Good morning. It's Friday, June 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.
A group of lawmakers, spurred on by the recent fracas surrounding the Facebook initial public offering, are asking the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to revamp the IPO process, believing that the current system unfairly punishes small investors, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal. Specifically, the letter (obtained by the WSJ) from Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.) to SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro asks the agency to take a look at the rules for pricing and disclosing information, and suggests that it's time to overhaul the Securities Act of 1933. One of the big issues surrounding the Facebook IPO, and the steep drop of the social giant's share price that followed, was how the underwriters allowed analysts to warn select investors about Facebook's business model but not the larger investment community. The SEC is currently looking into whether the underwriters broke any rules by doing this, according to the WSJ. The Democratic Chairman of a subcommittee within the Senate Banking Committee separately told the WSJ in an interview that regulatory changes are needed in order to boost investor confidence in the IPO process.
Awesomeness TV, a new original YouTube channel focused on teens, has launched with a selection of new episodic series that are organized into four programming categories. AwesomenesstvXOXO, for young women, premieres with IMO, a daily talk show featuring social media stars that offers tips on fashion, dating, and style, as well as celebrity news. AwesomenesstvACTION, for men, kicks off with That Was Awesome, a sports clip show curated by NBA star Blake Griffin and Blow Up Guys, which features five teenagers doing pranks, stunts, and experiments. AwesomenesstvMUSIC will be populated with behind-the-scenes videos of music stars, beginning with Mindless Behavior and Greyson Chance, as they embark on a world tour. And the fourth, AwesomenesstvLOL, will be a destination for comedy programming, including series such as Randomness, which will feature YouTube personalities and stars from Disney and Nickelodeon TV shows doing sketch comedy. Awesomeness TV is a project of Varsity Pictures, which is headed by Brian Robbins (Smallville, FRED) and Joe Davola (In Living Color, Smallville). Varsity Pictures says new series will be introduced frequently and new episodes will be uploaded the same day every week.
Former NFL player Warren Sapp is starring in a new courtroom series from The NOC on YouTube. The new show, called Judge Sapp, is similar to reality courtroom shows on TV as Sapp presides over and exacts decisions on cases featuring real participants. The show also features a DJ, and determines penalties for the participants based on a "Wheel of Justice." Positioned as a comedy series, Judge Sapp will run for 30 episodes. The NOC (Network of Champions), which launched this past February, is an official YouTube content partner focused on the world of sports and athletes.
Beachfront Media, the company behind the MeFeedia video discovery engine, has launched Beachfront Builder. It's a mobile-first video platform designed for producers, TV networks, and enterprise companies to build, deliver, and manage custom video apps for iOS and Android devices, as well as the Kindle Fire. Beachfront says the solution is powered by MeFeedia's video aggregation technology, which allows it to handle thousands of video feeds and formats. The application would not require refreshing or manual uploading of content unless the client wants to provide content that is app exclusive. The company also says the solution offers customization features for branding purposes, and supports multiple pre-existing ad solutions, formats, and revenue streams.
Twitter plans to expand its ad services (Promoted Tweets) to 50 new markets in Latin America and Western Europe this year, according to a report from Bloomberg. Earlier this month, it was reported that the company expects to bring in $1 billion in advertising revenue by 2014. The announcement was made via a press conference at the Cannes Lions Festival in France.
The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has selected Jonathan Bellack, Product Management Director/Publisher Ad Platforms at Google, and Jay Sears, SVP/Demand at the Rubicon Project as Co-Chairs of its Advertising Technology Council. The new IAB body was created in February tasked with merging the fragmented ad tech sector and building toward the goal of developing technical standards and operating best practices. The Council has picked 24 other industry executives from an array of companies, including Microsoft Advertising, Facebook, AOL, AT&T AdWorks, AppNexus, Adobe, and MediaMath, to serve on its Advisory Board. Check out the full list of Advisory Board members and general members here.
LG Electronics and TP Vision (for Philips TVs) have established the "Smart TV Alliance," which is aimed at creating a "non-proprietary ecosystem" for developers to build apps and services that would work across all connected TV platforms. The companies say other TV manufacturers are in the process of joining, and when they do, the announcement will be made on the consortium's website. With a focus on defining technical specifications that allow app developers to create universal connected TV apps, the Smart TV Alliance plans to make the first version of its SDK available on the website. Developers can download the SDK, which is based on open web technologies such as HTML5, for free. Current plans are to release the second version of the SDK by the end of 2012. The two founding companies say the SDK 2.0 will allow developers to build apps for 2013 TV sets from participating members. TP Vision develops, manufactures, and markets Philips branded TV sets in Europe, Russia, Middle East, and select countries in South America and Asia-Pacific.
The Google/Oracle trial concerning the former's use of Java in developing the Android operating system is over, sort of. The judge presiding over the matter had ruled last month that Java APIs aren't copyrightable under US law. However, Oracle plans to appeal the case. With that in mind, it has elected to forego accepting any damages it could have received from Google for the small amount of Java code the search giant was found guilty of copying. This is so that Oracle can get to the inevitable appeal faster.
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Among "pay-to-view" customers of major home television and video service providers in the US, J.D. Power and Associates finds that 18% of consumers use tablets for viewing paid video content (up from 11% in 2011), making the tablet the most-often-used handheld device for watching paid content. Additionally, the use of wireless phones to watch video content rose from 14% in 2011 to 16% this year, which means that overall 29% of video service customers watch paid content on a handheld device. In comparison, PC/Mac viewing of paid content has dropped to 39% in 2012 from 48% in 2011. Among the other highlights from the report:
Device maker Belkin has unveiled @TV Plus, a new device that allows users to stream live or recorded content from the home television to tablets, smartphones, and laptops over Wi-Fi or a 3G/4G network. The device is compatible with both standard and HD programming and can connect to multiple sourcecs, including a digital set-top box, satellite receiver, or DVD player. Belkin says @TV Plus has Wi-Fi built-in and can record live TV directly to a mobile device for viewing when not connected to Wi-Fi or a data network. Priced at $149.99, @TV Plus works with the @TV mobile app, which is available for both iOS and Android devices. The app is free for tablets, but costs $12.99 for smartphones. Belkin says the device will be available in mid-July on its website and other online and in-store retailers in the US. The app will be available for download in early July.
The Amazon Appstore is set to expand to several European countries. The Appstore, which provides more than 31,000 apps for Amazon and Android devices, has served as an alternative to Google Play for developers looking to build apps for the Android operating system. It launched last year in the US, and offers features such as 1-Click purchasing and an in-app purchasing API. Developers will now be able to submit mobile apps for users in the UK, France, Germany, Spain, and Italy. Developers will also be able to control price and select the countries in which they would like their apps to be sold. Amazon says it plans to begin European distribution later this summer, with more countries "planned for the near future."
Online advertising technology company, TruEffect, has opened an engineering lab in Manhattan with the goal of using its first-party technology to develop new levels of attribution accuracy and digital media optimization. As part of the expansion, the company has also hired Thatcher Clay to lead the division as TruEffect's new VP/Data Research. The company says it plans to hire approximately 10 more engineers, who specialize in big data, by the end of the year.
Digital advertising start-up SocialVibe has made three executive-level appointments to boost its global growth. John Capano is joining the company as its new Chief Marketing Officer, and will be based in SocialVibe's LA headquarters. Brett Lofgren has come on board as the new Chief Revenue Officer. In the role, he will be responsible for overseeing the start-up's global sales team, and will be based in NY. The final addition is that of Bob Lonigro in the role of VP/Advertising Sales. Also based in NY, he will oversee client and agency relationships. SocialVibe develops user-initiated ads on which it says consumers are currently averaging 60 seconds of time spent. It charges advertisers based on performance.
TNT has launched a microsite and free sync app for its new reality competition series, The Great Escape, which premieres this Sunday at 10pm ET. The companion app, The Great Escape Breakout, is available to download on iTunes with Google Play availability coming soon. It features a gaming experience through trivia questions and storyline predictions; behind-the-scenes info and content; and the ability to chat with other fans. Players will have the chance to earn points by answering the trivia questions correctly, all toward a grand prize of a trip to Hawaii. As part of the launch, Volvo has agreed to a multiscreen sponsorship deal tied to the first season of the show. Aside from in-show integrations and on-air promotions, Volvo will have a presence on the microsite and the mobile app.
Later - Sahil
Sahil Patel, Associate Editor for Cynopsis Digital
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