09/11/14: Sony shaping up OTT service with new deal, ITV invests in digital company Believe Entertainment Group, Disney calls Maker Studio deal a ‘distribution play’


Good morning. It’s Thursday, September 11, 2014, and this is your first early morning digital briefing.


Sony’s streaming service is one step closer to launch: Viacom signed a licensing deal with Sony to provide live and on-demand programming from 22 cable networks, including Nickelodeon, MTV and Comedy Central. Sony originally announced a cloud-based TV service a year ago, and that it would begin testing it through PlayStation consoles, Bravia smart TVs and other Sony devices in 2014. Dish Network is also creating an OTT TV service, and has already locked down similar deals with Disney and A+E Networks. Neither company mentioned details regarding the platform’s availability, pricing or its programming slate.
British-based TV company ITV has invested in the digital company Believe Entertainment Group. As part of the deal, ITV will provide its U.S. production resources, international distribution and talent to BEG’s projects. BEG is known for its original animated Xbox series The LeBrons, the series In the Booth with DJ Tiesto, and Hulu game show Money Where Your Mouth Is. Financial details were not disclosed.
’s first CERTIFIED SuperFanFest concert festival tagged hip-hop artist Iggy Azalea and pop singer Demi Lovato as headline acts for the Oct. 8 event in Los Angeles. The CERTIFIED program (honoring videos with 100+ million views) kicked off in June with sponsors Honda America and Honda Stage, and will extend to the first live CERTIFIED artist performance. The SuperFanFest show will be available Oct. 16 to all viewers on Vevo’s online, TV and mobile apps.
James Franco is launching his first series with AOL on Sept. 17. Making a Scene with James Franco will debut the first three episodes, in which Franco will recreate iconic movie moments from films The Godfather, Batman, Titanic and Grease. Additional installments will launch at a later date. James Franco Live on AOL: Making a Scene, will showcase the 127 Hours actor discussing his new venture with a virtual audience, livestreamed on AOL at 8p on September 17, before the series kicks off.
Hallmark’s online streaming service Feeln released its first original short film, The Saint of Auschwitz. The film follows the journey of a Catholic priest who sacrificed his life to protect prisoners from Nazis during WWII. It is available on Feeln online, on Roku, Xbox 360 and on mobile phones and tablets.
Online network Ora TV struck an agreement with Page Productions for exclusive distribution of the 22-episode series Beer Geeks. The first two episodes from the craft beer themed series will premiere on Sept. 18, with new eps debuting up every week.
Join us on October 16th for the Cynopsis Future TV Summit for a lively look at TV right now, from the perspective of content creators, sellers and advertisers. Early bird registration ends Friday, September 26! Register today to secure the lowest rate: http://www.cynopsisfuturetvsummit.com.


Disney called its $500 million Maker Studio acquisition “mostly a distribution play,” Chief Financial Officer Jay Rasulo said at Goldman SachsCommunacopia Conference yesterday. Rasulo also hinted that the platform will be a place to turn its library of content and characters into short form videos. Since Disney took over Maker, it has grown from four billion monthly views to nine billion with more than 450 million subscribers across its channels.
, Reddit, Tumblr, Etsy and other sites looked different yesterday, thanks to net neutrality. The sites displayed the spinning color wheel often seen while something is loading on the Internet (called the “wheel of death”) to show their support for net neutrality. The Federal Communications Commission will close off the opportunity for Americans to comment on Sept. 15 on its net neutrality proposal that would allow for an “internet fast lane” for a price. Netflix reluctantly signed a deal with Comcast earlier this year for such an agreement.
Orange is the New Black actress Alysia Reiner will jump to Amazon in a new yoga-themed comedy, called Down Dog. Brad Silberling will direct, and Nikita star Lyndsy Fonseca will co-star in the pilot.
Hulu will stream syndicated TV series Xploration Station every day after it airs,  starting Sept. 13. The series explores science and technology in a two-hour block of 30-minute programs.
Multi-channel network Micamold MCN landed a new distribution partner in NYSOCIAL Diary to release a web series called Ivy League Crimelords. The show stars Academy Award nominee James Toback and Emmy nominee Jerry Perzigian.


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Adidas will launch marketing tech company Unruly’s new native mobile-first video ad format, called Unruly in-Feed. “We created In-Feed as a mobile-first format utilizing our Liquid Layout technology, which injects sponsored videos seamlessly into a site in a style that looks and feels truly native,” Unruly Senior Vice President Kenneth Suh told Cynopsis. Advertisers will be charged only when a minimum of 50 percent of their ad is in view for three seconds (exceeding the IAB standard of two seconds). Adidas will use the in-Feed format for its #predatorinstinct campaign. “There’s a growing expectation that social ads will be delivered as part of the content stream and be deeply integrated within the content experience rather than shoved off in a sidebar or banner,” Unruly Founder and CEO Scott Button said.
YuMe has partnered with software technology company ACCESS to launch the ACCESS Twine multi-screen platform. “By leveraging YuMe’s data sciences’ capabilities in tandem with our multi-screen expertise, we allow operators to better understand their subscribers’ demographics and behavior and target them accordingly, whether through tailored recommendations on OTT and VOD portals and personalized advertising,” Access Europe COO and Vice President OF Global Sales TV Dr. Neale Foster said.


Tremor Video hired Laura Buchman as the Vice President of Publisher Sales. Prior to joining Tremor, she was the Vice President of Publisher Solutions at OpenX.
Centro added Kristin Haarlow as Regional Vice President, Media Strategy and Operations for the West. She most recently managed $200 million in digital spend across more than 20 clients for Spark.
Music streaming service TIDAL appointed David Solomon as its National Sales and Marketing Manager. He was previously the founder of Peachtree.
PunchTab named its new CEO as Mike Mansbach. He was the former head of Customer Care at Citrix.
If you’ve got happy news, weddings, babies, engagements you’d like shared with your industry colleagues for a new feature going up soon on our web site, send to Jessica@Cynopsis.com.


In light of New York Fashion Week, Vogue released another “73 Questions with…” episode but this time with the head honcho of fashion and the brand’s longtime Editor-in-Chief, Anna Wintour. Similar to the previous 73 Questions with Sarah Jessica Parker, an anonymous interviewer asks the celebrity rapid fire questions while in their “zone.” Check it out and find out what Anna Wintour will never do at www.cynopsis.com/#video.

See you tomorrow,
Jessica Reese  @JMarieReese

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

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