Good morning. It’s Monday, April 14, 2014, and this is your first early morning digital briefing.
Disney’s deal to acquire online video producer Maker Studios for $500 million has hit a snag. Maker co-founder and former CEO Danny Zappin and three other former execs have filed a lawsuit aimed at preventing the takeover, claiming the documents Maker sent to shareholders about the merger agreement neglected to mention a pending lawsuit that alleges Maker directors issued shares to themselves to dilute Zappin’s stake. A shareholder vote to approve the Disney bid was to take place April 15.
Multi-channel network Collective Digital Studio is bringing YouTube jokers VitalyzdTV, Roman Atwood and Dennis Roady (totaling ten million subs) to the silver screen. With the working title Natural Born Pranksters, the flick will feature their popular shenanigans including Anniversary Prank Backfires (44.1 million views), Gold Digger Prank (34.5 million views) and Miami Zombie Attack (27.5 million views). No release date has been set yet.
Starz‘ first original unscripted series from Project Greenlight producer Chris Moore will star YouTube‘s Shane Dawson (ten millions subs). The ten-ep show, The Chair, has Dawson competing against independent filmmaker Anna Martemucci as they both direct a film from the same script, budget and in the same city. The Chair will premiere in the fall.
Classic 1960s TV series Route 66 is coming to Hulu and Hulu Plus. Multi-platform entertainment company Shout! Factory announced the first 30-ep season will be available on the streaming service; season two will follow shortly.
For the first time, digital ad revenue is surpassing traditional TV revenue. According to new research from Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and PricewaterhouseCoopers, online advertising revenue climbed 17 percent to $42.8 billion in the U.S. last year, compared to the $40.1 billion generated from TV advertising. Although mobile ad spending increased by 17 percent to $7.1 billion, it was still just about 10% of the $74.5 billion cable and broadcast spending reached last year. Variety reports that digital video alone produced $3 billion in ad rev, while search reeled in 43 percent of the total online rev at $18.4 billion.
Klondike has teamed with CollegeHumor to create a video series to “further tell the story” of the new Kandy/Klondike romance. With the tag line, “the best ice cream bar ever conceived,” Klondike’s TV ad for a new ice cream entry starts out with a surprisingly steamy (for animated food) scene. Breaking today, the suggestive spot for Klondike Kandy Bars is “spicy,” acknowledged Alfie Vivian, Unilever‘s VP-refreshments to AdAge, “but we have had some consumer feedback and we know they love it.”
The FTC approved Facebook‘s $19 billion WhatsApp acquisition, with a warning about privacy. “We want to make clear that, regardless of the acquisition, WhatsApp must continue to honor these promises to consumers. Further, if the acquisition is completed and WhatsApp fails to honor these promises, both companies could be in violation of Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act and, potentially, the FTC’s order against Facebook,” the FTC stated. All Face Book reports the FTC is referring to a 2011 order for Facebook to uphold several privacy conditions, which it was accused of failing to keep at the time.
PBS Digital Studios officially joined the Digital NewFronts this week, announcing an event scheduled for May 5. Cynopsis asked PBS Digital Studios Senior Director Matt Graham what PBS has on tap.
There are more publishers at the NewFronts this year than ever before. Why do you think that is?
For many brands, it demonstrates that the experimentation phase is over. This is certainly true for PBS Digital Studios, where we’ve been developing web series for two years. We’ve had enormous digital success, beginning with the Mister Rogers remixed series, a record number of Webby wins in 2013-and now a full slate of new web-original-series. We’re here at the 2014 NewFronts to take the next step and let the media community know that we’re very serious about growing this space.
78 percent of buy-side attendees said they picked up at least one new opportunity for clients (according to IAB) at last year’s events. How does PBS plan to deliver?
Our shows are unique, and the communities we’ve built around them are as passionate as you’ll find anywhere. That’s because they’re truly web-native shows. You won’t see anything from us that resembles watered-down TV. Our creators understand the medium and what people are looking for when they want smart online content – they “get it.”
What can we specifically expect at the event?
We’ll be introducing some of our terrific talent to the media community. Sarah Urist Green, along with husband John Green, has launched The Art Assignment, which challenges people to create and experience new forms of art. David Gerlach‘s series, Blank on Blank, brings to life [previously] unheard interviews with icons such as Kurt Cobain, Heath Ledger, Jerry Garcia and Maurice Sendak. Joe Hanson‘s series, It’s Okay To Be Smart, tackles a range of scientific questions for an active audience of science fans of all ages. Steve Goldbloom‘s Everything But The News, is a satiric take on reporting from Silicon Valley, and Mike Rugnetta‘s Idea Channel pioneered PBS Digital Studios’ series offerings. PBS Game show, hosted by Jamin Warren, looks at the relationship between videogames and modern life.
The final season of Mad Men premiered on Sunday, but fans first turned to the web to watch and catch up on past episodes, according to Google. The site’s research found that in the pre-premiere time, TV related searches increased by 50 percent year over year. The peak day for these catch-up queries happened on Sundays, which Google called the “lazy Sunday effect.”
Scott Cunningham joined the Interactive Advertising Bureau as Vice President of Technology and Ad Operations. He was most recently Senior Vice President of Product at Sovrn.
Latinum Network hired Dave Jackson as Vice President of Business Development, and Mike Murakami as the new Senior Director of Research and Insights. Prior to Latinum Network, Jackson held marketing and sales roles at AOL and GrabMedia, Murakami was the Quantitative Marketing Manager at Google.
With spring comes warmer weather, and Smirnoff says that means it’s time to party. In its latest ad, Community‘s Alison Brie and Parks and Recreation‘s Adam Scott plan and throw their “European-disco-at-a-warehouse-in-a-laundromat” style bash, which of course calls for vodka. The ad is charming, silly and who can resist a party organized by some of TV’s most loveable stars? Check out the vid at www.cynopsis.com.
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