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Good morning. It’s Thursday, December 13, 2012, and this is your first early morning digital briefing.
Redbox Instant by Verizon, the subscription video streaming and DVD rental service from Redbox/Coinstar and Verizon, will launch in an invite-only beta later this month. A full launch is expected to come next year. For $8/month, subscribers can stream unlimited videos and rent up to four DVDs per month from Redbox kiosks nationwide (there is a $9/month option that will allow subscribers to upgrade their rentals to Blu-ray discs). The service will also offer an online store for those who want to rent or buy digital copies of the latest films. Subscribers can also opt for a streaming-only package, which will cost them $6/month.
The joint venture has signed agreements with a number of Hollywood studios and content providers, including EPIX, NBCUniversal, Warner Bros, and Sony, to bring their titles to the service. Films from EPIX’s studio partners Paramount Pictures, Liongstate, and MGM will be available on Redbox Instant 90 days after they premiere on traditional pay TV (Netflix and Amazon, which stand to be the main competitors for Redbox Instant, also have deals in place with EPIX). In addition, new releases from Lionsgate, NBCUniversal, Paramount, Relativity, and Sony will be available in EST and VOD formats.
At launch, Redbox Instant by Verizon will be accessible via the web and iOS and Android smartphones and tablets, as well as through Google TV and Blu-ray players and connected TVs from Samsung and LG. More devices will be announced in the coming months.
Fandango has premiered its first digital video series, The Frontrunners, hosted by the movie/ticketing service’s Chief Correspondent and veteran film expert Dave Karger. In the weekly series, Karger will cover the latest news and commentary surrounding the upcoming awards season. The first three episodes are immediately available via Fandango’s Awards Watch page, a central hub for all things related to the awards season. New episodes will be made available weekly through next year’s Academy Awards, which take place on February 24. Karger will interview an array of celebrities in contention for an award, including Richard Gere, Amy Adams, Ewan McGregor, Hugh Jackman, Ben Affleck, and Keira Knightly. He will also offer his award predictions and day-of-nomination reactions. The Frontrunners is the first of several digital video series that Fandango plans on launching in the coming months.
TiVo Premiere DVR owners now have direct access to content from The AOL On Network. The AOL On app is now available via the TiVo home screen, bringing with it videos from content partners like Reuters, Entertainment Tonight, Gourmet TV, and BBC. The app also offers access to original programming from AOL properties such as Moviefone, Engadget, and the Huffington Post. Overall, it holds more than 380,000 short-form videos.
Hulu Kids is now also available on Hulu Plus for Android. The section, which was recently launched online and on Hulu’s iOS app, offers ad-free, family-friendly programming, as well as parental control features to ensure children do not access content deemed unsuitable for them.
Time Warner Cable has updated its TV Everywhere iOS app to allow users to access its on-demand library of over 4,000 movies and TV shows from 91 different providers. This initial catalog features a mix of HD and standard-definition content. Of course, as it’s a TV Everywhere app, users only have access to the VOD programming associated with their subscription package. Other new features in the TWC TV app for the iPad include the ability to quickly pull up recently viewed live TV channels. The cable provider says a similar update for the Android and PC versions of the app will roll out in the near future, with the launch target currently set for Q1 2013.
YouTube-based video network Big Frame is consolidating some of its top stars and channels into a new brand called Forefront, reports Variety. Aside from YouTube stars such as DeStorm Power and Issa Rae, the Forefront umbrella will also regularly feature content from hip-hop publisher Vibe. In some cases, the company says it will also bring in content from external sources, as long as it aligns with the brand. Next year, Big Frame plans to launch two more branded channels of this nature, for which it might also team up with established media brands, according to the report.
NY-based digital ad company Selectable Media, which powers a platform that lets users unlock digital content and services in exchange for selecting/watching an ad, has itself been “selected” to join the Bing Fund. The Bing Fund is an angel fund and incubator program from Microsoft, sponsored by its search engine property Bing. “This investment will give us access to Microsoft business units and with their support help drive more rapid adoption of our platform,” said Selectable’s CEO, Matt Minoff. Selectable’s roster of clients includes NBC, HBO, Samsung, Wendy’s, and Kraft.
Delivery Agent, a provider of a multichannel commerce platform, has secured a $5 million investment from Samsung Venture Investment Corporation, the VC arm of the Samsung Group. Delivery Agent’s commerce platform, which has the ability to map and deliver products based on a program or ad that’s airing on a connected device, currently serves media clients like NBCUniversal, 20th Century Fox, CBS, Discovery, HBO, Showtime, and the New York Knicks. To date, the start-up says it has processed millions of entertainment commerce transactions related to network and cable content. The start-up says the funding will be used to “aggressively” expand and manage the deployment of commerce apps tied to entertainment content across all connected devices, including TV and mobile. With this investment, Samsung users will also have the option to purchase goods and items tied to the show they’re watching via a Samsung connected device, without having to leave the program.
Telescope, a provider of audience-participation and social TV solutions, has transacted a management buyout and growth investment in the business led by CEO Jason George, with investments from H.I.G. Growth Partners and Moorgate Capital Partners. Telescope is the company behind the audience participation platform first used by American Idol, as well as other big live events like the Sprite Slam Dunk contest and Telemundo’s social TV coverage of the 2012 presidential election. “Our media and advertising clients know that an engaged consumer is a loyal consumer, and are increasingly aware of the need to build one-to-one relationship with their fan base through connected devices and social media,” said George. With the fresh influx of capital, Telescope intends to expand its market offerings to current and new clients. The company’s current clients include the likes of VH1, MTV, MSNBC, BBC, CBS, Red Bull, Macy’s, and Nascar.
A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE
Social Media 3.0 for TV Programmers: Beyond Facebook + Twitter
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Discovery Communication: Pamela Russo (VP, Digital Media)
Ignited: Jessica Chow (Associate Media Director)
Bluefin: Tom Thai (VP, Marketing)
NY-based Dynamix, formerly DynamicVideo, has launched STREAMx, a digital video ad platform that’s designed to customize and syndicate repurposed TV ads across IPTV, online, mobile, and tablet screens. Dynamix says the STREAMx platform combines media assets (videos, existing TV spots) with advertiser data feeds (products, deals, and branch locations) and user data (device, location, weather) to deliver relevant and localized video ads in unlimited combinations. It’s able to accomplish this due to the company’s patent-pending composite rendering technology. Among STREAMx’s other features, Dynamic says the platform supports VAST, VPAID, and iFrame, and also gives clients the ability to swap out new video creative at any time.
Digital ad tech company 24/7 Media is partnering with mobile ad solutions provider Jumptap to give advertisers the ability to purchase a single ad buy across online and mobile screens. In addition to this, the companies will offer a unified campaign tracking across both device types. The new two-screen service is currently undergoing beta testing with select advertisers, with a full rollout expected for Q1 2013.
Agency trading desk Varick Media Management (VMM) has inked an exclusive partnership with big data solutions provider eXelate to enhance the accuracy and reach of VMM’s first-party audience data. Per the deal, eXelate has agreed to provide VMM with access to granular data attributes on “hundreds of millions” of unique users in the US — spanning three audience categories: online purchase intent, household demographics, and behavioral propensity data sets — for the trading desk’s data management platform, The Lens. VMM can then analyze the data and use it to improve its audience targeting capabilities.
Content recommendations platform provider Outbrain has acquired Scribit, an Atlanta-based company that offers brands a content curation platform that allows them to curate long-form content from top publishers on their sites. Outbrain describes the acquisition as a way to help the brands it works with to boost their content marketing strategies, while also driving additional revenue for the company’s publisher partners. It is Outbrain’s second acquisition, following its purchase of Surphace from AOL in February 2011.
49% of media buyers plan on purchasing native advertising in 2013, according to the results of a new survey from Solve Media. Although spending levels vary, two out of five media buyers surveyed said they have allocated more than 10% of their 2013 budget to native ads. For its whitepaper on native advertising, Solve Media surveyed 800 media buyers, agency creatives, online publishers, venture capitalists, private equity firms, and angel investors in the US during September and October 2012. Among its other findings:
- Nearly 60% of media buyers surveyed said native advertising was “very important” or “extremely important” in 2013.
- Seven out of 10 agency creative said user experience is the most important component of native ads.
- Nearly 20% of online publishers said they are likely to add a native ad option to their sites.
- More than half of the venture capitalists, private equity firms, and angel investors that invest in media and ad technology responded that they’re likely to very likely to invest in companies that sell native ads in 2013.
NBCUniversal executive Catherine Balsam-Schwaber has been promoted to SVP/Integrated Media (IM) group, which is a part of the company’s Entertainment & Digital Networks and Integrated Media (E&DN/IM) division. Reporting to John Shea, CMO and EVP of IM, she will be responsible for leading IM’s cross-property, multiplatform marketing campaigns for advertisers, and will oversee IM’s research, sales marketing, trade marketing, and events groups. The IM group focuses on driving strategy, innovation, and creative for custom cross-platform programs across NBCUniversal’s portfolio, and encompasses Women at NBCU, Green is Universal, Healthy at NBCU, and Hispanics at NBCU.
AOL’s Advertising.com Group has appointed Allie Savarino Kline to the role of Chief Marketing Officer. In this newly created role, Kline will oversee marketing strategy to drive interest and demand for the Group’s ad solutions among publishers, brands, and agencies. She will report directly to Ned Brody, CEO of the Advertising.com Group.
UK entrepreneur Brent Hoberman has joined the Board of Directors at Shazam. Hoberman is the Founder and former CEO of travel/leisure site lastminute.com, as well as the Co-Founder of PROfounders Capital, Mydeco.com, and made.com. Shazam says it will tap into his knowledge of the European market as the company looks to expand its social TV and advertising services in the region during the coming year. Recently, Shazam announced that it has surpassed the quarter-billion user milestone, and is currently processing over 10 million tags every day.
David G. Allan has been promoted to Managing Editor Features at BBC.com. He will oversee the creation and development of the new and expanded subject areas on the website, which include BBC Travel, BBC Future, and the soon to launch BBC Autos. For the new BBC Autos property, Jonathan will serve as its Associate Editor. The section will look to offer daily coverage on all things cars. And finally, Allison Busacca has been promoted to Editor for BBC Travel.
Gregg Braff has joined the Digital-Place-based Advertising Association (DPAA) as its new Manager/Member Services. He succeeds Noah Klas, who was recently promoted to Director/Member Services.
A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE
How It Should Have Ended is my current YouTube addiction. The channel, from the website of the same name, produces animated videos that humorously demonstrate how a particular movie, TV show, or even video game should have ended. I found it when watching some videos related to The Dark Knight Rises (right around the time the movie came out on EST DVD/Blu-ray), and have been hooked ever since. There are some pretty great cuts — aside from the one about Christopher Nolan’s final Batman film, there are animated slices of how Casino Royale, Pulp Fiction, and Captain America should have ended. If you watch enough videos on the channel, there’s also a running joke/gag that features Batman and Superman riffing on things at a cafe usually at the end of the video. Even though I found it organically, I could not have been the only one, seeing as the channel has over 1.35 million subscribers and nearly 400 million views. Give it a look.
Later – Sahil
Sahil Patel, Associate Editor for Cynopsis Digital
Denise O’Connor: Group Publisher, Media Entertainment
Diane K Schwartz: Senior Vice President, Media Communications Group
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