05/23/17: Verizon/Yahoo acquisition to close in June, followed by new OTT service

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Good morning. It’s Tuesday May 23, 2017 and this is your your first early morning Digital briefing!

Electronic Sell-Through: Electronic sell-through, or EST, is a method of media distribution where consumers pay a one-time fee to download a media file for storage on a hard-drive. Think iTunes, as opposed to Netflix.
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It’s been quite the odyssey, but Verizon’s acquisition of Yahoo is finally expected to close in mid-June, according to Verizon CEO and Chairman Lowell McAdam. McAdam broke the news in Boston, at J.P. Morgan’s Global Technology, Media and Telecom Conference. He let slip one other notable tidbit as well: Once the deal is finished, Verizon plans to use the combination of AOL and Yahoo as a “platform…to test out an over-the-top service.” McAdam didn’t offer any details as to what the service might look like, but prior reports have indicated that the telco is interested in launching a skinny TV bundle, similar to services like AT&T’s DirecTV Now and Dish’s Sling TV.
McAdam’s announcement wasn’t the only skinny bundle news at the J.P. Morgan summit. Viacom CEO Bob Bakish told investors that the company is in “very advanced discussions” with satellite and cable companies to launch a new skinny bundle offering that does away with sports and news. Bakish said the new bundle would cost only $10 – $20 per month.
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U.S. patent litigation may never look the same. The Supreme Court unanimously ruled that defendants should only face patent lawsuits in the states where they’re incorporated. While the case was actually brought by TC Heartland, a maker of food sweeteners, it’s likely to have a dramatic impact on the tech industry. It will now be much harder for so-called “patent trolls” – companies that buy up patents, often in the tech space, just so they can sue other companies – to file lawsuits in hand-picked courts with reputations for siding with patent-holders. For instance, the Eastern District of Texas, which has a notorious reputation for siding with plaintiffs, will likely face a dramatic decline in filings. Cases in California and Delaware, meanwhile, are likely to surge.


We’ll soon find out whether poker is popular enough to justify its own SVOD service. Las Vegas startup Poker Central is getting set to launch PokerGo, $10-per-month OTT service showcasing poker events such as the World Series of Poker and the Super High Roller Bowl, as well as other original content. The service will be ad-free.


AT&T’s DirecTV has added a new electronic sell-through option. The satellite operator’s TV customers will now be able to purchase movies and TV shows, including some titles that become available before their rental windows. Unlike with similar EST features from companies such as Verizon and Comcast, titles purchased from DirecTV will only be available so long as consumers maintain their DirecTV service. In fact, consumers who stop subscribing to DirecTV won’t be able to regain access to their purchases even if they resume their service at a later date.


Facebook’s ‘watch and scroll’ feature, which allows users to continue watching videos (including ads) as they scroll through their News Feeds, debuted for mobile devices back in February. Now it’s come to desktop. In other words, desktop users will now be able two view videos in their News Feeds at once. That’s a significant development for Facebook, as it opens up new lines of ad revenue.


Just how robust is the U.S. virtual reality industry? That depends on how you define VR. In a new study, eMarketer finds that over 22 million people living in the U.S. will experience VR monthly in 2017; the number is pegged to more than double by 2019, hitting 49 million. However – and this is a big caveat – the 2017 and 2019 numbers shrink to 9.6 million and 17.2 million, respectively, if you only count consumers using a VR headset. A majority of VR viewing – if you choose to call it that – stems from 360-degree video consumption on sites like YouTube and Facebook. “VR has been slower to catch on in the US, and will not reach mass adoption in the foreseeable future,” wrote eMarketer PR Director Douglas Clark. That’s especially true for headset-based VR, with high-end hardware-makers like Oculus continuing to grow slowly.

Augmented reality is projected to perform better: eMarketer concludes that AR already has 40 million monthly users, and will reach 54.4 million by 2019. Though again, those numbers include phone-based AR features, such as Snapchat Lenses. At the moment, augmented reality headsets like the Microsoft HoloLens (still only available in its developer-friendly version) barely factor into the AR picture.


SHAREABLEE SOCIAL TV RATINGS: Top U.S. Streaming Shows Overall by Engagement for the week of May 15-May 21, 2017
Program, Total Actions (000), Total Content, Actions per Post (000), Fans/Followers (000)
1. Orange Is the New Black (Netflix) 580, 9, 64, 10407
2. House of Cards (Netflix) 481, 12, 40, 4930 
3. 13 Reasons Why (Netflix) 176, 8, 22, 3620
4. Trailer Park Boys (Netflix) 141, 15, 9, 2061 
5. Master of None (Netflix) 130, 49, 3, 249
6. Arrested Development (Netflix) 128, 5, 26, 2301
7. Sense8 (Netflix) 101, 11, 9, 2039  
8. Gilmore Girls (Netflix) 69, 3, 23, 3480   
9. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix) 48, 10, 5, 567 
10. Degrassi: Next Class (Netflix) 47, 24, 2, 290 
Source: Shareablee Inc. The total actions metric includes the total volume of post-level likes, shares, favorites, retweets and comments. Total content includes all posts, tweets and media posted by each TV property across all platforms. Actions per post metric notes the average e number of actions garnered by each property. Total fans/followers includes Facebook and Twitter and Instagram followers.

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 ListenFirstDigital Audience Rating – TV), the metrics included in the rating capture organic actions that are largely unaffected by paid media. Programs that surface on the TVI leaderboards are the most hashtagged on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, and Tumblr, as well as most searched for on Wikipedia (used as a proxy for organic search volume).
All Series (5/15/17 – 5/21/17)

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 FacebookTwitterGoogle+, and Tumblr, along with Wikipedia page 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. 

OpenSlate Engagement Data for the  Autos & Vehicles vertical, based on the engagement metric for the week ending May 21.
Channel (Engagement) / Monthly Views Total Subs / SlateScore
fulllux (8.5) / 1,810,268 519,543 531
Lorenzo Hamers (8.5) / 147,098  7,364 372
farmer28290 (8.5) /  34,647  5,379  406
GT HAUS (8.4)  43,500  8,546  /  406
Cechaflo (8.4)  406,680 / 46,976/  428
RC TobiasBraeker (8.4)  55,505  9,4066  382
DUB Magazine (8.4)  170,151  120,508  /  405
snowcat  (8.4) /  2,790,245 730,144  573
Revomaxx88 (8.4)  57,150  9,722  394
Supercars of London (8.4) 4,035,974  614,937  597
Source: The Engagement metric is one of OpenSlate’s component scores, and is a measure of a producer’s ability to evoke meaningful interaction with their audience. It is calculated on a scale of 1-10 with higher being better. The OpenSlateEngagement score uses a subset of the data incorporated in the SlateScore to perform a set of unique calculations. It factors in views, comments, likes, and more.



Twitter has named a live video chief. (It’s actually a bit surprising that it took the company this long to do so, given how much time and money it’s invested in the space.) Todd Swidler, the former Bloomberg SVP who helped revolutionize the company’s video strategy, has been named as Twitter’s Global Head of Live Business. Twitter CFO Anthony Noto made the announcement, naturally enough, on Twitter. Swidler most recently served as CEO of ESC Games, an eSports gaming company that he joined in 2016.
Spotify recently hired an M&A specialist. The music-streaming service confirmed that it is bringing on Sheila Spence, formerly of advertising giant WPP, as VP of Corporate Development. She’ll be tasked with helping Spotify to buy up other companies. Spotify says that Spence will officially join the company on May 30, reporting to CFO Barry McCarthy.
Thunder, a programmatic creative management platform for digital advertising, has hired John Huffman as Sales Director. Huffman has previously held positions at Adobe, Quantcast, Rocket Fuel and Yahoo.


The titular character of IFC’s Brockmire first debuted as part of a digital web series in 2010. (Then as now, Brockmire was played by Hank Azaria.) On which website did the character originate? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company, city and state.)
Our Last Trivia Question: Actress Jessica Brown Findlay co-stars in which Hulu original series? Answer: Harlots. Kudos to Louis Lewow-Lewow Media Group/GA, Andy Pittman-TAMU/TX, Susan Nessanbaum-Goldberg-M and S Entertainment/CA, David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/CA, Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/CA, and Anjali Desai-Departure Films/NY 

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It might not seem like exercise and virtual reality go hand-in-hand, but it looks like someone found a way to combine them. VirZoom melds VR technology with a stationary bike. From TechCrunch, learn more here.

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JOB OPENING: ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE/WME-IMG/NYC: Responsible for supporting our clients esports portfolio. Assist with daily mngmnt of client’s esports sponsorship initiatives. Min 1-3 yrs of agency or client-based sponsorship acct mngmnt exp (specific to sponsorship mktg, event mktg) Full info/apply HERE (5/27)

JOB OPENING: LEAD ACCOUNTANT/Comedy Central/NYC: Seeking freelance lead accountant versed in PSL to start immediately on The President Show. 3-5 years of Accounting experience req’d. Please send inquires to [email protected] (5/27)

JOB OPENING: DIRECTOR DEVELOPMENT/Investigation Discovery/MD: Powerhouse devel mind to create/conceptualize high caliber ID series/specials/stunts. Comm & coordinate w/internal & external parties. 7+ yrs exp, Some exp in true crime req’d. Apply. (5/27)

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JOB OPENING: ANALYST, DIGITAL ANALYTICS /CNBC: Passionate, motivated candidate for Digital Analytics team. Synthesize user data to provide actionable insights to key stakeholders. Partner w/teams across orgnztn, incl IT, Product, & Edit to understand stakeholder needs, devise measurement plans & report on site & feature performance. Apply HERE (5/26)
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JOB OPENING: DEVELOPMENT EXEC: For short-term project w/potential for more. Established NY prodco. Generate ideas, find talent. Proposal writing a plus. [email protected] (5/26)

SR PLANNER/Z LIVING cable network/NYC: Immediate opening. Create/maintain sales plans, assisting AEs & SVP w/ sales presentations & projects as needed. 5 yrs’ exp at a nat’l cable network, w/min 3 yrs in a planner position. Exp w/Wide Orbit creating plans pref’d. Resume/cover: HERE (5/25)
JOB OPENING: BROADCAST/IT Engineer/NBCU/East Coast: Support day to day broadcast television, digital and IT/IP operations, Assist with implementation of software upgrades and system expansions, perform periodic maintenance.  Full info/apply HERE (5/25)
JOB OPENING: ANALYST-PRICING & PLANNING/Marathon Ventures/NYC:  Work directly w/heads of sales & pricing to identify key revenue drivers in Direct Response TV AdSales. Must be detail-oriented w/strong data, excel skills. Resumes/Info: HERE (5/25)

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JOB OPENING : SPONSORSHIP SALES e-sports/NYC: Responsible for driving sponsorship revenue for mega esports events (US/Int’l). Candidate should have 7+ yrs of relevant exp. & knowledge of esports space. Resumes: [email protected] (5/24)

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