04/14/17: New NBC deal paves way for local affiliates to make it onto OTT TV services


Good morning. It’s Friday April 14, 2017 and this is your first early morning digital briefing.


Tracking Pixel: The IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) defines a tracking pixel as a 1×1 pixel-sized transparent image that provides information about an ad’s placement. In many cases, a tracking pixel is used to notify an ad tracking system that either an ad has been served (or not served, in some cases) or that a specific webpage has been accessed.


announced a new agreement with the board that represents its independent TV affiliates. The deal paves the way for local affiliates to opt in to NBCUniversal’s distribution deals with over-the-top streaming services like DirecTV Now and YouTube TV. The goal is to make it easier for those services to gain the streaming rights to local TV programming. In addition, the deal provides a framework for NBC’s affiliates to opt into TV Everywhere platforms for pay-TV subs. “We believe that [over-the-top] distribution can play an important role in ensuring the growth and development of local, network-affiliated television stations,” said Ralph Oakley, Chairman of the NBC Television Affiliates Board.
Yikes. As first reported by Politico, Tribune Media has decided to axe its digital news project. The service, originally slated to debut on Tribune.com on April 25, would have included content from Tribune’s local TV stations. The company has also killed plans to bring back Television Without Pity, a site previously owned by NBCU. And Tribune has laid off the entire staff of Screener, its entertainment news site. Josh Cogswell, who has served as Chief Product Officer since 2015, will step down, according to a memo that interim-CEO Peter Kerns wrote to staff. Steve Baron, Tribune’s Head of Product and Engineering, will now oversee digital operations – or, you know, what’s left of them – alongside Larry Wert, President of Broadcast Media.
Facebook announced that Instagram Stories, the photo- and short video-sharing service that it cloned from Snapchat last year, now sees more than 200 million active users per day. Here’s where things get scary if you’re Snap Inc.: As of Q4 of 2016, Snapchat saw about 158 million users a day. Not just Snapchat Stories, mind you – all of Snapchat. (Instagram as a whole sees over 600 million daily users.) This is not a good problem for Snap to have, especially so soon after its IPO. If it doesn’t keep finding ways to innovate and attract new users, Facebook may just wind up crushing it like a bug. That is, after all, Facebook’s goal.


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The TV audience-targeting platform Simulmedia has reached a new pact with Oracle Data Cloud. Under the deal, Simulmedia will use ODC’s to enable data-driven ad deals for linear TV. Advertisers will be able to target audiences based on their in-store purchases using Simulmedia’s Performance TV platform.


Facebook is about to dive heavily into some new VR initiatives. Its upcoming F8 developer conference always shrouds itself in a bit of secrecy ahead of time, but its schedule lists eight virtual reality-related sessions and talks. (Last year? Two.) Subjects include social VR, web-based VR experiences, and VR gaming. Some folks are also speculating that Facebook may use the event to highlight its hardware efforts, giving developers a taste of a new prototype standalone headset. The company announced last October that it was working on such a headset – one that would combine the portability of the Samsung Gear VR with the high-end quality of the Oculus Rift. The company showed off a very early prototype back then, but according to Variety, Facebook’s Oculus has been working on a newer version.


Hulu’s live TV service is almost here – and it’s reportedly got a price tag. According to sources who spoke to TechCruch, the service will cost $39.99 per month. (It’s always possible that Hulu, as other services have done, will ultimate choose to offer more than one pricing tier.) The $39.99-per-month subscription will reportedly include ads. Back in January, Hulu guaranteed that it would charge less than $40 for its TV service. If TechCrunch’s report is accurate, then it looks like Hulu kept its promise by literally one cent. The $39.99 price would be more expensive than any of the entry-level plans offered by Hulu’s major competitors. It is worth noting, though, that the service will come equipped with Hulu’s existing on-demand content.
As it prepares to launch a massive new area of its business, it’s probably not a coincidence that Hulu is prepping a huge expansion of its customer support operations. The company is planning to move its customer-support services to a new facility in San Antonio, Texas, later in 2017. By 2018, the company says its customer-service staff will number over 500. Right now, the number is 150, and all of them work remotely. The new operations center will offer 24-hour phone, chat, and email support.


Roku will soon be able to listen to listen in on what content you’re watching – but only if you let it. A new operating system rolling out over the next few weeks will allow Roku-enabled TVs to recognize what content users are watching, and then make content recommendations based on the information. Called “More Ways to Watch,” the service will be entirely opt-in, and users will be able to turn it off at any time.


Mic has made new hire. The digital news and lifestyle startup has named Jonathan Carson its first President. Carson’s past roles include a five-year stint as CEO of Nielsen Digital and, more recently, a two-and-a-half year run as Vevo’s Chief Revenue Officer. He’ll now report to Chris Altchek, Mic’s Co-Founder and CEO. He’ll oversee business development, sales, finance, content licensing, native ad partnerships, and other initiatives.
Time Inc. has named Lori Fromm as its new VP of Brand Sales, effective immediately. She’ll be tasked with generating revenue from Time Inc.’s lifestyle brands. She previously served as Head of Integrated Sales & Strategy for Conde Nast’s Glamour and Self.


House of Cards actress Molly Parker had a major role on an HBO show from 2004-2006. Which one? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company, city and state.)


Our Last Trivia Question: In which year did Netflix add streaming media to its DVD and Blu-ray rental service? Answer: 2007. Kudos to Andy Pittman-TAMU/TX, David Westberg-SAF-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/CA, Lorrie Shilling/CA, Susan Nessanbaum-Goldberg-M and S Entertainment/CA, Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/CA, and Christopher Hall-Comcast Spotlight/FL


With our webinars available on demand, YOU’LL BE COMPLETELY PREPARED!
We assembled a panel of top-level executives and hiring managers who provided insight into how to develop the most effect strategy in order to make a smart, successful switch from linear TV to Digital Media.



Are desktop PCs making a comeback? From the Wall Street Journal, learn more here.

See you Monday,
David Teich

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