Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

Cynopsis: DIGITAL

Good morning. It’s Wednesday, July 25, 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.

In its Q2 2012 earnings report, Netflix revealed that its subscriber base for domestic streaming stands at 23.94 million, a slight increase from the 23.41 million it reported for Q1. In addition, the company is reporting 3.62 million international streaming customers and 9.24 million domestic DVD subscribers, with the latter continuing its downward trajectory following Netflix’s decision to place more of an emphasis on online streaming. All together, Netflix global revenue reached $889 million in Q2 2012, up from $870 million in Q1 2012. Looking ahead, CEO Reed Hastings says the third quarter has begun strongly and Netflix expects to be profitable again in Q3. However, he notes that some challenges lie ahead for the service, such as the Olympics, which he believes are likely to have a negative impact on Netflix viewing and sign-ups. To that end, Netflix is positioning its Q3 guidance for new domestic streaming subscribers as 1 million to 1.8 million net additions. Other tidbits from the report include:

  • Hastings says Netflix’s reputation among its members is steadily improving. He believes Netflix is still in line to achieve “full brand recovery” three years after last summer’s price hikes and Qwikster fiasco.
  • Netflix plans to launch a new international market in Q4, which will likely put it back in the red in that quarter.
  • On competition, Hastings writes, “We have yet to see Hulu Plus or Amazon Prime Instant Video gain meaningful traction relative to our viewing hours, but as we continue to build a domestic profit stream they are likely to increase their efforts to gain viewing share.”
  • And as a comment on the second story in today’s Multiplatform Content News section, Hastings says, “Redbox Instant by Verizon, once they launch, will face a big challenge to break into the top 3 of subscription streaming services.”
  • In terms of original programming, Hastings says that House of Cards began filming in April; Arrested Development and Orange is the New Black are in the writing phase; and principal photography has begun on Hemlock Grove. In 2012, the company also plans to release the second season of Lillyhammer.


MTV is bringing back its popular fashion series from the 90s, House of Style, in a digital-first format. The online video series will debut first on the MTV Style blog beginning on October 9, after which parts of the series will show up in some way on television and across MTV’s digital and social channels. MTV says the new host will be revealed on the red carpet of the upcoming Video Music Awards, which take place on September 6. The Style blog is already pumping the promotion around the show’s resurrection by publishing an extensive archive from the show’s original run of 78 episodes, including over 150 video clips, thousands of images, and episode summaries. The network will also broadcast a documentary on August 7 that takes a look at the influence that House of Style had on fashion, music, and pop culture in the 90s. MTV says it will release more information in advance of the documentary premiere and the 2012 Video Music Awards.

This past February, Verizon and Coinstar’s Redbox formed a joint venture to create a new video streaming plus physical DVD and Blu-ray rental service  in other words, a potential domestic competitor to Netflix with teeth. The plan is to fully launch this service in the second half of 2012. But yesterday, the partners launched the streaming portion, dubbed Redbox Instant by Verizon, in “alpha” testing mode. The companies have also named a new CEO for the upcoming service, Shawn Strickland, a now former Verizon executive in the company’s FiOS division. No other details have been revealed as of yet regarding pricing and content. Users who are interested can sign up to receive email updates on the aforementioned site.

The ABC News app is now available for the Kindle Fire. The app offers access to news, interviews, investigative reporting, live video of breaking news, and assorted clips from ABC News programs such as Good Morning America, Nightline, and This Week with George Stephanopoulos. It can be downloaded for free via the Amazon Appstore or directly from the Kindle Fire. The app has already been available on the iPhone and iPad as well as all other Android devices.

EQAL’s beauty and fashion original programming channel, u look haute, has announced its summer programming slate. New series include Lauren Conrad’s Crafty Creations, in which the former reality star will demonstrate how to create useful fashion, home, and lifestyle goods from scratch; Chelsea Kane Packs for Paris; and a new show starring the winner of the previous season’s Beauty Vlogger Boot Camp, the channel’s flagship franchise. EQAL says the programming will be scheduled to premiere in weekly time slots, but will be complemented by additional behind-the-scenes content that will be available on-demand in a “hybrid programming grid.” Lauren Conrad’s show will be available on Tuesdays and Thursdays, while Kane’s show and the TBD winner of Beauty Vlogger Boot Camp’s show will air on Wednesdays.

Plum TV, a lifestyle cable and broadband video network, has premiered all six episodes of the second season of Yoga with a View, a new series starring Hilaria Baldwin (wife of Alec), on Hulu and Hulu Plus. Plum TV says the half-hour episodes will also air on the Plum TV cable channel as part of a three-hour morning yoga block from 6am to 9am ET every day. Shot on location from different scenic locations around the country, the show is meant for both beginners and experts.

Correction: A story in yesterday’s edition of Cynopsis: Digital accidentally attributed Starz’s Kelsey Grammar-starring political series Boss, and the Price for Power social video experience promoting the show’s upcoming second season, to Showtime. As a reminder, the social tool takes a user’s Facebook information, such as his or her name, friends, and photos, in order to create a highly personalized video. In a couple of minutes, the video places a user inside the world of the show and then promptly depicts it unraveling. The second season of Boss begins on Starz on August 17.

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.


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WhoSay, a provider of an online media management platform for celebrities, has secured $12 million in Series C funding, led by Comcast Ventures, with additional participation from existing investors like Greylock Partners, Amazon, and High Peaks Ventures. The company’s platform allows artists and influencers to connect with fans by sharing content across multiple social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube; and mainstream platforms from media partners like Viacom/MTV Networks, the AP, and Yahoo; as well as via Tencent, a web and social media portal in China that also made an investment in the Series C round. The new capital will be used toward continued expansion in and outside the US.

Mobile app software provider Xamarin has landed $12 million in Series A financing, led by Charles River Ventures, Ignition Partners, and Floodgate. The new funds will be directed toward accelerating the adoption of the company’s mobile developer tools as well as to build a sales and marketing team. The company’s cross-platform mobile development software allows developers to build native apps using one common language so that it can be deployed for multiple mobile operating systems, specifically iOS, Android, and Windows. Xamarin has signed up over 150,000 developers to use its technology and more than 7,500 clients since it launched less than a year ago.


YuMe has launched Mobile Flip, a new “two slate” interactive video ad unit designed for iOS and Android tablets and smartphones. The unit allows clients to deliver an interactive ad to the consumer on one slate, while also giving said consumer the ability to further engage with the ad by tapping on the screen or swiping a finger across the screen to pull up a second slate, which would host additional content and interactivity. As an example of how it can work, an entertainment brand can allow movie fans to preview an upcoming movie by presenting an interactive ad on the first slate, from which the consumer can flip and access a full-length trailer if they so choose. YuMe Mobile Flip offers advertisers three options for customizing the slates: Image2Video, an interactive page flips to a video; Video2Image; and Video2Video, in which a video flips to a longer video. The unit also comes with a number of brand engagement buttons such as “Save the Date,” “Locate Us,” “Add to Calendar,” and/or “Call Now,” as well as social media elements for Facebook and Twitter. With this multifunctionality, YuMe hopes to help advertisers build message retention, recall, and brand lift, and ultimately motivate purchasing decisions among consumers. The company says it is also offering brands the ability to run tablet-only campaigns via this new ad unit.


Connected TVs and Blu-ray players will overtake game consoles as the primary connected devices inside the home, according to a new forecast from ABI Research. The company sees connected TV penetration in North America and Western Europe rising from just over 10% in 2011 to over 50% by 2017. Similarly, ABI predicts growth in Blu-ray penetration rates from about 25% in North America and Western Europe in 2011 to over 76% by 2017 (this number includes both standalone devices and game consoles that also function as Blu-ray players). In comparison, ABI projects that game console penetration rates will stand at 61% in North America and 46% in Western Europe by 2017. ABI Research defines connected TVs, Blu-ray players, game consoles, and “smart” set-top boxes (STBs) as the four major connected video CE devices. A large reason for why ABI sees connected TVs surpassing the game console is that it’s the most natural device to access connected services, as there is no need to do something like change the video input to access the online content, according to ABI Research. The company also says that in primary survey studies consumers have indicated that the connected TV is the most desired device to receive content from the web on the first screen. However this doesn’t mean it’s a slow death for game consoles. With the next generation of consoles to come with new hardware and expanded media capabilities, ABI Senior Analyst Michael Inouye says, “Game consoles will be dethroned as the most connected CE device, but they may remain the most relevant.”

A new study from research firm Yankee Group, per MediaPost, predicts that tablets will account for 53% of mobile ad revenue in 2014, and 60% by 2016. Yankee Group says in-app mobile advertisements will be a significant factor in driving this growth for tablets. The study found that 24% of tablet owners have interacted with ads while using apps, and 29% have taken the extra step to purchase additional content. These numbers are indicative of the opportunity to better reach and engage with consumers via tablets, according to the study. For example, among the other findings, tablet users on average buy 1.7 paid apps per month, which is 0.6 more than the 1.1 paid apps smartphone users purchase on average per month; and 35% of tablet owners buy digital media from online storefronts, compared to 21% of smartphone owners.

Nielsen‘s latest Global AdView Pulse report shows that the telecommunications industry invested 7.8% more in advertising in the first quarter of 2012 than it did during the same period last year. Nielsen says the global battle in trying to reach consumers across the mobile landscape significantly contributed to this growth. Other relevant sectors that also saw a boost in ad investment include entertainment, which spent 5% more in Q1 2012 than in Q1 2011, and media, which spent 4.3% in Q1 year-over-year.


Mobile advertising company Jumptap has named Frank Weishaupt as its new Chief Operating Officer. “This is a new role at Jumptap that will help continue to drive sales and our market brand,” said George Bell, CEO of Jumptap, in a statement.

MediaBrix has made three new additions to its executive team. Hie Su Moon joins the social and mobile advertising platform provider as its new Director/West Coast Sales, while Charlotte Goldberg assumes a similar position as MediaBrix’s new Director/Midwest Sales. Moon will be based in LA and Goldberg will be based in Chicago. In addition, Tiffany Sumner has been appointed Director/Marketing Communications. She will be based at the MediaBrix headquarters in NY.

NBC10 in Philadelphia has named Sarah Glover as its Social Media Editor, effective as of yesterday. In 2010 she was the recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting, which she won for leading a video team on a “Tainted Justice” series for the Philadelphia Daily News.

NY-based digital technology company PulsePoint has hired Monica Seebohm to be its new VP/Western Sales. In the role, Seebohm will manage and build new opportunities for PulsePoint throughout the region. She is based in LA.

More hires at ad tech company TruEffect: Gabe Nydick and Glynne Casteel have both joined the company in the position of Senior Software Architect. Other additions to the software development team include Eric Eide as Software Developer and Ashish Rangole as Software Architect.


Funny or Die, has partnered with Zach Galifianakis and Bono’s anti-poverty group ONE to produce and release an original video that aims to call attention to a global effort to reach “the beginning of the end of AIDS” by 2015. In the video, Galifianakis is joined by the likes of Sarah Silverman, Tracy Morgan, Chloe Moretz, Marisa Tomei, and Isaiah Mustafa, all urging viewers to sign a petition on ONE’s website that asks lawmakers to reverse proposed budget cuts to PEPFAR, an AIDS program, and fulfill the US’ commitment to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. It’s a funny video and a good cause.

Later – Sahil
Sahil Patel, Associate Editor for Cynopsis Digital

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