01/07/16: Netflix goes live globally; Sony to launch 4K movie app; HBO partners with Conviva on HBO Now optimization


Good morning. It’s Thursday January 7, 2016, and this is your first early morning digital briefing.


Sometimes Cynopsis Digital can simply let the day’s newsmakers speak for themselves. Here’s Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, addressing an audience at CES yesterday: “Today, I am delighted to announce that while we have been here onstage at CES, we switched Netflix on in Azerbaijan, in Vietnam, in India, in Nigeria, in Poland, in Russia, in Saudi Arabia, in Singapore, in South Korea, in Turkey, in Indonesia and in 130 new countries. While you have been listening to me talk, the Netflix service has gone live in nearly every country of the world but China, where we hope to also be in the future. Today, right now, you are witnessing the birth of a global TV network.” (For the record, Netflix was live in only 60 countries before he started talking.) Hastings also said that people watched 12 billion hours of Netflix during Q4 2015 – up from 8.25 billion in Q4 of 2014.




made a splash at CES, announcing several bits of new tech. That includes Ultra, an app that will let users buy and stream 4K Ultra HD movies on Sony Android TVs. The app, which launches in the U.S. later this year, will debut with between 40 and 50 available titles, all from Sony Pictures.
Sling TV made a CES splash of its own, even if it’s mostly just catching up to its competitors in the streaming space. In the past, the year-old Dish-owned Internet TV service has heavily emphasized its live programming over its on-demand offerings. But Sling’s newly unveiled interface puts an increased emphasis on the latter. A new section called My TV lists viewers’ favorite shows and movies, as well as personalized recommendations, and makes on-demand content more easily searchable.
More from CES: The white-label video distribution platform VHX announced a big move into the mobile space. The company’s new branded app solution allows companies to use VHX’s platform to deliver content to audiences directly through their own apps.  Previously, mobile users had to consume content through VHX’s app. In truth, the feature is not entirely new; for months, the beta version has been supporting the Apple TV apps for Black&SexyTV and Yoga with Adriene.
CES attendees got a sneak peek of the conference at The Tech Futures Suite, hosted by Cynopsis, GK Digital Media, and MyersBizNet. Michael Wolf, founder of NextMarket Insights, told the packed penthouse, “The smart home hub is on its way. Samsung’s SmartThings integration signals a huge strategic investment.” Also look for innovation in the kitchen specifically, featuring everything from robotic mixology to smart meat thermometers. While gesture control was big in the tech space last year, momentum this year has shifted to voice control. The other big buzz centered around Augmented and Virtual Reality. Noted NextVR Executive Chairman Brad Allen, “Mobile VR will be massive.” The Coca-Cola company, acknowledged Ariff Quli, Blippar’s North American Chief Commercial Officer, is a brand that really gets the capabilities of VR. “We had a Coke can turn into a jukebox, with a daily playlist.” Still, said Mike Bloxham of Frank R. Magid Associates, “We have not had that aha moment, where everyone says, “That’s how it should be done.’” Audience members included execs from Showtime, Nielsen, Hulu and Pizza Hut.


Did you know that budgets for programmatic TV buying are expected to surge to a whopping $10 billion* by 2019?

With dollars steadily shifting to audience-based ad buying and technology ramping up, you can’t afford not to get up to speed on this fast-changing ecosystem. By joining Cynopsis on Thursday, January 28, for the webinar, Programmatic TV 2016: The Keys to Mining Data and Measurement, your team will get the tools they need to understand the opportunities and challenges of unprecedented behavioral targeting.
*Source: Magna Global



21st century indeed. 21st Century Fox, owner of the entertainment properties formerly controlled by the previous incarnation of News Corp., has announced a preliminary agreement with Osterhour Design Group, a virtual and augmented reality and smartglass designer. Under the terms of the deal, 21st Century Fox would gain a minority stake in Osterhour, and become the company’s principle outside investor. The ultimate goal, the companies say, is to merge ODG’s tech with 21st Century Fox’s entertainment content.
Netflix is thinking about 2017 already? The streaming service announced a 10-episode season order for Gypsy, a new hour-long drama set to premiere next year. The series centers on a therapist who develops dangerous relationships with the people in her patients’ lives. The show comes from Universal Television, Working Title TV, and writer Lisa Rubin. Rubin, a relative unknown with just a single short listed on her IMDB page, will EP along with producers from Working Title.
You can never be too optimized. HBO has expanded on its partnership with video analytics and optimization company Conviva, which was already partnered with HBO to work on the HBO Go streaming video app. Conviva will now work on the HBO Now subscription service as well.  The companies will gather data on how well HBO Now’s streaming content is performing for users, info HBO will use to optimize HBO Now’s performance.  
There’s a new Playa in town. That’s the name of the new influencer marketing partnership between the MCN Fullscreen and GroupM, the media-buying arm of WPP. (WPP also holds an equity stake in Fullscreen.) Under the new venture, GroupM and WPP clients will have first-look access to content produced by Fullscreen’s creators, and agencies will have access to Fullscreen’s analytics tools. Fullscreen will work with GroupM and WPP, coaching them on how to create ad campaigns featuring digital content creators. The deal was announced at CES. (Wasn’t everything?)
Video technology platform Kaltura announced that it has partnered with TV app developer 24i Media. 24i Media’s SmartTemplate TV Everywhere interface will now be offered as a front end for Kaltura’s OTT TV platform. The result, Kaltura said in a release, is that companies will be able to launch a full multi-screen OTT service within weeks.


Well isn’t that special. Netflix has set an April 29 release date for Special Correspondents, a Ricky Gervais-starring comedy film about a radio journalist who fakes front-line war reports from a Queens restaurant. The movie is a remake of a French comedy of the same name. 
Discovery Digital Networks is going nuclear. The MCN has launched Nuclear Family, a new YouTube sketch comedy channel featuring digital stars from its popular news and pop culture-oriented SourceFed brand. Those stars include Steve Zaragoza, Matt Lieberman, and Bree Essrig. New content will be posted every Saturday, living exclusively on the brand’s official YouTube channel for three days before debuting on other platforms. You can learn more here
Seeso, NBCUniversal’s new streaming comedy channel, debuts today. In case you missed it, check out our Q&A with Evan Shapiro, EVP of NBCUniversal Digital Enterprises and head of Seeso. Read it here.



The Cynopsis Top Women in Digital Awards will honor women who excel in digital content, marketing, advertising, social media, and online.
“Thanks to Cynopsis [and their Top Women in Digital Awards] for celebrating the passion and accomplishments of women who are pioneers in this space. I am grateful to have been included among female leaders who I continue to look up to!”
– 2015 winner Shira Lazar, Co-Founder & Host What’s Trending.
Nominations are currently being accepted for this year’s Top Women in Digital Awards. Enter by next Tuesday, January 12: http://www.cynopsis.com/event/2016-women-digital-awards






In addition to some highly justified chest-beating, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings devoted some of his CES address to previewing a couple of upcoming original series, both set to premiere this year. The Get Down, a ‘70s musical drama series, comes from Baz Luhrmann and Shawn Ryan. The Crown, a mid-20th century period drama about Queen Elizabeth II and the British Royal Family, is helmed by Frost/Nixon’s Peter Morgan. You can check out a sizzle reel from the latter series here.

See you tomorrow,
David Teich

Roberta Caploe: Associate Publisher @robertacaploe
Diane K Schwartz: Senior Vice President, Media Communications Group

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