2016, and this is your first early morning digital briefing.

 

TOP NEWS


As anticipated, Twitter is rolling out some new changes to its timeline – but they’re not quite as restrictive as some have feared. “When you first open Twitter, the tweets you’re most likely to care about will appear at the top of your timeline,” explained Senior Engineering Manager Mike Jahr in a blog post. “They are recent, and in reverse chronological order.” The goal, he suggested, is to increase user engagement. The feature is now available for Android, iOS, and the web, though it has to be opted into for the time being. (Twitter intends to switch all users to the new experience in the coming weeks.) As for users who want to stick to their real-time feeds, here’s the good news: It’s easy to opt out of the new curated-tweets feature in Twitter’s app settings.

NEW PROGRAMMING + DEALS


YouTube Red premiered its first original programming yesterday, but certainly not its last. The subscription service is adding two new productions to its slate: A doc about transgender YouTube star Gigi Gorgeous, and a new scripted series starring YouTube star Jenn McAllister (better known as JennXPenn). The Gigi Gorgeous documentary will be directed by Oscar-winner Barbara Kopple (American Dream). The high school-set JennXPenn series, titled Foursome, comes from AwesomenessTV.

You know a multi-channel media company is valuable when a media giant pays $675 million dollars for it – and it was less than expected. That’s how much Disney paid to finalize its acquisition of Maker Studios, according to a 10-Q form filed by Disney. Still, it’s less money than many had predicted: Had Maker fulfilled certain performance goals, it would have been slated to earn $950 million. 


Guten Tag. Amazon Studios will be testing the international waters with Wanted, its first German-language series. German star Matthias Schweighoefer will write, direct, and star. Pantaleon Entertainment (Schweighoefer’s company), Warner Bros. Entertainment, and Warner Bros. International Television Production Deutschland will produce. The series will premiere on Amazon Prime in Germany and Austria in 2017.

Having your show greenlit has to feel good. Getting a four-season order right off the bat has to feel even better. Amazon picked up four thirteen-episode seasons of Thunderbirds Are Go, an update of the British 1960s sci-fi series. The new series, from ITV Studios Global Entertainment, will use a mixture of live-action model sets and CGI animation and debut on Amazon Prime Video in the U.S. later this year, followed by the U.K., Germany, and Austria.

Between this and reviving Pee-wee Herman, Netflix really seems to be gunning for a monopoly on childhood nostalgia: The children’s animation studio 9 Story Media Group announced that it will produce a new version of the ‘90s animated series The Magic Schoolbus, exclusively for Netflix. It will debut in in the fall of 2017.

Given their band name, it seems rather amazing that it’s taken this long for The Beatles to be reimagined as insects. Beat Bugs, a new kid-oriented animated music series just picked up by Netflix, does just that. Centering on five bug pals in an overgrown backyard, the series is loaded (infested?) with Beatles covers, thanks to a deal with Sony/ATV Music Publishing. Pink, Eddie Vedder, and Sia are among those featured on the soundtrack. The series will debut on Netflix this summer.

Two recent acquisitions from Acorn TV, the streaming service devoted to bringing U.K. content to North American audiences: The service acquired rights to the legal drama Janet King: The Enemy Within and the comedy series Very British Problems. The former series will debut on the service March 14, the latter on March 28.

CONTENT PROGRAMMING


The Grammys are going multi-platform. GRAMMY Live, a wide-ranging initiative featuring live streams, on-demand content, and real-time community engagement, will run before and during the 58th Annual Grammy Awards on Monday, February 15. GRAMMY Live will feature video content, polls, trivia, calls to action, social curation, and group chat across desktop and mobile. This will include hours of backstage live-streaming, as well as the debut of the GRAMMYcam, a GoPro camera embedded within the awards trophies themselves, which will allow viewers to see through the perspective of the artists accepting their awards.

More from the Grammys: The Recording Academy has partnered with Billboard and Instagram. The Grammys’ and Billboard’s official Instagram accounts  will post real-time behind-the-scenes content from backstage throughout the show, as presenters introduce categories and nominees accept awards.

Endemol Beyond USA announced that YouTube star Tom Cassell (aka Syndicate) will host season two of the eSports-oriented web series Legends of Gaming. The series appears on Smasher Network, Endemol Beyond’s recently-launched eSports vertical.


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VIRTUAL REALITY


If you weren’t at CES, well, that’s a bummer, because by all accounts it was awesome. Still, here’s the next-best thing: The consumer tech publisher Digital Trends released three 360-degree video experiences that take viewers inside the 2016 consumer electronics show. The films are hosted by DT editors, and were created in partnership with VR Northwest and Human Eyes Technologies. You can watch them here.

 

PLATFORMS + TECH


The predictive analytics platform Genesis Media announced the launch of Adaptive Formats, a new framework that uses real-time data insights for advanced ad deployment and yield optimization. According to Genesis, the new formats will allow the company to analyze user behavior data, using it to determine which format is most appropriate for each individual page, and to improve on user experience and ad results. The company says that the new approach leads to 85% viewability.

Snapchat, Periscope, and Whisper are just a few of the apps we’ll be discussing at next month’s webinar, New Social Media Strategies to Reach the Young Demos. Will you be joining us?

ADVERTISING


When it comes to presidential primaries, data is just as important for marketers as it is for campaigns. And here’s some new research to keep in mind, courtesy of SendGrid: marketing emails that contain a call to action are more likely to be clicked on from a mobile device than from a desktop. In other words, such emails must be optimized for mobile viewing if they’re to make their full impact. As MediaPost points out, this bears significant import for political marketers. You can learn more about the study here.

The targeted marketing platform Spotlight Cinema Networks has partnered with the personalized audio-based marketing company The TONE Knows.  Under the partnership, a “silent” tone message will be sent moviegoers’ smartphones when a given company’s advertisement is shown. The message will be able to deliver videos, retail partner graphics, messaging, and digital coupons. Moviegoers will only have access to the messaging if they’ve downloaded CineLife, the Spotlight Cinema Networks app. According to the companies, the partnership was initiated early this year.

 

RESEARCH


We must be getting closer to November. New data released by YouTube shows that, last month, a few political ads were among the top ten most viewed.  You can see the full chart here.

During big-event viewing, people are turning to their phones as second screens more and more often. The Digital Traffic Index – a collaboration between MediaPost and Jumpshot – showed some noteworthy data regarding digital viewership across devices on Super Bowl Sunday. According to the Index, a huge portion of unique digital users migrated from desktop to mobile on February 7. It had been nearly six months since the mobile index had hit the same heights. You can learn more about the data here.

The moral of this story: Adele is popular. In a press release, CBS noted the digital success of a recent Carpool Karaoke segment in which Late Late Show host James Corden duetted with the aforementioned megastar. The clip has surpassed 67.5 million views on YouTube, making it the most viewed late night clip in history, CBS said.

If you thought Fabio had long since retired, you’re mistaken. The model/actor is posing seductively once again, flowing locks and all. That’s thanks to the Hallmark-owned SVOD service Feeln, which has employed Fabio in Your Perfect Valentine’s Day Date, a new feature that Feeln describes  as “a virtual streaming ‘date’ featuring the Italian supermodel and actor Fabio.” You can check it out on Feeln.com, but be careful – you might just fall in love.

EXECUTIVE MOVES


Three digital video vets – Danny Fishman, Lou Kerner, and Dave Lavine – have teamed up to launch Excellerate, a new advisory firm designed to accelerate the growth and value of digital companies. “Like a curator, Excellerate’s mission, through a multifaceted lens of sales, marketer, operator, investor and advisor, is to identify companies of all stages with an innovative technology edge and unique positioning to help them optimize their market penetration,” said Fishman in a statement. Fishman most recently served as a partner at Believe Entertainment Group, while Kerner serves as Managing Partner of The Social Internet Fund. Lavine has served as Chief Revenue Officer at the ad tech company Hone.


DIGITAL SPOTLIGHT


Given what happened Tuesday, it can be easy to forget that Donald Trump was once most famous for being a real estate developer. Funny Or Die is out to remind everyone. The website has released The Art of the Deal, a 50-minute comedy bearing the title of Trump’s 1987 book. The film, bearing many of the trademarks of ‘80s schlock cinema (right down to the grainy picture quality), stars a nigh-unrecognizable Johnny Depp as Trump. The movie is available for free on FunnyorDie.com site. You can see the trailer here.

See you tomorrow,
David Teich
02.11.16

Roberta Caploe: Associate Publisher @robertacaploe
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