05/03/26: Hulu to launch Internet TV service; BuzzFeed discusses branded partnerships at NewFront; NY Times to delve deeper into VR


Good morning. It’s Tuesday May 3, 2016, and this is your first early morning digital briefing.


IPTV: Short for Internet Protocol television. IPTV is a system through which television services are delivered using the Internet protocol suite over a packet-switched network such as a LAN or the Internet – as opposed to being delivered through traditional cable or satellite formats.


Sony’s Playstation Vue and Dish’s SlingTV will soon have a new competitor. The Wall Street Journal reports that Hulu is preparing to launch a low-cost Internet TV service that will carry a skinny bundle of pay-TV channels. According to the Journal, Hulu aims to launch the service in Q1 of 2017, at a price of $40 per month. One thing that’s worth noting is that Hulu has three major built-in advantages in the Internet TV space: NBCU, Fox, and Disney-ABC, its three parent companies. While Sling, for instance, has struggled to negotiate content agreements with Disney-ABC, Hulu should have a big leg up in such negotiations. According to the Journal, Hulu is currently hammering out programming agreements with Fox and Disney. Variety reports that Hulu is in similar negotiations with NBCU.
One effective way to eliminate a competitor? Acquire it. The video-sharing platform Vimeo has purchased VHX, a startup that provides OTT distribution platforms for media companies and self-distributors. Deal terms weren’t made public. While Vimeo has had an SVOD option since last year, the company says it will now be able to provide lower-cost SVOD tools for niche programmers, as well as individual creators.


As a publisher trying to combat ad-blocking, do you use carrots or sticks? In other words, does fighting the good fight boil down to creating better ad experiences, thereby minimizing consumers’ desire to bypass ads? Or is the key to simply withhold content from users who won’t whitelist your site? Conde Nast’s Wired has, in part, been taking the latter approach, giving users the option to either whitelist the site or pay $1 per week for an ad-free experience.  And according to Mark McClusky, the pub’s Head of Product and Business Development, it’s been working. “The uptake in whitelisting has exceeded our expectation, the subscriptions have gone better than we projected, the abandon rate has been lower than we projected,” he told Ad Age. He declined to provide specific numbers.


The competition for best kids’ programming and marketing initiatives

Entry Deadline: May 18, 2016
Late Submissions: May 25, 2016
Awards Event: September 27, 2016 (NYC)
Visit our website for additional information on:
Who Should Enter, How to Enter, Eligibility Period, Categories, Deadlines, Sponsorship Opportunities, Contact Information, FAQ’s and more!



Cynopsis Digital Exclusive: Between them, AOL and its parent company Verizon own umpteen media companies – and they have content partnerships with umpteen more. Tonight at its NewFront event, AOL is going to take advantage of that fact. Katherine Ryan, AOL’s VP of Global Marketing, tells Cynopsis Digital that the event will span over about four blocks worth of real estate at NYC’s South Street Seaport. Featuring a heavy dose of interactivity, the NewFront will showcase not only upcoming video content, but also emerging formats such as live video and virtual reality. Built around the theme of “Access,” the sprawling event will showcase 23 brands, including those owned and operated by AOL, as well as several of Verizon’s content partners. The 23 brands will include The Huffington Post, TechCrunch, Complex Media, AwesomenessTV, the NBA, and the NFL. “The way we’re looking at…is that it’s not just AOL’s NewFront, but the industry’s NewFront,” said Ryan.
And, Ryan said, it’s also about giving consumers what they want. “The consumer appetite for video is just massive,” she said. “And when you look at any one brand trying to own that entire media experience, it’s nearly impossible. Consumers want more than one brand experience.”

At BuzzFeed’s NewFront event in NYC, CEO Jonah Peretti tossed out some impressive numbers. Firstly, BuzzFeed sees 7 billion monthly content views in 12 countries. Peretti also proudly informed attendees that 75 percent of all BuzzFeed content is consumed off of the publisher’s owned and operated sites and apps. Instead, content reaches consumers across more than 30 platforms, including Facebook (27% of monthly views) SnapChat (21%), and YouTube (14%). Most content, he said, is viewed on mobile. The message was clear: BuzzFeed isn’t a website, or a platform, but a global brand whose tendrils reach across the digital and social ecosystem.

BuzzFeed announced a few new projects, including The Try Kids, a spinoff series from BuzzFeed’s popular comedy troupe The Try Guys. Like their grownup mentors, the kiddos in The Try Kids will be filmed trying various experiences for the first time. (Admittedly, it’s easier to happen upon new experiences when you’re a toddler.) The company will also be debuting Broke, a 12-episode sitcom from Quinta Brunson, based on her experience of moving from Philadelphia to L.A. And popular BuzzFeed creator Ashley Perez will star in seasons two and three of You Do You, a comedic soap opera directed at female millennials.

BuzzFeed heavily emphasized its efforts in the branded content space, including an initiative with NBCU, which invested $200 million in the company last year. NBCU will help BuzzFeed to produce video content for brand partners. Frank Cooper III, a busy, busy man who doubles as both Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Content Officer, had a message for brands: BuzzFeed treats branded content with as much TLC as it treats its own content – because, actually, they’re one and the same. “We integrate your brands as a vital part of our own content,” he said. Among other branded partnerships, the company highlighted the video content it produced for Google Photos.
The presenters also highlighted the success of Tasty, BuzzFeed’s food vertical (360 million Facebook engagements each month), and emphasized the detailed data that BuzzFeed has collected about its audience.
Of course, absent from the presentation was any mention of an ugly Financial Times report (the veracity of which BuzzFeed has disputed) claiming that the company recently cut its 2016 revenue projections in half. One thing is clear: At a moment in time when some prospective brand partners may be a bit wary,  BuzzFeed’s NewFront was an important opportunity to beam out optimism and calm some nerves. And it must be said that the company acquitted itself well.
At The New York Times’ NewFront event, Chief Revenue Officer Meredith Kopit Levien announced Story X, a new initiative geared toward innovative storytelling. Levien described Story X as a “a place and a space and a lab, and a team of journalists and creators and technologists [.]” Over the last year or so, the Times has dramatically expanded its digital operation in an all-out push to shed the duller aspects of its reputation; Story X seems right in keeping with its other recent efforts, which include an upcoming $50 million effort to expand its international digital efforts, as well as a successful foray into virtual reality.
Speaking of which, the company announced that it intends to double down on its VR efforts. The Times is in talks with some of the top virtual reality platforms, and has several new VR videos slated to roll out in 2016, including an immersive recreation of past Olympics stadiums, as well as a look at climate change in Antarctica. Jake Silverstein, Editor-in-Chief of The New York Times Magazine, called the “the leaders in virtual reality journalism.”


The ListenFirst Television Interest (TVI) Rating (TM) is a standardized measurement of the most buzzed-about TV programs on linear TV and streaming services. A complement to ListenFirst’s other syndicated data products (such as the ListenFirst Digital Audience Rating – TV), the metrics included in the rating are the purest form of showing interest digitally, since they’re organic actions that are largely unaffected by paid media. Programs that surface on the TVI leaderboards are the most hashtagged on Facebook, Google+, and Tumblr, as well as most searched for on Wikipedia (used as a proxy for organic search volume).
All Series (4/25/16 – 5/1/16)
Source: ListenFirst. The TVI Rating aggregates metrics that measure organically generated activity by fans of the TV show. The metric includes total volume of official hashtag mentions on Facebook, Google+, and Tumblr, along with Wikipediapage views (as a proxy for organic search volume) for a show as a percentage of the total volume of the same activities for all shows.
OpenSlate Engagement Data for the Pets & Animals vertical, based on the engagement metric for the week ending 5/1.
Channel (Engagement) / Monthly Views / Total Subs / SlateScore
turbo231(8.4) / 92,910 / 5,003 / 338
ListaAnimal (8.1) / 1,296,690 / 46,459 / 496
thecatdaddy66 (8.1) / 673,020 / 246,804 / 516
gonetothesnowdogs (8.1) / 2,996,700 / 239,157 / 550
HelloDenizen (8.1) / 288,330 / 168,331 / 518
simonscat (8.1) / 9,309,660 / 3,841,937 / 612
ilovejanelle (8.0) / 4,410 / 12,454 / 326
wildirishswan (8.0) / 233,310 / 6,313 / 367
Animal Aid Unlimited (8.0) / 7,289,460 / 305,621 / 532
parrygripp (8.0) / 2,110,620  / 345,843 / 508
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 OpenSlateEngagement 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.


The MDC Media Partners agency Assembly has named Jeff Liang as its new Chief Digital Officer. Liang previously served as Senior Vice President, Media Lead at Starcom Mediavest Group. At Assembly, Liang will lead the team responsible for digital client programs, tools, and platforms.

The agency CSE Digital has hired Lea Ann Leming as Executive in Residence. Leming will focus on developing the agency’s media business, content strategy practice, and branded studio content. She previously served as Chief Content Officer at SheKnows Media


Netflix’s Chief Content Officer has played a major role in the streaming giant’s massive push into the world of original content. What’s his name? You can find the answer in tomorrow’s newsletter. 
Yesterday’s Trivia Question: 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? Answer: Lionsgate.


Winning at Producing & Selling Sponsored Content

In a fast-forward world, it’s no easy task getting a marketer’s message to every television viewer. As ad-skipping increases, more and more programmers are turning to sponsored content and brand integration to break out of the clutter and draw advertising dollars. But what are the secrets to creating content that engages audiences, and also gives brands meaningful (and monetize-able) exposure? 

Find out on June 15 [REGISTER NOW].



You don’t need an uber-expensive VR headset to take a look at The New York Times’ efforts in 360-degree video. In fact, you don’t need a headset at all. T Brand Studio, the company’s native advertising unit, recently released a 360-degree vid in partnership with GE. You can check it out here. Just remember to click and drag.

See you tomorrow,
David Teich

Roberta Caploe: Publisher @robertacaploe
Diane K Schwartz: Senior Vice President, Media Communications Group

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