03.18.16 Good morning. It’s Friday March 18, 2016, and this is your first early morning digital briefing.
ABC, feel free to stack away. Warner Bros. TV Group has reached a template agreement with ABC that would grant the network full in-season stacking rights to all episodes of new series. ABC would have both the on-demand and streaming rights to all new episodes of series debuting next season, as well as from 2017-2018. In the past, Warner Bros. has only granted ABC a slate of five rolling episodes at a time to use across its platforms.
When T-Mobile says they want to help you binge, they mean business. The carrier has added seven new video services – most importantly, YouTube – to its Binge On initiative. Binge On, which allows users to stream select services without eating into their data plans, will also begin giving video providers the option to directly manage video-stream quality. (YouTube will be the first to take advantage.) Aside from YouTube, T-Mobile added Google Play Movies, KlowdTV, Red Bull TV, Baeble Music, Discovery Go, ESNE TV, FilmOn.TV, and Fox Business to its list of Binge On providers. To date, that makes 51 participants.
Major film festivals have been embracing the digital marketplace lately. In January, Sundance took on virtual reality. And next month, the Tribeca Film Festival is devoting an entire program to 2016’s digital landscape. On April 21, the lower Manhattan fest will host the inaugural Tribeca Digital Creators Market, designed to showcase digital entertainment content and, perhaps more importantly, help connect digital influencers with agents, producers and buyers. The Tribeca Digital Creators program will also feature screenings (beginning April 20) of new projects from major digital producers such as YouTube Red and Maker Studios. As the various major film fests jockey for industry attention and try to claim the mantle of prestige, Tribeca may have just placed itself at the head of the pack when it comes to embracing digital media, and attracting its core talent.
AT&T Adworks, AT&T’s addressable TV advertising unit, announced its plans to host what it’s calling the advertising industry’s first “Addressable Upfronts.” Starting in April, AT&T Adworks will roll out over 100 events for advertisers, focused on using addressable advertising to reach target audiences. AT&T Adworks also said it would use the new Upfronts to show off its latest efforts in addressable linear TV and cross-screen solutions. The Upfronts will be held at the AT&T Adworks Lab in NYC.
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Fullscreen is getting fuller. The company, owned by Otter Media (a joint venture of AT&T and The Chernin Group), has acquired StageBloc, a fan-engagement startup that runs websites, marketing, and e-commerce operations for musicians. Fullscreen will rename the unit Fullscreen Direct, and use it to allow digital creators to engage with fans directly, whether through ticket-selling, exclusive content, or general discussion. StageBloc’s employees will remain with the company. Fullscreen’s ambitions are fairly sprawling these days. Once purely a YouTube multi-channel network, Fullscreen’s initiatives, acquisitions, and original productions have spilled out across numerous platforms. A forthcoming SVOD service is also in the works.
Speaking of Fullscreen, one of its properties, the production company Rooster Teeth, announced that it will release the first three seasons of its popular anime series RWBY to movie theaters. This isn’t a one-off experiment; Rooster Teeth recently had success with the theatrical release of Lazer Team, an original film. As with Lazer Team, Tugg – a service that helps content owners organize and host screenings – will partner with Rooster Teeth on the RWBY release.
The Chinese streaming giant iQIYI has struck a content deal with the Hong Kong-based film group Media Asia. iQIYI will now co-produce and invest in Media Asia films. Expect to see more deals like this in the future: Given China’s increasingly strict crackdown on foreign-made streaming content, iQIYI – and other streamers – are bound to continue investing in domestic productions.
The Hallmark-owned SVOD platform Feeln announced that it has begun production on The Eleventh, a new scripted drama project. And if you think that original OTT content is just for the young and ultra-trendy, peruse the cast: Cloris Leachman, Ed Asner, Florence Henderson, Chris Atkins, and Tracy Nelson. According to Feeln, The Eleventh centers on a “young girl’s journey to getting to know her estranged grandmother in order to bring closure to the past and unite her family.” Feeln, which pitches itself as the streaming destination for “feel good” content, has hundreds of titles available, but only over the last year or so has the service begun ramping up its slate of original productions.
The European broadcasting company Sky has launched Sky VR Studio, a new VR production unit. And the studio’s racing to a quick start, launching two VR films today. The films, debuting on the Facebook 360 Video platform, were shot during Formula One testing in Spain, and place viewers close to the racing action. Over the course of 2016, the studio intends to produce over twenty virtual reality films. The news doesn’t come as a shock; Sky has been dabbling in VR since 2013, when it became an early investor in the VR production company Jaunt. Not surprisingly, Sky will be using Jaunt’s 360-degree camera in its productions.
Now those are high standards. At the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, Sony announced that it will reject all proposed games for the PlayStation VR headset that aren’t at least sixty frames per second. In other words, only high quality submissions need apply. And that’s significant: Sony wants virtual reality to feel like, well, reality. The company announced this week that the headset will ship in October for $399.
"I’m grateful for the many generous women and men who have held my hand, expanded my possibilities, and shaped who I am today. To be acknowledged for embodying similar traits is an unbelievable honor – Thank you Cynopsis!” – Helen Lin – EVP, Digital and Magazine Activation at Zenith. Hear from more of our talented Top Women in Digital on March 24th in New York City. Register here: http://www.cynopsis.com/event/2016-twd-event/
According to Standard Media Index, digital media ad spends grew 21% overall in February. That includes a 43% growth in video, 49% in social media, 63% in Internet radio, and 28% in network/ad exchange business.
A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE
Question: Do you support Barack Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Tyrion Lannister? If you work in TV, you know that question is nonsense. But if you’re a random passerby being questioned for a Jimmy Kimmel Live segment, apparently you take the question at face value. (Quick thought: Tyrion is obviously qualified, and the relentless Meereenese obstructionism is deeply uncalled for). You can check out the segment here.
See you Monday,
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