Cynopsis Media Presents: The Best of the Week July 21-25, 2014

Cynops is is introducing a new web feature called “In Case You Missed It,” which is a quick roundup of the top stories of the previous week in each of our four daily editions. So if you skipped a newsletter, this is where you want to go to make sure you’re up on the latest news, Cynopsis-style, in the worlds of linear, digital, sports, and kids television. Enjoy!

Flagship

Emmy-winning actor James Garner died Saturday at age 86. Garner, who found success in film (Victor/Victoria, The Notebook), as well as television, was best known as the star of detective series The Rockford Files (1974-80).

FXX is making the most of its landmark The Simpsons deal. Starting Tuesday, September 2nd, the animated comedy will air in fringe, primetime and late-night dayparts on weekdays and weekends, with themed mini-marathons from 4p-8p leading into Sunday’s 8p broadcast on Fox. FXX is also launching “Simpsons World,” featuring branded content through SimpsonsWorld.com and handheld/connected devices via FXNow, in October; viewers will be able to access every episode, and curate personalized playlists. “Our goal was to create the deepest digital archive of any show ever,” said FX president of marketing and on-air promotions Stephanie Gibbons. And as previously announced, the net will air 25 seasons – 522 episodes – of the animated comedy in a row, 24 hours a day for 12 days starting Thursday, August 21.

Late Show with Stephen Colbert is staying put in New York and will continue broadcasting from the Ed Sullivan Theater. New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and Leslie Moonves, President and Chief Executive Officer, CBS Corporation, announced that the agreement includes a commitment by CBS for approximately 200 New York-based jobs to support the daily program’s year-round production schedule. “New York has long been an international entertainment leader, and with this commitment from CBS we are beginning the next chapter in that proud history,” said Cuomo.

Sports

The SEC Network overcame another hurdle, with ESPN locking in a carriage agreement for the upcoming channel with Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks. The channel will be available to fans and followers of the Southeastern Conference in all Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks markets ahead of the first SEC 2014-15 college football season game. The addition of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks now makes the SEC Network available to approximately 60 million households nationwide.

“By delivering the SEC Network across Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks’ nationwide footprint, including key markets within SEC territory, we are meeting the demands of fans while also adding value to customers’ video subscriptions in advance of the network’s launch next month,” said Sean Breen, Disney and ESPN Media Networks senior vice president, affiliate sales.

 

CBS Sports and the Professional Bull Riders entered a long-term agreement to keep CBS Sports and CBS Sports Network as the exclusive television home of the PBR on broadcast and cable. The partnership between the two companies began in 2012. The deal will see CBS Sports Network continue to provide exclusive coverage of the PBR’s Built Ford Tough World Finals from Las Vegas, the culmination of 50 total telecasts airing on CBS and CBS Sports Network throughout the year. Together, CBS Sports and CBS Sports Network will air more than 100 hours of original event coverage annually, which includes 14 broadcasts on CBS Sports. In addition, in 2015, CBS Sports will debut a new customized graphics package for PBR telecasts, to be used across both broadcast and cable.

Digital

Netflix kicked off the week of tech company’s earning reports by revealing that the service surpassed 50.02 million subscribers (from 48.35 subs in Q1). The U.S. alone accounted for 36.24 million customers, with international subs topping 12.8 million (an increase of 78 percent from the year prior). As analysts predicted, the company hit $1.34 billion in revenue this quarter. It expects to hit 53.74 subs by the end of the third quarter. In a letter to shareholders, the video streaming company also expressed its determination to keep Internet service providers from “holding our joint customers hostage with poor performance to extract payments from us, other Internet firms, and other Internet transit suppliers.”

Apple received a patent for its smartwatch yesterday, which will be called iTime. The watch should hit shelves in October, and will be the first new product launch under CEO Tim Cook since he took over the late Steve Jobs’ position in 2011. The watch will interact with computers, tablets and smartphones, and consumers will have the ability to check texts, emails, weather and (most obvious) the time. Additionally, Apple posted a $7.7 billion profit and 37.4 billion in revenue in its earnings report, more than the $7.49 billion that analysts predicted, but not quite the $38 billion revenue expected.

 

Kids

Things are looking UP in the Chinese animation market. Just ask Trevor Lai, whose Shanghai-based UP Studios is on the fast track to producing original family animation. Lai plans to bring to the U.S. and hey, while he’s at it, the world. Lai describes UP as “a combination of Silicon Valley and Pixar,” developing movies, TV series and even books, but also quicker-to-market apps like its first hit, BOOMiGram, which enables users to layer emoticons over video. The app already piqued the interest of Apple, which featured it in a cross-China tour of flagship stores. “We’re working on longer-term projects, but we can also create products that can hit the market quickly like Silicon Valley does… and iterate, iterate, iterate,” he tells CynKids. Here’s what else is on Lai’s mind.

Shifting dynamics in Chinese animation

The industry used to be driven by production and was bustling with work on shows the U.S. and Europe would send over. You’d see an entirely Chinese team animate an entirely French cartoon. Now, for the first time, we’re seeing a drive toward a real domestic industry, and it’s been [driven] by costs. The salaries of employees across the board have double and tripled. Production work has shifted to other markets. Thailand, Vietnam and India have competitive outsourcing and the industry here shrank. We started to notice a lot of production houses becoming IP studios. Back in 2008 there was a lot of Kung Fu stuffKung Fu Rabbit, Kung Fu Squirrel, because of the success of Kung Fu Panda. If Transformers are hot, you see a ton of transforming cars. It made me say, what is this market going to need going forward as the audience becomes more sophisticated?

The Secret to creating hit global properties

A lot of it comes down to storytelling. There are a lot of shows that have been done for the domestic [Chinese] marketa lot of morality tales–that don’t travel well. They don’t really take the viewer on a journey or cause them to imagine.

So, Oriental DreamWorks–good or bad for UP? 

As a fan, it’s really exciting. From a business standpoint, you have to be aware of these giants coming in and taking up significant market share and working with the most powerful domestic partners with access to sales networks that a startup studio wouldn’t have. So we definitely have to contend with that. At the same time, they have an existing model and legacy properties that are already established. If you think about it, Pixar was not the first animation studio to come around. Technology had a huge part to do with how they were able to stand out in the marketplace. When Toy Story came out, the press was about how the storytelling was unique. At the time, Disney already had a business model, the market was mature, but there was an opening at the rim for an original upstart. We have a unique niche. We’re completely homegrown, with original characters and stories.

The BOOMiGram boom

It’s Instagram meets Disney, where you can take a video and add CG animation on top. We created an app and within six months we approached Apple in China and basically they said, “If you can make it, we’d love to support it.” Two months later, I was presenting in Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai. In China, we have the opportunity to start exploring the characters. We can change and iterate BOOMiGram; even within the past year we’ve redesigned it three, four and five times based on [feedback] from the Apple Store, based on school tours here.

Momentum with U.S. broadcasters

Our concepts are attracting a lot of interest and with our ability to scale up to demand, the number of conversations with U.S. broadcasters has increased a lot. The No. 1 question is, “When can you deliver 54 episodes, 104 episodes?” The orders in China are much larger than in North America, that’s been the trend.

Disney Television Animation is developing a Haunted Mansion special for Disney Channel and Disney XD inspired by the Disney Parks attraction, with illustrator Gris Grimly onboard to exec-produce with Scott Peterson executive producing and Joshua Pruett (both of Phineas and Ferb) consulting producing and writing. The studio is also busy developing series including:

Billy Dilley’s Super Duper Subterranean Summer, from Aaron Springer (Mickey Mouse shorts and SpongeBob SquarePants).

Synopsis: Summer break takes an unexpected turn when Zak and Marsha end up stuck in uncharted land at the center of the earth with an eccentric classmate.

Very Important House, from Jhonen Vasquez (Invader Zim) and character designer Jenny Goldberg (Rick and Morty, Bravest Warriors)

Synopsis: 11-year-old Frolie moves into the Very Important House and suddenly finds herself in the role of caretaker of the universe.

Douglas Furs, from former Sub Pop Records art director Jesse LeDoux and actor/writer Matt Olsen (Sly Cooper).

Synopsis: Deep in the woods exists the thriving animal community of Douglas where Barry the bear, the world’s least-handy handyman, takes it upon himself to fix all the town’s problems.

And a short-form project:

Future-Worm!, from Ryan Quincy (South Park and IFC’s Out There).

Synopsis: A boy creates a time machine lunch box and befriends a fearless worm from the future.

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