11/15/17: Fullscreen to shutter its VOD service, lay off 25 employees, and refocus efforts around Rooster Teeth and other divisions

CynopsisDigital
Good morning. It’s Wednesday November 15, 2017 and this is your your first early morning Digital briefing.
 

TODAY’S CODEBREAKER
 
Active Presence: In virtual reality, active presence (also known as hand presence) is an immersive state that is reached as a result of using a handheld device within a VR experience.
 
 
JUST IN…
 
Fullscreen’s SVOD offering, a millennial-oriented channel packed with social media stars, just never quite caught on. In an email, Fullscreen CEO George Strompolos told staffers that the service – simply called Fullscreen – will be shuttered in January. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the service – which launched in April of 2016 – will stream its last show on Friday; all other shows will be set aside or sold. In his email, Strompolos wrote that the company will now pour more resources into brand-building, its creator network, and its Rooster Teeth division. All told, about 25 employees who worked on the Fullscreen SVOD service will be let go. Fullscreen is owned by Otter Media, a joint venture between AT&T and the Chernin Group.
 
In a new partnership with Ticketmaster, YouTube will now let musicians directly sell tickets to their U.S. performances. Artists can list their upcoming tour dates under a new section, which appears directly beneath an official video’s description. Along with the dates, artists can also include a direct link to Ticketmaster’s website.
 
 
OTT + SVOD
 
There’s a new entry into the virtual MVPD space – and this one’s got a social twist. Philo, a startup that’s been delivering streaming TV service to college campuses since 2010, is launching a TV offering with a base package of 37 channels. Most of those channels come from Philo’s strategic investors: AMC Networks, Discovery, Scripps Networks Interactive, and A+E Networks. (Each company owns a minority stake in Philo.) Notably, the service cuts out sports and broadcast nets – and as a result it only costs $16 per month. Philo is making the bet that many millennial consumers would prefer a cheap package with fewer channels, and would be fine with filling in any gaps with other VOD subscriptions. Philo CEO Andrew McCollum was a founding member of Facebook, and it shows: The service itself is a kind of social media. For instance, it lets users see what their friends are watching in real-time. Users can also send invites to friends; they can then watch shows together in a synchronized fashion. The service is available now; its new social features will launch next year.
 
According to sources who spoke with AdAge, Amazon has been developing a free, ad-supported complement to its Prime Video service. The company has reportedly spoken with movie studios, TV networks, and other media companies about providing content to the service. It should be noted that, when reached for comment, Amazon told AdAge that it has no plans to create a free, ad-supported version of Prime Video. Of course, maybe that just means that the company is planning to create a new video service without the Prime Video branding. Only time will tell.
 
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ADVERTISING
 
Snapchat just made a big update to the ad-targeting tools related to its photo filters. The app will now let marketers apply “audience filters” to photo campaigns. Instead of simply targeting locations (as is the case with Snapchat’s geofilters), brands can now target consumers based on time of day, gender, age, interests, and other factors. PepsiCo’s Quaker Oats was among the first brands to test out the new tool.  
 
 
VIRTUAL + AUGMENTED REALITY
 
Back in May, Google announced that hardware companies HTC and Lenovo planned to build new standalone VR headsets, which would be based on Google’s Daydream VR platform. And while Lenovo is still on board, HTC just backed out of the project. The news was first reported by TechCrunch. Instead, HTC has unveiled a separate standalone device – exclusively available in the Chinese market – that comes with a number of the same features as the cancelled Daydream headset. There is one big difference: The headset, called the Vive Focus, will be powered by HTC Wave, a mobile VR platform that HTC developed in partnership with several other tech manufacturers. At the moment, there are no plans to sell the headset in the U.S. On the plus side for Google, Lenovo is slated to release its headset Daydream-powered device within the coming weeks.
 
 
APPS + PLATFORMS
 
Amazon’s Twitch has released two new tools for video creators. Called Achievements and Stream Summary, the tools are designed to let creators observe what content is most resonating with their audience, and track their path to becoming an official Twitch Partner or Affiliate. (Twitch creators need to clear certain viewership thresholds before joining those programs, which offer them helpful monetization tools.) Achievements and Stream Summary were among the new tools previewed at the Twitchcon conference in October.
 
There’s an unlikely new contributor to the VOD space. Hoopla, a company best known for providing free e-book rentals in partnerships with libraries, has launched new living room apps for Apple TV and Amazon’s Fire TV. The apps offer streaming access to TV shows and movies, in addition to audio books, e-books, and music. The service lets users “borrow” a certain amount of content each month. In addition to being free, it carries zero ads. Hoopla had previously launched various apps for tablets, phones, and Google’s Chromecast streaming device. Aside from launching on the Fire TV and Apple TV, the company plans to launch a new Android TV app later this week, along with a Roku app at some point in the near future. Hoopla is the digital unit of Midwest Tape, a company that provides audio books and DVDs to public libraries.
 
 
PUBLISHERS
 
Claire Schmidt, who’d served as VP of Technology and Innovation at 20th Century Fox, has left the company to start a new venture. Her new site, called AllVoices, will let users anonymously report instances of harassment, bias, or discrimination directly to their company board or CEO. In a Medium post, Schmidt wrote that she herself is a sexual assault survivor, and was inspired to take action as a result of the recent wave of harassment and assault victims who have been speaking up about their experiences. The AllVoices website hasn’t launched in earnest, but its homepage says that the full site is coming soon. Schmidt had joined 20th Century Fox only eight months ago.
 
 
MEASURING UP
 
The ListenFirst Television Interest (TVI) Rating (TM) is a standardized measurement of the most buzzed-about TV programs on linear TV and streaming services. A complement to ListenFirst’s other syndicated data products (such as the ListenFirst Digital Audience Rating – TV), the metrics included in the rating capture organic actions that are largely unaffected by paid media. Programs that surface on the TVI leaderboards are the most hashtagged on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, and Tumblr, as well as most searched for on Wikipedia (used as a proxy for organic search volume).
 
Streaming Series (11/06/17 – 11/12/17)  
 

  Source: ListenFirst. The TVI Rating aggregates metrics that measure organically generated activity by fans of the TV show. The metric includes total volume of official hashtag mentions on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, and Tumblr, along with Wikipedia page views (as a proxy for organic search volume) for a show as a percentage of the total volume of the same activities for all shows.
 
 
EXECUTIVE MOVES
 
Sony EVP Eric Berger, who’s overseen the Crackle streaming service since 2011, is getting an expanded role. He’ll take on the additional title of Chief Digital Officer at Sony Pictures Television Networks, while holding onto the GM role at Crackle. Berger will now take on responsibilities relating to Sony TV’s other digital networks. He’ll continue to report to Andy Kaplan, Sony Pictures Television Networks’ President of Worldwide Networks.
 
Turner’s Bleacher Report has lost one of its execs. Josh Abrams, who spent more than seven years as the property’s VP of Sales, is moving over to Fatherly, a millennial-oriented media startup focused on parenting. He’ll serve as the company’s VP of Sales, the same title he held at Bleacher Report.
 
 
TRIVIA
 
Stephanie Savage co-created Runaways, Hulu’s upcoming Marvel series. But she’s best known for developing a series for The CW, which ran from 2007 to 2012. What’s the series? (Email trivia@cynopsis.com with your answer and be sure to include your name, company, city and state.) 
 
Our Last Trivia Question: Which prolific indie film director created the Netflix anthology series Easy? Answer: Joe Swanberg. Kudos to Andy Pittman-TAMU/TX, Andrew Bellamy-Producers Guild of America/NY, David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/CA, Ashlee Smith-PBS/VA, Lorrie Shilling/CA, and Mathew Tombers-Intermat/NY
 
A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE
[Wednesday, December 6 th at 1:30pm]
 
Whether you’re a TV network, marketer or publisher, artificial intelligence is starting to shape your world in a big way – according to research from Bank of America, A.I. will be a $153 billion industry by 2020. But you need to understand how to best employ it. Register for Cynopsis’ latest webinar and gain the tools you need to maximize AI’s potential within your company.
 
 

SHORT FORM SPOTLIGHT
 
In a new video, Vox assesses the ways in which the beauty industry has failed women of color. Check it out here
 
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