03/04/16: Spotify hires former VH1 prez; J.J. Abrams produces Google-funded docu-series; Study finds Netflix responsible for drop in TV viewership



CYNOPSISDIGITAL
03.04.16

Good morning. It’s Friday March 4, 2016, and this is your first early morning digital briefing.

TOP NEWS
 

Out of the 3% decline in TV viewing time among U.S. audiences in 2015, Netflix was responsible for about 50% of it, according to a new study from MoffettNathanson analyst Michael Nathanson. Nathanson predicts that Netflix’s total streaming hours as a percentage of TV viewing will continue to rise, hitting about 14% by the year 2020. “Currently, Netflix is a source of industry pain, but not necessarily a cause of industry death,” Nathanson concluded. Learn more about the study, which was provided to Variety, here.
 
Online programmatic media tech company AppNexus has unveiled a new technology that claims to reduce the load time of video ad serving to “as little as five milliseconds” – down from something closer to five seconds. The company says its internal testing indicates that the technology retrieves video ads from cache at least 100 times faster than an average video mediation process. Learn more here.
 
 

NEW PROGRAMMING + DEALS

 
Star Wars director J.J. Abrams’ production company, Bad Robot, produced the new Google-funded docu-series Moon Shot alongside Epic Digital. Directed by Orlando von Einsiedel (Virunga), Moon Shot centers on the Google Lunar Xprize competition to land a robot on the moon. The nine-episode series debuts on Google Play March 15, and on the Google Lunar Xprize YouTube channel March 17.
 
Go90
, Verizon’s mobile streaming service, may be relatively new, but it has no shortage of content. The latest arrival is season two of Defining Beauty, from Disney’s Maker Studios. The show centers on five women of color who, according to a release, “reveal their individual journeys toward self-acceptance and understanding, giving viewers a…behind-the-scenes view of their lives and personal stories.” Defining Beauty’s first season was available on The Platform, Maker Studios’ beauty, fashion, and style vertical.
 
Discovery Communications announced new efforts to support yesterday’s World Wildlife Day, joining the Obama Administration and several U.S. companies in a campaign to prevent wildlife trafficking. Plans include short-form and virtual reality content through the Discovery VR platform. Alexa Verveer, SVP of Public Policy and Corporate Government Affairs, told Cynopsis Digital, “Through Discovery VR, viewers can explore the world’s most beautiful, and often endangered, creatures in their natural habitat…our hope is that this will spark engagement, empathy and action on the behalf of our planet and its wildlife.”
 
RNTS Media, parent company of mobile ad tech platform Fyber, has acquired mobile real-time bidding ad exchange Inneractive. Deal calls for an initial payout of $46 million, followed by up to $26 million of incentive-based payments over the following three years.
 


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OTT + SVOD
 

Seeso, NBCUniversal’s comedy-oriented SVOD channel, will host a lineup of programming at SXSW in Austin, Texas on March 12 to kick off the fest’s comedy offerings. Beginning at 6 PM C, performances will be live-streamed over Seeso, and will include appearances from Seeso contributors including Dan Harmon. “The SXSW shows are our 4th, 5th and 6th live comedy gigs since launch,” Evan Shapiro, EVP of Digital Enterprises at NBCU, told Cynopsis Digital. “We’re the only SVOD channel, and perhaps the only channel outside of SNL, offering live comedy.”
 
 

RESEARCH
 

When it comes to programmatic buying, concerns about fraud and transparency are pervasive. According to a study from the Association of National Advertisers and Forrester, many companies are arriving at a simple solution: It’s time to take things in house. The survey finds that 79% of marketers have made programmatic ad buys within the past year. (The growth is staggering: In 2014, the number was 35%.) In addition, 31% of respondents said they’d expended their in-house programmatic ad-buying capabilities. Other steps taken due to transparency concerns include:
– Requesting detailed campaign guidelines and reporting from agency partners (62%)
– Aggressively updated so-called “blacklists” (51%)
– Targeted “whitelists” (45%)
– Purchased inventory through private marketplaces created by media companies (42%)
– Added language in insertion orders to increase transparency (40%)
 
Speaking of which, Bill Duggan, Group EVP of the ANA, will be discussing the study in depth on March 24 at the 2016 Cynopsis Programmatic TV Summit. Don’t miss it: register here.
 
 

EXECUTIVE MOVES
 

Media-buying platform The Trade Desk announced that Netflix CFO David Wells will join its Board of Directors. “David is a brilliant mind and a world-class strategist,” said The Trade Desk CEO Jeff Green in a statement.
 
Bonnie Pan
has been named President of Endemol Beyond USA, the digital content arm of Endemol Shine North America. Pan most recently served as EVP of Programming for Disney’s Maker Studios. Adrian Sexton, who had served as Interim President of Endemol Beyond USA since August 2015, will resume his role as COO.

 

Spotify has hired Tom Calderone, the former President of MTV NetworksVH1, as its new Global Head of Content Partnerships. He’ll oversee original and studio content, along with artist relationships and business partnerships. Earlier this year, Spotify began rolling out video on its mobile apps; hiring a TV exec like Calderone sends a clear signal that the company intends to expand on those efforts.

 

The eSports revolution rolls on. ELeague, the upcoming eSports competition venture from Turner and IMG, has some new execs on board. Christina Alejandre will serve as VP and G.M. Min-Sik Ko, previously the head of eSports for WME/IMG, will serve as the league’s Commissioner. ELeague is set to launch in May; coverage will include digitally streamed competition, as well as linear programming on TBS.
 
Mobile video and branded content advertising platform Jun Group has named Corey Weiner as its new President. Weiner, one of the company’s co-founders, previously served as COO. He also currently serves as CEO of HyprMX, a Jun Group subsidiary.
 


A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE


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Cynopsis Social Good Awards!

Our finalists are a vibrant group of engaged professionals who work hard and are committed to evolving the media industry, while giving back to the public through their profession. Join us on April 7th in NYC to celebrate their achievements.

Click to see the full list of finalists, and save your place at this year’s breakfast event: http://www.cynopsis.com/event/2016-sga-event/.



 

 DIGITAL SPOTLIGHT
 

In the real world, words and actions elicit responses. Virtual reality startup Limitless wants to bring that responsiveness to VR. Founded by Pixar alum Tom Sanocki, the company is creating VR experiences whose characters will directly respond to viewers. Next week at the Game Developer Conference in San Francisco, Limitless will roll out Gary the Gull, a new short film. The film’s titular character responds to both voice input and positioning, retreating when viewers lean forward and verbally responding to spoken language. Check out a teaser here.

See you Monday,
David Teich
03.04.16

Roberta Caploe: Associate Publisher @robertacaploe
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