Good morning. It's Thursday, August 2, 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.
Amazon has launched the Amazon Instant Video app for the iPad, which allows Prime subscribers to stream films and TV shows from Amazon Instant Video for free over a Wi-Fi network, or download purchased or rented titles from their Video Library for offline viewing. A "Your Watchlist" feature allows users to keep track of movies and TV shows that they want to watch later. Users can't add new titles to the Watchlist from the app; for that they'll have to go to Amazon Instant Video's website. Among the other notable features: If users subscribe to a TV Season Pass (via the site and not the app), new episodes will automatically be available on the iPad the day after they air; and thanks to Amazon Whispersync technology, users can stop watching on the iPad and then resume the video from right where they left off on other devices the service is available on, which include the Kindle Fire, PS3, Xbox 360, computers, and a number of connected TVs and Blu-ray players.
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Independent online video network Blip has announced a joint distribution deal with Yahoo Screen through which each property has launched its programming on the other's website. Blip launched branded channels on Yahoo Screen for thirteen of its independent series, including Red vs. Blue, Rooster Teeth, Drunk Tank, Immersion, Achievement Hunter, The Chris Gethard Show, Food Curated, and Splash News. At the same time, Yahoo Screen has released sixteen of its original shows on Blip, including 7 Minutes in Heaven, First Dates, Remake America, Style Studio, Sketcy, and What to Wear Where.
Announced at the Television Critics' Association (TCA) summer press tour, Hulu is bringing the fourth season of Misfits, a BAFTA Award-winning series from the UK, and the second season of The Booth at the End, which is one of its own original programs, to US audiences via Hulu and Hulu Plus. Misfits will arrive on the free and paid versions of Hulu this fall, and will feature two new cast members, Karla Crome and Nathan McMullen, with each playing two new delinquent superheroes. Hulu says it's going to premiere new episodes of the critically acclaimed series shortly after they air in the UK. Hulu originally launched Misfits exclusively on Hulu and Hulu Plus in 2011 via a partnership with BBC Worldwide Americas. As for The Booth at the End, the psychological thriller will return to both versions of Hulu on August 6. Directed by Adam Arkin (Justified, Sons of Anarchy), it stars Xander Berkeley (24, Nikita) as "The Man" who can give people what they want, for a price of course.
Vevo has announced a partnership with Ouya, an upcoming gaming console for the TV that is built on Android's open source technology. Per the partnership, Vevo's music video content will be available via Ouya devices. The team behind Ouya is following a freemium model where it asks game developers to make at least a part of their games free to play. Beyond that they can charge for full upgrades or in-game items or even subscriptions. Still in development, the console is scheduled to come to market in March 2013. An ambitious Kickstarter campaign set up to support the development of Ouya has amassed over $6 million to date from more than 46,000 people. The backers will be the first to receive the devices.
ABC News has launched a new weekly digital video series called Standing Up for Heroes in which ABC News Anchor Bob Woodruff interviews and follows six US veterans as they make the transition from military to civilian life. Along the way, the six subjects will be paired with a mentor, a business, entertainment, or government leader, who will help the veterans in their path toward finding work. George Lucas, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and LinkedIn Executive Chairman Reid Hoffman have all agreed to participate and serve as mentors. New episodes will premiere on ABCNews.com every Tuesday. ABC News says it's working with LinkedIn and Google for Veterans to offer US troops free access to special online services and beneficial career development tools.
Online video network Revision3 (which was recently purchased by Discovery Communications) has announced its fall slate of new shows, for which the company has grabbed successful brands and producers from across the web to bring their content to its network. The six new additions to Revision3's programming lineup are: Rated RR, from Richard Ryan; Just For Laughs, from the hidden-camera prank brand, Just For Laughs Gags; MelodySheep, from musician and producer John D. Boswell; GoRemy, from musical comedian Remy Munasifi; Unbox Therapy, from Canadian tech blogger Lewis Hilsenteger, who will discuss and show off new tech products every week; and GizmoSlip, from the tech blog that tests how durable certain products would be in the real world and then destroys them if they don't pass said test.
As part of Turner Sports' coverage of this year's PGA Championship, it will offer multiple live video streams of the tournament on PGA.com, as well as the ability to follow select (TBA) groups and access par-3 coverage. A 360-degree camera that offers a panoramic view of the action and a video highlight hub will also be available to users on PGA.com. The website is also launching a social tool called Social Caddy that will allow users to follow along via live action updates and also access an aggregated stream of social media conversations and posts about the tournament. Turner's mobile strategy for the tournament includes the PGA Championship App for the iOS devices, which will feature live video, highlights, push notifications for hole-by-hole scoring updates, and breaking news. For iPad users, Turner says the PGA Championship site and official video player will be optimized for the tablet's larger screen. Turner's coverage of the PGA Championship gets going on August 9, from Kiawah Island, SC.
PROGRAMMING CALL: Cynopsis Digital will be producing an Online Video Content e-Special Report on Wednesday, August 29. The report will take an in-depth look at the development behind some of the best original web series as well as the innovators who have made them successful. If your company has released a premium, original series this year, and would like it to be considered as among the best in the web video space, please send your submission, which should include a brief overview of the series with pertinent information such as creator(s), producer(s), story, genre, cast, and the latest stats, to Sahil Patel at email@example.com, no later than August 10.
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.
BlackArrow has unveiled a new product called Subscriber Information Service (SIS), which is designed to enable pay-TV operators to help advertisers deploy ads and marketing campaigns across multiple platforms against addressable audience segments. This is to ensure that ads reach audiences who would find them relevant and marketing promotions reach those who are actually eligible for them. BlackArrow says the SIS enables targeting based on audience data like geography, demographics, marketing segmentation, membership, or service level. The product includes support for the SCTE 130-6 standard, which allows SIS to be used for linear, on-demand, and interactive advertising, and can be used as an addition to the BlackArrow Advanced Advertising System or alongside other third-party advertising services. BlackArrow CTO Joe Matarese says the company is currently working with a "large customer" to ensure that the SIS product can support large-scale production values while delivering addressable marketing and advertising campaigns across multiple platforms and devices.
Facebook has begun rolling out a new marketing feature that will allow Brand Page managers to target their posts to specific audiences beyond just geography or language, which is what has been available up until now. Now, the social network is allowing Brand Pages to target based on criteria like age, gender, relationship status, education, work, geography, and language. Facebook is currently only making this enhanced targeting feature available to a select few Pages, with others to receive it in the coming weeks.
Roku has announced the first set of manufacturing companies that it will work with to develop new consumer electronic (CE) devices that will be compatible with the Roku Streaming Stick, which is set to launch in the coming weeks. They are as follows: Element Electronics; GlobalVue International; Haier; Hitachi America; Insigna (a Best Buy brand); Mitsubishi Electric (TVs); Onkyo and Integra; OPPO Digital; and TMAX Digital (maker of the Apex Digital TVs). The company says these new "Roku Ready" devices will have a distinctive logo on the packaging, some of which will even come bundled with the USB flash drive-sized streaming device. The Roku Streaming Stick features built-in Wi-Fi and comes with access to over 500 entertainment channels that are currently available on the Roku platform. When connected to a TV, users will be able to use their TV remote for streaming-related activities. Pricing for the device has yet to be announced.
Microsoft has completed the product development and testing process for Windows 8 and has started releasing the final code to its manufacturing partners, the company confirmed in a blog post. Windows 8 is scheduled to hit stores on October 26 (alongside the Microsoft Surface tablet). The company also said that on August 15, it plans to make the tools and resources necessary to design, build, and sell apps in the Windows Store available for developers via the Windows Dev Center.
Cisco has completed its acquisition of NDS Group, a British video software company. The deal to acquire NDS Group from News Corp. and Permira Advisers for approximately $5 billion in cash and debt was first announced on March 15, 2012. NDS Group creates technology and applications that enable pay-TV operators to deliver video to multiple devices, including set-top boxes, DVRs, PCs, and phones. Cisco bought NDS to accelerate the delivery of its Videoscape multiscreen viewing platform and expand its global video footprint in new and emerging markets. Per the deal, NDS employees join Cisco's Service Provider Video Technology Group (SPVTG). Dr. Abe Peled, the former Chairman and CEO of NDS, becomes SVP and Chief Strategist for Cisco's Video and Collaboration Group, which oversees SPVTG.
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comScore has released its monthly report on the US mobile market. According to the company, more than 110 million people in the US owned smartphones during the three-month period ending in June, up 4% from the three-month period right before it. Google continues to stay at the top as devices running on the Android platform accounted for 51.6% of the overall smartphone market (+0.6% from March 2012). Apple's iPhone market share increased to 32.4% (+1.7%). RIM came in third with a 10.7% share (-1.6%), followed by Microsoft at 3.8% (-0.1%). Among the other findings, the report says that 51.4% of US mobile subscribers used a downloaded app during the three-month period ending in June. In addition, 50.2% used a browser and 36.9% accessed a social networking site or blog (these numbers cover all mobile phone users, not just those with smartphones). comScore MobiLens data comes from an online survey of more than 30,000 mobile subscribers in the US, ages 13 and up.
Frank N. Magid Associates is bullish on the US smartphone and tablet market going forward. The research-based consulting firm projects the smartphone audience in the US to jump 53% by mid-2013, growing from what it says was 99 million users as of June 2012 to 151 million users. Similarly, it sees the tablet audience spiking from 51 million users to 106 million users by the midpoint of next year. This, the company says, will fuel the demand for even more mobile-optimized content. "There's no such thing as distinct mobile content anymore," adds Tom Godfrey, Executive Director/Mobile Strategy at Magid. "What publishers and advertisers have to realize is that most content going forward will be consumed on a mobile device and that it must be accessible and optimized for that platform." For the study, Magid surveyed a nationally representative sample of 4,734 cell and smartphone users ages 12-64. Among its other findings, 51% and 75% of consumers who are planning to purchase mobile devices in the next 12 months are already tablet and smartphone owners, respectively. The firm says that this demonstrates consumers' desire to own the latest devices.
Facebook's App Center is now available to all users across the globe, according a tweet from a Facebook spokesperson, per AllThingsD. The social network's App Center is a central hub for third-party apps of all kinds that have been developed specifically for Facebook.
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Side by Side is a new documentary produced by Keanu Reeves and directed by Chris Kenneally that takes a look at the transition from traditional to digital filmmaking that's currently ravaging (or not, depending on your perspective) the film industry. In the film, Reeves interviews a large number of prominent Hollywood directors, including, but not limited to, James Cameron, David Fincher, David Lynch, Martin Scorsese, George Lucas, and Steven Soderbergh. Tribeca Film plans to release Side by Side on August 22 via several on-demand platforms, as well as theatrically in select cities throughout August, September, and October. To promote the film, TribecaFilm.com is releasing a new interview clip every day that didn't make the final cut.
Later - Sahil
Sahil Patel, Associate Editor for Cynopsis Digital
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