02/16/17: Reports: $250-$350 million shaved off Verizon’s acquisition of Yahoo


Good morning. It’s Thursday February 16, 2017 and this is your first early morning digital briefing.


Audit Trail: In computing, an audit trail is a log of any changes (creation, modification, or deletion) to data. Creating an audit trail enables system admins to review all historical changes.


Anyone could have seen that coming. Verizon is reportedly nearing an agreement with Yahoo to trim the latter’s acquisition cost. The telco originally agreed to pay $4.8 billion for Yahoo’s core internet businesses; then came revelations that Yahoo had suffered massive data breaches in 2013 and 2014. The fallout led many to speculate that Verizon would reduce its valuation of the company or even scuttle the deal, and it looks like it’s settled for the former. Reports vary as to just how much the acquisition price has been reduced. Bloomberg says $250 million, the Wall Street Journal says $300 million, and Reuters says somewhere between $250 million and $350 million. Any way you look at it, that’s a big chunk of change. Neither Verizon nor Yahoo have commented on the reports.
This is what getting pressured by advertisers looks like. Facebook says that videos appearing on its platform will now auto-play with sound on. It’s a big change: Videos were already auto-playing in users News Feeds, but until now, people had to manually turn the sound on. Not surprisingly, marketers like it when users’ can hear their ads. And as Adweek points out, many Facebook advertisers had been seeing some alarming figures: Sometimes as many as 80% of videos were being viewed on mute.
Looks like PewDiePie isn’t the only person parting ways with Maker Studios. The Disney-owned MCN and digital media company is reportedly getting ready for some significant personnel cuts. (The news was first reported by The Hollywood Reporter.) Disney reportedly plans to shrink Maker’s network of creators to about 300. Partly, that will just be a matter of not renewing deals with some smaller partners. Instead, Maker intends to bring a greater focus to top-tier creators with sizable YouTube followings.


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Thursday, March 2 – 8:15-10:30 a.m. | Yale Club NYC

Space is limited and tables are selling out quickly. Register yourself and your team today!



Looks like HTC is going mobile. According to a report from CNET, the electronics-maker is looking to launch a mobile-based virtual reality device to compete with the likes of Google Daydream and the Samsung Gear VR. HTC already makes the Vive, arguably the highest of high-end VR headsets. (At $799, it’s certainly the most expensive.) The company insists that the new device, which will be compatible with HTC’s new flagship phone, will be a bit different than its competitors in the mobile VR space. “It’s not a phone slapped onto a headset," said Chia-lin Chang, HTC’s President of Global Sales." It’d be a different thing." We’ll just have to wait and see what he’s talking about. Chang told CNET that the product will launch by the end of 2017.
VR camera maker Lytro has raised $60 million in a Series D funding round. The company’s VR camera relies on light field capture – simply put, it records all the rays of light within a certain space. The company announced that its camera, dubbed Immerge VR, was recently used to shoot project for Within, the VR production company founded by Chris Milk.


The finalists have been announced for the 2017 Social Good Awards. See who made the short list and register to attend our March 2 networking breakfast celebration: http://www.cynopsis.com/event/2017-socialgood/


A major licensing deal between Hulu and Viacom has expired. Comedy Central, MTV, Logo and other Viacom networks have ceased uploading new episodes of shows like The Daily Show and RuPaul’s Drag Race. In addition, old episodes are starting to be removed. The only exceptions are shows for which separate exclusive licensing agreements have been struck. For instance, episodes South Park, Broad City and Inside Amy Schumer will remain on the service.


For the majority of consumers, skipping past skippable ads has become an “ingrained behavior.” That’s according to the results of a media trial released by Magna and Media Lab, both units of IPG Mediabrands. “Not only do the majority skip ads, but they do so right away,” wrote Magna and Media Lab in their report. The report advises that advertisers prioritize “more succinct ads, coupled with human connection and good storytelling.” The report also advises that advertisers consider using six-second, non-skippable ads. To garner their insights, Magna and Media Lab studied a representative panel of 11,338 users.
Tweet of the week: @melissdelong: This is SO UNCOMFORTABLE, like I am on my couch cringing and hugging the cat because this conversation is painful. #TheBachelor
Canvs, the language analytics company that measures emotions around content, analyzed tweets about TV and streaming programming from Feb. 8-14 using Twitter data from Nielsen. Insights from the 4,539,692 tweets expressing a specific Emotional Reaction (ER) include:
– 69.6% of viewers who said something on TV was beautiful were watching the 59th Annual Grammy Awards on CBS, with Adele and Beyonce prompting many of the responses.
– 6.5% of people who talked about being excited for something on TV were eagerly anticipating the mid-season premiere of AMC’s The Walking Dead.
– 14.3% of viewers who commented about a TV show being awkward were tuned into The Bachelor on ABC, where one date in particular had viewers cringing.
– Excluding sports and specials, 4.8% of people who mentioned being sad about a TV show were watching a heart-wrenching episode of ABC’s How to Get Away With Murder.


Video marketing platform Innovid has named a new exec. Matt Colebourne will now serve as the company’s Managing Director for the EMEA region. Based in Innovid’s London office, he’ll be tasked with expanding the company’s European businesses. Colebourne joins Inovid from U.K. publisher Trinity Mirror, where he served as Director of New Businesses.
Traci Otey Blunt has been named as President of Urban Movie Channel. The SVOD service, geared toward African American and urban audiences, initially launched in 2014. “President” is a new position at UMC, created specifically for Blunt. She had already been heading up the service, while simultaneously holding an EVP role at parent company RLJ Entertainment. RLJ also owns Acorn TV, a streaming service focused on UK content.


What longtime Hollywood filmmaker directed the first two episodes of Netflix’s House of Cards? Answer: David Fincher. Kudos to Andy Pittman-TAMU/TX, Dan Quitério-Understood/NY, Mathew Tombers-Intermat, Inc./NY, Susan Nessanbaum-Goldberg-Whose Line Is It Anyway?/Angst Productions/CA, Warren Weideman/CA, Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/CA, David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/CA, Anjali Desai-Departure Films/NY, Lorrie Shilling-CA, Jess LaPenta-Razor and Tie Media/NY, and Maria Grosso-CAA/CA,
Follow-up: David Fincher isn’t done with Netflix. He’s serving as an executive producer on a new drama series that’s slated to debut on the service sometime this year. What’s it called? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company, city and state.)


Cynopsis World eSports Summit
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Yesterday we showed you the trailer for Planet of the Apps, Apple Music’s upcoming reality show. Apple also released an extended trailer for its upcoming spinoff of The Late Late Show’s Carpool Karaoke. Check that out here.

See you tomorrow,
David Teich

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