Good morning. It's Wednesday, July 18, 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.
One of the most prominent new web shows spotlighted during the 2012 Digital Content NewFronts was an animated sci-fi series from Tom Hanks called Electric City. That show is now available for streaming, as Yahoo rolled out the first ten episodes yesterday, and is releasing the remaining episodes, which are all four- to seven-minutes long, today and tomorrow. The rollout includes additional content and interactive features, such as behind-the-scenes footage of the cast, games, and a 3D interactive map of "Electric City"; all are available on the show's page on Yahoo. Jeanne Tripplehorn, Holland Taylor, Ginnifer Goodwin, Chris Parnell, Paul Scheer, and others join Tom Hanks in the voice cast. The series takes place in a post-apocalyptic future inside a city that seems to be a symbol of peace and security but actually holds a lot of secrets and violence underneath the hood. It is produced in partnership with Hanks' production company, Playtone, and Reliance Entertainment.
An exclusive distribution and licensing agreement between Hulu and Ora TV begins with a new original web series that brings Larry King back to the talk show format: Larry King Now. An interview series in a manner reminiscent of his long-running program on CNN, King will sit down and chat with guests from the worlds of entertainment and politics for 30 minutes, four nights a week. New episodes of Larry King Now will be available every Monday through Thursday in the early evenings, EST, on Hulu, Hulu Plus, and Ora.TV, as well as on-demand across all three platforms. This week's guests include Seth McFarlane, Meghan McCain, and Matthew McConaughey. This is the first of several new shows that are expected to launch exclusively on Hulu as a result of this partnership between the two companies. In addition to the traditional television format, Ora TV says it will produce shows in alternative formats and varying lengths that are better suited for mobile and other platforms.
USA Network has partnered with NY-based marketing agency Campfire to launch The Washington Globe, a weekly online "newspaper" that serves as a second screen, companion piece to the network's upcoming miniseries, Political Animals. Working with the show's writers and producers, Campfire says it will produce weekly content to complement the show's storyline in a true, newsroom-style fashion. Already underway, the site is optimized for both the web and tablets and includes content features such as: "This Week in Washington," a weekly op-ed piece from the show's reporter character Susan Berg, offering insights on each episode, and available on the website and distributed via Twitter and email; "Dirty Washington," a weekly video blog by character Georgia Gibbons that will work as a teaser for future storylines; and "Garcetti White House Instagram," modeled after the Obama White House, the account will share one image per day. The first issue of the newspaper is accompanied by a special edition magazine, "W," which introduces the backstory of Political Animals.
Electric Entertainment has released an interactive book tied its TNT drama series, Leverage. Available in the iBookstore for free, the digital book offers interactive features such as never-before-seen production story documents, pre-visualization, storyboards, script pages, video clips, and images from the most recent season of the show, as a way for fans to get prepared for the new season, which premiered this past Sunday night. The iBook was developed in-house at Electric Entertainment, which is the full-service production company of Leverage creator Dean Devlin.
At a panel for Dark Horse Comics at San Diego Comic-Con, Buffy and Firefly creator and The Avengers director Joss Whedon announced that his popular musical comedy web series, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, is going to air on the CW in the near future. No details were given as to its exact airdate, although The Hollywood Reporter says it received a confirmation from a CW representative that it will be sometime this fall. The web series rose to popularity during the 2008 WGA strike, and stars Neil Patrick Harris as the titular villain, Nathan Fillion as his arch-nemesis, and Felicia Day as both of their love interest.
In an update to the ongoing Viacom/DirecTV carriage dispute, Viacom has reversed course a little bit and is once again offering full, current episodes of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report on their respective websites. Last week Viacom took a bunch of programming off the web after DirecTV began to promote the free, online availability of Viacom-owned TV content to its customers. Viacom is running these episodes with a sign at the bottom encouraging viewers to call DirecTV so they don't continue to miss out on their favorite shows. A statement from a Viacom spokesperson to All Things D says: "You will remember that we never said we were taking all our full length episodes down, just slimming down our offerings. The Daily Show and The Colbert Report were on hiatus, so no recent programs were available. We know their fans have missed them... so we wanted to get them back on our sites as soon as we could." So this seems to be similar to AMC Networks in the sense of generating some goodwill among viewers, although AMC only promised the season premiere of Breaking Bad for free streaming to Dish subscribers. While here it seems new episodes of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report are back for good on their respective sites the day after they air.
USA Today has launched TV on the Web, a set of daily online and print listings of the "very best webisodes and video podcasts available online each day," handpicked by USA Today editors and reporters. While available both online and in print, USA Today says the online version will also work as a video archive, as it will allow users to track video content on a variety of subject areas.
The Cynopsis Sports Media Awards Breakfast takes place on August 9 in New York City. If you haven't seen the finalists and registered to attend yet, you can do so here.
Mobile multimedia messaging (MMS) company Mogreet has launched AdStitch, a new mobile advertising service that lets companies add sponsored video clips to the beginning or end of their MMS video messages. The process seems pretty straightforward as Mogreet says clients can monetize their mobile video content by uploading a brief video ad within its Campaign Manager and then use AdStitch to "stitch" the ad to a video it plans to send out to subscribers. The clip is then automatically transcoded and set to be delivered to a targeted mobile subscriber list, which, Mogreet says, only consists of those who have opted-in to receive such content from companies. In an example of how a MMS video ad service of this sort would function within the media or entertainment industry, Mogreet highlights Cox Media Group's KTVU station in Oakland, which was a beta user of AdStitch. The station offered advertisers the ability to sponsor daily video MMS news alerts that it would send out to viewers who had opted-in to the offering.
AdSafe Media is introducing a new element within its brand safety solutions for advertisers: Suspicious Activity Detection (SAD), which aims to provide protection against online inventory suspicious of both click fraud and impression fraud. The company, which already provides a page-level rating system to protect advertisers from content with illegal downloads, malware, spyware, adware, and phishing, is now offering a predictive scoring system that rates the risk that a particular website is associated with click fraud and impression fraud. The company describes click fraud as when a person or program imitates a legitimate user of a web browser and clicks on an ad for the purpose of generating a charge per click; and impression fraud as when in CPM advertising a person or program imitates users by repeatedly loading page or ad on a page for the purpose of generating higher fees. SAD is available to all current AdSafe customers.
Autodesk has signed an agreement to buy Socialcam, the popular mobile and social video app and service, for approximately $60 million. Socialcam, which is available via the web and on both iOS and Android devices, allows users to capture, edit, and share videos, and has been downloaded over 16 million times since it launched in 2011. Autodesk is a provider of 3D design, engineering, and visual effects software. "Video is an ideal medium for professionals and consumers alike to communicate and share their design ideas. We are excited to have Socialcam join our growing portfolio of applications, services, and communities for digital art, personal design and fabrication, home design, and entertainment," said Autodesk Consumer Group VP, Samir Hanna.
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New research from Parks Associates finds the percentage of US smart (connected) TV owners who use that device to watch online video increased by over 30% in six months. Other data from the report shows that 75% of US smart TV owners who connect their television set to the web watch on-demand online movies at least monthly, up from 57% in 2011; 71% watch online TV shows at least monthly, up from 51% in 2011; and 30% watch movies and 32% watch TV shows on a near-daily basis. Overall, Parks Associates projects that the number of internet-connected TVs shipped will jump from less than 1% in 2008 to over 45% in 2012.
Global consumer confidence fell three index points to 91 in Q2 of 2012, affected by the worsening euro zone crisis, lackluster US job growth, and China's downward GDP revision for 2012, according to new findings from Nielsen. When broken down by region, consumer confidence fell four points to 88 in North America, three points to 100 in North America, and two points to 96 in Latin America; the Middle East/Africa and Europe each reported an increase of one point to 98 and 73, respectively. Overall, consumer confidence declined in 26 of 56 markets, increased in 23, and remained the same in seven. While intended discretionary spending decreased globally across all of the sectors that were studied, Nielsen finds that the biggest declines were reported for new technology products (minus five percentage points to 23%). The Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions is conducted among over 28,000 internet consumers in 56 countries. The baseline is 100, so numbers below and above it indicate degrees of pessimism and optimism.
AOL has appointed Jolie Hunt as its new Chief Marketing and Communications Officer. In this newly created role, she will oversee AOL's global communications strategy, including internal and external communications; social media; corporate social responsibility and cause-related initiatives; and corporate events. She will also be in charge of AOL's global brand development, partnerships, and consumer marketing initiatives. Hunt will be based in NY and will report to Tim Armstrong, Chairman and CEO of AOL.
Ad tech company TruEffect has hired Theresa DeGroote as its new Director/Media Strategy & Planning, which is a new position at the company. DeGroote is based in the company's headquarters in Colorado and is reporting to Rohan Kumar, SVP/Media Services.
The USA Today Sports Media Group has hired Ben Sylvan to be its new Executive Producer of its newly rebranded USA Today High School Sports property. He will be in charge of all content creation, as well as curation within parent company Gannett's 100+ local media sites. In addition, David Weiss has been named the property's VP/Sales. He will lead the nationwide sales efforts for USA Today High School Sports. The high school sports website, which was originally branded as highschoolsports.net, will anchor the Group's national coverage of all boys and girls high school sports, as well as for the aforementioned 100+ local media properties within Gannett. Digital agencies The Wonderfactory and Perfect Sense Digital spearheaded the redesign of the website, which now brings more user-generated content, including videos and photos, into the fold.
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FlixMaster is a new end-to-end video creation and distribution platform that wants to be applicable for both individual and commercial uses. The cloud-based service allows users to create non-linear videos. It possesses a drag-and-drop map editor that allows users to embed buttons, links to outside URLs, and other features to make the videos more interactive. Built in HTML5 so that it integrates well with tablets, FlixMaster also features a video player API; enables social sharing; and offers analytics. The product is now available in a freemium model, which is available to everyone and comes with some of the aforementioned capabilities, and an enterprise version, which provides access to that customizable player API. (The company says it also offers scaled pricing to accommodate varying budget sizes.) Once the video has been built, FlixMaster can host the content itself or integrate with the client's CDN of choice.
The platform was recently selected by USA Network to support Sights Unseen: A Covert Affairs Prequel, an interactive web series that launched on July 10 to serve as a companion piece to the current season of Covert Affairs. The five-week series allowed users to select the next step in the narrative; making the video content interactive and the storytelling non-linear, something that FlixMaster CEO Erika Trautman says is paramount at the company. "Given what the web can do today, there's no reason video shouldn't be the most dynamic, engaging, and interactive communication tool online," she says.
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Later - Sahil
Sahil Patel, Associate Editor for Cynopsis Digital
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