10/29/15: Lorne Michaels’ prod company launches new comedic sports platform; New Apple TV to debut Friday; YouTube debuts its new subscription service YouTube Red

CYNOPSISDIGITAL
10.29.15

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

TOP NEWS

What do Andy Samberg, “Weird Al” Yankovic, and Wyclef Jean have in common? If you answered “sports,” then, bizarrely enough, you’re correct. They and others will contribute to The Kicker, a sports and comedy-centric streaming video site from Above Average, the digital media arm of Broadway Video, Lorne Michaels’s production company. The site will feature daily sports and news content, generally from a comedic perspective. Major athletes and celebrities will make appearances. The Kicker, which launched yesterday, was created by Bryan Tucker, a co-head writer of Saturday Night Live.

IBM
has announced plans to acquire the Weather Company’s digital businesses. That includes the company’s business-to-business, mobile, and cloud-based web properties. The Weather Channel will remain a separate entity. While no financial terms were disclosed, the Wall Street Journal reports that the deal is valued at more than $2 billion. The agreement is tentatively expected to close in Q1 of 2016.

Finally. The next gen Apple TV arrives in Apple’s retail stores this Friday, October 30, according to 9to5Mac. The 32GB version will cost $149, while the 64 GB version will run you $199.

Speaking of long-awaited arrivals: YouTube Red, YouTube’s new subscription service, officially launched yesterday. All U.S. customers are eligible for a 30-day free trial, after which the service will cost $9.99 a month.


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NEW PROGRAMMING + DEALS


Cisco Systems is acquiring OTT video services provider 1 Mainstream. No financial terms were disclosed. As of yet, 1 Mainstream has raised about $8.75 million in funding, mostly from the U.K. satellite operator Sky. 1 Mainstream has about 70 customers, including Sky and CBS news. The deal is expected to close in late January.

Online streaming platform DramaFever is getting into original programming. The site will produce and distribute BIGBANG: Made Concert 2015, a concert documentary following the titular boy band during the U.S. leg of their recent international tour. The film, DramaFever’s first in-house original production, was directed by Mark Haney, who has produced shows and tours for musicians including Jay-Z and Rihanna.

Afrostream has acquired a good deal of content from Sony Pictures Television.  The black audience-oriented streaming platform is available only in the French speaking countries of France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Senegal, and Ivory Coast. Come November, it will add 55 Sony movies to its platform, including Think Like a Man and This Christmas, as well as three TV series, including The Boondocks.

OTT + SVOD


The British Film Institute is making a huge push into the digital space. BFI has launched BFI Player+, a new dedicated SVOD service, which will offer subscribers hundreds of films from its catalogue­approximately 300 at launch.  The service will also feature a weekly exclusive video recommendation from Mark Kermode, an English film critic.

 

CONTENT PROGRAMMING


Al Roker Entertainment, Al Roker’s aptly named production company, is teaming up with Facebook. The company has launched a new division called RokerLive, and with it Camila’s Code, a new reality series starring Camila Alves. (At the risk of undermining her well-earned individual identity, Cynopsis Digital will do as every other news outlet has done and point out that Alves is Matthew McConaughey’s wife.) According to Alves’s Facebook page, the reality series, which debuted yesterday, will “teach viewers how to do quick short cuts and DIYs with food, cooking, and crafts.” The 15 to 20 minute episodes will stream weekly on Alves’s Facebook page.

 

DIGITAL CONTENT CREATORS

The non-profit Ad Council has launched I Am Witness, a new anti-bullying campaign starring multiple digital stars. The campaign aims to encourage teens to speak out against bullying. Multiple YouTubers, including Grace Helbig and the Fine Bros., are creating videos for the campaign.

Grace Helbig, Mamrie Hart, and Hannah Hart are known as YouTube stars. Well, it might be time to drop the “YouTube” qualifier. The trio is set to star in Dirty Thirty, a new feature length comedy film from Lionsgate. The three also starred in last year’s Camp Takota, but this is their first time being backed by a major production studio.

 


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PLATFORMS + TECH


Variety reports that the Rovi subsidiary Fan TV has stopped selling its TV set-top box, effective last Friday. “We’ll be transitioning folks to our recently launched Android TV app over the next four weeks,” said Fan TV founder Gilles BianRosa in an email statement. Fan TV is also set to wind down its partnership with Time Warner Cable; since March 2014, TWC had integrated its cable bundle into Fan TV’s set-top boxes.


2016 CONSUMER ELECTRONICS SHOW


The 2016 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) has named its keynote speakers. The honors fall to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and YouTube’s Chief Business Officer Robert Kyncl. CES will be held in Las Vegas from January 6 to January 9.

 

RESEARCH
 

ListenFirst Media took a look at the performance of Netflix’s original film Beasts of No Nation, which, as Cynopsis Digital noted yesterday, has already been viewed by over three million people in North America, and has become Netflix’s most watched film globally since its release on October 16. Ah, but is it Oscar-worthy? ListenFirst compared the film to last year’s Best Picture noms, and found that it’s actually keeping pace with them. ListenFirst specifically looked at search volume, lifetime total YouTube views (Official + Unofficial), and its ListenFirst Critic Score (which measures critic reviews and ratings across multiple movie review destinations) on the day of the film’s release.

Here’s some of what they found:

The day of release, Beasts’ lifetime total YouTube views (Official + Unofficial) were at 7.2MM, while its search volume score was just under 50K.

Beasts maintained both a stronger search volume score and lifetime total YouTube views (Official + Unofficial) on YouTube than nominees Selma and Whiplash.

Specifically looking at search volume, the film tracked right under last year’s Best Picture winner, Birdman.

The day of release, Beasts scored a ListenFirst Critic Score of 86%. The average score for 2015 Best Picture nominees was 88%.

“In reviewing some of the more correlative data sources for Award Season prospects, it’s clear that Netflix with Beasts has landed square in the middle amongst the top films from last season,” said Jason Klein, ListenFirst’s co-CEO. “While many other factors, including release date timing, play a considerable role, early indicators from our analysis shows no major gaps with historical contenders.”


A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE


Digital Model D Awards Luncheon
Innovators. Inspirers. Creators of all kinds. We celebrate those in online video content and advertising who are at the forefront of this new industry, elevating it with their state-of-the-art contributions to branded content, technology, ad campaigns, and original content.

Celebrate with us on November 13th at the Marriott Essex in New York City.

View the finalist list here.


 

DIGITAL SPOTLIGHT


Once upon a time, only movies had trailers. But then video games became especially awesome, and here we are.  The new trailer for Star Wars Battlefront might just be better than the trailer for The Force Awakens. Check it out here.

See you tomorrow,
David Teich
10.29.15

Roberta Caploe: Associate Publisher @robertacaploe
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