05.02.16 Good morning. It’s Monday May 2, 2016, and this is your first early morning digital briefing.
Shoppable content: Editorial, image, or video content is “shoppable” when it provides an easy way for consumers to directly purchase its featured products. For instance: If an ad for a handbag is clickable, and takes you to an e-commerce page where you can buy that handbag, then lo and behold – you’ve just encountered shoppable content (and hopefully purchased a nice new handbag).
It’s official: The tech and software company Rovi is acquiring TiVo for about $1.1 billion in cash and stock. Rovi CEO Tom Carson will helm the new company – though “Rovi CEO” won’t be his job title much longer, as the new company will simply be called TiVo. Rovi, a sometimes-litigious patent giant that makes more money from intellectual property than any other area of its business, likely saw a kindred spirit in TiVo, which owns many royalty-producing patents related to its DVR technology. The combined company will own over 6,000 patents total. Something else that the Rovi likely found appealing: In recent years, the TiVo Research unit has become a formidable research apparatus, and built up a trove of valuable analytics data related to TV viewership.
The FCC isn’t putting the brakes on proposed privacy rules that have many advertisers uncomfortable. The rules would require broadband providers to get subscribers’ explicit consent before using data about their Internet activity to serve them targeted ads. The FCC gave the ad industry until May 27 to issue initial comments. The Association of National Advertisers then asked for an extension until July 26, saying it needed more time to look at the proposal. The FCC has now shot that request down; May 27 it is.
E-commerce has come to Snapchat. Target and Lancome have begun running shoppable ads within Cosmopolitan’s Discover channel. Like other Discover ads, the promos appear between articles and videos on Cosmo’s platform. Each promo comes with a 10-second call-to-action, instructing users to “swipe up” for more. While the new ads represent a mere drop in Snapchat’s ad revenue bucket, that could very easily change as more brands follow the lead of Target and Lancome.
Speaking of Snapchat: Remember, back in February, when Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel announced that the app saw eight billion video views daily? Impressive, right? Well, Snapchat has confirmed that the number is now 10 billion. And Bloomberg reports that over a third of Snapchat’s daily users are making use of the app’s “Stories” feature, which allows users to broadcast photos and videos that last for 24 hours.
About two weeks after launching a beta version of its new streaming service, which allows for up to three separate streams simultaneously instead of one, Dish Network’s Sling TV is going bilingual. The service introduced a new Extra, called the Best of Spanish TV-Beta. Sling’s new Extra, which costs $5 per month on top of the $20-per-month base service, will feature Spanish-language programming, including soccer matches, movies from Cine Sony, and news from Univision and UniMas. To Sling, one of the biggest obstacles to scaling its subscriber base has been content: As it stands, Sling’s new beta carries an offering of 30-65 live channels (depending on how many Extras users tack on). A good deal of content – including Disney-owned channels and ESPN, pending negotiations – is still unavailable on the service. Dish, it would seem, is hoping that more language options will result in a larger and more diverse subscriber base for Sling.
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The Punisher, one of Marvel’s more tortured and vengeful anti-heroes, made his Netflix debut in the most recent season of Daredevil. Apparently he wasn’t doling out quite enough punishment, because Netflix has commissioned a spinoff series centering on the character. Jon Bernthal will continue playing the title role. Netflix certainly hasn’t been shy about going to the Marvel well: The service has now commissioned six Marvel-based series, including the currently-running Daredevil and Jessica Jones. The service’s Punisher spinoff doesn’t come as a surprise; back in January, TV Line reported that the series was in the works.
While still outpaced by Netflix and Amazon, Hulu is continuing to escalate its original content ambitions. The service has commissioned The Handmaid’s Tale, a new drama from MGM Television. The series, based on Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel, will star Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men). Bruce Miller, writer and co-EP on The CW’s sci-fi drama The 100, will create, EP, and write the new series.
Pandora grew its year-over-year revenue by 29% in Q1, taking in $297.3 million. Its ad revenue alone grew to $220.3 million, up from $178.7 million in Q1 2015. The company still isn’t seeing positive net income – it lost $57.4 million during the quarter. On the company’s earnings call, CEO Tim Westergren told investors that losses weren’t a concern, comparing Pandora to other successful Internet companies, such as Amazon, which went years without being profitable. Next on the horizon: Pandora has plans to launch an on-demand music service that will help it to better compete with the likes of Spotify and Apple Music.
The Olympics are coming to Snapchat. The Olympics division of the NBC Sports Group will cover the 2016 Rio games with live stories, as well as a new designated Discover channel. NBC will produce the Olympics Discover channel alongside BuzzFeed; it will be available during the games, which kick off on August 5.
According to new data from DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group, consumer spending on home entertainment came in at over $4.55 billion in Q1 2016. That’s actually a 1.8% dip from last year’s first quarter. According to DEG, sales were affected by a smaller slate of new releases. Together, Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video saw over $1.4 billion in spending, up 19% from Q1 2015. Transactional VOD rentals also increased, to about $561 million, a year-over-year jump of 7.3%. Perhaps not surprisingly, packaged media sales dipped 13.2%, a decline of $1.38 billion. Also of note: 1.5 million 4K HD TV sets were sold in Q1 – a year-over-year increase of 210%. To date, over 7 million 4K TVs have been sold. A number of home entertainment services – including Netflix – have been betting big on 4K content over the last year or so. If these numbers hold, it may be an indicator that the bet will pay off.
The OTT services Tribeca Shortlist, Comic-Con International (debuting May 7), and Kevin Hart’s Laugh Out Loud (debuting this fall) were all co-launched by the same entertainment company. Which company was it? You can find the answer in tomorrow’s newsletter.
Yesterday’s Trivia Question: DreamWorks Animation – just acquired by Comcast’s NBCUniversal – owns a controlling stake in the digital entertainment company AwesomenessTV, while two other companies each own a 24.5% stake. What are the two other companies? Answer: Hearst and Verizon.
Cynopsis Digital Exclusive: Kargo, the mobile marketplace for premium brand advertising, has named AJ Mathew as Vice President of Research, a newly created position. Mathew hails from Apple, where he served as Global Head of Measurement & Insights for the company’s iAd platform. At Apple, Mathew helped build the company’s Research and Insights department, which focused on media services including performance measurement, audience insights, and market intelligence. He has also held research positions at Yahoo, Bloomberg Businessweek, and WebMD. At Kargo, Mathew will be tasked with creating a cross-functional team focused on custom research around product, user experience, audience insights, market intelligence, and advertising effectiveness. The hiring has come on the heels of some solid growth for Kargo: The company exceeded $100 million in revenue in 2015, and opened its first overseas office last month in the UK. “Kargo has been known traditionally for incredible ad creative and brand,” Harry Kargman, Kargo’s Founder and CEO, told Cynopsis Digital during an interview at the company’s NYC office. “But we also want to be known for having a big emphasis on research, insights, and metrics. We’re trying to be quantitative as much as we’re qualitative…Bringing AJ to Kargo is a first step for us in terms of really defining thought leadership around unique insights in mobile, and mobile brand output.”
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HOW SHOULD YOU LEVERAGE IT? Join Cynopsis on Tuesday, May 24 for an Out-of-Home Marketing webinar to learn how to craft cross-platform marketing campaigns that combine OOH and digital to drive awareness, tune-in, and social amplification.
Featured speakers include Dawn Callahan, CMO for Boingo Wireless; Alison Hoffman, EVP of Marketing for Starz Entertainment; David Krupp, CEO of Kinetic North America; and Rick Robinson, COO for Billups.
1620 Media, the digital initiative from the production company Pilgrim Media Group, premiered the second season of the Barry Bostwick-starring Inside the Extras Studio, a satirical web series. (Starting May 9, 1620 will also introduce the Bostwick-starring spin-off show Worst Extra Ever, a series of one-minute specials.) Inside the Extras Studio features appearances from numerous YouTube stars, including Jon Cozart, Tay Zonday, and Mary Kate Wiles. YouTuber Brizzy Voices features in the season two premiere, which you can check out here.
Watcheroo Premieres and Tune-in Alerts for May 2-8:
– People Now at People.com, Monday-Friday at 8:30a ET and 11:30a ET: Guests include Broadway actress Renee Elise Goldberry (Hamilton), celebrity makeup artist Spencer Barnes, and TV chef Marc Murphy (Food Network’s Chopped)
– Acorn TV: Season one of the Australian detective series Jack Irish, starring Guy Pearce, makes its U.S. premiere on the streaming service today, May 2
- Seeso: Flowers, a new dark comedy, makes its series premiere on NBCU’s comedy streaming service May 5
- Vimeo On Demand: Garfunkel and Oates: Trying to Be Special, a new comedy special, debuts May 5
- Netflix: The Gerard Depardieu-starring drama Marseille, Netflix’s first French-language original series, debuts internationally May 5
- Netflix: Ali Wong: Baby Cobra, a new comedy special, debuts May 6
- Netflix: Season two of Grace and Frankie debuts May 6
Watcheroo is Cynopsis Digital’s tune-in guide, categorized alphabetically by platform or network. Programming includes digital premieres, ongoing shows, live-streamed events and linear TV digital integrated series.
See you tomorrow,
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