03/17/16: Vice Media expands in Europe; Fandango to launch branded OTT service; Sony PlayStation VR gets ship date


Good morning. It’s Thursday March 17, 2016, and this is your first early morning digital briefing.


Fandango‘s ever-expanding efforts to be more than just a ticketing service will reach a new high point this month. After more than a year of ramping up its original content offerings, The NBCU-owned company will launch its own branded OTT service. On March 30, Fandango introduces FandangoNOW, a movie and TV streaming channel. The service isn’t exactly new: It’s being rebranded from M-Go, a movie and TV streaming service that Fandango acquired in January and re-launched with a redesigned interface. Later this year, Fandango intends to use FandangoNOW to launch various offerings, including “super tickets,” which will combine digital home-entertainment bundles with movie tickets.   
You can’t be a news empire without aggressive expansion. Vice Media has announced plans to expand digital operations in Eastern and Central Europe through its partnership with the Greece-based media company Antenna Group. Vice will launch its online service in Russia, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Slovakia, Croatia, the Czech Republic, and Hungary. It’s already active in numerous other European countries.
is offering customers a free year of access to MLB.TV, Major League Baseball’s streaming service. The offer comes part as part of T-Mobile’s renewed partnership to remain on-board as an official MLB sponsor for the next three years. To gain access to the service, T-Mobile Simple Choice customers need to sign up between April 3 and April 10. The MLB.V package normally costs $110 per season.


Netflix and Chelsea Handler aren’t done with each other. It was previously announced that the Chelsea Does star will soon be hosting a talk show on the service. Now we have some new details, thanks to a handwritten memo that Handler wrote to herself (and that Netflix then published as a press release). Among the details: The series will debut May 11. Its half-hour episodes will run Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. Among other things, Handler’s note clarifies that the show will feature interviews with public figures. You can see the full note here.     
Matt Damon and Ben Affleck are teaming up yet again, partnering with Pilgrim Media Group and Adaptive Studios to launch a new reality competition series on Verizon’s Go90 mobile streaming service. Titled The Runner, the series will center on one individual who tries to travel across the U.S. in 30 days, while the rest of the country tries to locate him. Affleck and Damon will EP through Pearl Street Films, their production company. Though Go90 has been a glutton for new content lately, this is its first high-concept competition series.


The Top Women in Digital Awards Breakfast is ONE WEEK AWAY!

Celebrating exceptional women blazing a trail in the digital media industry. This must-attend event recognizes excellence in digital content, marketing, advertising, social media, and online. Honorees will be applauded during an awards breakfast reception from 8:15-10:30 a.m. on Thursday, March 24 at the Yale Club NYC.

Event space is limited so register your team today!



Instagrammers, get ready for a big change. The Facebook-owned photo- and video-sharing platform announced that, in the coming months, it will introduce a new algorithm that does away with the reverse chronological structure that users have come to know. Instead, things will be more personalized. “The order of photos and videos in your feed will be based on the likelihood you’ll be interested in the content, your relationship with the person posting and the timeliness of the post,” Instagram wrote in a blog post. Notably, the changes won’t affect the platform’s advertising products.
YouTube stars Hannah Hart, Mamrie Hart, Grace Helbig, and Ingrid Nilsen have been named as founding members of Dysh, an app startup enabling users to rate items on restaurant menus. Each will take an equity stake in the company, and serve in an advisory and promotional capacity going forward. The app was initially founded by the parent company Toast Labs in 2014.


In 2016, the VR wars will begin in earnest. Shipping dates for the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive – two of the most hotly anticipated headsets – have already been announced. Now we can add a third shipping date to the mix: The PlayStation VR headset will ship in October, at a price of $399. If that sounds expensive, keep in mind that the Rift will sell for $599, while the Vive will sell for $799. 



What are your plans for a week from today? We have 3 seats left for our Programmatic TV Summit on March 24th in NYC. Grab them before they’re gone and hear from the likes of AOL, ANA, Dentsu, TiVo, The Trade Desk and more.
“I’m honored and humbled to be named one of the Top Women in Digital by Cynopsis for the work I have been doing for the ICON network. As the network approaches our one-year anniversary, it has been amazing to see the growth of our talent and am so grateful to have been a part of the work these creators do each and every day. With this award, I am certainly in incredible company with women whose work I greatly admire and I want to thank Cynopsis for giving me the opportunity.” Leslie MorganVP, Programming for Endemol Beyond USA. Show your support of these superstars on March 24th in NYC: http://www.cynopsis.com/event/2016-twd-event


The video analytics company Tubular Labs has released its list of February’s Top Video Brands and Influencers. Among their findings:
Overall: The top 100 video brands and influencers together generated 37.6 Billion total cross-platform views in February, down 10% from January 2016, but up 163% from February 2015.
Facebook: Facebook rankings were separated into categories: Facebook Publishers and Facebook Personalities. Food content dominated the Facebook Publishers category, with Buzzfeed’s Tasty, Vlechten Met Daan, Buzzfeed Food, Tastemade, and Tip Hero grabbing the top five spots respectively. Unilad (#6) and Lad Bible (#7) also ranked in the top 10, with 573 Million and 550 Million views respectively. Entertainment content posted by individuals made up the Facebook Personalities rankings.
Instagram: Sports and entertainment did well on Instagram in February. The NBA ranked at #1 with 118 Million views, followed by Justin Bieber and SportsCenter at #2 and #3 respectively. At #4, Zach King, the famous Vine personality, is continuing to build a presence on Instagram with 45 Million views and 1.3 Million new followers. Bleacher Report jumped 3 spots to claim the #5 rank with 31 Million views.
YouTube: Justin Bieber, Ryan Toysreview and WWE maintained their #1, #2 and #3 spots from January on the YouTube rankings.


Snapchat has a new exec. Tom Conrad, formerly Pandora’s CTO and EVP of Product, will now serve as Snapchat’s VP of Product. It’s a notable hire, signaling that Snapchat is likely looking to expand its product offerings. Another key indicator on that front: The company has recently hired experts in wearable technology, according to a report from CNET. Long story short: Conrad likely has is work cut out for him.
The social video analytics platform OpenSlate announced that it has hired Matt Kopit as its new Chief Technology Officer. Kopit will help to further develop OpenSlate’s social video data products. Previously, he served as a VP of Technology at Viacom.“OpenSlate delivers an intelligent data solution to one of the biggest challenges facing advertisers today,” Kopit told Cynopsis Digital. “As a technologist, I’m excited to join a team that combines world-class engineering with a strong vision for how online video advertising will evolve.”



Join CYNOPSIS and your peers on THURSDAY, APRIL 7 in New York City at our 2nd Annual SOCIAL GOOD AWARDS BREAKFAST as we honor everything from sustainability partnerships and PSA’s, to diversity campaigns, environmental initiatives, and more. Last year’s event sold out, so book your company’s table today!


As mentioned, the Sony PlayStation VR headset will be shipping this October. Want to learn more? Then check out CNET’s nifty video overview of the product – here.

See you tomorrow,
David Teich

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

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