11/04/15: Video game giant Activision Blizzard acquires mobile gaming company King Digital Entertainment; Vice takes over A+E Networks’ H2; Twitter isn’t playing favorites



CYNOPSISDIGITAL
11.04.15

Good morning. It’s Wednesday November 4, 2015, and this is your first early morning digital briefing.

TOP NEWS

 
Activision Blizzard is a video game giant, but its presence in the mobile gaming space has been relatively minimal – until now. The company has acquired mobile gaming giant King Digital Entertainment, best known for the Candy Crush franchise. Activision Blizzard spent $5.9 billion dollars on the acquisition. And that can buy a whole lot of candy.
 
Given his overgrown beard and long-ish absence from the public arena, fans might be forgiven for assuming that Jon Stewart had hung up his comedic boots to become a rugged survivalist. Nope: the former Daily Show host has signed a four-year deal with HBO. Stewart will produce short form content for the digital platforms HBO Go and HBO NOW; it’s not clear whether he himself will be in front of the camera. He’ll be working with graphics company OTOY. Under the deal, HBO will also get the first look at upcoming film and TV projects form Stewart. No start date was announced, though HBO has said in a statement that the project will likely be underway by early next year.
 
And so Vice Media’s march into linear TV begins. The digital news giant will soon launch its new U.S. TV network. As has long been speculated, A+E Networks’  H2 Network will now become a Vice-branded cable network (working title Viceland). According to Vice and A+E, the channel will feature new unscripted documentary-style and lifestyle programming, produced in-house by Vice Media. It is expected to launch no later than February 29.
 
Say goodbye to stars, say hello to hearts. Twitter has eliminated its “favorite” feature, replacing it with a “like” feature. Instead of clicking on a star, users now click on a heart.  The company made the same changes to Vine, its short video platform. "We want to make Twitter easier and more rewarding to use, and we know that at times the star could be confusing, especially to newcomers," wrote Product Manager Akarshan Kumar in a blog post. "You might like a lot of things, but not everything can be your favorite." Well, not anymore.

 

APPS + GAMES
 

For a few days there, the New Apple TV went without a Top Charts section, leaving many users (and developers) unable to tell which apps were performing the best on the service. The problem was data: namely, there wasn’t any. But now that the service has been operational for a few days, the data is there, and the section has been added. With over a thousand apps on the platform, it’s a crucial tool for developers. The section shows that, at the moment, most of the top paid apps are games, while many of the top unpaid apps are on-demand TV services.
 
More on the Apple TV: Plex has finally been added to the device. The app, which allows users to play their personal videos, music, and photos on mobile and streaming devices, was already available on Roku, Android TV, Google’s Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, Xbox, Playstation, and several smart TV platforms. While the previous generation Apple TV was incapable of supporting the app, the newly released update has opened its doors to a multitude of app developers.
 
 

DIGITAL CONTENT CREATORS

Australian Instagram model Essenna O’Neill is stepping away from social media. She explained her decision this week in an emotional YouTube video. “Everything I was doing was edited and contrived,” she said. “Everything I did was for views, likes, and followers.” O’Neill has deleted a huge portion of her Instagram photos. As for the ones she’s left up, the captions have been edited to criticize her role within the social media modeling industry. (See one example here). Next step for O’Neill: Let’s Be Game Changers, a new blog and forum devoted to expressing her unfiltered opinions and fostering discussion.
 
In an interview with People Magazine at Stream Con NYC, YouTube star Glozell Green said that she will be launching a new kid-oriented digital animation channel. Glozell, who has a degree in musical theater, said that the channel will have a heavy musical component and be educational. A debut is expected sometime next year.

What does Michelle Obama have in common with Vine stars Nash and Hayes Grier? A healthy diet. At Stream Con NYC, the brothers announced that they will act as ambassadors for FNV, an organization that promotes eating fruits and vegetables. FNV was launched in 2013 by the Partnership for a Healthier America, a non-profit dedicated to the health of U.S. kids and young adults. The First Lady serves as the PHA’s honorary chair. As part of their work with FNV, the Griers have launched the Team Grier FNV Design Contest, soliciting fans to submit FNV themed t-shirts to TeamGrierFNV.com. The contest started Tuesday, and ends November 13. 

Speaking of the Griers: Nash Grier has begun production on an autobiographical documentary about his meteoric rise to social media fame. He’ll also be producing a companion web series about his life during the doc’s production. The project is currently untitled. Production is set to conclude in Spring 2016.


A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE


DO YOU HAVE YOUR TICKET?
DECEMBER 2  I  NEW YORK CITY

Join Cynopsis Sports at this year’s Engagement Summit, an event that will bring together some of the most accomplished executives in the world of sports, spanning marketing, technology, public relations, eSports, and social media. As an attendee, you will gain exclusive insight into the techniques, strategies and tactics that have been successful for brands, leagues and networks as they motivate, activate and aggregate their fans.

Register today!.



 
ADVERTISING

The Interactive Advertising Bureau’s Tech Lab has opened up VAST 4.0 to public comment. VAST (short for Video Ad Serving Template) will aid publishers in monetizing long-form video content, according to the Bureau. This marks the first time that VAST has been updated since 2012. Updates include a simplified ad-verification process and the addition of categories to separate competing brands from ad creative.
 
Mobile app data and insights provider PushSpring has entered into a partnership with Nielsen-owned data management platform eXelate. eXelate works with publishers and brands to target online consumers with digital ads. Under the deal, eXelate will integrate PushSpring’s audience data into its platform, increasing its reach and accuracy in the mobile space. “PushSpring’s unique data set creates an opportunity for marketers to provide greater levels of personalization and target customers more accurately and efficiently,” PushSpring CEO & Co-Founder Karl Stillner told Cynopsis Digital

TOMORROW: With budgets for programmatic TV buying set to surge, it’s time to get your team ahead of the curve at the Cynopsis Programmatic TV Summit. The November 5 conference in NYC offers the latest intel on programmatic inventory, the optimum blend of data and creative, the latest measurement tools, and ample Q&A and networking opportunities with experts in sales, execution and, and ROI. It’s you’re your LAST CHANCE to register for tomorrow’s summit. Do it here: http://cynopsis.com/event/programmatic-tv-summit/

PLATFORMS + TECH

 
Internet TV service SlingTV is now compatible with Google’s Chromecast. And customers who prepay for three months of Sling will receive a free second-generation Chromecast device. In addition, existing Chromecast owners will get access to a two-month free trial of Sling’s “Best of Live TV package,” normally $20 per month. SlingTV was already available on numerous platforms, including Amazon Fire TV and Roku.

 
VIRTUAL REALITY

 
Discovery
’s DNews network is taking a step into virtual reality. Hearing Colors, a DNews VR experience exploring the neurological condition synesthesia, will be hosted on Discovery VR, Discovery’s virtual reality channel and app. The app is available for iOS, Android, as well as on Samsung Milk VR and the Discovery VR channel.

 

CONTENT PROGRAMMING

Starting Monday, November 23, Syfy will debut the first episode of its new original series The Expanse on multiple digital and VOD platforms. The premiere comes three weeks ahead of the show’s network debut. The episode will be viewable on Syfy On Demand, Syfy.com, Hulu, Amazon, GooglePlay, and YouTube, among several other platforms. Syfy has also partnered with platforms including Twitch and IGN to host the episode with original custom content. The episode will be available digitally until the show’s two-night linear premiere event, beginning December 14.
 
In April, Conde Nast Entertainment (Conde Nast’s digital video arm) acquired Salaam Dunk via its media brand Teen Vogue. The 2010 documentary, about the first-ever female basketball team at the American University in Northern Iraq, has now been split up into four chapters and made available for free on TeenVogue.com and CNE’s video platform, The Scene. “We felt the story of the Iraqi college basketball team was powerful and really captured progress on women’s rights in Iraq,” said CNE EVP Michael Klein in an email to StreamDaily.
 
Today, the curated film streaming service Tribeca Shortlist debuts a new handpicked movie shortlist from actor Alec Baldwin. Baldwin chose "Race, Sex, & Money” as his Shortlist theme.
 
It’s often said that live viewing is the only decent way to consume sports content. Take one look at the 2015 Model D Awards Finalists for Sports Web Series, and you’ll never think that way again. CBS Local Digital Media, Ultimate Fighting Championship & PositiveImage Video, Inc, and Bleacher Report got up close and personal with professional athletes. As it turns out, they’re just as fascinating outside the ring and off the court. But if not for our finalists, you might never known it; get a glimpse of their stellar work here: http://cynopsis.com/model-d-finalists
 
Speaking of the Model D Awards: Cartoon Network is a 2015 Finalist, and Cynopsis Digital had some questions for Cartoon Network Digital Vice President Chris Waldron. Here’s what he had to say:
What was your first job?
My first part-time job ever was as a cook at McDonald’s. I also think of my first professional job as an English teacher during grad school at the University of Florida. My first full-time job was as an extranet designer/developer at a small financial company.
 
What’s your all-time favorite digital-first TV series?
Magiswords
. I’m biased, of course, but I love that we launched Magiswords as a series of 15 second interactive gags on Cartoon Network Anything. Magiswords is hilarious in every length and format we’ve tried.
 
What’s the most exciting new digital technology?
Virtual reality has so much potential to change so many existing entertainment experiences and to create brand new ones. Every time I put on one of the headsets I get more impressed by the progress the hardware has made and that the software developers have made.
 
Any other interesting factoids?

I have collected over 20,000 comic books.

Register for the November 13 Model D ceremony here.

EXECUTIVE MOVES

 
Conde Nast Entertainment has brought on a new exec. Working in a newly created position, Tatiana Gonzalez Rama will lead CNE’s research and analytics team, spearheading efforts to analyze data and grow audiences across the company’s digital video network. Gonzalez has held analytics positions at Google and, most recently, Spotify.


A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE


Here they are! The Finalists for the Model D Awards: Honoring the Best in Online Video, Talent & Advertising

Click to see who made the cut. Then come join us on November 13th at the Marriott Essex House for this luncheon celebration!


 

DIGITAL SPOTLIGHT

 
Jimmy Kimmel
is a well-established expert when it comes to going viral. But even for Kimmel, body duplication is an impressive feat. Tonight, after ABC’s Country Music Awards, the late-night comic will host his talk show in Hollywood – and simultaneously at Nashville’s CMA Theater. There’s no magic involved, just a little technological ingenuity from the company Hologram USA. Want to know what it’ll look like? Well, he did the same thing last year. Check it out here.

See you tomorrow,
David Teich
11.04.15

Roberta Caploe: Associate Publisher @robertacaploe
Diane K Schwartz: Senior Vice President, Media Communications Group

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JOB OPENING: TALENT AGENT/Top Talent Agency/East Coast: Aggressive talent agency looking for highly motivated candidate with a passion and knowledge for journalism to represent high-level television, print, and digital talent. Resume HERE (11/5)

JOB OPENING: MGR SALES DEVELOPMENT/Disney/NYC: Create/mng sales packaging strategy. Must have sales packaging exp, incl ideating/creating presentations & crafting sales solutions. Min 5 yrs mktg/promo exp w/3+ yrs in Dig. setting pref’d. Full info/apply HERE (11/5)

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