02/22/16: Netflix picks up German-language series; Amazon to distribute next Woody Allen film; Yahoo forms committee to explore sale


Good morning. It’s Monday February 22, 2016, and this is your first early morning digital briefing.

Watcheroo Premieres and Tune-in Alerts for February 22-28:
People Now at People.com, Monday-Friday at 8:30a ET and 11:30a ET: Guests include health strategist and TV personality Jay Cardiello (ABC’s My Diet Is Better than Yours), TV host Chris Harrison (ABC’s The Bachelor), and actress Anna Faris (CBS’s Mom)
Acorn TV: Series 1 & 2 of the British crime drama Suspects debut today February 22
Netflix: Fuller House, a sequel series to the ABC sitcom Full House, debuts February 26
Netflix: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny, a feature-length sequel to the 2000 martial arts epic Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon premieres February 26
– Netflix
: Theo Von: No Offense: The stand-up special debuts February 26



has been building toward this for a while now. After months of reports that it was gunning to sell off its core businesses, the troubled Internet giant has officially announced that it will begin reaching out to buyers. Yahoo has formed a strategic review committee for that very purpose. Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, and PJT Partners will serve as Yahoo’s financial advisers, and Cravath, Swaine and Moore will serve as legal adviser. At the beginning of this month, it was revealed that the company plans to lay off 15% of its workforce.
Amazon Studios’ nascent film distribution biz is quickly racking up a prestigious roster of filmmakers, including Spike Lee, Jim Jarmusch, and now Woody Allen. Allen, already slated to helm a new series for Amazon, has partnered with the company to distribute his next film, a 1930s-set romantic comedy. (Amazon acquired the North American rights.) Not much is known aside from the cast, which includes Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, and Steve Carell. As with other films, Amazon will release the movie in theaters before debuting it on the Amazon Prime streaming service. “Like all beginning relationships, there is much hope, mutual affection, and genuine goodwill – the lawsuits come later,” said Allen.


The SVODers certainly seem to be putting the German-speaking market in their sites lately. Coming on the heels of Amazon’s recent moves in the region (See New Programming + Deals here), Netflix now looks set to launch its first German series. According to the German trade mag Blickpunkt: Film, the as-yet unnamed show’s creators are Oscar-winning producers Max Wiedemann and Quirin Berg (The Lives of Others), along with director Baran bo Odar (Who Am I). Beyond that, little is known about the series, as neither Netflix nor the creators have commented on the report. 
Streamup continues to ramp up its original content ambitions. Just days after announcing that it would launch a slate of five original live productions, the live-streaming startup has now forged a new digital influencer partnership, teaming up with YouTube prankster Ed Bassmaster. Bassmaster will perform a number of live pranks on Streamup, and will also use the platform to interact with friends in real time. Bassmaster, who boasts over 2 million YouTube subscribers, is also partnered with the Disney-owned MCN Maker Studios.
1620 Media, the digital arm of production company Pilgrim Media Group, has partnered with comedian/actor Zane Lamprey (host of Travel Channel/Spike’s Three Sheets) to produce Zane’s World, a new travel series. The series, featuring Lamprey and his wife Mel, centers around the couple’s travels. The series debuted on 1620Media.com, and can also be viewed on YouTube and Facebook. Multiple episodes will debut a week, according to a release.
The self-service influencer platform Famebit announced that it has partnered with the e-commerce platform Shopify. FameBit creators will now be able to launch their own multichannel stores on Shopify, and receive guidance from a dedicated personal concierge. They will also be able to generate donations to charity, and access applications (such as embeddable “buy” buttons) to sell and cross-promote their brands across various digital channels. And brands using Shopify will also have access to FameBit influencers to promote their products through influencer marketing.
AOL announced that it is expanding its partner program for AOL: BUILD, its afternoon web talk show. The company has pas partnered with Sony’s Playstation Network to livestream select BUILD programs through the Playstations Live Events app. AOL also announced that it is introducing BUILD Bites – social-first, behind-the-scenes videos of BUILD guests, ranging from 30 to 90 second clips. AOL says that, last year, BUILD produced 550 segments and garnered 80M views. (This year, AOL is planning for over 700 BUILD episodes.) “BUILD, with an audience that skews younger and diverse (reflecting the talent that appears on stage, from Vine stars Jack and Jack to the cast of the Divergent series) is a natural fit for the PSN platform, which has an expansive, diverse audience,” Suzanne Lindbergh, AOL.com’s SVP of Original Programming and Executive Producer of BUILD, told Cynopsis Digital. “This is only the beginning of bringing BUILD to new over-the-top and social audiences, as we feel there is a healthy appetite for live, in-depth video with some of the biggest influencers in the world.” As for BUILD Bites: “Shorter, snackable videos are more shareable, and perfect for consumption on mobile,” she said. “BUILD Bites provides special, behind-the-scenes footage of our guests, encouraging our viewers to spread the content across social networks – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Vine.”


[CYNOPSIS SPORTS WEBINAR] Virtual Reality: How to Get in the Game
Wednesday, February 24 – 1:30PM to 3:00PM ET
Learn how to leverage your sports content to connect with fans and more!

Derek Belch, Founder/CEO – STRIVR Labs Inc.
Michael Davies, SVP of Field & Technical Ops – Fox Sports
Andre Lorenceau, Founder & CEO – LiveLike VR
Jeff Miller, Director of Digital Marketing – Gatorade




is putting the kibosh on Flare, its brand of digital entertainment services. Flare includes the web vide service FlareKids, the digital storage service myFlare, and the online gaming service FlarePlay. Beginning this week, Cox will begin the process of winding down the services. The company plans for a complete shutdown by this May. “As market conditions within which these services continued to harden, we were unable to monetize the user interest and web traffic to the level we needed to sustain the business,” said Cox spokesperson Todd Smith.



JW Player, best known for its video player, announced the launch of its new Apple TV Builder App. The app, the company says, allows customers to develop customized apps for Apple TV with minimal configuration, no coding, and no extra cost. The cooking-oriented media company Tasting Table was the first brand to use the developer. “The thing that makes this special is that just a couple of years ago, it would not have been possible for a business of my size, our resources and capabilities, to even remotely consider this type of development,” said Geoff Bartakovics, Co-founder and CEO of Tasting Table, in a phone call with Cynopsis Digital. “There’s a new wave of publishers, people who are not coming from broadcast, or the standard crew that you know,” added JW Player Creator and Co-Founder Jeroen Wijering. “It’s the next wave of interesting content creators – the Tasting Tables of the world, or talented people in MCNs. There are brands that just jump directly into video – they’re not advertising, they’re just creating their content. There are all these very interesting areas in video creation popping up – and we want to empower them to play with the big boys.”


The HTC Vive VR headset, created by HTC and Valve, will open up for pre-order on February 29, and begin shipping in early April. The Vive, which will place a heavy emphasis on gaming, will also come equipped with sensors that that can detect users’ movements, identifying the safe spots where they can stand in a room. It also features Bluetooth phone integration, allowing wearers to receive phone calls. The headset will cost $799 at launch. By contrast, many observers balked at the high price of the Oculus Rift when it was announced in January; that clocked in at $599, $200 less than the Vive.


The mobile native and video ad exchange Inneractive announced that it broke the $100 million run rate toward the end of last year. The company also announced that, in 2015, it saw 145% year-over-year growth, including a 178% increase in real-time-bidding revenue (accounting for over 50% of the revenue in Q4), a 196% increase in video revenue, and a 107% growth in ad requests.


As Cynopsis Digital recently noted, Roku completed a $45.5 million funding round in January. The company revealed little about the funding round at the time. But thanks to an SEC filing unearthed by Re/code, a significant new detail has emerged:  Viacom was one of the primary investors. Both Roku and Viacom confirmed the report to Re/code, but provided no further comment. Roku, known for its streaming devices, has raised over $200 million to date. This isn’t Viacom’s first time investing in a company with a digital bent: In October, it took a minority stake in DigiTour Media, a startup that produces live events featuring digital stars.


Entertainment Tonight
announced that, during its coverage of last week’s Grammy Awards, it saw 1.9 million Facebook engagements related to its exclusive 360 videos covering the event. The videos allowed mobile and desktop users to scan the red carpet with their own preferred camera angles. ET said that it ranked #2 amongst entertainment news providers in in-platform engagement for the Grammys, generating 2.7 million engagements across channels between February 15 and February 16 (including native views on Facebook and YouTube).



Join Cynopsis on Tuesday, March 1st at 1:30-3:30PM (ET) for the latest webinar New Social Media Strategies to Reach the Young Demos to get the tools you need to engage young viewers and drive tune-in.

For more information visit: http://www.cynopsis.com/?p=53548 or contact Trish Pihonak..


As of yet, Hulu has lagged far behind Netflix and Amazon when it comes to original content. Granted, given its content partnerships with innumerable TV networks, that hasn’t seemed particularly crucial to its business model. Still, if its upcoming drama series The Path is any indication, the service is set to ramp up those efforts. Its all-star cast includes Aaron Paul, Hugh Dancy, and Michelle Monaghan. The trailer dropped late last week – you can check it out here.

See you tomorrow,
David Teich

Roberta Caploe: Associate Publisher @robertacaploe
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