11/17/17: Mashable sells to Ziff Davis for only $50 million

CynopsisDigital
Good morning. It’s Friday November 17, 2017 and this is your your first early morning Digital briefing.
 

TODAY’S CODEBREAKER
 
People-Based Marketing: People-based marketing is a marketing technique in which real, individual people are targeted and measured – as opposed to simply targeting devices. People-based marketing is achieved by resolving consumers’ identities across digital and offline channels. Widespread use of the term first came about through the launch of Facebook Custom Audiences, which lets advertisers target consumers on digital devices. Google soon followed up with Google Customer Match, which offers many of the same people-based marketing capabilities.
 
 
JUST IN…
 
Mashable was just sold – and it didn’t exactly fetch a hefty price tag. The digital media company was purchased by Ziff Davis, a publisher of gaming, healthcare, and tech content. The news was first reported by the Wall Street Journal. According to the paper, Ziff Davis only paid about $50 million for the company. That figure undoubtedly comes as a major disappointment to Mashable’s investors. The company was valued at $250 million as recently as last year, following a $15 million funding round led by Turner. Mashable’s efforts to sell itself have been known for a while now; back in September, the Journal reported that the company was talks with German mass media company ProSiebenSat.1. It’s not quite clear yet how Ziff Davis came to be the buyer. The companies haven’t commented publicly.
 
According to a new report from Recode, Univision is looking to bring in a minority investor to support Fusion Media Group. Along with the Fusion TV network and a production studio, FMG consists of a number of digital media properties, including The Onion and most of the sites formerly owned by Gawker Media. (Univision bought those sites last year, after a highly-publicized lawsuit forced Gawker into bankruptcy.) According to the Recode report, Univision is asking investors to spend as much as $200 million to buy a stake in the unit. The company has reportedly brought on bankers from Morgan Stanley and Raine Group to help shop the deal around.
 
According to a new report from the Wall Street Journal, BuzzFeed is on pace to significantly underperform its revenue projections for 2017. The company had hoped to bring in around $350 million this year; according to the Journal’s sources, the end result may be 15% or even 20% less than that. Industry analysts have long speculated that BuzzFeed was destined for an IPO, perhaps as early as next year. That now seems exceedingly unlikely.
 
 
OTT + SVOD
 
Following in the footsteps of services like Netflix and Amazon Video, Vimeo has added support for HDR (high-dynamic range) video. Creators will now be able to upload HDR videos to Vimeo’s platform through the site’s web interface. Viewers can watch the videos on any devices that support the formats, such as Apple’s 4K Apple TV. In addition, the company has added support for ultra-high definition 5K, 6K, and 8K videos. Those higher-definition formats aren’t supported by too many consumer-ready devices just yet, but that won’t be the case forever.
 
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Winning a Cynopsis TV Award is a symbol of acknowledgement and appreciation from your peers – that your work has risen to the top in entertaining and enriching a broad audience. Honorees will be celebrated at our annual awards reception taking place February 6th at the Edison Ballroom in NYC. Need help submitting? Reach out to marketing coordinator, Cathy Pearson at 203.899.8470.
 

CYNOPSIS SOCIAL GOOD AWARDS
 
The Cynopsis Social Good Awards honor those civic-minded professionals who find a way to utilize the media industry as a tool for social good. Enter your content/campaigns/teams to get recognized. The deadline is December 20.
 
 
APPS + PLATFORMS
 
Facebook has spent over a year bludgeoning Snapchat with some not-so-subtle product imitations. Now it’s turning its sights on YouTube. Facebook has launched a new app for professional video creators, as well as the Facebook Creators tab, a new section on its website. The Facbeook Creators section offers support, tutorials, tips, and profiles of creators. The similarly titled Facebook Creator app, meanwhile, lets creators access camera effects and frames, and allows them to cross-post to additional platforms. It also includes a kit for live creative content, including tools for Facebook Live broadcasts. Perhaps most importantly, the app also provides metrics, including analytics regarding a creator’s videos, fans, and Page. The Facebook Creator app is available for iOS devices, with an Android version coming soon. YouTube launched YouTube Studio, a creator-oriented app with a number of similar features, back in 2014.
 
 
LET’S MAKE A DEAL
 
Facebook is upping its commitment to live sports. Under a new deal with the sports-media venture Stadium, Facebook has gained the exclusive rights to 47 college basketball games during the 2017-2018 season. This isn’t the most high-profile of content deals: Many of the games in question will be between teams that aren’t usually covered by national networks. Broadcasts will include teams from the West Coast Conference, Conference USA, the Atlantic 10, and the Mountain West. Stadium’s on-air team will respond to fan’s questions and comments during the games. Games will also be available to rewatch on-demand. In addition, Stadium will produce a weekly studio show for Facebook, dedicated to highlights, video, and commentary surrounding college basketball. It’ll air every Wednesday, starting November 29 at 6:30 PM ET.
 
 
INFLUENCERS
 
One of Fullscreen’s most prominent stars has broken ties with the company. Actress and YouTube star Grace Helbig, who had long been a part of Fullscreen’s digital network, has joined the creator network of digital media company Studio 71. (It hasn’t been a great week for Fullscreen; the news comes shortly after the company confirmed that it’s shutting down its SVOD service next year.) Under Helbig’s new partnership with Studio71, she’ll also develop a new comedy series alongside fellow YouTube star (and longtime collaborator) Mamrie Hart. Hart was already affiliated with Studio71. Their new series – untitled at the moment – will debut on YouTube in 2018. In addition to her new deal with Studio71, Helbig has an existing development deal in place with Lionsgate,    
 
 
RESEARCH
 
Virtual pay TV services are out in force, and they’re making their presence felt. According to a new report from MoffettNathanson, the U.S. pay-TV industry actually gained subscribers in the third quarter of 2017 – and that’s entirely because of OTT-based TV services. All told, the research firm estimates that U.S. pay-TV subscribers grew by 90,000 in the quarter. In Q3 of 2016, by comparison, the industry saw a 275,000 subscriber loss. Of course, this isn’t all good news for TV networks. For one thing, not all TV companies are included in the current crop of OTT TV packages. And even when they are included, that doesn’t mean all of their networks are being carried. It’s also worth noting that, while virtual pay-TV accounts are sold to individuals, traditional packages are sold to households. That makes it tough to truly compare the two types of services (and to assess what their subscriber numbers mean).
 
 
EXECUTIVE MOVES
 
Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba is making a big change to its Digital Entertainment Group. Effective December 1, Yu Yongfu will step down from his role as the Group’s Chairman. Instead, he’s been reassigned to Alibaba’s Electronic World Trade Platform. Moving forward, the chairmanship of Alibaba’s Digital Entertainment Group will rotate. Yang Weidong – the head of Alibaba’s music operations, as well as the Youku Tudou streaming service – will be the Group’s first chairman under the new rotating structure. 
 
The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has named a new exec. Orchid Richardson will serve as VP and Managing Director of the trade group’s Data Center of Excellence. Richardson will oversee the Data Center’s agenda, including directing new industry benchmarks, developing publisher-specific data and automation best practices, and working with the IAB’s Tech Lab to update standards for data security, privacy, and consumer data protection. She’ll also take the lead on a new series of educational events focused on how to take advantage of “Big Data.” Richardson joins the IAB from 33Across, Inc., where she served as General Manager of Publisher and Media Solutions.
 
 
TRIVIA
 
The CBS All Access service is home to a new comedy series, based on an Australian show of the same name. Will Ferrell and Tim Meadows are among the stars. What’s it called? (Email trivia@cynopsis.com with your answer and be sure to include your name, company, city and state.) 
 
Our Last Trivia Question: Who co-created Gossip Girl alongside Stephanie Savage? Answer: Josh Schwartz. Kudos to Andy Bellamy-Producers Guild of America/NY, Andy Pittman-TAMU/TX, Susan Nessanbaum-Goldberg-M and S Entertainment/CA, Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/CA, and David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/CA
 
A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE
Use Artificial Intelligence to Find the Biggest Possible Audience
 
AI can customize viewing experiences in a way that makes pay TV more valuable to consumers; it can help you reach potential consumers with increasingly precise ad targeting, and it can help you reach content consumers on A.I. driven platforms, such as smart speakers. We think it’s high time the industry starts really utilizing this new tool. That’s why we’re hosting the Wednesday, December 6 webinar,  Using Artificial Intelligence to Capture & Captivate Audiences.

 

SHORT FORM SPOTLIGHT
 
Last week, Twitter announced that it would undertake a review of its verification policies. In the meantime, it temporarily stopped considering new verification requests. Now the company has begun taking action: It’s revoking existing verifications from prominent users who promote hate or violence. For instance, you’ll no longer find little blue check marks next to the usernames of Richard Spencer or Jason Kessler, two well-known white nationalists. From CNET, learn more here.

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