Good morning. It's Tuesday, May 22, 2012, and this is your first early morning digital briefing. If you would like to read this or any other Cynopsis editions online, click here.
Hulu has announced a slate of 10 new original and exclusive TV series that will debut on Hulu and Hulu Plus this summer (scheduled to begin on June 4). First is Spoilers from filmmaker Kevin Smith, which Hulu describes as a half-hour movie "revue" hosted by Smith. The first season will consist of 10 episodes. In August, Hulu will launch Up To Speed, a travel series from filmmaker Richard Linklater, starring Speed Levitch. August also brings forth the premiere of We Got Next, a raunchy half-hour male comedy co-created by Kenya Barris (co-creator of America's Next Top Model) and Hale Rothstein (writer/producer of The Game). Joining these three original series will be seven popular TV shows that will be only available through Hulu. They are as follows:
Bright House Networks, Cablevision, Comcast, Cox Communications, and Time Warner Cable are teaming up to create a shared WiFi network spanning several major US markets, which will total over 50K hotspots. A new network name, CableWiFi, has been created for subscribers to use when accessing one of these hotspots outside their home market. The first implementation is already complete, as Bright House and Cablevision launched CableWiFi alongside their branded WiFi networks in the NYC and the central Florida area earlier this month. Over the next few months, the other companies will add the new network to their branded WiFi hotspots. For high-speed internet subscribers, connecting to CableWiFi will require the same credentials as when accessing their provider's WiFi network. An auto-connect capability will be introduced "in the coming months." The participating operators currently offer those 50K+ hotspots in NYC and the surrounding Tri-State area, LA, Tampa, Orlando, and Philadelphia.
As part of G4's coverage of the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) on June 4-7, the network will deliver breaking news, game announcements, exclusive interviews, HD trailers and in-game footage, screenshots, hands-on demos, and other content to users on G4tv.com. G4tv.com will also stream major E3 press conferences via the website, G4's iOS and Android apps, and G4's Facebook page. In addition, G4tv.com will stream a two-hour, live version of its weekly gaming talk show, Feedback, from the E3 show floor. The special live version will air Thursday, June 7 at 2pm ET on G4's website, Facebook page, and iOS and Android apps. Starting on June 7, a "best of" collection of G4's E3 coverage will be available on-demand.
FOXSports.com has expanded its content distribution list to include the Washington Post Social Reader on Facebook, as well as the Pulse and Zite mobile and tablet apps. The content that will be available through each new digital medium has been optimized to fit that platform, and is a part of the sports website's strategy of using new technologies/products that help deliver relevant content, personalized to individual users.
FishBowl Worldwide Media is launching a Spanish-language extension of its YouTube series CuteWinFail, called LindoVictoriaFracaso. Jose Romero, who hosts a YouTube show (What Da Faq) that has attracted over 90 million views and more than 350K subscribers to date, has been tapped to write, produce, and host this show. The series will debut on June 4, however the page on which it will reside has already gone live, populated with different types of content, including a video announcement from Romero about his involvement with the show. The YouTube series focuses on user-generated content (UGC) by allowing viewers to determine which of three UGC videos is cute, is a win, or is a fail. FishBowl's existing roster of web series includes Petsami on YouTube, and Ultimate Surprises and Stunt Nation for Yahoo.
Global digital video services provider Avail-TVN has raised a $100 million investment round led by The Carlyle Group. The first move the company is making post-round is the acquisition of On Demand Group, a provider of VOD services to TV brands outside the US. Carlyle has become the company's largest investor, joining existing Avail-TVN investors Columbia Capital, Valhalla Partners, Novak Biddle, and Pioneer Ventures. Avail-TVN says it will use this investment to also fund international expansion and the development of new products and services for its global client base of content providers and multichannel video service providers. The On Demand purchase expands Avail-TVN's reach to more than 25 countries, serving over 70 million households across the globe.
Social gaming services start-up Xfire has secured $3 million in funding from Singapore-based IDM Venture Capital. The capital will help the company continue its expansion into Asian territories. The downloadable, free Xfire client supports more than 2,500 video games and allows online gamers to take screenshots, record video, chat with each other, and share content to social networks. The new funding will also help the start-up as it integrates Chinese character support into its in-game chat offering, as well as other features that will help the company adapt its services for the Asian markets. Over 6 million users per month use Xfire. The financing from IDM Venture Capital is expected to be a part of a larger funding round.
Tremor Video has launched its Mobile Creative Platform, a toolset that aims to help advertisers build and deliver interactive video creative across all mobile and tablet devices in the Tremor Video Network, without sacrificing ad functionality or viewer experience. Wanting to mitigate the issue of fragmentation in the mobile advertising landscape that has made it more difficult for advertisers to develop and deliver creative across the mobile ecosystem while maintaining a consistent ad experience and functionality, Tremor says the Mobile Creative Platorm allows creative teams to build their creative on an open canvas, without it being restricted to one operating system. The platform is capable of detecting the device, screen size, and operating system before serving an ad, and automatically rearranges and scales elements to fit the mobile device on which it is being delivered.
A technology licensing agreement between the two companies will allow FourthWall Media to license a set-top box data collection and report processing system from Microsoft Advertising. FourthWall will assume daily operations of Microsoft Advertising's STB collection and analytics framework as part of the FourthWall Ad Aim Network. In exchange, Micrsofot Advertising will continue to have access to an anonymous and aggregated source of set-top data for purposes ad targeting services. The Ad Aim Network collects real-time STB data from digital cable homes within its participating footprint, and provides analysis of this activity for all cable channels available within a participating system.
SeaChange International has integrated Civolution's NexGuard watermark pre-processor and smart-embedder software into three components of its video software platform, SeaChange AssetFlow (content workflow manager), SeaChange Axiom (on-demand back office), and SeaChange's MDS and FMS products (storage and streaming of VOD content). This new joint solution from the two companies enables cable operators to implement transactional watermarking protection in their VOD workflow and network infrastructure. The companies say that this watermarking protection allows for the forensic tracking to the source of potential illegal copies of video content, something which has been mandated by film studios for cable operators that want to offer movies in an early-release window.
ActiveVideo Networks, the creator of the CloudTV software platform, says it will preview a new version of the platform, which is designed to align with cable operators' IP migration strategies, at The Cable Show in Boston this week. The CloudTV H5 IP product optimizes the delivery of cloud-based content in an IP environment, adding features such as virtualization, full H.264 support, and bandwidth management to its CloudTV HTML5 rendering platform. The aim is to provide a flexible, scalable platform that is capable of delivering a rich user experience with low latency to any connected device. CloudTV allows service providers to deliver unicast streams that include navigational interfaces, live TV, advanced advertising, games, and other services to STBs, mobile devices, internet-connected CE devices, and more.
Rovi Corporation and Nuance Communications are collaborating to develop voice-activated discovery and guide applications for cable providers and CE manufacturers. By licensing and planning on integrating Rovi's entertainment data with Dragon TV, Nuance will look to offer access to Rovi-indexed content for TV shows, movies, and cast and crew details. Dragon TV is Nuance's voice- and language-recognition platform for STBs and connected TVs. Per the deal, Nuance is also linking up Dragon TV with Rovi's guide technology to develop an app that would allow consumers to speak to change the channel, browse, bookmark, and search for both live and on-demand programming. (For example: "Find comedies with [actor]" or "Show me info on [TV show].") No word on when the solutions will be available.
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According to BIA/Kelsey's Media Ad View Reports, local ad spending will experience a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2.6% between 2011 and 2016, with revenues jumping from around $132 billion to more than $150 billion. BIA/Kelsey expects spending to increasingly shift from traditional media and direct advertising to digital alternatives, and says that mobile and online will account for the largest increase in local ad spending, nearly doubling from $11.1 billion in 2011 to $21.8 billion in 2016, a CAGR of 14.4%. The major source of advertising in the mobile and online space will be tech/telecom (projected to spend $5.1 billion by 2016). Other top categories include retail ($4.5 billion), automotive ($2.6 billion), and health care ($815.3 million). BIA/Kelsey defines local media advertising as ads placed on local media outlets.
Here's some interesting data from multiplatform movie service EPIX regarding its mobile apps: Over the most recent EPIX free preview weekend (April 27-29), EPIX streamed over 200K hours of content to viewers via the EPIX app. In addition, downloads of EPIX apps tripled over the weekend compared to the entire previous month. Overall, there have been 5 million downloads of the EPIX app across all the devices it is available, including Android phones and tablets, Roku players, Xbox 360s, and iOS devices. In the past six months, EPIX app downloads have more than doubled since the launch of apps on Xbox and iOS devices. Its digital apps are a pretty big deal for EPIX, especially on how it markets itself and attracts new subscribers on the television front. When EPIX's linear channel and on-demand service are available for free previews, the network also makes its apps available for free. It's all designed to both increase awareness of the network by making content available to a wider audience, and hopefully drive potential new subscribers for EPIX's distribution partners. EPIX is a joint venture between Viacom, its Paramount Pictures unit, MGM Studios, and Lionsgate, and is available to over 30 million homes nationwide.
Starz Entertainment has made some additions to its digital marketing team. Erin Dwyer is joining the company as its new Executive Director/Digital Marketing for Originals, while Joe Salvati assumes the post of Executive Director/Brand and Digital Sales. Dwyer will be responsible for building integrated digital marketing plans for Starz original programming both on Starz-owned digital platforms, as well as "unique digital experiences and outreach to gain the attention of consumers, advocates, and influencers of original programming." Salvati will lead the development of digital plans for the broader Starz and Encore brands across Starz-owned digital platforms, along with the integration and promotion to social channels. Salvati will also lead the strategy for the Starz and Encore web and mobile websites and brand social environments. Both will be based in Starz's Colorado headquarters.
Style Coalition has appointed Ted Nadeau to President/COO and Shenan Reed, the current CMO of Morpheus Media, to a member of the company's Advisory Board. Nadeau was most recently responsible for all aspects of ELLE and ELLE Decor's digital business. Earlier this year, Style Coalition entered into a partnership with Hearst Digital Media to create custom, multichannel, social media programs and ad campaigns for select brands. To date, Style Coalition reports that it has had year-over-year revenue growth of 500% and now reaches close to 4 million unique readers per month. It is planning on launching Style Coalition TV, an online video channel, this June. Style Coalition is an "influencer marketing" platform that offers access to audiences across multiple social networks.
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Disruptor Beam has secured a deal from HBO Global Licensing to produce a new social game based on the Game of Thrones series. To be titled Game of Thrones Ascent, the "story-driven" game will allow players to insert themselves into the narrative by taking up the role of a noble in Westeros. Players will be able to choose which house they want to swear allegiance to, secure property, manage their lands and personal reputation, and assigning sworn swords to quests. For those who want to follow the game's development process, you can visit Disruptor Beam's website. There will also be information on the site relating to how one can participate in an upcoming beta program. No release date has been given yet.
Later - Sahil
Sahil Patel, Associate Reporter for Cyn opsis Digital
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