By all accounts, Apple has been making a furious push into the original content space. In June, the tech giant hired long-time Sony TV presidents Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg, placing the pair in charge of its original content efforts. Now, according to the Wall Street Journal, the company finally has a major project in the pipeline: Apple has struck a new deal with Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment, along with Comcast’s NBCuniversal, to make new episodes of Amazing Stories, the science fiction/horror anthology series that ran on NBC in the 1980s. (Spielberg produced the original series, too.) According to the Journal, NBCU’s TV unit will work with Amblin to produce 10 episodes of the new show, with a budget of $5 million per episode. It’s not yet clear which of Apple’s platforms the series will run on. According to a previous report from the Journal, Apple plans to spend about $1 billion on original programming over the coming year.
Speaking of Apple’s original content efforts, the company just canceled some original productions as well, according to Deadline. The Weinstein Company was reportedly set to produce four original docu-series focused on Michael Jackson, Prince, Frank Sinatra, and Elvis Presley. (Only the Elvis series was anywhere near the production stage.) A flood of sexual misconduct allegations against Harvey Weinstein, the company’s recently-fired co-founder, have surfaced since last week, beginning with a wide-ranging report from The New York Times. Those revelations were clearly not lost on Apple.
Netflix’s first Middle Eastern original will be a comedy special starring Adel Karam. The Lebanese comic and actor most recently starred in The Insult, a courtroom drama directed by Ziad Doueiri. The new special – still untitled – will debut globally in 2018. Netflix has been available in the Middle East for close to two years.
Separately, Netflix also announced an upcoming docu-series focused on Italian soccer club Juventus FC. The series, made up of four one-hour episodes, will explore the club’s history since its 1897 founding. The series will also follow the club’s current incarnation; the production team will have access to players during the 2017-2018 season.
APPS + PLATFORMS
Snapchat is launching Context Cards, a new feature that lets users learn more information – or launch third-party services – related to the location of certain Snaps. Users simply swipe up on a Snap that says “more,” and then they’ll see new info and/or suggested actions. The first Context Card that appears will simply display basic information such as place-name or venue category. The Snaps that are included in the new product need to have been submitted to the app’s Our Story section, or to have been tagged with Snapchat’s venue-specific geofilters. To start, content partners for Context Cards include Goop, Foursquare, Uber, Lyft, and several others. Snap hasn’t revealed the precise financial terms, but it’s safe to assume the company has worked out a rev-share deal with the companies.
In a new policy update, YouTube is removing any videos that show users how to install “bump stocks” – the type of firearm attachment that the Las Vegas shooter used to fire semi-automatic weapons at an almost fully-automatic rate. “We have long had a policy against harmful and dangerous content,” a company spokesperson told The Telegraph. The new policy doesn’t appear to prohibit videos in which bump stocks are used – just the ones that demonstrate their installation.
The DreamWorks TV YouTube channel is making its way to linear television – or at least, its most successful series is. Life Hacks for Kids – dubbed Life Hacks for Kids: On the Road in its linear version – will find a home on Universal Kids Network (formerly Sprout). The series will consist of ten half-hour episodes, slated to debut in 2018. The DreamWorks TV channel – a division of the digital media company Awesomeness – has about 3.3 million subscribers.
VIRTUAL + AUGMENTED REALITY
When VR products started hitting the market in late 2015, many industry analysts predicted strong sales and rapid growth trends. But things have moved more slowly than many expected, and casualties were inevitable. Nokia is terminating its OZO line of VR cameras and hardware products. Killing its OZO business will lead to a surprising number of job losses – as many as 310 employees, accounting for 28% of the Nokia Technologies division. (The job cuts will mainly affect employees in the U.S., U.K. and Finland.) In explaining the decision, Nokia cited “slower-than-expected development” in the virtual reality market. The OZO camera, which was marketed toward industry professionals, debuted at a $60,000 price point, which was ultimately lowered to $45,000. Nokia now says that its Technologies division will shift its focus to its digital health products. The company acquired smartwatch- and medical device-maker Withings last year, later folding the company’s products into the Nokia Health brand.
Ellen DeGeneres surpassed 10 billion lifetime views on YouTube, making her the first talk show host to clear the mark. TheEllenShow – the designated YouTube channel for DeGeneres’s daytime show – now boasts 20 million subscribers. YouTube says that it’s the 16th most-viewed channel on the platform.
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 ListenFirst Digital 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 Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Tumblr, as well as most searched for on Wikipedia (used as a proxy for organic search volume).
Streaming Series (10/2/17 – 10/8/17)
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 Facebook, Twitter, Google+, 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.
Tremor Video DSP has expanded its leadership team. (The demand-side platform has been owned by the mobile ad tech company Taptica since August. Tremor’s remaining sell-side business, meanwhile, rebranded as Telaria in September.) Tremor Video DSP has promoted Anthony Flaccavento to Chief Revenue Officer; he’d previously served as SVP of Sales, overseeing the CPG and retail verticals. Abbey Thomas will serve as Chief Marketing Officer; she previously served as SVP of Sales, overseeing the entertainment and auto verticals. Finally, Jay Baum has been elevated to Head of Global Partnerships; he previously served as SVP of Agency Partnerships.
Amanda Chan has joined Bustle, the digital media company geared toward millennial women, as Managing Editor. Chan will oversee Bustle’s editorial direction across all of its verticals. She joins the company from Teen Vogue, where she served as Deputy Editor for the TeenVogue.com site. In addition, Bustle announced that it has promoted Lindsay Mannering – formerly Managing Editor – to VP of Editorial Strategy for the Bustle Digital Group.
Mobile advertising platform AdColony has named Tim O’Neil as its new VP of Performance Advertising for North America. O’Neil will oversee the company’s app install business in the region. He joins AdColony from the mobile analytics and performance-marketing platform TUNE, where he most recently served as Head of Strategic Sales.
Hulu co-produced the fourth and final season of which popular U.K. comedy series? Answer: The Thick of It. Kudos to Andrew Bellamy-Producers Guild of America/NY, Jim Brown-BBC Worldwide/NY, Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/CA, and Lorrie Shilling/CA
Follow-up: The creator of The Thick of It has helmed a number of other high-profile comedy projects – for instance, he created HBO’S Veep. What’s his name? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company, city and state.)