12/23/15: Instagram preparing to stream Live Events, Periscope plans to keep expanding, AT&T/DirecTV Raise Rates


Good morning. It’s Tuesday December 22, 2015, and this is your first early morning digital briefing.


Christmas Eve will mark the launch of Instagram’s first video collections, called Live Events – it will last for a 24-hour period and be followed by another video stream on New Year’s Eve. According to the Daily Mail, Live Events is designed to be an interactive video viewer featuring a curated collection of clips from major events. Instagram will launch similar efforts next year around major holidays or events.
Live-streaming app Periscope was named App of the Year by Apple’s App Store, but it doesn’t plan to rest on its laurels. CEO Kayvon Beykpour told CNBC that the company “wants to continue expanding its reach with creative broadcasts, whether they’re filmed on smartphones, drones or other devices.”
Google Chromecast is adding a few new exclusive games, including Angry Birds Friends (which allows players to compete in weekly tournaments), Driver Speedboat Paradise, and a slew of Hasbro board games such as Monopoly, Here & Now, Yahtzee Blitz, and Risk, all of which can support second screen functionality: meaning, watch the board on TV, and roll the dice with your smartphone.
AT&T and DirecTV have started to join their operations after a $69 billion deal and now they’re both raising their rates. According to techdirt, “AT&T has notified its U-Verse TV subscribers that they can expect $2-$4 monthly price hikes” as well as increases in other fees such as the “Regulatory Video Cost Recovery Charge” and its “Broadcast TV Surcharge.” Meanwhile, DirecTV has told its customers that their monthly rates will be jump $2 to $8 on most TV packages, as of Jan. 28. Other fees will also rise.


LVMH-owned Champagne house Krug knows that the bubbly is a guilty pleasure – so why not put together a whole video series celebrating just that? “Guilty Pleasures” unveils a new episode each Sunday and takes a gander at life from the perspective of a variety of chefs.
James Franco has been working with Maker Studios for more than a year and the pair has finally released four new web series. Two of them are living on Franco’s YouTube channel and two of them are on his Facebook page. Need to know how to shoot a perfect love scene? Now you’re covered.


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NASA, in collaboration with Fusion and MIT’s Space Systems, will launch the Mars 2030 experience, a free virtual reality adventure that attempts to show viewers what the planet is like before any human actually sets foot there. Consumers will be able to walk or drive the Mars Rover prototype across several square miles of actual Martian landscape. It will initially be built to be seen on Google Cardboard, Facebook’s Oculus Rift and Samsung Gear VR. Versions for PlayStation VR and HTC Vive will follow.
Icelandic music export Bjork has thrown herself into the world of virtual reality, putting together a VR video that she showed off at performances and on YouTube. Now she’s launching a VR app for her song “Stonemilker,” designed to be used with iPads and iPhones.
Pinball fans might want to check in on Kickstarter with a company called Pinball Labs, which is raising money to create a virtual reality version of the game. PL also plans to allow users to design and play their own pinball matches; software should be available in the first quarter of 2016.


Roku has announced consumers’ top searches on its device for 2015. “Back to the Future” was the top movie, followed by “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part One.” Others that made it into the top ten, betanews.com reports, include “Frozen,” “Jurassic Park” and “Gone Girl.” The top TV show was The Walking Dead. Game of Thrones and Downton Abbey came in second and third place, respectively. Others in the top ten include Blacklist, Big Bang Theory, and Better Call Saul. The most-searched-for actresses and actors were Amy Poehler and surprisingly, John Wayne.
Kids in India are very into YouTube and social media. According to a new study from the Associated Chambers of Commerce of India, 76 percent of kids under the age of 13 watch YouTube daily. Meanwhile, social media networking sites are used by 81 percent of teenagers; 72 percent of them log into social media more than once every day.


ListenFirst Media has added Pinterest to its social and digital analytics platform. ListenFirst will monitor how users interact with Pinterest’s 50 billion+ Pins to determine which brands resonate most with Pinners and, in turn, help marketers and advertisers develop more effective campaigns.
Startup StartApp has developed a platform to help publishers and advertisers monetize, distribute, and advertise apps. It has now partnered with Inneractive, a mobile ad exchange, to create a new programmatic video ad exchange. It has inventory for more than 150 countries and more than 2,000 apps.



**** HAPPY NEW YEAR ****

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‘s latest Spotlight Stories, “Special Delivery,” has debuted. Created by Aardman Animation, which cut its teeth on the Wallace and Gromit shorts, this 360-degree animation works slightly differently from the usual virtual-reality experience. Instead of being able to look where viewers want to, the video will pause when they look away from the main character – and start up subsidiary mini-stories.

See you after the HOLIDAYS!
David Teich

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