05/19/16: Netflix launches site to help measure broadband speeds; Turner fights back against NewFronts; Google releases specs for new VR headset


Good morning. It’s Thursday May 19, 2016, and this is your first early morning digital briefing.


Device-agnostic: Device-agnosticism refers to the capacity of a computing component to work with various systems without the need for special adaptations. A device-agnostic mobile app, for instance, would be compatible with most operating systems, and might also work on different types of devices (tablets, smartphones, etc.). 


Netflix has a message for you, and it goes something like this: “If you have a streaming issue, it’s not our doing.” The streaming giant has launched Fast.com, a website with exactly one function: measuring how fast users’ Internet download speeds are. Bottom line: if your stream is faltering, and it’s your broadband provider’s fault, Netflix wants you to know it. Now you can.
Google has taken its next step to move past the Cardboard. The company released a spec sheet (you can see it here) for a new VR headset. Like the Cardboard and the Samsung Gear VR, it will be powered by a mobile device (Android only, naturally). The headset will come equipped with a small remote control, which will feature sensors, buttons, and a touch-sensitive trackpad. Instead of selling the headset directly, Google will make its designs available to hardware developers.


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The NewFronts have passed, but the Upfronts are ongoing, and they’ve still got some New in them. At Turner’s presentation at NYC’s Madison Square Garden, the company announced a handful of digital developments: For one, Turner has announced that it will be launching apps for its various networks on Apple TV, Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire, and Roku. And Team Coco, the digital-and-social team of TBS late-night host Conan O’Brien, will create Team Coco Digital Studios, a new unit that Turner says will collaborate with brands on original, social-first content.
Turner also broke some new ground, becoming the first company to extol the virtues of eSports at a broadcast TV Upfront. That’s because ELeague, the eSports venture that Turner spearheaded in partnership WME|IMG, is slated to launch on TBS and digital platforms next week. 
“Five years ago, maybe even less, we were talking about the linear pillars we have, and what digital extensions, what alternative experiences we could build,” Craig Barry, EVP and Chief Content Officer of Turner Sports, told Cynopsis Digital in an on-site interview. “ESports is basically a one-eighty flip on that.  It’s, ‘Okay, people are consuming all of this on digital platforms, the community mainly interacts on those platforms, now there’s a linear platform in TBS that’s a support pillar for the digital platform.’” Barry pointed out that the amount of planned digital ELeague content – 30 hours a week – is significantly greater than what will appear on TBS each week. “[Linear is] a point of entry for a casual fan,” he said.
Still, Turner largely followed in the footsteps of some other Upfront-ers that presented this week, punching back at the companies that championed the reach of digital content during the NewFronts. Turner’s argument was familiar, and it went like this: Unlike TV (or, for that matter, Turner’s own digital platforms), many digital outlets employ misleading metrics that inflate viewership. (“[I]n our world, a view is at least thirty seconds, not three,” said Donna Speciale, President of Turner Ad Sales, during her presentation.)
But the fact remains that Turner, like every other company looking to the future, is expanding its digital footprint. During the presentation, comedian Billy Eichner, who hosts truTV’s Billy On the Street, articulated things well, saying he’d “struggled for 10 years making videos on YouTube, before finally getting a TV show which people watch on YouTube.” (He also joked that, while television isn’t dead, “it has about three years to live.”)
So it’s a fine line to walk: How can a company actively downplay the reach of digital media, while championing its own digital media efforts?
“What they’re saying at the NewFronts is true: The truth is, you need to be on digital distribution outlets to create access to certain eyeballs,” Kevin Reilly, President of TBS and TNT and Chief Creative Officer for Turner Entertainment, told Cynopsis Digital. “I mean, you can see the impact it’s had on, say, Comedy Central. Amy Schumer, Key and Peele, people love them – but they love them on their phone, not on TV. My kids never missed Key and Peele, and they never once tuned in on the air. So it’s a conundrum. With Conan right now, we’re spending a lot of time saying, ‘Okay, his digital audience has exploded, how do we then compact that into our vision of the future, which is that television is a kind of tentpole?’ Because I do believe what everyone said here today, even the guys who started on YouTube: You’re not someone, you’re not premium, you’re not meaningful today and in this universe, until you’ve been on television. Even eSports – that’s a community that could reject this overnight, and they’re saying, ‘This is good for us, this is legitimacy, this is meaningful.’” Reilly likened Turner’s digital ambitions to an effort to successfully create online “tentacles,” which branch off from the company’s linear content. “The profile of our business will look very different in the next 12-24 months,” he said “But, thank god, this year, a lot of advertisers are recognizing they need to be in TV. But it’s a very complex marketplace.” “A lot of clients who moved [to digital],” he went on, “are going to keep their money there. And money’s going to continue to drift in that direction. But a lot of clients have found they moved too quick, and they didn’t get the results. People aren’t putting money in television as a hobby. It’s business.”
The Good Wife may have concluded, but don’t say goodbye just yet. At the CBS Upfront, President and CEO Les Moonves confirmed a new series order for an upcoming Good Wife spinoff. The new series, which will center on Christine Baranski’s Diane Lockhart, will be available exclusively on the CBS All Access streaming service.


At this week’s “Datafront” event, Viacom announced Vantage Intent Powered by Amex, an ad-targeting product slated to launch in partnership American Express. In general, the company took the opportunity to tout the work being done by Viacom Vantage, the data-driven ad unit the company launched last year. Viacom’s data operations, its executives argued, enable the company to do something crucial: Break down people’s most basic prototypical conceptions of large groups, and precisely target specific segments of the population without overlooking anyone. For example, the company cited statistics demonstrating that, contrary to the perceptions of most media professional, huge numbers of college-going Americans went to non-competitive schools, didn’t live in dorms, and pursued diplomas other than Bachelor’s degrees.
Viacom’s message was clear: Advertisers, network execs, and other media professionals – like any other subset of humanity – let their personal pre-conceptions color the way they go about their business. And as a result, their campaigns run the risk of overlooking vast swaths American consumers. Kodi Foster, Viacom’s VP Data of Strategy, shared his thoughts with Cynopsis Digital in an on-site interview. “If you’re trying to get down to a smarter, more thoughtful way of activating the people most relevant to your product or brand, and you ask yourself, ‘How do you do that in a way that’s authentic?’ Well, then I think that’s where we have to go beyond just, ‘Millennials are all like this, and Gen Xers are all like that, and Baby Boomers are all like this,’” he said. “And I think that’s something that needs to infiltrate not just the data science side of what we do in the industry as a whole, but really it has to start from a whole philosophical shift.” And as for a media establishment that overlooks segments of American consumers who don’t fit into the preconceived notions of media professionals? “Trust me – those [consumers] are aware of it,” said Foster. “And what they end up doing – and this is just my POV on the subject – is they become adversarial to what we in the industry are doing. How would you feel about someone who’s constantly ignoring you?”


The digital video advertising company YuMe announced a partnership with Integral Ad Science, the company focused on brand protection, ad verification and viewability data in digital advertising. Under the new partnership, YuMe for Advertisers, the company’s programmatic video advertising platform, will integrate IAS’s Bid Expert, which features suspicious activity detection technology. YuMe says the integration will allow YuMe buyers to collect page, user and delivery channel information in order to detect suspicious traffic.


Advertising Age has a fascinating report on ESPN, which has been getting significant lifts in viewership from out-of-home viewing (think sports bars) according to Nielsen data. You can check out the article here.
Speaking of out-of-home: If you’re not up-to-date on the latest in OOH, you’re missing out on a major opportunity to effectively market to consumers. This Tuesday, May 24, hear from Starz, Kinetic Worldwide, Boingo and Billups on how to craft attention-grabbing cross-platform OOH marketing campaigns. You can register for the newest Cynopsis Digital Webinar here: http://www.cynopsis.com/?p=59401


The Amazon Echo has just met its stiffest competition. A the Google I/O Developer Conference, Google announced the Google Home, a smart loudspeaker that can be used to control devices and ask Google for information. Among other features, the device comes with Google Cast support, making it compatible with audio apps such as Spotify and Pandora.


Comcast lead a $3 million funding round in Spaces, a virtual reality startup focused on developing VR and mixed-reality experiences. Spaces was founded by Shiraz Akmal (CEO) and Brad Herman (CTO), who formerly worked to develop VR experiences at DreamWorks Animation. Other investors in the round included Boost VC, Canyon Creek Capital, Colopl VR Fund, and others.


The Anglophile-friendly streaming service Acorn TV announced four new acquisitions. Series 3 and 4 of the detective series Suspects debuts June 6; the biopic Cilia debuts June 13; series one of the comedy Raised by Wolves debuts June 20; and series 2 of the comedy Very British Problems debuts June 27.
Were you unable to meet yesterdays deadline for the Cynopsis Kids !magination Awards? Don’t worry, we have a late deadline of May 25! Choose from over 50 categories and complete your entry today. 


The digital production company New Form Digital has made some new hires. Sarah Malkin, most recently of Maker Studios, will serve as Vice President, Head of Programming. Jodi Flicker, previously an Executive Marketing Consultant for Warner Bros., will serve as Vice President, Head of Marketing. And Jessica Kantor, most recently Vice President of Business and Legal Affairs for Legendary, will serve as General Counsel.


PushSpring, an app-based mobile audience targeting platform, has made a new hire. Darren Van Norman will now serve as Director of Product, a newly created position. He has previsously held positions at Dimension4 and aQuantive.
The mobile programmatic DSP CrossInstall has named Anuj Kucheria is its new VP of Business Development. Kucheria most recently served as Head of Advertising Sales, Americas at Chartboost.




Conan O’Brien
recently made a guest appearance on the Korean drama One More Happy Ending. The series then made its Western debut on what streaming service? You can find the answer in tomorrow’s newsletter.
Yesterday’s trivia question: The digital media company Fullscreen Media owns a production company known for titles such as RWBY, Red vs. Blue, and Lazer Team. What’s it called? Answer: Rooster Teeth.


Join Cynopsis on Tuesday, May 24 for an Out-of-Home Marketing webinar to learn how to craft cross-platform marketing campaigns that combine OOH and digital to drive awareness, tune-in, and social amplification.

Featured speakers include Dawn Callahan, CMO for Boingo Wireless; Alison Hoffman, EVP of Marketing for Starz Entertainment; David Krupp, CEO of Kinetic North America; and Rick Robinson, COO for Billups.


At its Upfront, CBS released a first look teaser for its upcoming Star Trek series helmed by showrunner Bryan Fuller (NBC’s Hannibal). The show’s premiere will debut linearly in 2017 – but the series will move to the CBS All Access streaming service for all subsequent episodes. You can check out the teaser here.

See you tomorrow,
David Teich

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

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