05/19/17: FCC opens debate on net neutrality rules

Good morning. It’s Friday May 19, 2017 and this is your your first early morning Digital briefing!

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Here’s how it starts. Ajit Pai’s FCC just voted to open debate on the agency’s net neutrality regulations. While the vote doesn’t immediately repeal the FCC’s strict 2015 rules, it does kickstart a public commenting period in which advocates and interest groups can file their thoughts with the agency. Specifically, the FCC will review a proposal to undo the Title II designation used to enforce its open-internet rules on ISPs, as well as the question of whether the agency should enforce any net neutrality rules at all. The comment period will likely last for several months, but when it closes – probably later this year – the FCC will finalize a proposal and take a vote. At that point, it’s overwhelmingly likely that the 2015 Open Internet Order will be largely or wholly erased from the books.
Looks like Twitter isn’t the only social media giant inking high-profile live video pacts. In a new deal with Major League Baseball, Facebook will live-stream 20 free MLB games during the 2017 season. The games, which Facebook will broadcast on Friday nights, will be available to all U.S. users. The first game to stream under the pact will be tonight’s match-up between the Colorado Rockies and Cincinnati Reds. Subsequent games haven’t been announced just yet.
Facebook is also embracing sports of the electronic variety. ESL, the world’s largest eSports company, announced that, in the coming months, it will stream more than 5,500 hours of exclusive content on Facebook. 1,500 of those hours will be exclusive to Facebook’s platform. Most of the exclusive content will come from ESL’s Rank S, a competitive division focused on Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Facebook-exclusive content will include a weekly-half hour show devoted to CS:GO highlights and analysis. Twitter inked a similar deal with ESL (along with eSports company DreamHack) earlier this year, committing to 1,500 hours of live-streamed eSports content in 2017.
In other live video news, YouTube is taking steps to make live-streaming capabilities accessible to more users. Specifically, the video giant is eliminating the requirement that live-streamers have 1,000 or more subscribers. Still, restrictions remain: The feature will only be accessible to verified channels, and will be off-limits to any channels that have faced live-streaming restrictions within the past 90 days. The news was first reported by Android Police.
Patreon , a membership services company that’s widely used by YouTubers, musicians and podcasters, announced that it’s on track to pay more than $150 million to publishers this year. The company says that over one million patrons are currently using the platform to donate to their favorite artists.

Gain a winning social good marketing strategy on Tuesday
Join us for Tuesday’s webinar, How to Program & Market a Winning Social Good Strategy, and get exclusive advice on determining which issues will be meaningful to your target audience. This timely webinar features Young & Rubicam’s Shelly Diamond, Chief Client Officer and Belle Frank, Chief Strategy Officer, and from AT&T, we’ll have Brynne Dunn Jones, Senior Manager of Corporate Social Responsibility. 
In other Major League Baseball news, the league is about to launch new 360-degree video features. Come June 1, MLB’s At Bat app will feature a VR mode. Users will be able to access features such as a 3D strike-zone cube that sits directly in front of them, and a collection of 360-degree on-demand videos. Live games still won’t be available for 360-degree viewing. The feature will first be available for Android smartphones and Google Daydream headsets.
At its I/O developers conference, Google announced some new updates to its mobile-based Daydream VR platform. Along with the next version of Android (code-named Android O), Daydream will be updated to support Google’s Chromecast streaming device. In other words, Daydream users will be able to display their VR experiences on a nearby TV set for other viewers to watch.
Google ’s YouTube also has some new plans for 360-degree video.  Google announced that YouTube will soon support 360-degree video for social watch parties, enabling as many as three users to watch a 360-degree video at the same time. Users will appear as customized avatars in shared rooms; voice chat features will let them talk about the videos in real-time. The update is slated to roll out later this year.
Verizon has dipped another toe in the digital entertainment waters. Verizon Ventures, the telco’s venture capital arm, just led a new funding round for female-oriented digital media company Brit + Co. Brit + Co announced that it raised $15 million in total, bringing its fundraising to $45 million to date. The company says it will use the funding for advertising, merchandising initiatives, new online classes, and expanded editorial coverage. In addition, Brit + Co announced that Jeff Jones, Uber’s former President, will be joining the company as an advisor.  
The music video service Vevo has revamped its Apple TV app. The update, which starts rolling out today, places a greater emphasis on curated playlists. The curation will vary based on context (e.g., the app might suggest different music videos based on the date or the time of day). The app also adds new personalization features, allowing it to learn from users over time in order to better tailor its content recommendations. The new features are somewhat similar to the updates Vevo made to its iOS app earlier this year.
Cross-device marketing technology company Tapad has partnered with Resonate, a provider of real-time consumer intelligence solutions. Under the partnership, Resonate will use Tapad’s proprietary Device Graph to gain a deeper understanding of its mobile app audiences. The goal, Resonate says, is to provide brands with a more direct connection to their intended customers.
If you saw the film Get Out this year, then you’re familiar with Daniel Kaluuya, who played the lead role. He also starred in one of the best episodes of Black Mirror. (In the latter role he uses his native English accent.) Which episode was it? (Email  [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company, city and state.)
Our Last Trivia Questions: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’s  Titus Burgess was credited with a small voice role in which video game? Answer: Grand Theft Auto V. Kudos to Andy Pittma- TAMU/TX, Kelli McCabe-Chicago Association of REALTORS®/IL, Louis Lewow-Lewow Media Group/GA, Susan Nessanbaum-Goldberg-M and S Entertainment/CA, David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/CA, Tom Moore-Kalt productions/CA, and Andrew Bellamy-Producers Guild of America/NY
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HP is getting set to ship a new mixed reality headset. (Well, to developers anyway.) From CNET, learn more here.

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