05/29/15: Google I/O: 17M Chromecasts sold since launch, 1.5B streams; Google Play aims for family-friendly with new discovery; Shazam unveils visual experience


Good morning. It’s Friday May 29, 2015, and this is your first early morning digital briefing.


Google revealed sales figures for its Chromecast OTT streaming device yesterday. Sundar Pichai, Senior Vice President of Products, said that more than 17 million Chromecasts have been bought since their 2013 introduction. Also, Chromecast-ers have hit the cast button a cumulative 1.5 billion times, a 50 percent increase since January. They’re watching 66 percent more content than when Chromecast first launched, and YouTube alone has seen viewing time rise 45 percent after a user connects with the $35 device.
Google Play announced a new family-friendly discovery experience designed to help parents find apps, games, movies, TV shows and books that are appropriate for their kids. On the Apps and Games and Movies + TV homepages, parents can browse content by age group by tapping the Family Star and Children’s Books Star buttons. They can also restrict downloads, purchases or streaming of mature content with updated parental controls.
…also announced at the conference: 360-degree videos on YouTube can be viewed on Google Cardboard and on iOS 8.0, Android and Chrome devices. YouTube is also supporting creators who want to film in 360 by offering the Jump capture rig with 16 camera modules in a circular arrangement at all six YouTube Space locations in Los Angeles, Tokyo, London, New York, Sao Paulo and Berlin this summer. Jump allows the shooter to capture, assemble and share immersive, three-dimensional content. The latest 360-degree video Waiting for Love, premiered yesterday from Avicii.


Shazam introduced a visual recognition function that can take everything from posters to packaged goods and print media and transform them from static images into pieces of content. Users with the latest version of Shazam can wave their phone over any item with the Shazam camera logo or QR Code and be taken to custom mobile experiences that include interactive content, special offers, and the ability to purchase or share items. In addition, the company announced partnerships with The Walt Disney Company, Target, HarperCollins Publishers, Esquire, SELF, Time Inc., The Wall Street Journal, Outfront Media, BlueSoho and Merchbar. The discovery app has more than 100 million monthly active users.
Levity Entertainment Group (LEG) is getting the giggles with its new YouTube channel, Wait For It. “Our YouTube initiative allows digital stars from such platforms as YouTube, Vine and Periscope an opportunity to perform in live venues, perhaps as a single-city test that builds to national touring,” said Tad Ro, LEG’s Chief Digital Officer. LEG is led by part-owner and board Chairman Irving Azoff and Madison Square Garden Entertainment.
Gracenote, an entertainment data and technology provider, will launch a sports division with the acquisitions of Europe-based Infostrada Sports and Canada-based SportsDirect. The two companies will serve as the foundation of Gracenote Sports and provide coverage of the world’s sports leagues and events; SportsDirect has in-depth coverage of North American sports while Infostrada specializes in European leagues as well as global events like the Olympics and FIFA World Cup. Gracenote is the primary data provider for DirecTV, Time Warner Cable, Kabel Deutschland, Arabsat and Virgin Media.


Oxygen Media
launched online destination Very Real, which lives on Oxygen.com and features original content targeted to the network’s young, female audience. Very Real will cover a variety of lifestyle topics with new articles and video rolling out on the site every day from Oxygen show talent, influencers and millennial women. “From tips on how to avoid online dating disasters to insight on how to break into a new career, the site will give Oxygen fans their daily fix on the topics that resonate with them most,” said Lisa Hsia, Executive Vice President of Digital, Bravo and Oxygen Media. To get Oxygen viewers excited, the network will roll out celebratory looping videos (GIFs optimized for Facebook) at the top of every hour of the day across its show and brand pages, driving users back to the site.
On June 10, The Weather Channel will present The Climate 25, a new series of conversations with 25 influential voices on climate, security, energy and peace. The project will run across www.climate25.com, with extensions on web (weather.com), mobile, and Facebook as well as a special week of five mini-episodes on-air on The Weather Channel.



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Wells Fargo + Company and One Solution will produce a cross-platform campaign aimed at raising brand awareness among adult African American consumers nationwide, called Why I Work. The campaign will depict personal stories of African Americans and the purpose that fuels them. Two-time Grammy winning R+B/Soul singer Melanie Fiona, University of Phoenix CFO, Byron Jones, and Founder + Co-Director of The Beautiful Project, Jamaica Gilmer, will be featured in the long-form vignettes to air on TV One and iOne digital platforms.
Programmatic supply side platform Altitude Digital partnered with Integral Ad Science to launch a publisher-facing fraud detection tool. The duo will find fraudulent inventory before it gets in front of the demand side.
AppLift acquired Bidstalk, a self-service white label mobile DSP that enables marketers to buy RTB-traded mobile inventory on a self-serve basis. Bidstalk’s technology is now integrated into AppLift’s mobile user acquisition platform DataLift. AppLift clients will have access to programmatic in-house and self-service benefits by combining Bidstalk’s RTB capabilities with the DataLift data-management.


NBCUniversal elevated Anand Kini from interim CFO to Chief Financial Officer. Most recently, Kini served as NBCU’s Executive Vice President, Strategy and Business Insights.
Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. promoted Scott Miller to Senior Vice President and Associate General Counsel Of Legal and Business Affairs for Turner Content Distribution, the domestic distribution, sales and marketing arm of Turner. Miller, who has been with the company for 13 years, most recently served as Vice President And Assistant General Counsel for The Distribution Division, and was previously Assistant General Counsel in the Turner legal department’s transactional practice group.
Cablevision Media Sales (CMS) appointed John Verre to the new position of Vice President, Automotive Sales. Verre began his career at Cablevision Media Sales as a New York Interconnect Account Executive, served as National Sales Manager and most recently as Vice President Of Regional Sales.



“We’ve moved from a nation of fans sitting together to take in the game, to a global sports community wanting to engage with, share and comment
 on what they want to see, and when. The move to social communities of shared sports interests will only accelerate.”
– Jeff Urban Whistle Sports Co-founder and President




AOL will bring back Emmy-nominated original series Park Bench with Steve Buscemi for a second season on June 18th. The show features Steve and his famous friends discussing the people, places, and spirit of New York City. New episodes will be released weekly and will stream on parkbenchtheshow.com. New to the show? Check out season 2’s sizzle reel at www.cynopsis.com/#video.

See you Monday,
Jessica Reese  @JMarieReese

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