Good morning. It's Friday, June 15, 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.
Comcast continues to expand its TV Everywhere services for Xfinity TV subscribers with the release of the Watch Disney Channel, Watch Disney XD, and Watch Disney Junior websites and iOS apps. The launch of these "Watch" products, which include the popular WatchESPN app, are the result of a distribution pact between Comcast and The Walt Disney Company that was announced earlier this year. In that deal, the companies agreed to deliver Disney sports, news, and entertainment programming to Xfinity TV subscribers "into the next decade" on multiple devices, including TV, computers, tablets, and smartphones. These products will allow viewers to watch live, linear streams of those channels as well as a selection of "advantaged window" on-demand episodes. The only catch, as always, is that the user needs to be an Xfinity TV customer and a subscriber of a package that includes those channels from Disney. Non-authenticated users will get access to a limited number of on-demand episodes each month via the apps and the websites. Later this year, Comcast says it will integrate content available through the Watch apps on Xfinity TV's website as well as on other viewing platforms.
ABC News' iPad app now delivers news coverage and content in three separate editions that are delivered at different points during the day -- in the morning, afternoon, and evening. ABC News says the updated app is built on the back of two years of consumer research metrics, and aims to deliver content based on how people consume it throughout the day. For example, mirroring broadcast consumption patterns, ABC News found that users watch 1.5x more video content and read 20% more stories between 7-10pm than at any other time during the day. With all of that in mind, the "Morning Edition" provides users with top news headlines and weather information; the "Midday Edition" features updates of the top headlines, as well as video clips and lifestyle and feature stories; and the "Primetime Edition" puts the focus on video, with a design centered on a large video player that features top news and broadcast video. This new functionality will also be available on the eight local news apps from the ABC Owned Television Stations Group, beginning with the KABC-TV Los Angeles iPad app. Customized local apps for the other seven stations will be available in the next several weeks.
Amazon has inked a licensing agreement with MGM to bring movies and TV shows from the studio to Prime Instant Video. This brings the total of available titles on the online retailer's video streaming service to over 18,000.
Shine America has struck a deal with EMJAG Digital Productions and New Regency to create and distribute digital content. The development and production of multiplatform programming will be led by New Regency VP and EMJAG CEO Alexandra Milchan and EMJAG President Jamie Boscardin Martin. Under the agreement, Shine America and New Regency will co-produce, co-finance, and distribute select digital projects, while EMJAG will handle the creative. The companies say the distribution model will be tailored to fit each individual project across a variety of platforms, whether that means webisodes or VOD, or potentially even a domestic and international TV and theatrical release.
Thom Beers, CEO of Original Productions (OP), the company behind reality TV programming such as Deadliest Catch, Ice Road Truckers, and Storage Wars, is stepping into the digital arena with the launch of Original Productions Entertainment Networks. Per the announcement, Beers and OP will bring their existing programming to the web as well as develop new content for online viewers. As OP builds its digital distribution portal, Beers says they're looking for "extraordinary digital minds and innovators" to help them do it. OP Executive Producer and President Philip D. Segal will oversee OP Entertainment Networks, while Gayle Gilman has been named SVP/OP Entertainment Networks. She will report directly to Segal.
Microsoft will soon roll out a new ad unit for Xbox LIVE that employs Kinect's voice and gesture controls to help advertisers interact with viewers. Called "NUads," Toyota, Unilever, and Samsung are the first brands to sign up for the format and develop campaigns, which Microsoft says will appear on Xbox LIVE this fall. Here's how the initial NUad format works: Microsoft will allow viewers to engage with 30-second TV spots by answering a multiple-choice question during the ad. Viewers will be able to check out a real-time tally to see how other Xbox subscribers are voting. As an example of how it can work, Toyota is repackaging its Super Bowl "reinvented" spot for the Camry by asking viewers what they would like to see reinvented. The advertisers can then use this data to inform future ad campaigns. The ads will appear attached to videos on Xbox Live and within numerous TV apps. Microsoft says the format is available to all advertisers.
Facebook will soon launch a real-time bidding exchange for the "marketplace" display ads that appear on the right side of the page, reports Bloomberg. Dubbed the Facebook Exchange, the service will allow advertisers to target specific types of Facebook users based on their browsing history. Advertisers will only be able to buy inventory through confirmed third-party ad technology partners, which at the moment are AdRoll, AppNexus, DataXu, MediaMath, TellApart, Triggit, The Trade Desk, and Turn. The social network has already started placing cookies in the browsers of its user base. The aforementioned partners will use those cookies to identify Facebook members who are browsing the web, according to Bloomberg. Facebook currently allows advertisers to target users based on their stated interests and "likes" on the social network. A spokesperson for Facebook told Bloomberg that the social network will continue to offer these ads, and that interests would not a part of the Facebook Exchange.
LongTail Video's JW Player will support Google's Interactive Media Ads 3 (IMA3) Flash software development kit (SDK). This will allow publishers that use the company's video player to access DoubleClick for Publishers Video, AdSense for Video, and DoubleClick's Ad Exchange in order to monetize their existing video content. JW Player publishers will also be able to use Google's TruView video ads, an offering that is designed to allow viewers to watch only those ads in which they have an interest. LongTail says its JW Player is currently used on 1.5 million sites across the web. The company also offers Bits on the Run, a product that provides clients with self-serve hosting and publishing capabilities, along with pay-as-you-go pricing. Google recently has made a strong push into video advertising through the aforementioned ad products, as well as the release of the IMA3 SDK, which allows third-party video players to help publishers monetize content through Google.
Microsoft is in talks to purchase Yammer, reports Bloomberg. The software giant might pay more than $1 billion to acquire the provider of the popular enterprise-level social networking site. The deal might be announced at some point today (or may have already been announced by the time you read this).
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21% of consumers in the US connect their TVs to the internet, up from 16% a year ago, according to a study released this week from Frank N. Magid Associates. Looking ahead, the research firm projects that number to rise as it finds that 30% of consumers who haven't already connected their TVs to the web are interested in doing so. Game consoles are the most popular connected TV devices, followed by smart TVs, Blu-ray players, and OTT video receivers from companies like Roku, Apple, and Google.
comScore's US search engine rankings for May 2012 bring the same old news: Google is at the top with an explicit core search market share of 66.7% (up 2% from April 2012). Next up is Microsoft with a 15.4% share, and then Yahoo (13.4%), Ask Network (3%), and AOL (1.5%). To give an idea of what a 66.7% market share means, comScore indicates that 17.5 billion explicit core searches were conducted in May, 11.7 billion of which happened on Google Sites. comScore defines explicit core search as all searches excluding contextually driven ones that do not reflect specific user intent to interact with the search results.
BET Networks has launched the BET Awards 12 app for iOS and Android devices. The app offers historical moments from previous shows in the form of videos, photos, and stories on nominees, winners, and other honorees. Other features include The Lineup, a companion viewing experience that allows users to predict the order of the performers prior to the telecast and then keep track of a live scorecard as the show progresses. Top-performing users will be entered to win prizes such as a celebrity gift bag, autographed t-shirts, and the "Official BET Awards 12 Microphone." The app also includes a "hockey shuffle" game that allows users to vote for the Coca-Cola Viewers Choice Award; the better users play, the more votes they'll be able to send to their favorite artists. BET says polls for other awards will be available soon. The BET Awards 12 will air on July 1, starting at 8pm ET, with Samuel L. Jackson scheduled to emcee the event.
Netflix has promoted Bill Holmes to Chief Business Development Officer. Prior to this, Holmes, who joined Netflix in 2008, was VP/Business Development, where he was in charge of global partnerships across the consumer electronics, gaming, operator, service provider, and retail markets. During his time at that position, Netflix partnered with a wide array of CE companies, such as Apple, LG, Microsoft, Nintendo, Samsung, and Sony to create "Netflix Ready" devices for consumers.
Based on a preliminary vote count, AOL has announced that its stockholders have elected to keep all of the company's incumbent Board of Director nominees. Here's a portion of AOL's statement on the matter: "We intend to be responsive to the messages we heard from our investors and will continue our plans to pursue adding two new independent Directors to the Board, who we believe will add additional expertise and relevant perspectives to further enhance the strength of our Board."
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A couple of things in honor of all of the dads out there:
Hearst Magazine recently launched the REDBOOK Father's Day Appreciation app on Facebook, which allows users to find dads they know on the social network, and then create and post nice, appreciative, and thoughtful messages on their walls. Users first have to "like" the REDBOOK page on the social network to access the app. REDBOOK says it will choose favorite stories and messages to feature in an upcoming issue of the magazine.
And for the dads, courtesy of the US Open's official website, here is a complete schedule of when and on which platforms the tournament is going to air. If yesterday is any indication, it will also be live-streamed online over the weekend. And if that is indeed the case, here is where you can access that live stream.
Later - Sahil
Sahil Patel, Associate Editor for Cynopsis Digital
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