Friday, February 1st, 2013

Cynopsis: DIGITAL
02.01.13

Good morning. It’s Friday, February 1, 2013, and this is your first early morning digital briefing.

Today, Netflix is releasing the entire first season of House of Cards, a new HBO-like political drama starring Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright, and Kate Mara. The show also features an incredible lineup of directors, with the first two episodes crafted by David Fincher and veterans like Joel Schumacher and James Foley taking over the reins for the remaining eleven. Produced by Trigger Street Productions in association with Media Rights Capital, the first season spans 13 one-hour episodes, all of which are immediately available for streaming.

A lot has been written in the past week about Netflix’s decision to release every episode of House of Cards from the very beginning, instead of the traditional practice of programming a show to a certain timeslot every week. Netflix argues that the strategy fits with its users habits, which in many cases is to binge on content for hours at a time. The company has also said that giving users the flexibility to watch the episodes at their own pace enables it to evaluate the show’s success differently. Unlike TV programmers, it doesn’t have to rely on time-centric ratings.

To promote it on the service, Netflix plans to recommend the show based on the viewing habits of its members (if they’ve watched a similar show, other shows/movies starring the same actors, etc.). “With Netflix, members can enjoy a show anytime, and over time, we can effectively put the right show in front of members based on their viewing habits. Thus we can spend less on marketing while generating higher viewership,” said CEO Reed Hastings and CFO David Wells in a letter to shareholders within the company’s Q4 2012 earnings report. It’s safe to say this won’t be the last we’ll hear about Netflix’s content and distribution strategy.

~ MULTIPLATFORM CONTENT NEWS ~

While we’re on the topic of Netflix and House of Cards: Microsoft is unlocking the Netflix app for the duration of this weekend. This means all Xbox Live users, and not just those who have a Gold subscription, can stream Netflix content, provided that they’re also Netflix subscribers. The decision to open up the Netflix app was specifically made in support of House of Cards. Microsoft’s Director/Xbox Programming, Larry Hryb, indicated as much via a blog post announcing the decision. “Watch every episode of the new Netflix original series House of Cards premiering Feb. 1,” said Hryb. In the same post, Hryb announced that Xbox Live will offer exclusive Super Bowl-related content from the likes of Crunchyroll, EPIX, Dailymotion, and Maxim. In addition, the Hulu app will also be unlocked, allowing those who don’t subscribe to Hulu Plus to watch Super Bowl ads on the service’s AdZone.

Alchemy Networks, a multi-channel network (MCN) focusing exclusively on urban lifestyle and entertainment programming, is launching on YouTube as a premium channel partner. Comprised of about 30 YouTube channels, Alchemy currently averages more than 1 million views per week and is approaching 900,000 subscribers. In addition to aggregating these channels under one digital umbrella, Alchemy also plans to launch three new original programming channels, Kaleidosocope, FWD Network, and a premium channel in partnership with Kandi Burruss from the Real Housewives of Atlanta. The MCN says it will offer a range of programming, from news and celebrity gossip, to scripted dramas, comedies, music series, and DIY content, all targeted toward 18-34 “trendsetters” and 25-54 African American females. For the launch, Alchemy Networks has partnered with Bunim/Murray Productions, the Banijay Group company behind reality TV series like The Real World, Project Runway, and Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Bunim/Murray will produce content for Alchemy’s suite of original and owned YouTube channels. In fact, it’s already launched three new series: BRKDWN (daily news), Red Hawt Gossip (celebrity gossip), and Lookbook (everyday street fashion).

Today in web-to-TV programming: Two web series from AOL’s automotive research and news sites, AOL Autos and Autoblog, will air on the Speed channel beginning next Tuesday. AOL Autos’ Translogic will air on Speed starting at 10pm ET/PT on Tuesday, February 5. Hosted by Bradley Hasemeyer, the show covers the latest in transportation technology as well as the future of mass transit, concept cars, electric vehicles, and other forms of new transportation. Translogic is AOL Autos’ top show. The second show, Autoblog’s The List, will air immediately after Translogic, at 10:30pm ET/PT every Tuesday. Hosted by Jessi Combs and Patrick McIntyre, The List follows the hosts as they tackle an auto-based “bucket list,” which includes doing things such as lapping Germany’s Nurburgring, driving over 200 miles per hour, and learning how to drift. Each show has been repackaged into a half-hour format to fit the TV model.

UK broadcaster British Sky Broadcasting Group (BSkyB) plans to make its Sky Sports content available on a daily, pay-as-you-go basis via its Now TV online streaming service. Beginning this spring, for 10 pounds ($15.80) a day, customers will get unlimited access to all six Sky Sports channels for 24 hours. This option will be available to non-BSkyB customers as well. It’s designed for people who want access to one-off sporting events like the Monaco Grand Prix or The Masters as well as a day’s worth of action from the Barclays Premiere League, UEFA Champions League, the NBA, the NFL, England Test cricket, and Heineken Cup rugby. For the company, it’s a way to compete with Netflix and LoveFilm by offering some of its most prized assets online (BSkyB has exclusive UK broadcasting rights to Premier League matches). During its Q4 earnings call, BSkyB said Now TV added 25,000 new subscribers in the fourth quarter. That’s half of the 50,000 total new TV customers who signed up for BSkyB last quarter.

Just in time for the Super Bowl, Protagonist, an LA-based entertainment and digital media consultancy, has released a new documentary online about the world of legal sports betting. Directed by Isaac Feder, Life on the Line shines a spotlight on the lives of professional sports gamblers and how their lives are affected by one of the biggest betting days of the year, the Super Bowl. The documentary features one-on-one interviews with a number of sports bettors as well as footage of their day-to-day lives. Set in the gambling capital of the US, Las Vegas, the film also includes commentary from the Mayor of Las Vegas, local sports radio hosts, bookies, and others. It’s available for $4.97 on LasVegasAdvisor.com. Feder and Matt Leshem, CEO of Protagonist and the film’s Executive Producer, are currently in discussions to develop the film into a TV series following the exclusive digital release window.

Newsmax Broadcasting has announced that The Steve Malzberg Show, a new live radio program on SiriusXM’s America’s Talk — XM 166 channel, will also be simulcast in video form online at Newsmax.TV. The show premieres this Monday and will air live every weekday from 3pm to 6pm ET. It will blend breaking news coverage with interviews and interaction with listeners via the web. Newsmax.TV is an online video site that features a mix of news, commentary, lifestyle, and entertainment programming.
 


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~ DIGITAL ADVERTISING ~

DirecTV is FreeWheel‘s newest customer and investor. The two companies have agreed to a partnership through which DirecTV will use a video ad insertion solution powered by FreeWheel for the DirecTV Everywhere service. The solution, which will launch later this year, will let DirecTV insert ad breaks into live and on-demand content on the satellite provider’s TV Everywhere offering. “Being able to offer our programming partners seamless digital advertising will help us secure top content and provide our customers with the most robust ‘everywhere’ product available,” said Tony Goncalves, SVP/Digital Entertainment Products at DirecTV. In addition to the ad tech deal, DirecTV has also agreed to lead FreeWheel’s latest investment round. The decision to invest is being described as a way for the satellite provider to have direct insight into the FreeWheel’s product roadmap as well as the evolution of the TV Everywhere industry. The dollar amount for the funding round wasn’t disclosed.

Adap.tv has launched a new feature that it claims can independently verify how viewable a video ad is in real-time, as well as block any impressions that do not appear to the user. Dubbed Certified Viewability, the feature is powered by a proprietary technology that monitors where video ads appear, verifying the size of the video player along with its position relative to the user’s browser view. The feature then enables buyers to specify whether they want to target viewable-only impressions before the first ad request is sent. The feature is currently in the application process for Media Rating Council (MRC) accreditation, and will be offered at no cost to Adap.tv’s agency, publisher, and ad network partners. The company is also offering six-month free trial to non-customers.

Video ad platform LiveRail has added support for HTML5 video within its RTB solution, according to a report from StreamingMedia.com. This will allow advertisers and publishers to reach audiences across different browsers and devices. LiveRail’s RTB solution also complies with current Video Player-Ad Interface Definition (VPAID) specifications from the Interactive Advertising Bureau.

~ TECH DEALS, MERGERS & SKIRMISHES ~

Eye IO’s video compression encoding technology has received THX certification for its digital HD video quality. It’s the first company in the encoding/streaming business to receive the THX Digital Cinema Encoder honor. “Eye IO is paving the way for higher quality digital video performance, and we are pleased to be a part of it by establishing a new professional benchmark for outstanding Digital Cinema HD video over the internet,” said Chris Golson, THX’s Senior Director/Business Developmen. THX says its new Digital Cinema HD Video Encoder certification program tests 46 critical data points in six major categories, using test material developed by the top seven Hollywood studios. It produces a score that’s designed to objectively assess picture quality. A score of 90 or higher is considered excellent. Eye IO’s H.264 first-generation encoder nabbed a score of 95.528.

~ TRENDS, RESEARCH, ETC. ~

The latest forecast from ABI Research indicates that the global installed base of smartphones will hit 1.4 billion by the end of 2013. Of these, 57% will be powered by Android and 21% will run on iOS. Outside of the de facto duopoly at the top of the smartphone food chain, ABI Research is optimistic about the future of smartphones powered by Windows and BlackBerry 10 (BB10). “2013 should be seen as a relative success for both Microsoft and BlackBerry. For the end of the year, we expect there to be 45 million Windows Phone handsets in use, with [BB10] holding an installed base of close to 20 million,” said Aapo Markkanen, Senior Analyst at ABI Research. Looking at tablets, ABI Research expects 268 million tablets to be in active use by the end of 2013, with 62% powered by iOS and 28% running on Android. Overall, this equates to a growth rate of 44% for smartphones and 125% for tablets, when compared to 2012.

~ EXEC MOVES ~

DailyCandy has hired Alexa Wilson to be its new VP/Marketing. She joins the NBCUniversal unit from Hearst Design Group, where she was Executive Director/Marketing. At her new post, Wilson will be responsible for developing and leading all consumer and brand marketing initiatives for DailyCandy across all consumer access points, including web, mobile, social, email, strategic partnerships, events, and promotions. She will also develop ad campaigns, media strategies, and marketing programs in support of DailyCandy’s commerce platform, including its new designer collaborations series, DailyCandy Collaborations. Based in NY, she will report to Alison Moore, Daily Candy’s EVP and General Manager.

Pete Vlastelica is taking on an expanded role at FOX Sports Digital as its new SVP/Digital. He will oversee content, product strategy, and operations for FOX Sports Digital’s assets, including FOXSports.com, FOX Sports Next, FOX Sports Local, Yardbarker, and WhatifSports.com. One of Vlastelica’s major priorities will be to develop new strategies that align FOX Sports Digital with FOX Sports’ TV properties. He will report to FOX Sports Media Group Co-Presidents and COOs Randy Freer and Eric Shanks.


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~ WEBSITE OF THE DAY ~

Everyone excited about The Big Game this Sunday? I, of course, am referring to Puppy Bowl IX (I wonder how many other people have made that joke in the past week). Well if you’re like me, then I’m sure you can’t wait to plop down on the couch and watch a bunch of hard-nosed gladiators out-adorable each other under the glaring lights of GEICO Stadium. With that in mind, here are some digital/social initiatives being rolled out by Animal Planet so you can enjoy The Big Game in as many ways as it was meant to:

Puppy Bowl Plus: Animal Planet’s teamed up with Yahoo’s social TV app IntoNow to launch Puppy Bowl Plus. Available on Android and iOS devices, the digital experience syncs to the content on TV and lets users access additional videos, live polls, exclusive photos, and CapIt, the app’s “meme generator” that allows users to take a screenshot and add a caption to it.

The Puppy Cam: Exactly what you think it is.

Puppy Bowl Ref-trospectives: An online video series that features Puppy Bowl referee Dan Schachner who offers a “behind-the-scenes” take on his past Puppy Bowl experiences.

Game Day Retrospectives: Highlights of past games and star pups.


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Later – Sahil
Sahil Patel, Associate Editor for Cynopsis Digital
02.01.13

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JOB OPENING: SALES PLANNER/TV One/NY: Prepare post analysis, prepare advertiser’s scheds; create presentations, research; track liability schedules. Exp sales/planning preferred. Visit www.TVONEjobs.com (2/8)

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JOB OPENING: DIR, DIGITAL MKTG/20 CENTURY FOX (DOMESTIC THEATRICAL)/LA, CA: Oversee mktg domestic theatrical releases that touch Advrtsng, Mktg, Promotions, Public Relations/sales  Mgr Apply: http://tinyurl.com/b7o2su5 (FFE0000797) (2/8)

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INTERNSHIPS – These positions are for credit only – nobody gets paid here. These ads are always posted for free, and students work for school credit only. For more information on the specs for posting an Internship ad, email Trish at [email protected].

SPRING INTERSHIP CREDITS ONLY: Intern/NUVOtv/NY: Support Pricing & Planning/Ad Sales Dep. NY Office. Strong comm. & writing skills a must. Strong MS Office Skills req. Must be enrolled in a credit-only course. Resume to: [email protected] EOE (2/5)

SITUATION WANTED ADS, POSTED BY THOSE LOOKING TO BE HIRED… There is no charge for placing your Situation Wanted ad… for more information contact Trish Pihonak at [email protected].

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SITUATION WANTED: MARKETING CONSULTANT: Over 20 years marketing experience in digital video and cable TV. Capabilities include branding, positioning, mkt plan’g, strategy creation and execution.  Contact: [email protected] (2/6)

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E-mail [email protected] or call Trish Pihonak at 888.702.3858 for rates and specs for Job Openings.

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