A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE FROM SONY PICTURES TELEVISION
Good morning. It's Monday, June 10, 2013, and this is your first early morning digital briefing.
Redbox Instant is coming to Roku later this summer. A joint venture from Redbox (a subsidiary of Coinstar) and Verizon, the subscription streaming service offers a wide variety of film titles for $8/month. The semi-Netflix competitor also allows customers to rent up to four discs from more than 43,000 Redbox kiosks nationwide as well as the ability to purchase digital copies through the Redbox Instant store. At launch, the service will be available on Roku 3, Roku 2, Roku LT (models 2400 & 2450), Roku HD (model 2500), and the Roku Streaming Stick.
Comedienne Margaret Cho plans to launch In Transition, a scripted comedy (starring herself), on her YouTube channel on July 3, according to Variety. Executive produced by Cho, fellow co-star Selene Luna, and reality TV veteran Rico Martinez, the dark comedy, which follows three women recently released from prison, spans 12 episodes, with each episode being followed by a live Google Hangout between Cho and viewers. The report also notes that Maker Studios, one of the top multichannel networks on YouTube, has signed Cho and her channel to their network.
Late last week, Brian Robbins' AwesomenessTV added several YouTube stars to its growing multi-channel network. The new stars added to the ATVNetwork roster include The Janoskians (an Aussie boy band), Austin Mahone (up-and-coming singer who is currently touring with Taylor Swift), Lia Marie Johnson, Jennxpenn, and JStuStudios. In total, this raises ATVNetwork's stats to more than 19 million subscribers and over one billion lifetime views. With The Janoskians, AwesomenessTV plans to launch a new show, Janoskian Takeover, which will follow the band as they embark on their first world tour. With Mahone, the channel has two shows in the works, providing fans with access to the star as he tours with Swift, records his upcoming album, and does a bunch of teenage-y things I presume. Johnson is starring in a scripted comedy on AwesomenessTV, playing a teenager who has to deal with the trials and tribulations of being a tomboy.
North of the border, the CBC plans to air the web drama Ruby Skye P.I. online and on TV next year, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The web series, produced by Jill Golick's Story 2.OH, follows the adventures of a teenage detective played by Madison Cheeatow. The CBC has picked up 10 episodes (each five-to-six minutes long), all of which will debut on Kids' CBC in winter 2014. CBC will then repackage the episodes into a one-hour special, which will air on the main CBC channel. Per the report, the series, which is about to begin its third season, is also being shopped by Seiffert Media Advisors for linear and/or digital distribution in the US.
iN DEMAND has struck a "cross-continent content" deal with Chinese media company Seven Stars Media to distribute US VOD content in China and Chinese programming in the US. Per the agreement, iN DEMAND will license, process, and deliver US programming to Seven Stars, which will then distribute it via branded blocks on Chinese MSOs as well as through OTT/IPTV operators and web portals in the country. The initial slate of iN DEMAND content will consist of sports and music programming, as well as an array of lifestyle content covering areas such as travel, home and garden, and parenting. Additionally, iN DEMAND will provide Chinese programming in the US through its digital and set-top VOD platforms.
Cynopsis Digital's BIG Monetization Summit is now a little over a week away. Which means if you want to see speakers from places such as AOL, CAA, Crackle, Mediacom, Revision3, Yahoo, YouTube, Scripps, Starcom MediaVest Group, USA Network, The Weather Channel, and Vuguru, then you want to register as the seats are quickly filling up. Looking forward to seeing you there on June 18.
A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE
BRAND SHARES LAST MONTH
1. Samsung 1.56 million #8
2. K-Mart 759,907 #3
3. Dove 738,304 #1
4. Activision (Call of Duty) 713,812 #29
5. Evian 670,877 #2
6. Audi 566,425 #108
7. Nivea 284,292 #59
8. Microsoft 272,720 #12
9. Arlen's Transmission Centre 215,535 N/A
10. IBM 177,455 N/A
USA Network launched a live second-screen experience for its new drama Graceland, which premiered last Thursday. Graceland: Undercover allows fans to create their own alias and become "virtual agents," tasked with learning more about the major characters in the show. Players can unlock rooms within the Graceland mansion and explore 360-degree views of each room to unearth more information about each show character's backstory. Over the course of the season, USA will let players unlock up to 60 original videos, each shot from a major character's point-of-view. Players will also be able to chat with others about the show through the Graceland Chatter social hub. Right now, Graceland: Undercover is available online, but this week USA plans to launch an iOS app, which will be armed with audio content-recognition capabilities so players can sync their mobile devices to the show. In-show sponsor Kia is also putting its branding on the second-screen experience. As part of the deal, the Kia Optima shows up in over 20 of the character videos. A Kia Parking Lot section offers clips, photos, and information about the Kia Optima. App credits include show creator Jeff Eastin as well as mobile design and strategy agency Mobients.
Disney/ABC Television has launched the Disney Channel Photo Finish app for iOS devices. The app allows users to create and personalize pictures by adding characters from Disney shows such as Phineas and Ferb, Gravity Falls, Shake It Up, and the upcoming Disney Channel original movie Teen Beach Movie. The app also allows users to purchase additional "sticker packs" for 99 cents per show. Upcoming features include a "Starring Role" function, which will allow users to insert their faces into show scenes.
Jim Bankoff is the Chairman and CEO of Vox Media, a digital publisher that owns and operates the sports-blogging network SB Nation, tech news and culture site The Verge, and gaming news and culture site Polygon. Vox is well known for being one of the most forward-thinking online companies when it comes to content production and distribution (just read up on their publishing platform, Chorus, for an idea). The company's Vox Studios and Vox Creative units produce high-quality video content and ad creative all in-house, and tie it to relevant, premium content across the Vox properties. For this week's Monday Q&A, I spoke with Jim about Vox's strong video capabilities as well as what the future might bring for the company, including potential TV-related deals.
Publishers are increasingly looking to offer video content on their sites, whether it's a clip attached to a story, or a full-fledged video network. Vox elected to go all the way and do it completely in-house. How early on did you guys decide you wanted to push that aggressively into video? And why?
Right around the time we launched The Verge with Joshua Topolsky as its Editor-in-Chief.
When we started, we recognized that a big part of digital storytelling is done via video. But I should note that I wouldn't label us as a video company. People try and put companies like ours in a box. We're the digital Viacom or digital Conde Nast. However, to tell stories effectively in the digital space, you're not just dealing with texts and images, or just sight, sound, and motion; you have to do it all. To be a modern storytelling company, we have to treat video as seriously as everything else. And we produce outstanding stuff for our publishing brands as well as our marketing partners, which is our business model.
If you had to describe your video strategy for the three publishing brands, what would it be? What type of content are you producing?
Generally speaking, we try to do a little bit of everything. The stuff that is probably most remarkable is the video content that is tied to a feature story. For example, The Verge was the first outlet to wear a Google Glass and test it out. Josh interviewed the product managers at Google before anyone else -- whether it was a broadcast, print, or digital publication. We also have teams from The Verge or Polygon going on the road to cover industry events such as CES, E3, or SXSW. For SB Nation, we recently did a feature on Willie Mays Aikens, a former Royals player with a history of cocaine abuse. The in-depth piece from Amy Nelson was accompanied by a video, which included interviews with Aikens and Royals great George Brett.
We also have daily programming on SB Nation, like 90 Seconds on The Verge or The Daily Win with Matt Ufford -- stuff that is meant to drive more habitual viewership.
For The Verge and Polygon, we shoot game and tech reviews and make them more compelling than anyone else on the web does. We also have shows that are just shows. For example: The Halfy Hour with Matt Ufford and Dan Rubenstein or The Vergecast.
For something like SB Nation, has there been any thought given to expanding the brand to television? If you're already producing all of this great video content, what about maybe producing a TV show or even a segment within an existing show?
Short answer: Yes. We have given it some thought and even had some discussions though I haven't shared that information with anyone yet and I should stress that we haven't entered into any partnerships that we are ready to announce.
As you can imagine, we do get a lot of interest from networks and the TV industry. Especially since there are several new and upcoming sports networks that are looking for high-quality programming, which we have an abundance of. SB Nation can also bring them an established audience to boost ratings.
Switching to advertising: Vox offers an in-house service called Vox Creative, which I believe focuses primarily on video. What sort of content/campaign services do you offer to clients?
The primary focus is video, but Vox Creative exists to provide the full suite of Vox's capabilities to marketers. So yes, it does lead with video, but it doesn't end there. It includes our technology platform, Chorus, and is various components. It includes our analytics and tracking suite, as well as other parts of our creative department. Video is just the beginning.
In terms of services, it really depends on what the client is trying to accomplish. The simplest is producing commercial-like content. That's not where we try and make our mark, though. Brands usually have creative agencies ready to do that, even though we are capable of producing such ad content efficiently and at a low cost and high quality.
Where do you want to make your mark?
We are interested in understanding what digital audiences want and getting messages in front of them in the right context. That could take the form of creating more programming -- what you traditionally think of as branded content. Though in this case we have to be careful about doing it in the advertiser's voice, and not ours. We believe in the line between editorial and advertising, and we have no desire to confuse the consumer. We make that case very clear when we work with advertisers.
Sometimes it can also be as simple as sponsorships, which allow brands to be a part of what we are already doing.
We are also increasingly having broader discussions to set up brands as publishers themselves. Marketers want to tell stories to digital audiences much in the same way that we do. We've already made big investments in this and have figured it out, so how can we leverage our capabilities on their behalf?
But again, it doesn't end there. Video is just the beginning. From there, we're interested in learning how we can use technology to make sure these campaigns get in front of the right people on and off our platform.
So pretty much everything that is possible online.
Yeah. The web is currently a direct-response vehicle. But offline, 60% of ad money is spent on branding. The web has traditionally not been a strong vehicle for that type of ad campaign. So we are focusing our efforts to go after that brand money. And we are able to do that by providing better creative, adjacent to better content, and within a better environment.
Fancy Pants, a digital production studio that provides technology and creative services for brands, agencies, and publishers, has hired Hyun Park as its new SVP/Creative Services. Park will assist in bringing on new clients and partners and will help build the sales strategy at the company. Most recently, Park was a Sales Director at Innovid. He will be based in Fancy Pants' NY headquarters.
A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE
Low-calorie beer brand Miller64 has launched a web series called The Sub, which features retired famous athletes showing up at rec league games to help the losing side win. Produced by DBG, which was recently acquired by Alloy Digital, the series spans five episodes and features famous (former) pro athletes such as Terrell Owens, Gary Payton, David Justice, and Brandi Chastain (the first episode focuses on a flag football game and T.O.). How exactly does the brand organically fit into all of this, you ask? Well, the Miller64 presence isn't all that intrusive; product placement goes as far as the players drinking Miller64 after the game. Which, with Miller64 catering to those trying to stay fit while also enjoying a few brews, doesn't seem all that out of place. What I want to know is how did T.O. know the quarterback would get injured? What was the back-up plan? These are the important questions.
Later - Sahil
Sahil Patel, Editor for Cynopsis Digital
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