03/30/16: Vice gets controlling stake in Pulse Films; One by AOL adds viewable video players; Sony set to launch 4K movie platform


Good morning. It’s Wednesday March 30, 2016, and this is your first early morning digital briefing.


Bandwidth Throttling: A company engages in “throttling” over a wireless mobile network when it manually limits the speed of users’ data connections. In the case of video, throttling data inevitably leads to lower quality.



Vice Media really has its finger on the pulse. The company has acquired a controlling stake in Pulse Films, a U.K. production company best known for feature-length narrative and documentary films such as 20,000 Days on Earth and The Witch. Long known as a digital giant, the company recently partnered with A+E Networks to add the Viceland cable net to its repertoire. Upping its involvement in traditional film production introduces yet another layer to Vice’s ever-growing media ambitions.
Pay attention to the younger demos – they’re the future. According to the fourth annual Acumen Report, conducted by the digital media company Defy Media, consumers aged 13-24 watch 12.1 hours of video weekly on free online sources such as social media and YouTube. They watch an additional 8.8 hours weekly on subscription services like Netflix. Combined, that’s more than twice the 8.2 weekly hours they spend watching TV. A majority, 58%, said they don’t mind watching ads in order to support their favorite digital stars. Product placement fares even better: 87% said they’re fine with it. But this might just be the most important bit of the survey: Only 36% of Gen Z and millennial consumers said they can’t live without traditional TV.




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Viewability is a colossal issue for video advertisers – a fact that hasn’t escaped AOL. The company added two new video ad formats to ONE by AOL: Publishers, its programmatic platform for publishers. The new out-stream player will exist in the body of an article, expanding to reveal itself and beginning to play only when over 50 percent of the player is visible on-screen. (Complex Media and USA Today Sports Media Group are among the first publishers to use the player.) Meanwhile, the new in-line player with SideView, which pins a video to the side of content, enables viewers to continue scrolling through an article while continuing to maintain contact with the video content. “Viewability has long been a challenge for publishers and marketers. Consider that 60% of marketers are only ‘somewhat confident’ in the viewability of their ads,” Robert Leon, Head of AOL Public Product Commercialization and Solutions, told Cynopsis Digital. “Solving fundamental publisher problems, like viewability, is, of course, central to our product roadmap for ONE by AOL: Publishers. It’s also important to remember that, at the end of the day, AOL is a publisher, too, so we’re inherently interested in addressing these industry challenges.”


Instagrammers rejoice: You now have four times as long to express yourself. The Facebook-owned photo- and video-sharing app is now allowing users to record and share videos up to sixty seconds in length. That number is up from 15 seconds. The new one-minute maximum, available for both iOS and Android, has been the state of play for advertisers since early February, when the maximum video ad length was doubled from 30 seconds to 60.


Snapchat introduced a slew of new chat features. The app has vastly improved upon its calling features, allowing one user to initiate video or audio calls directly from chats; the person being called will then receive a notification. (Before the update, both users on a call needed to have their chat screen opens ahead of time.) In addition, Snapchat is now allowing users to share brief video and voice clips – or “notes” – within chats. On top of that, the app has added stickers, and introduced new features to make navigating between Stories easier. Snapchat is referring to the update as Chat 2.0. You can learn more here.   
Telemundo and AT&T announced a new partnership surrounding the Telemundo series El Señor de los Cielos. Through Telemundo’s Double Accion app, users will be able to engage with the show through social conversation, offer their own live interactions, and access exclusive videos and photos. The show’s latest season debuted March 28.


NYTVF Productions, the production arm of the New York Television Festival, is launching a new original series in partnership with The Orchard, which funded the production. The Jamz, a four-episode workplace comedy, will premiere April 12 on iTunes, before debuting on other digital platforms, including Netflix, on April 30. “The team behind The Jamz – from the creators, writers and stars, to our partners at The Orchard – are proving that independent TV has arrived,” Terence Gray, Executive Producer of NYTVF Productions, told Cynopsis Digital. “We can’t wait for audiences on iTunes and elsewhere to discover this and future seasons of the series.”


As part of a partnership between Facebook’s Oculus, Turner Sports, CBS, and the VR tech company Voke, the NCAA March Madness final games will be live-streamed in 180 degree VR. The games will be available free to Samsung Gear VR users through the March Madness Live app in the Oculus Store. It speaks to how quickly the virtual reality field is developing that the live-streaming of VR sports is already a competitive space: Fox Sports and the live VR specialist NextVR recently inked a widely-publicized five year sports streaming pact.


Last week, Netflix admitted that, for years, it has been throttling data speeds for its service across most mobile providers. There’s at least one FCC member who didn’t take kindly to the revelation. Michael O’Rielly, a Republican, said in a speech that Netflix’s actions merit a government investigation. O’Rielly did, however, acknowledge that Netflix likely hadn’t broken the FCC’s net neutrality rules.


We’re about to get one of our first major tests as to whether 4K “Ultra HD” video is a significant draw for consumers. Sony’s 4K movie streaming service – called, simply, Ultra – will debut April 4. Consumers will be able to buy 4K movies from the service, which can then be streamed via Sony 4K TV sets. Titles will be priced at $30 apiece. To start, no rentals will be available.


’s new paid subscription service is a go. Dubbed SoundCloud Go, the service enables users to access full albums from indie artists, and to listen to any other SoundCloud content without ads. It will cost $9.99, and initially be available only in the U.S. The music-streaming space is getting more and more crowded; SoundCloud Go will be thrown into the mix with services such as Spotify and Apple Music, not to mention an upcoming Pandora subscription service, set to launch later this year.


Copyright infringement claims are hitting some new heights. According to an analysis of Google data from Variety, the search giant has received requests to strike 213 million links from its search engine since the beginning of this year, marking a 125% increase over the same period in 2015. ABI Research analyst Sam Rosen tells Variety that the spike in takedown requests stems not from a major increase in piracy or infringement, but from copyright holders’ increasingly sophisticated methods – including the use of automated tools – for tracking infringement.


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).
Streaming Only (3/21/16 – 3/27/16)
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 Wikipediapage 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.


The social video analytics platform OpenSlate announced that it has named Andrea Ching as its new Chief Marketing Officer. She previously served as a Senior Vice President of Integrated Marketing at Turner Broadcasting. “Data and advanced analytics are increasingly at the core of how marketing decisions are made,” Ching told Cynopsis Digital.  “As CMO of OpenSlate, I am excited to further our position as the leader in social video analytics and help clients gain greater insight and marketing efficacy through the stories our data can tell.”


The video advertising platform Innovid announced that it has hired Carolyn Bollaci as Managing Director, APAC. Bollaci previously served as Regional Vice President, ANZ for the ad management platform Sizmek. “The set-top box industry is expected to grow considerably throughout Asia-Pacific over the next several years,” Zvika Netter, co-founder and CEO of Innovid, told Cynopsis Digital. “This device growth will cause audience fragmentation and marketers will need new, innovative ways to engage consumers outside of the traditional TV realm. Because APAC encompasses many different cultures, languages, and infrastructures, we made the strategic decision to bring in Bollaci, a local industry veteran who has a tremendous understanding of the region’s digital uniqueness and can apply that experience to TV and video.”
The audio advertising sales company AdLarge Media has named Yvonne Lacey as its new Vice President of Digital Sales Development. Lacey previously served as Media Director for the media marketing agency TWONIL.


Last summer, when 4K video was in its infancy, digital pirates managed to hack through the copy protection of a well-known streaming service, posting an Ultra HD episode of a hit TV series on torrent sites. What service was it, and what series? Find the answer here.


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True to its digital roots, the Viceland cable channel is replacing a not-insignificant number of traditional commercial spots with native content. The channel’s new native campaign – a partnership with Samsung – will heavily focus on virtual reality. As part of the project, Viceland and Samsung will create VR projects, making them available on the Samsung Milk VR platform. Documentaries about the projects will air on Viceland, while 30-second cut-downs of those docs will run in place of commercials. You can check out Viceland’s intro to the project here.

See you tomorrow,
David Teich

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

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