04/14/16: Dish’s Sling TV launches service allowing 3 streams; Fusion to simulcast Chris Gethard Show on Facebook Live; Wikia launches LA studio


Good morning. It’s Thursday April 14, 2016, and this is your first early morning digital briefing.


DRM: Short for Digital Rights Management. DRM is the practice of technologically restricting what users can and can’t do with digital media content. Next time you find yourself unable to download or copy a video or music file – you’re being restricted by DRM controls. For a consumer, effective DRM restrictions can be a bummer. For a publisher, they’re an absolute necessity.


Sling TV is growing. Dish Network’s Internet pay-TV service has launched a new service enabling users to watch up to three streams at once, priced at $20 per month – the same as the single-stream version of Sling. The new entry features a heaping helping of content from the Fox brotherhood, including Fox Broadcasting, Fox Sports, FX, National Geographic, and regional Fox sports nets. The likes of AMC, HBO, Turner Broadcasting, and others will also be available via the service’s base and “Extra” packages. Notably, ESPN and other Disney channels will be missing from the service, at least for now; Disney and ESPN Media Networks are in discussion with Dish, but have yet to reach an agreement.


The Association of National Advertisers isn’t sure it sees eye to eye with the FCC. (It wouldn’t be the first time.) Not too long since the government regulator issued new proposed guidelines limiting broadband providers’ ability to engage in online behavioral advertising, the ANA has indicated it may put up a fight. In a letter that ANA EVP Dan Jaffe wrote to the FCC, he warned of "numerous proposed requirements with potentially complex impacts regarding the privacy of collected and user data.” The FCC has called for initial comments by May 27; the ANA, which wants more time to review the FCC’s proposals, has asked for an extension until July 26.


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The entertainment fan site Wikia recently launched a dedicated content studio in Los Angeles. Video production veteran Anthony Cava (IGN Entertainment, Flash-Frame Productions) will helm the studio as Wikia’s Head of Video. The new studio will develop video content to run across Fandom, the new geek-friendly media destination covering movies, TV shows, and gaming, which Wikia launched in January. (Whereas most of Wikia’s content is created by devoted fans and readers, Fandom boasts an editorial staff, along with fan-submitted work.) In addition to hosting talent interviews and original video content, Wikia intends to use the LA studio to produce branded content. In an exclusive interview with Cynopsis Digital, Wikia COO Walker Jacobs said that close interaction with fans is crucial not only to Wikia’s ethos, but to its business model. “Inside technology media companies like ours,” he said, “there’s a debate around whether to stay in development mode, or whether to launch a minimum viable product, get a feedback loop, and constantly push enhancements and make it better over time. And we very much decided that it was in our interest, and part of our culture, to include the fans in the development process – to get their feedback, see the analytics of what was working and what wasn’t, and not be married to any aspect of it….We’re going through this sort of democratization of content,” he added. The LA studio is Wikia’s second – though the first studio, located in San Francisco, largely focuses on gaming content, Jacobs said. So how does the new studio factor in to Wikia’s plans? “We want to be a place where talent is coming through to speak directly to the fans,” Jacobs said. “That’s primarily how we use our studio. I can also see a time when we’ll produce shows.” And as for monetization? “We feel that we can help marketers in a really authentic, passion-based and unique way…Fandom gives us a place where we can launch native formats, branded entertainment, tentpoles, and custom content, and then use the scale of Wikia to activate the content.”


The millennial-oriented media network Fusion will begin streaming weekly episodes of the Chris Gethard Show on Facebook Live. The show premieres tonight at 8pm ET. Lena Dunham will join as a special guest. In addition to a basic simulcast, Fusion will be incorporating tools from Telescope’s recently unveiled Live Studio software, enabling the network to integrate polls, curated comments from viewers, and other features. Fusion isn’t the first cable net to play on Facebook Live. NBCU’s E! network, for instance, is running a live talk show on the platform. Expect more and more networks to throw their hat into the live-video ring. Right now this trend is at a relative trickle. Soon enough it will be a flood.   


iStreamPlanet, the OTT services company purchased by Turner Broadcasting last year, announced the launch of its new Atlas DRM cloud service. The Atlas digital rights management service enables iStreamPlanet customers to deliver media to users across multiple devices, and also provides content encoding and security for both live streaming and on-demand video services. Turner, naturally, will be Atlas’s first customer.
RR Media, which provides digital media services to broadcast and media companies, announced the opening of its new regional LATAM (Latin American) Media Centre based in Miami. The facility will give regional broadcasters and TV channels access to RR Media’s services, which include local ads insertion, multi-format playout, and remote uplink to RR Media’s smart global network.


The Weather Company is taking it to the max. At NAB, the company rolled out some new tools for Max Ecosystem, TWC’s tech interface for broadcasters. Those tools include Max Connect, an interactive presentation tool that makes use of augmented reality, and the addition of virtual sets to Max Reality, TWC’s augmented reality solution. The Weather Company says that Max Connect will allow presenters to interact with augmented reality elements in real time. It’s not hard to see why now’s the time when TWC is letting loose with a flurry of tech-heavy developments: The company was recently acquired by IBM.
Hats off to HBO for somehow making the map-traversing Game of Thrones title sequence even cooler. Hop on over to the show’s Facebook page and you can explore the sequence manually, thanks to a Facebook 360-degree video integration. Just one of many, many examples of networks using VR and 360-degree video to promote traditional linear content.


GoPro has lived up to its brand name, hiring away a long-time veteran of Apple’s design team. Danny Coster, who has been with Apple since the early 1990s, will serve as GoPro’s VP of Design. The hiring comes at a sensitive moment for the company, whose Q4 revenue figures fell 31% year-over-year. The Information was the first to report on the hire.


E.W. Scripps is buying Cracked, but they’re not the only traditional media company that’s unexpectedly thrown its hat into the online humor ring. Which company took a major stake in The Onion this year? You can find the answer here.


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From the start, YouTube Red has had a difficult road to hoe. How do you sell users on a $10-per-month streaming service, when there’s already a free version of that service loaded with eons of content? From the start, YouTube Red’s approach has been to feature premium content starring YouTube’s most popular celebs. Time will tell whether that will be a winning strategy. Next up is Sing It!, an American Idol parody from Fine Bros. Entertainment. (The Fine Bros. YouTube channel, incidentally, commands almost 14 million subs.) The official release date is unknown, but the series screens at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 21. You can check out a teaser here.

See you tomorrow,
David Teich

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

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