04/07/15: AOL plays ball with new comedy series; Netflix goes with Gervais for latest movie play; Roku 3 gets personal; Phil Ranta heads to Collective Digital Studio


Good morning. It’s Tuesday April 7, 2015, and this is your first early morning digital briefing.


picked Opening Day to announce its new original sports satire series 2 Point Lead, hosted by standup comic Yannis Pappas and aimed at millennials. Pappas starred in his own Comedy Central special and formerly co-hosted MSG series The Bracket. AOL will drop a new 2 Point Lead episode daily at 2p, with an eye to sports culture satire, interview clips and comedy sketches featuring pro athletes. Series also will feature Nick Creegan, winner of the #AOLSportsSearch competition last fall.
There’s more comedy headed to the Netflix original feature film stream. This time the service acquired rights to Special Correspondents, a satirical comedy written and directed by Ricky Gervais that stars Eric Bana as a struggling radio journalist who’s feeling the effects of his decadent lifestyle. The movie will premiere worldwide next year. Netflix already has funnymen Judd Apatow and Adam Sandler lined up to create original movies. Special Correspondents is “classic Ricky Gervais; smart social satire with heart,” said Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos. “It’s the kind of great grown-up comedy that studios rarely make anymore, one that’s perfect for Netflix members around the world.”
Above Average today will premiere a new series co-created by and co-starring comic Kate McKinnon of Saturday Night Live and the upcoming Ghostbusters reboot. The series, which goes live at 8a, also features McKinnon’s sister, Emily Lynne and SNL cast mate Aidy Bryant. Series will have a six-episode season, with new eps premiering every other Tuesday at www.aboveaverage.com and www.youtube.com/aboveaverage. It will also simultaneously be available on IFC’s Comedy Crib.


Clearleap, the multiscreen video logistics provider, and in-player recommendation engine IRIS.TV are partnering to bring dynamic personalization and customized playlist options for OTT content across devices. The IRIS.TV API will now be integrated into Clearleap’s existing platform, enabling OTT service providers to deliver a viewing experience that increases audience engagement. IRIS.TV’s programmatic video delivery technology, Adaptive Stream, has increased video consumption by 30 percent-50 percent across its clients’ implementations. IRIS.TV clients include Billboard, The Hollywood Reporter, Tribune Publishing and Woven Digital.


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New content marketing and native advertising tech platform Hone launches tomorrow with technology that aims to increase digital engagement by simplifying the creation of visual quizzes, surveys and polls by publishers and brands. The company was founded by CEO Andrew Heckler and is currently self-funded and working with customers including publishers Conde Nast and Time Inc., and brands PepsiCo, Groupon and CO-OP Financial Services.


Roku updated its Roku 3 streaming TV box to include personalized feeds and a voice search button on a new enhanced remote control, among other features. The Roku Feed tracks users’ movie preferences and sends alerts when a title becomes available to stream or the price changes. Additionally, the older Roku 2 box was upgraded to match the speed and performance of the Roku 3, and the Roku smartphone app now supports the voice control and enhanced search features.
Saturday Night Live alum Rachel Dratch is onboard to host the seventh annual Shorty Awards, which honors the year’s best social-media personalities and sites. This year’s event is slated for April 20 in N.Y.; the awards will be webcast live online. Winners are selected by members of the Real-Time Academy of Short Form Arts & Sciences; this year’s presenters include Wyclef Jean, Kevin Jonas, and YouTube stars Tyler Oakley and GloZell Green.


 OpenSlate Engagement Data for People and Blogs, based on the engagement metric for the week ending April 3.
Channel/(Engagement)/Monthly Views/Total Subs/SlateScore
BFvsGF (9.7) /
74416710 / 6264943 / 833
RomanAtwoodVlogs (9.5) /
42615540 / 2056780 / 755
shane (9.2) /
25976820 / 4665235 / 822
blndsundoll4mj (8.9) /
19504740 / 1542425 / 754
LeFloofTV (8.9) /
15496350 / 915892 / 738
itsJudysLife (8.8) /
15056340 / 1054451 / 753
KianAndJc (8.7) /
110182300 / 1007415 / 632
bratayley (8.7) /
52374300 / 887131 / 683
boogie2988 (8.6) /
10258920/ 2357210 / 767
doseoffousey (8.6) /
8558340 / 823478 / 683
Source: The Engagement metric is one of OpenSlate’s component scores, and is a measure of a producer’s ability to evoke meaningful interaction with their audience. It is calculated on a scale of 1-10 with higher being better. The OpenSlate Engagement score uses a subset of the data incorporated in the SlateScore to perform a set of unique calculations. It factors in views, comments, likes, and more.


Collective Digital Studio named Phil Ranta as COO. Ranta, who will report to CDS chief Reza Izad, will oversee the network, engineering and distribution teams and will develop strategies to strengthen and enhance its MCN. He joins CDS from Fullscreen, where he was Vice President of Network and was instrumental in growing that company to more than 5 billion monthly views.

Jonah Becker, who spent most of the last two years redesigning HTC One M9, is headed to device maker Fitbit to serve as VP of Industrial Design, according to Recode.

Video ad platform Teads appointed Jason Barnett as Head of Programmatic. Barnett, who most recently was at Centro, and will help Teads continue to grow its programmatic business within the U.S.

PK4 Media hired Jennifer Tang as VP of Agency Relations. Tang has more than 15 years of experience in the digital advertising industry, where she most recently worked as an exec at UberMedia and Adap.tv.


Anne Hathaway is lighting up the Internet with her no-holds-barred imitation of Miley Cyrus singing Wrecking Ball for new Spike series Lip Sync Battle. Click here and hold on to your pants!

See you tomorrow,
Jessica Reese  @JMarieReese

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