02/16/16: Apple to launch 1st scripted content with Dr. Dre series; Instagram to institute video view counts; Google developing mobile-free VR headset


Good morning. It’s Tuesday February 16, 2016, and this is your first early morning digital briefing.

Watcheroo Premieres and Tune-in Alerts for November 9-15:
People Now at People.com, Monday-Friday at 8:30a ET and 11:30a ET: Guests include TV host Chris Harrison (ABC’s The Bachelor), musician Brandy, and actress Danai Gurira (AMC’s The Walking Dead)
– Amazon Prime
: The New Yorker Presents, a new nonfiction series based on   The New Yorker magazine, debuts today, February 16
Vimeo: Darby Forever, a new short film starring SNL’s Aidy Bryant, will be available February 18
Netflix: Love, a new series from Judd Apatow, debuts February 19
Netflix: Cooked, a new food-centric docu-series, debuts February 19


If the numbers are good, providing more information is never a bad thing. Instagram announced (via a blog post) that it will soon institute view counts for videos, allowing users to see how many times a given video has been watched. As Tech Crunch points out, the move might well stem from a desire to entice marketers and lure talented video-makers. Instagram’s video watch time has risen by 40% in the past six months.
The doctor is in. Dr. Dre will be at the center of Apple’s first original scripted series, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The trade pub reports that the legendary rapper will EP and star in Vital Signs, a new semi-autobiographical drama series. According to the report, Apple has commissioned six thirty-minute episodes, which will likely be available through Apple Music. (It’s not yet clear if the series will be available via other platforms, such as Apple TV or a traditional TV distributor.) Other cast-members will likely include Sam Rockwell and Mo McCrae.


Streamup is about to get a little bit more original. The live-streaming startup is set to launch a slate of five original live productions, including a regularly-broadcast variety talk show and a live-stream of Trey Parker’s Cannibal! The Musical. The shows will begin premiering in April. Company President Will Keenan says Streamup will continue launching new series throughout 2016. Keenan also says that Streamup will soon activate an advertising network on the platform, which is available on the web and as an iOS app.
YouTube has acquired BandPage, an e-commerce startup which helps musicians offer concert tickets and merchandise across multiple platforms, including YouTube, SoundCloud, Twitter, and Spotify. “YouTube already offers a global distribution platform for any artist to be discovered and some of the best self-publishing tools for musicians and other creators,” explains a post on BandPage’s blog. According to a source who spoke to Tech Crunch, the acquisition was priced at $8 million.
Newsy, the OTT news service owned by The E.W. Scripps Company, has partnered with Morris Network. Morris will now syndicate Newsy’s daily videos across six of its local TV stations and websites. “Newsy offered us a way to deliver stimulating video content and generate additional revenue on our websites above and beyond direct selling,” said Chris Carlton, Director of Digital for ChartLocal and Morris Network, in a release.
Say goodbye to Baidu?  The Chinese search giant (essentially China’s Google equivalent) has received a non-binding offer on its 80.5% stake in Chinese video streaming service iQiyi. The offer comes from Robin Yanhong Li, Baidu’s Chairman and CEO, and Yu Gong, the CEO of iQiyi. The two execs have proposed buying out all outstanding shares of iQiyi, valuing the company at $2.8 billion. No decisions have been made, though Baidu has established a special board to evaluate and respond to the offer.


, NBCUniversal’s comedy-based SVOD channel, has teamed with the New York Television Festival (NYTVF) to launch the Seeso Comedy Award. The award will offer creators the chance to develop a new series for the streaming service. Submissions must be entered into the festival’s annual Independent Pilot Competition by June 30, and be named an IPC Official Selection. Pilots can be anywhere from four to sixty minutes long.


Cynopsis Digital Programmatic TV Summit

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Dan Ackerman, Head of Programmatic TV – AOL
Tara Maitra, SVP & GM, Content & Media Sales – TiVo
Paul Haddad, SVP & GM, Advanced Data Analytics – Cablevision
Patrick Rubin, Director, Advanced TV Strategy & Investment – Dentsu Aegis Network

Thursday, March 24 | New York City | REGISTER NOW.



From Siri voice activation to movement detection, there’s been a lot of talk about how cool the next gen Apple TV’s remote is. Just as cool: Soon you won’t need it. During a recent podcast, two Apple execs confirmed that the company is working on a new app that will allow an iPhone to double as an Apple TV remote. The company will even be rolling out a new two-person game. (One player uses the Apple TV remote, one the iPhone.) The two exes said only that the new app is “a couple of months” away.   
Epoxy, a California based company focused on social reach optimization, is launching a new feature in its iOS app, VideoInk reports. Creators will now be able to directly post video replies to fan comments across social platforms including Vine, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.


The ListenFirst Television Interest (TVI) Rating (TM) is a standardized measurement of the most buzzed-about TV programs on linear TV and streaming services. A complement to ListenFirst’s other syndicated data products (such as the ListenFirst Digital Audience Rating – TV), the metrics included in the rating are the purest form of showing interest digitally, since they’re organic actions that are largely unaffected by paid media. Programs that surface on the TVI leaderboards are the most hashtagged on Facebook, Google+, and Tumblr, as well as most searched for on Wikipedia (used as a proxy for organic search volume).    

All Series (2/08/16 – 2/14/16) 
Source: ListenFirst. The TVI Rating aggregates metrics that measure organically generated activity by fans of the TV show. The metric includes total volume of official hashtag mentions on Facebook, Google+, and Tumblr, along with Wikipedia page views (as a proxy for organic search volume) for a show as a percentage of the total volume of the same activities for all shows.  


Will the Cardboard become a distant memory? Numerous reports have recently trickled in about Google’s growing VR ambitions. And while it’s already been reported that Google intends to build a higher end mobile-based VR viewer to compete with the Samsung Gear VR, now there’s a new report from the Wall Street Journal indicating that the company is also working on a standalone virtual reality headset that doesn’t require a phone to operate. And unlike other such headsets, like the Oculus Rift, Playstation VR or HTC Vive, this one wouldn’t require users to be connected to a pc or game console. Instead, it will use an integrated processor to render VR games and experiences. That would be a huge deal: Other headsets, which already cost many hundreds of dollars, can effectively cost much more, necessitating that users buy compatible hardware. If Google can pull this off, it might just give itself a major pricing edge.
Sports Illustrated is adding a VR component to its most famous issue – you know, the one that has nothing to do with sports. This year’s Swimsuit Edition launched yesterday with two versions: The standard edition, for $7.99, and a premium $9.99 edition that comes equipped with a Google Cardboard-based VR viewer. Users will have access to a selection of VR videos featuring three former cover-models.


This much is clear: Bryan Fuller will never settle on one genre or one network. The writer/producer, who formerly helmed ABC’s fantastical comedic-drama Pushing Daisies and NBC’s horror-laden detective series Hannibal, has been named as showrunner and co-Executive Producer of CBS’s upcoming Star Trek series. The series premiere will debut on CBS’s linear network in January 2017 – but subsequent episodes will debut only on the CBS All Access SVOD service. Fuller will EP alongside Alex Kurtzman, whose involvement was reported back in November. 
Project Greenlight Digital Studios, which was launched back in November with the aim of finding opportunities for up-and-coming filmmakers, has formed a new advisory board. (It’s a big list, so get ready.) The board consists of director/writer Catherine Hardwicke (Twilight), Mike Farah (President of Production for Funny or Die) writer, actress and host Tamara Krinsky, producer and former WGA President Patric Verrone, producer Wendy Calhoun, producer Shannon McIntosh, digital media expert Sarah “Sully” Ullman, Indiewire’s Women & Hollywood blog creator Melissa Silverstein, Seed & Spark Founder Emily Best, Mark Ordesky (Executive VP of Production for New Line Cinema), Producer and Co-CFO Jane Fleming (Women in Film International), Kelly Edwards (VP of Talent Development & Programming at HBO), Franklin Leonard (Founder, The Black List), Erica Oyama (creator of Burning Love), Luisa Leschin (executive producer & writer, Just Add Magic, Luke Ryan (producer & creative executive, Hot Tub Time Machine) and Allie Esslinger (producer and Founder of Section II).


Join Cynopsis Sports on February 24 for the interactive webinar
Virtual Reality: How to Get in the Game

With VR technology now affordable, thanks to recent moves from the likes of Samsung, Sony, Facebook and Google, sports continues to blaze the trail in enticing audiences to adopt and engage with this platform. Join the webinar and learn how to leverage your content into this transformative technology.

Sign up here.


Can twenty-nine monologuing celebrities elevate Justin Bieber lyrics to the realm of high-art? You be the judge. Jon Hamm, Chloe Sevigny, Maya Rudolph, and many other recognizable faces make appearances in a very funny video from Vanity Fair. Check it out here

See you tomorrow,
David Teich

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

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