05/13/15: Verizon to acquire AOL for $4.4 billion; NBCUniversal’s Hispanic Group and Defy Media to target ‘Generation M’ in new partnership; Danny Zappin’s Zealot Networks’ signs Lord Danger



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Good morning. It’s Wednesday May 13, 2015, and this is your first early morning digital briefing.


For $4.4 billion and at $50 a share, Verizon announced plans to acquire AOL. Under the deal, Verizon will own Adap.tv, Convertro, Moviefone, and entities such as Huffington Post and TechCrunch, among other assets. The combination of the networks will amass to the scale of Facebook and Google, according to a statement from AOL, with Verizon currently reaching 70 percent of web traffic across 1.5 billion desktops, TVs and mobile devices. Oded Napchi, Vice President of Product at online video content SPP Hiro Media, told Cynopsis he’s not surprised by the acquisition. “Traditional media is [now] invested in a new media shopping spree. Just think of Comcast buying FreeWheel, or RTL grabbing SpotXchange. Verizon wants AOL to be its significant foothold in the online video sphere. Their competitors should do the same – Time Warner would look great on Google‘s arm at the next industry party, don’t you think?” Simulmedia CEO Dave Morgan also called the transaction a smart move. “The future of TV is more and more about on-demand, streaming and addressable ads across TV, tablets, PC and mobile devices,” he told Cynopsis. “AOL’s ad tech will immediately give Verizon a significant advantage in monetizing audiences both for their own inventory and for their programming partners." The purchase is expected to close this summer.


NBCUniversal’s Hispanic Group landed a deal with multi-channel network Defy Media to create original multi-platform content in Spanish and English. The partnership will revolve around Defy’s ClevverTeVe Spanish-language pop culture and fashion YouTube channel, with content designed for “Generation M” (millennial, mobile and multicultural). The initiative is slated to launch in Q4 2015 across digital, linear and mobile platforms.
Zealot Networks, the digital start-up from former Maker Studios CEO Danny Zappin, signed commercial and music video production company Lord Danger to its network. Founded in 2011 by producers Maxwell Riesberg and Josh Shadid, Lord Danger and its directors are known for their music videos for J. Cole, Steve Aoki and Major Lazer as well as broadcast spots for Texas Pete.
44 Blue, the production studio behind A+E’s Nightwatch and MSNBC’s Lockup, is launching a virtual reality production company. The new arm, Ovrture, will create standalone VR content for linear shows. For Lockup, VR users will undergo a typical intake at a maximum-security prison. For Nightwatch, they’ll experience a ride-along with New Orleans EMT officers during an emergency call. In addition to Mike Drachkovitch as CEO, the team will include Head of Production David Holecheck and Head of Post-Production and Technology Dan Holecheck. The twin brothers are the founders of Duality Filmworks, the interactive film and media company that produces graphics and VFX content for The League and Wahlburgers.
Vimeo and Emerging Pictures will premiere Benjamin Statler’s docudrama, Soaked In Bleach, on-demand and in theaters on June 11. Marking the directorial debut of Statler, the film explores the death of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain. Following its exclusive online run on Vimeo, MVD Entertainment Group will release Soaked In Bleach on DVD and across other platforms.
Rollman Entertainment
faith-based kids series Iesodo released its five installments on iTunes, and the first episode on Netflix. For the series, Zaya Toonz enlisted animation experts Brian E. Ray (My Little Pony Tales and Ed, Ed, and Eddy) and Colin Brady (Toy Story) as the series’ directors.


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OpenSlate Engagement Data for Health and Fitness channels, based on the engagement metric for the week ending 5/10.
Channel/(Engagement)/Monthly Views/Total Subs/SlateScore
themffitness (9.8) /
3085620 / 565969 / 651
do4ypka (9.8) /
2064900 / 109886 / 526
scondore (9.8) /
1545510 / 183626 / 619
muskelmacher (9.8) /
1613430 / 134261 / 551
yougiftedrussia (9.8) /
4271040 / 717503 / 622
turbofausto (9.8) /
6395730 / 754044 / 604
hipertrofiando (9.8) /
1265130 / 192951 / 536
entrenasergiopeinado (9.8) /
172350 / 95245 / 517
strengthcamp (9.8) /
6652800 / 1315383 / 648
ScottHermanFitness (9.8) /
3370230 / 743247 / 645
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.


Tremor Video promoted Abbey Thomas to Senior Vice President of Entertainment and Auto. Thomas was hired as a Regional Sales Manager in 2008 and has been promoted several times before landing this new position. She will be the company’s first Senior Vice President of Sales.

Streaming service shomi appointed David Asch as Senior Vice President and General Manager. Asch’s most recent role was Senior Vice President, Content at Redbox Automated Retail.


Digital talent platform StarMaker Interactive announced the winner of the Sing with Corey Gray and Alexi Blue contest with Keep Your Soul Records (KYSR). YouTube artists Corey Gray (29 million views) and Jake Coco (65 million views) chose Alex Hobbs as the winner for his cover song submission. He received studio time with KYSR founder and artist Jake Coco to record his own version of Kygo’s Stole The Show. Home to Corey Gray and Alexi Blue, Keep Your Soul Records and its artists have racked up more than 300 million views on YouTube and releases hundreds of videos every year. Check out the final video and performance at www.cynopsis.com/#video.

See you tomorrow,
Jessica Reese  @JMarieReese

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