01/08/20: Cynopsis Live at CES

 

Cynopsis Long Story Short
Wednesday January 8, 2020

CYNOPSIS Live from CES

Quibi is going for mobile domination, the ‘90s called and brought Apple back to CES, and Ivanka Trump’s keynote goes off without a hitch. It’s Wednesday, January 8, 2020 and this is your daily Cynopsis dispatch from CES.

After 18 months of teasers, Quibi founder Jeffrey Katzenberg and CEO Meg Whitman went big at CES to preview their mobile platform that launches April 6. “The mobile era in entertainment is defined not by the incredible content but by platforms on which that content is delivered,” Katzenberg said. In short… the service has amassed an arsenal of Hollywood creators and talent, and a formidable team of tech partners from Google to T-Mobile to fuel its vision of content delivered 5-10 minutes at a time. The execs shared a bunch of new stats. During its first year Quibi will roll out more than 175 new shows and 8,500 eps of content. Programming will be divided into three categories: Movies—look for more than 35 this year; unscripted—120 new shows in 2020; and news. Quibi is launching into an agitated and opportunistic market, but it’s already got some wins under its belt. The company raised more than $1 billion in venture capital, and sold out its first year of $150 million in ad inventory to brands including General Mills, P&G, Progressive, Taco Bell and Walmart. The service will cost subscribers $4.99/month ad-supported or $7.99/month ad-free.

Adam Harter, PepsiCo VP of marketing, sports, media and entertainment, took the stage to preview ads for Pepsi and Mountain Dew, both of which incorporate the fluid orientations of the mobile phone. “We found it challenging to reach millennials on the on the go, and that’s Quibi’s sweet spot,” said Harter, who rattled off a list of boxes the service checks including “full-screen ads, an uncluttered environment and an ad load that’s the lowest of any other platform, We have confidence once we reach the audience we will be able to capture their attention.”

It’s not just the ads, but all content on Quibi that connects tech and creative in a distinctly mobile environment. “Typically the creative team is not in the room with the tech team. At Quibi we’ve upended this model and have been having integrated tech and creative conversations every day,” Whitman said. “That’s what’s driving the innovations in our stories.” She demo’d a few shows—including horror story Nest and drama Wireless—that seamlessly toggle between portrait and landscape mode for integrated story-telling from different character perspectives.

Fun fact: Katzenberg’s vision for Quibi was borne not from film or TV, but rather literature. Specifically, Dan Brown’s best-selling novel The DaVinci Code, with its chapter lengths of five or fewer pages.

IN THE NEWS

Apple’s been cold-shouldering CES for decades, but the chance to wave its privacy flag finally brought Cupertino back to Vegas. Jane Horvath, Apple senior director for global privacy, joined Erin Egan, VP public policy and chief privacy officer for policy at Facebook, FTC commissioner Rebecca Slaughter and Susan Shook, Procter & Gamble global privacy officer, for a presentation in front of a packed crowd. The three companies unsurprisingly each emphasized their privacy-protective ways. And while they all touted their capacity for consumer choice over individual privacy decisions, Slaughter questioned whether putting consumers in charge of their own data goes far enough given most customers don’t know which of their data the companies have, and what’s being done with it. Notably, Egan’s responses elicited the occasional sneer—despite FB’s newly announced “deepfakes” ban.

Why are consumers are flocking to streaming platforms? Let’s count the ways. “55 percent to 60 percent of people subscribe to a streaming platform because of exclusive content today,” said Kevin Westcott, vice chair, US telecom, media & entertainment, at Deloitte.

And that exclusive content need not be plentiful—just good. Really, really good. Mark Garner, A+E Nets EVP of content licensing and business, noted Apple Plus launched with just eight original shows for $4.99/month. “Right now, they don’t need to get more content to get people to subscribe,” he said. Pointing to Disney+, Garner had one word. “Mandalorian. That’s the only thing people are talking about. The Mandalorian is driving Disney+. These big, shiny, highly produced quality shows are going to continue to lead the charge in terms of content. And then you need other content that people are going to stay for.”

Don’t hold your breath. Voice command, which keeps cropping up as a chink in the path to content discovery, is several years away from a user-friendly evolution. This according to Trent Wheeler, SVP of video product for Gracenote, who told Cynopsis, “Voice is very good when you know what you want. It’s very good for the lean-forward experience, very poor for the lean-back experience. As much as all the individual ecosystems are trying to say, I‘m unique, I’m X and Y for differentiation, it’s going to limit user adoption until there’s a common language, common commands.”

(Hu)man or machine? It’s a legit question now that we’re living in an AI world. “In news, there’s been a swing back toward curation after some of the big disasters of the last few years when it comes to non-human feed creation on the social platforms,” said Christy Turner, EVP/GM at CBS News Digital. “We are seeing the big tech companies hire teams of journalists to curate news, which I think is a great development and an admission machines aren’t quite ready to curate our news.” Jesse Redniss, EVP of data strategy at WarnerMedia, concurs. “The human element, content curated by humans, is very important,” he said. “Technology is an accelerant to the great art form of storytelling.”

Despite some backlash after the Consumer Technology Assn. announced Ivanka Trump, daughter of and adviser to the President, would have a keynote slot at this year’s CES, her appearance elicited no notable on-site protests. Trump was met with hearty applause when she took the stage to be interviewed by CTA CEO Gary Shapiro in a talk that centered on workforce development in the US.

Nielsen’s Advanced Video Advertising group announced the beta launch of its addressable TV platform, and Cynopsis got a briefing from SVP, advanced advertising Jason Bolles. Networks including A+E Networks, AMC Networks, CBS, Discovery, Fox, NBCUniversal and WarnerMedia will run addressable campaigns and evaluate how the platform interoperates with existing and evolving workflows before the platform goes broad in June.

“The biggest goal is figuring out, Did we build the right tool, or are there things we need to change,” Bolles says. “When we’re looking at a particular program, we need to know which commercials are coming, which ones you want to switch out. We need to know the timing of all that, and we need to have a library of [content] we can look it up. And we need to work specifically with each them because each one is different.”

With their margins even slimmer than the screens they’re hawking, TV manufacturers are another source of feedback for Nielsen, Bolles tells Cynopsis. “We want to make sure we aren’t screwing up someone’s user experience. Because if your TV is screwed up, you’re not calling CBS, you’re calling Samsung. And the margin is so thin these TV manufacturers they can’t have people returning their TVs because they start losing money immediately.”

MORE ON ADVERTISING + BRANDS

NBCU announced the simply named One Platform, a scale-minded structure to standardize buying and selling premium video across its platforms, and no doubt a key part of chairman of advertising and partnerships Linda Yaccarino’s keynote this afternoon. In 2020 alone, NBCU will offer more than 110,000 hours of new original content and reach 97 percent of people in the US plus half a billion people around the world via its partnership with Sky.

Instagram may not have been in the room where it happens, but the social platform got loads of love during several panels yesterday. “Instagram is the holy grail of advertising. And here we are in the TV universe and the ads often have zero relevance to you, and you have no way of sharing them,” said Rich Greenfield, partner and analyst at LightShed Partners. “I think ads make Instagram better.” Adam Singolda, CEO of Taboola, also had an endorsement for the Gram. “If you ask me if I want Instagram with or without advertising, I would choose Instagram with ads. I click on those ads. I buy those things. They delight me with services I never knew existed,” he said.

Roku and marketing platform Innovid in September partnered on a TV ad campaign measurement solution. Jessica Hogue, Innovid GM of measurement and analytics, shared some early learnings. “The duplication is actually pretty low,” she said of the viewing universe . “There’s a perception that these ads are reaching the same people over and over again, but that’s not what we are seeing.” Hogue also said the campaign is witnessing “some myth-busting around average frequency,” noting, “What we’re seeing today suggests there’s a lot of head room, we are not saturating the connected consumer yet.”

“The No. 1 misconception is, if I’m buying some OTT I’m all set. I can check the box,” said Roku VP ad sales & strategy Alison Levin. “But in reality, with a recent study citing 30 percent of TV time is on OTT and only 3 percent of ad budgets [are there], we’re working on giving brands the data they need to feel confident to make the shift.”

SCENE + HEARD

“Table stakes” is the new “lean in.” Maybe it’s because we’re in Vegas, but execs on five panels and counting are evoking this phrase, which originates in the poker world. We get it.

An interesting stat from the Hulu-verse. “When people have Hulu live, they spend 50 percent of time watching not live TV, they tend to watch SVOD content,” said Julie DeTraglia, Hulu head of research.

“It’s ludicrous, it’s not going to happen. The reality is a lot of these businesses are going to fail,” said Tubi CEO Farhad Massoudi of the streaming wars. “They aren’t going to be viable businesses because they won’t have scale. The jury’s out which ones are going to become a success.”

Vegas doesn’t sleep, and neither does Cynopsis when we’re covering CES for you. If you have news to share, please hit me up at Cathy@Cynopsis.com.

Cheers,
Cathy Applefeld Olson

Cynopsis Team

Lynn Leahey
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@Lynn_Leahey
Kerry Smith
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Access Intelligence

Roberta Caploe
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