09.02.14 Good morning. It’s Tuesday, September 2, 2014, and this is your first early morning digital briefing.
Jim Louderback, GM of Discovery Digital Networks, has announced his resignation, effective yesterday. In 2012, Discovery acquired Revision3, the company that Louderback had run for five years. On his personal blog, Louderback said that he plans to write a book for first time CEO’s, “detailing all the dumb things I did as a way to help them avoid making the same mistakes.” A Discovery spokesperson tells Cynopsis that Group Operating Officer “Colin Decker, who has been working closely with [Senior VP of Digital Media] Sean Atkins and Jim, will be leading the Discovery Digital Networks team moving forward.”
Vice Media, the longtime magazine publisher that has established itself with a strong presence on YouTube, is close to a deal that would have A&E, owned by Disney and Hearst, investing $250 million to take a 10 percent stake, according to the New York Times. The company is hoping, with time, to create its own 24-hour Vice network. “The investment will also give Vice an infusion of cash to develop shows for mobile, the web and traditional TV, to move content between those platforms, and to acquire new media assets,” the Times notes. Vice had been in talks with Time Warner Inc. about a deal since June, but the companies couldn’t come to terms on the valuation of Vice, or how much control Vice would have over Time Warner news channel HLN, the Times said. “The biggest thing we were looking for was complete independence,” said chief executive Shane Smith. “We didn’t want to give up a big stake.” 21st Century Fox bought a 5 percent stake in the company last year for $70 million.
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Netflix is expanding into Germany and has now announced that it will produce an original German-language show. Last week, it announced the same thing for France, another one of the six European nations it is moving into soon, DigitalTVEurope.net reports.
Didn’t get to all your Cynopsis news last week? Go to: In Case You Missed It for a curated roundup.
YouTube has a new feature that allows users to line up videos to share to Chromecast from his or her computer. While one is playing, users can search for more to place into the playlist, according to thenextweb.com.
Through a petition to the Federal Communications Commission, Netflix has officially opposed the Comcast merger with Time Warner Cable. Back in February, Netflix agreed to pay Comcast to speed up the download speed of Netflix content to Comcast customers. The petition notes that in December 2013 and January 2014 the speeds were so slow that the company’s customer support received many angry phone calls and Netflix lost customers as well, according to CNN.
Prices may be going up at movie and game rental kiosk company Redbox. The company is testing out new pricing in various markets and will report back to investors in the fourth quarter, consumerist.com reports. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the company is also planning to remove 500-700 “underperforming” boxes as well.
RightThisMinute, the daily syndicated television show that is fully focused on Web videos, has expanded to 182 markets for the 2014-15 season, accounting for 91% of the country. It had previously been seen in only 30% of the country. The show has also added a new host, Oli Pettigrew.
In defense of kids and screen time: Check out a very fresh take at Cynsiders on the unexpected role media can play in a child’s development, courtesy of David Kleeman, PlayVangelist for PlayCollective.
Fox is offering two live feeds of Utopia ahead of the reality series’ debut, showing 14 “pioneers” prepare for the year-long experience of creating their own society. Viewing is free, with enhanced content for paid subscribers. Utopia, based on the Dutch show of the same name, launches Sunday, September 7; Tuesday, September 9, and Friday, September 12 at 8p, continuing on Tuesdays and Fridays at 8p. And there’s drama already: announced contestant Andrea Cox got the boot before the premiere, reportedly for violations of the show’s confidentiality agreement.
July’s viewership of YouTube’s top 100 channels was up slightly more than 80% from July 2013, according to Tubefilter and OpenSlate. The site attracts more than a billion viewers each month and almost 40% of that came via mobile devices, according to the Guardian. The top 100 channels collected 9.46 billion views in July, up from 5.24 billion a year earlier. The YouTube channel that took the largest jump during the year belongs to PewDiePie, going from 221.6 million to 438.9 million. Gaming, music, and comedy are the three strongest content categories for YouTube, the data shows, and gaming channels alone brought in 4.34 billion views in July.
Streaming music is eating into download sales, according to the Guardian. Midia Research’s latest report shows that by year’s end, 37 million people across the globe will be shelling out for streaming music while 210 million will be listening to music for free on advertising-supported music services. In addition, 45% of the people who are currently paying for downloads are also streaming music
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Those of you who are developing apps will want to hear this: Apple has lifted the curtain on why so many apps don’t make the cut. Its new Common App Rejections page lists the top 10 reasons apps are disallowed:
1. 14%: More information needed
2. 8%: Guideline 2.2: Apps that exhibit bugs
3. 6%: Did not comply with terms in the Developer Program License Agreement
4. 6%: Guideline 10.6: A user interface that’s complex or less than very good
5. 5%: Guideline 3.3: Names, descriptions, or screenshots not relevant to the App content and functionality
6. 5%: Guideline 22.2: False, fraudulent or misleading representations or names or icons similar to other Apps
7. 4%: Guideline 3.4: Names in iTunes Connect and as displayed on a device should be similar, so as not to cause confusion
8. 4%: Guideline 3.2: Apps with placeholder text
9. 3%: Guideline 3.8: Developers are responsible for assigning appropriate ratings to their Apps. Inappropriate ratings may be changed/deleted by Apple
10. 2%: Guideline 2.9: Apps that are "beta", "demo", "trial", or "test" versions
Rovio, the company behind the Angry Birds franchise, will have a new CEO as of January 2015. Pekka Rantala, currently AB’s Chief Commerce Officer, will succeed Mikael Hed, who helmed Angry Birds for the last 5 years. The son of chairman Kaj Hed, Mikael will remain at Rovio as chairman of its animation studio.
Nutopia has announced the appointment of Allyson Mandelbaum as its new director of US Development. Mandelbaum as previously director of unscripted programming at AMC Networks.
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DIGITAL SPOTLIGHT OF THE DAY
Netflix is gearing up for a big push into mainland Europe in order to boost its business and it appears that it is also about to bring a bit of Europe to the rest of the world as well. The company has signed a deal for Welsh cop show Hinterlands. Its first season is now being offered up as four 90-minute episodes, according to the New York Times. Check it out at www.cynopsis.com/#video.
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