04/13/16: AOL announces #KanvasLive live video initiative; Facebook to make live video API publicly available; BuzzFeed underperforms in 2015 revenue


What the industry REALLY thinks about the future of TV… We asked. You answered.

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Introduction by Scott Ferber, Chairman and CEO, Videology.


Good morning. It’s Wednesday April 13, 2016, and this is your first early morning digital briefing.


API: Short for Application Program Interface. An API is a set of protocols and tools for building software applications. APIs specify how software components should interact. For a third-party developer to incorporate another company’s software application into its own technology, the developer needs access to the original API.


Live video has been Facebook’s big obsession lately, and it looks like that’s not ending anytime soon. During the company’s f8 developer conference, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that the company will be making its Facebook Live API publicly available. That will allow developers to integrate Facebook live-streaming into third party devices and apps, including broadcast TV feeds, live-streaming cameras, and even drones.
More from Facebook (they are having a major conference, after all): The social media giant announced its new Rights Manager tool, which will let publishers find and take down unlicensed videos and live-streams. You can learn more about the tool here.


In a deal with Demand Media, E.W. Scripps Co. is set to buy the online humor site Cracked for $39 million. (Full disclosure: The writer of this newsletter is an avid Cracked reader. It’s an indispensable resource for history-lovers and pop culture buffs who like their educational reading to be leavened with snark and profanity.)  “There is a ton of evidence that humor is the lens through which millennials see the news,” said Adam Symson, Chief Digital Officer of E.W. Scripps, in an interview with Variety.
Vimeo is hitting the big screen thanks to a new partnership with Spotlight Cinema Networks. SCN, a cinema advertising representative for U.S. luxury and independent film theaters, will incorporate curated shorts from Vimeo’s Staff Picks Channel into its 20-minute theatrical pre-shows. Spotlight and Vimeo will also work toward other cross-channel efforts: Branded content from Vimeo’s in-house Brand Studio will be distributed to Spotlight’s audience, while Spotlight will be able to use Vimeo Brand Studio to create content that will air on Vimeo. “Our new partnership with Spotlight provides valuable national exposure for our filmmakers and brand partners on the big screen in front of sophisticated, urban audiences who enjoy and appreciate independent theatre,” Rich Bloom, Vimeo’s VP of Global Business Development & Brand Partnerships, told Cynopsis Digital.


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Last year, AOL acquired the app developer Kanvas Labs, and in October launched the Kanvas app for photo-sharing and live video. As of yet, Kanvas has been overshadowed by the likes of Snapchat and Periscope – but AOL’s looking to change that in a big way. Hoping to win over both viewers and advertisers, the company is announcing #KanvasLive, a major new push to beef up the Kanvas offering. A cross-platform live video programming initiative focusing on millennial-friendly and influencer-heavy music, social, and cultural events, #KanvasLive will focus on content creation within the Kanvas app, with content set to be broadcast to AOL.com‘s readers and social channel followers. The #KanvasLive initiative will also invite brands and advertisers to participate in custom sponsorships. According to Alex Hughes, AOL.com’s Head of Audience Development and Social Media, #KanvasLive will feature pro-level live coverage of events (for instance, a professional film crew will be on hand for this week’s Tortuga Music Festival). “People want to consume different things on different platforms,” Hughes tells Cynopsis Digital. “We know that what our Kanvas audience wants to consume is going to be different from what our Facebook live-stream audience wants to consume, versus our Snapchat audience. What we’re building out with this program is the ability to amplify across all our different platforms, and really make sure that we are creating content that our users want to consume, where they want to consume it.” So with all this content on all these different platforms, how does AOL avoid competing with itself? “We are shying away from solely creating one asset and then kind of cutting it up and editing it for different platforms,” Hughes says. “We’re building brand-new assets for each different platform.” And that’s what could truly set AOL’s live video efforts apart from its competitors: We’re not talking about a single app or platform, but rather an interconnected collection of owned AOL properties, all working in concert – but not at cross-purposes – as a sort of live video network. 2016 really is shaping up to be the year of live video.


The technology platform Telescope announced that it has launched its new Live Studio, an end-to-end production management platform designed exclusively for Facebook Live. Telescope says that the Live Studio producer console enables users to connect with viewers with tools including dynamic polls and real-time moderation of conversations.
After using nothing but a watermelon and a boatload of rubber bands to break some records over Facebook Live, it’s no surprise that BuzzFeed would want to continue working its magic over the platform. Onstage at the Facebook f8 developers’ conference, BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti revealed that the site is working on a new game show concept for Facebook Live. One possibility, he said, would be turning the BuzzFeed offices into a sort of reality show, letting viewers see what’s going on within the company.


Its nifty upcoming live game show notwithstanding, yesterday wasn’t BuzzFeed’s finest hour. In a revelation that surprised pretty much everyone, the Financial Times reported that the digital media company fell far short of its projected $250 million in 2015 revenue, taking in $170 million instead. The Financial Times also reported that the company’s original 2016 projection of $500 million in revenue has been reduced to $250 million. Without elaborating, a BuzzFeed spokesperson has said that “much” of the FT’s reporting “is significantly incorrect.” The Financial Times story is behind a paywall, but you can learn more here.


Funnyman and TV visionary Louis C.K. recently wrapped a full-season run of Horace and Pete, a series he released directly through his website after producing it without telling anyone. C.K. revealed to Howard Stern that, while the show generated some revenue, it didn’t offset C.K.’s original investment. As a result, the series has left “millions of dollars of debt.” On the bright side, Horace and Pete was beloved by most of those who saw it. The lesson: TV shows get exposure when marketers successfully sell them to audiences. When a series creator goes out of his way to keep his show a secret? Not so much.


The Telstra subsidiary Ooyala, a video publishing, analytics and monetization platform, announced the launch of Ooyala Flex, a tool to streamline video production and distribution workflow. According to Ooyala, Flex maximizes the efficiency of video production teams. “The modular and highly flexible solution connects historically siloed production teams and dissimilar technologies used day to day in video production,” Ooyala said in a release, “resulting in a more collaborative, unified and efficient environment that expedites content production and distribution times while lowering costs.”


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 Series (4/4/16 – 4/10/16)
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 video analytics company Tubular Labs tracked video and platform engagement in the 90 days leading up to April 9’s MTV Movie Awards. Among Tubular’s findings: Views relating to the Awards were more than double what they were during the same period in 2015. The most important trend to be discerned from Tubular’s numbers (and this is hardly unique to the MTV Movie Awards) is that Facebook is doing quite well for itself when it comes to video. Facebook was the top platform for MTV Movie Awards-related video viewing this year, with 18.3 million views total. (It was #1 during the same period last year as well, but with less than half as many views.) The Facebook-owned Instagram – not on last year’s list – came in at second with 5.3 million views. 


The talent agency UTA has hired Sam Wick as an executive within its digital media department. He previously served as the EVP & GM of Maker StudiosEnterprise group, overseeing business development and strategic partnerships.
The mobile advertising and marketing platform Opera Mediaworks has announced a new hire. Keith Winter will now serve as OM’s Chief Operating Officer, tasked with building and scaling the company’s revenue and operations. A former exec at Disney Interactive, Winter previously worked as Advisor and Affiliate Angel Investor to Inspovation Ventures, an angel investment group. “My goals for Opera are to first, continue growing our high quality user acquisition and brand advertising businesses globally on today’s premium mobile-first publishers,” Winter told Cynopsis Digital. “Another goal as COO is to roll out new products and technologies to better support advertisers and publishers transition to mobile programmatic advertising.”


In Louis C.K.’s (under-promoted) web series Horace and Pete, C.K. plays the titular Horace. Who plays Horace’s brother, Pete? You can find the answer here.



Entries are open for the 2016 Cynopsis Kids !magination Awards. With new categories to choose from such as:

Best Guest Appearance on a Kids Show
Best Kids Sports-Related Series or Special
Best Kids Tech Activation
Best Use of Music in a K6-11, Preschool or Tween Show
and more!
What are you waiting for? Enter by 5/18.



It turns out that Conan O’Brien can speak Korean. (Okay, not really, but he’s adorable when he tries.) The out-of-place redhead made a guest appearance on the hit Korean drama One More Happy Ending. In the series, O’Brien’s character visits a matchmaking service – and promptly decides that he’d rather be dating the matchmaker. The series debuts on the streaming service DramaFever this Friday, April 15. You can see Conan in all his red-headed, overly-aggressive glory here.

See you tomorrow,
David Teich

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

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JOB OPENING: SR EDITORIAL DIRECTOR, CREATIVE CONTENT PROD/Viacom Velocity/NYC: Ideate, write, produce, shoot and edit digital videos and on. 3+ yrs exp producing and editing video, ideally with a specialty in how-to content. Full info/apply HERE (4/15)

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