06/08/17: Verizon begins beta test of “advanced TV features” for Fios

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Good morning. It’s Thursday June 8, 2017 and this is your your first early morning Digital briefing!
 

TODAY’S CODEBREAKER
 
Direct Response: Direct response marketing is a type of marketing designed to generate a specific response from consumers. Consumers’ responses and purchases can then be measured and attributed to specific ads.
 
 
TOP NEWS
 
Apple Music is officially a video platform. The subscription service has debuted Planet of the Apps, its first original series. An unscripted series about app developers, Planet of the Apps is produced by Propagate’s Howard Owens and Ben Silverman. Celebrities including Jessica Alba and Gwyneth Platrow star in the show and serve as executive producers. It’s the first of two series on Apple’s slate; August 8 will see the debut of Carpool Karaoke: The Series, an original show based on popular sketches from The Late Late Show with James Corden. Apple is hoping that its video strategy will set it apart from services such as Spotify and Pandora. Earlier this week, the company announced that Apple Music now has 27 million subscribers.
 
Verizon confirmed that it’s begun testing “new advanced TV features” for its Fios service. A select group of customers and employees are taking part in the trial. Official details are scant, but earlier this week DSL Reports said that Verizon was trialing an IPTV service, with beta testers receiving a free year of broadband, TV and voice services in exchange for participating. Verizon has confirmed only that trials have started. Moreover, the telco clarified that there’s “no guarantee” that the services being tested will ever become available.
 
 
POLICY
 
Michelle Lee, a former Google lawyer who’d served as Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office since 2015, has unexpectedly stepped down. Lee was widely seen as an ally of tech companies, and had a reputation for fighting “patent trolls” – companies that file wide-ranging patents solely to serve as a basis for lawsuits. As recently as April, a group of tech giants (and their lobbying arms) publicly defended Lee, asking President Trump to renominate her.  
 
A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE
August 3 |Dream Downtown, NYC |11:30AM – 4:00PM
 
Despite all the chatter and change about ad loads, undefined currencies, metrics and more, there has yet to be a smart, focused conversation on where we are (and aren’t) and the necessary steps to get there. This conference is that conversation. Leading the discussion will be industry experts from Facebook, NBCU, ABC, Hulu, Quigley-Simpson, 22squared, one2one Media and more.
 
Seating is limited, so be sure to register your team today
 
 
PLATFORMS, APPS + DEVICES
 
Fox Networks Group is out with the newest update to its Fox Now app. Initially just for Apple TV and iOS devices, the new version of the app features shows from Fox, National Geographic, and FX. It’s the first time that content from the three networks has been merged onto a single platform. (The separate FXNow and Nat Geo TV apps will also continue to be available.) The app is of the “TV Everywhere” variety – i.e., it requires users to authenticate with pay-TV credentials. The Fox Now update is slated to launch for Android and Roku devices later this month, with other platforms to follow later in the year.
 
 
PROGRAMMING + CONTENT ACQUISITIONS
 
Twitter will stream the premiere episode of TNT drama Claws after the show’s linear premiere this Sunday, June 11. The series, which centers on a Florida nail salon, will stream at 10pm, immediately after the show airs on TNT. “[A] streaming encore on Twitter has the power to reach new audiences and catch the attention of viewers who might not otherwise have sampled our show,” explained Michael Engleman, EVP of Marketing and Brand Innovation for TNT/TBS, in a statement.
 
 
LIVE VIDEO
 
Amazon’s Twitch is sweetening the Affiliate Program it launched last month. Designed to let tens of thousands of new streaming channels take in revenue, the new program uses a form of audience-driven tipping. Now Affiliates can make money in a new way: by taking a cut of games and in-game items that are sold through their channels. A purchase button will now appear on Affiliates’ channels whenever they’re playing a game that’s also for sale by Twitch. According to a new blog post from the company, Affiliates will collect 5% of the revenue from such purchases.
 
 
VIRTUAL + AUGMENTED REALITY
 
Nyko announced a new gamer-friendly controller that’s compatible with the Samsung Gear VR headset. Dubbed the PlayPad VR, the controller features a traditional gamepad interface. It can also be hooked to the front of the headset. (Though it may look otherwise based on photos of the device, you don’t actually wear the controller while you’re using the headset; the point is to keep it from getting lost when it’s not in use.) The controller is slated to go on sail this fall, for a price of $49.99.
 
 
RESEARCH
 
Tweet of the week: @AshxHx65: Fred WHY SO AWKWARD #bachelorette
Canvs, the emotion analytics company, analyzed tweets about TV and streaming programming from May 31 – June 6 using Twitter data from Nielsen. Insights from the 2,625,996 tweets expressing a specific Emotional Reaction (ER) include:
– Tops in excitement: the first two games of the 2017 NBA Finals on ABC between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers.
– As the One Love Manchester concert was simulcast across TV (and the internet), viewers tapped out tens of thousands of messages talking about how beautiful the performers (and their music and messages of love) were.
– Judging by the ERs, ABC’s The Bachelorette had some of the most awkward moments of the week, including a kiss between Rachel and Fred that had viewers cringing.
– Viewers got goosebumps during a moving rendition of Andra Day’s “Rise Up” by nine-year-old Angelica Hale on NBC’s America’s Got Talent.  
 
 
EXECUTIVE MOVES
 
Twitter has named Emily Horne as its new head of policy communications. She’ll oversee Twitter’s messaging and communications for all policy issues, including privacy, hate speech, and abuse. Horne most recently served as Assistant Press Secretary for the National Security Council. According to her LinkedIn page, she served as the NSC’s spokesperson on policy issues including counter-terrorism and international economics. 
 
Harmonic, a company specializing in software and products for video tech and cable access, has named Sanjay Kalra as its new Chief Financial Officer. He previously served as the company’s Corporate Controller and Chief Accounting Officer. Kalra joined Harmonic in late 2016; he’d previously held positions at TiVo, Model N and Silicon Image. He succeeds Harold Covert, who announced last year that he’d be stepping down as Harmonic’s CFO. 
 
Creative agency Mod Op has made two new hires. Audra V. Pace and Andy Hahn join the agency as Creative Directors, working out of New York and Los Angeles, respectively. Pace has previously served as a Creative Director for Gluttony, while Hahn previously served an Executive Creative Director for WME/IMG. Meanwhile, Mod Op also announced that Managing Director David Edelstein has been promoted to Partner.
 
Mashable Chief Revenue Officer Ed Wise has left the company. Wise joined the digital media company in April of 2016.  
 
 
TRIVIA
 
Neil Patrick Harris has a leading role in which current Netflix series? (Email trivia@cynopsis.com with your answer and be sure to include your name, company, city and state.)
 
Our Last Trivia Question: Before creating Hulu’s The Handmaid’s TaleBruce Miller served as writer and producer on a CW series. Which one? Answer: The 100. Kudos to Louis Lewow-Lewow Media Group/GA, Amanda Chaiet-Turner Broadcasting/NY, Susan Nessanbaum-Goldberg-M and S Entertainment/CA, David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/CA, Lorrie Shilling/CA, and Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/CA
 
A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE
Today’s the Day
The Deadline for Cynopsis Kids !magination Awards is hours away!
Now with over 50 categories to choose from, including Virtual Reality and Short Form Content, we want to ensure that you and your team are recognized and awarded for the strides you’ve made in the children’s media sector over the past year. Finalists will be honored at our annual awards reception, September 19 in NYC. Don’t shy away from the spotlight you and your team deserve – Join in on the fun!
 

DIGITAL SPOTLIGHT

Up top, we mentioned the premiere of Apple Music competition series Planet of the Apps. You can check out the show’s new trailer here.
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