Thursday, February 16th, 2012

Cynopsis: DIGITAL

Good morning. It’s Thursday, February 16, 2012, and this is your first early morning digital briefing. If you would like to read this or any other Cynopsis editions online, click here.

In Comcast’s 2011 fourth quarter and year-end earnings report, the company said that it only lost 17,000 video subscribers in the last quarter, which was the lowest number in five years. Furthermore, the company brought in 336,000 new broadband customers. However, the company does not expect positive net growth in regards to video subscribers in the first quarter of 2012. In the report, Comcast also announced that revenue from licensed content increased 23% ($305 million) in 2011 over the previous year, which was “primarily the result of a licensing agreement for prior season and library content.” According to AllThingsD, this licensing agreement is a multi-year renewal deal that NBCUniversal, which is owned by Comcast, signed with Netflix last year.


Popular sports website The Bleacher Report has launched four new web series that will premiere on its YouTube channel this week. B/R5 is a daily show that will cover the five biggest sports stories of the day; NFL Draft 365 will feature year-round coverage of the NFL draft; Full Ride will provide weekly window into the world of college football recruiting; and Why We Watch will offer short-form sports documentaries. It is yet another part of YouTube’s ongoing original programming initiative.

The first four seasons of Wainy Days, a popular online web series from David Wain (Role Models, the upcoming Wanderlust) that was produced for, are now available on DVD. The series follows Wain’s (fictionalized) adventures looking for love in New York City. The series, which won David Wain the 2012 NATPE Digital Luminary Award for Best Original Web Content, has welcomed a solid roster of guest stars, including Elizabeth Banks, Lake Bell, Rashida Jones, Nick Offerman, Amanda Peet, Paul Rudd, Jason Sudeikis and more. The DVD can be purchased on Amazon. Season five is currently available for streaming on MyDamnChannel’s website.

Telemundo and iVillage have announced a multi-platform partnership designed to reach Hispanic women online. Beginning in May,’s “Mujer de Hoy” channel page will be rebranded as “iVillage Mujer de Hoy,” and will be populated with bilingual content covering topics important to Hispanic women: food, family and fashion. It will be available on and iVillage. As part of the partnership, the rebranded page’s editor, Jessica Serrano, will make regular appearances on Levantate, a morning show on Telemundo. There, she will report on stories geared toward the channel’s audience, after which she will continue the engage the audience online at and iVillage. The new partnership will include integration with both properties’ Facebook and Twitter pages. And finally, Telemundo’s female talent will participate in iVillage’s celebrity blogger program and will also appear in the website’s video series, such as iVillage 5.

Evolve Media Corp.‘s CraveOnline, a lifestyle website designed for men, has re-launched Sherdog, a website devoted to MMA aficionados that covers every major fighting promotion. Among the notable new features is MMA Pick ‘EM, a fantasy sports/challenge game that allows fans to choose winning fighters, how they are going to win and in what round they will achieve victory. After creating a personal account, users will be able to join public or private leagues with friends, receive expert picks and analysis and see how they rank globally. The revamped Fight Finder provides new fighter metric data, bio videos and fight statistics, while the new Sherdog All Access media center offers fight coverage, an original lifestyle video series, Sherdog radio shows and podcasts, interviews with fighters and more. The redesigned Sherdog will also offer several ad units, along with placement on the original video series, for brand marketers who want to reach the website’s 1.4 million unique visitors.


International Data Group has renamed its PCWorld and Macworld business unit as IDG Consumer & SMB. “Our new name encompasses both our technology brands and marketing services and clearly identifies the audience and marketers we serve,” said Mike Kisseberth, CEO of IDG Consumer & SMB. “We offer products and services for the consumer and small/medium business markets that go beyond the PCWorld and Macworld brands.” The IDG Consumer & SMB group includes a marketing services arm led by its Content Works group, which produces and distributes custom content for clients. In the past year, Content Works has worked with the likes of Microsoft, Cisco, Sprint, Samsung and Toshiba, to deliver content and engage with targeted audiences on IDG sites as well as the brands’ own web properties. As part of the announcement, Jason Snell has slid into the role of SVP and Editorial Director for IDG Consumer & SMB.


FreeWheel has published its latest quarterly Video Monetization Report, which indicated that viewers continue to accept an increased number of ads in order to view long-form content (20+ minutes). In fact, there are now nearly seven video ads per long-form video, which is more than double the ad load from early 2011. In addition, Mid-roll video ad placements witnessed the biggest growth in 2011. FreeWheel attributes this growth to three reasons: more mid-form (5-20 minute) and long-form content being made available online; more mid-roll commercial breaks created within such content; and more video ads per commercial break. The report analyzed more than 45 billion video views and nearly 28 billion ad views, based on aggregated data from FreeWheel’s customers like ESPN, Discovery, AOL, VEVO, Turner, FOX, CBS, A+E Networks and more. Here are some other interesting findings:

  • From Q1 to Q4, video viewing grew 47% while ad viewing grew 49%. However, the ratio between the two has recently narrowed: by Q4, three-fourths of all digital video content had a video ad associated with it, up from just over half in Q1.
  • The iPad has its own viewing dayparts distinct from other wireless devices and wired/broadcast viewing: an early primetime during the morning commute (7am to 10am) and a second primetime between 9pm and 11pm.
  • Professional video viewing dipped in Q4, partly due to seasonal viewing patterns and a dearth of new, professionally produced content showing up in linear and digital markets.

31% of U.S. broadband households regularly watch movies and TV shows accessed from the web on their TVs, according to a new report from Parks Associates. In addition, Park finds that the sale of digital video media receivers, such as Apple TV and Roku, were strong this past holiday season, with a penetration of nearly 13% of U.S. broadband households. It highlights a growing trend in nontraditional approaches to viewing video, as Park estimates that over 14 million of such media units will be sold in 2012. “While this trend does not yet frequently equate to canceling pay-TV services, it can mean shaving some premium channels for a set of households,” said Kurt Scherf, VP, principal analyst, Parks Associates. “That is a risk that pay-TV providers must address and a trend that both manufacturers and content providers are following with eagle eyes and plans for defensive actions.”

New NPD In-Stat research predicts that shipments of low-cost Android smartphones ($150 or less) will reach 339 million worldwide in 2015. Currently, NPD In-Stat finds that customers seeking low-cost smartphones only have one option in terms of operating system, Android. Therefore, this is a market for Android to lose as other OS developers might begin to target this space.


Following the recent address book data fiasco of mobile social network Path, Apple has announced that, soon, any app that wants access to its users’ address book data will need explicit permission from users, according to AllThingsD. This announcement followed an inquiry sent from Congress to Apple in regards to Apple’s role in this practice of mobile apps accessing and storing user data without proper permissions. “This incident raises questions about whether Apple’s iOS app developer policies and practices may fall short when it comes to protecting the information of iPhone users and their contacts,” said Rep. Henry Waxman and Rep. G.K. Butterfield in a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook.


Unruly has opened two new offices in Chicago and Berlin, and has hired two new executives to oversee each of the new spaces. Tim Bierman has been appointed as Midwest Sales Director for the social video advertising platform provider, while Olaf Kroll has joined Unruly in the role of Managing Director, Germany. Both Bierman and Kroll have already begun assembling their staffs, and are expected to hire five and ten new team members, respectively. The expansion comes a month after the company announced a $25 million Series A round of funding, led by Amadeus Capital Partners.

Sharethrough has hired Hanz Kurdi to be the social video advertising company’s new Senior Director of Publisher Strategy and Operations. In his new role, Kurdi will be responsible for expanding the company’s publisher relationships and developing Sharethrough’s network of “native” placements for branded video content, which are placements that seek to emulate the site’s actual content, instead of coming off as interruptive ads. The company partners with social web publishers to build these native, non-interruptive brand video placements that “support this shift away from ads to content,” says Sharethrough CEO Dan Greenberg. The San Francisco-based company’s technology is currently being used by many Fortune 1000 brands, including Sony, Microsoft and General Motors.

Outfit7, the mobile entertainment network behind the popular Talking Friends apps for the iOS and Android platforms, has announced that Andy Mooney, the former chairman of Disney Consumer Products, will join the company as an Advisor. He will look to help Outfit7 grow the Talking Friends franchise, and further entrench the company as “pioneers in new entertainment development.” Launched in July 2010, Outfit7 says the Talking Friends characters have been downloaded over 300 million times and currently boast over 90 million monthly active users.

ooVoo, a provider of a free HD-quality video chat service for over 40 million register users across the globe, has made two new additions to its C-level leadership team. Yuval Baharav has been appointed Chief Executive Officer, while Paul Mattison joins the company as its new Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer. ooVoo’s former CEO, Philippe Schwartz, will remain a key advisor to the company as co-founder. In the coming year, Mattison said ooVoo will focus its efforts on driving user growth, deepening users’ engagement and giving them “even more, and better, ways to interact with our service.”

Itai Elizur has been hired by the Jewish Daily Forward to be its new Audience Development Associate. At the newly created position, Elizur will manage The Forward’s social media presence, mobile marketing efforts and online community outreach. He will aid Bob Goldfarb, the director of marketing and audience development at The Forward, in expanding the audience, visibility and influence of the newspaper and website’s multilingual and multiplatform products through traditional marketing, digital platforms, social and mobile media channels and events.


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CareerFuel is a new website that provides a “one-stop shop” for the information one would need to find a job or start his or her own business. The site features both original and aggregated content, including blogs and testimonials of success stories, as well as original videos; all available for free. The site is the brainchild of CEO AnnMarie McIlwain, who wanted to build a digital platform to provide job seekers access to important information, tips and content on their path to finding a new job or starting a business. “Think of CareerFuel as the cliffs notes for job seekers and entrepreneurs,” says McIlwain. CareerFuel’s executive team includes Marian Melcher Hanson, a former vice president of content strategy at ESPN; Click 3X, a digital agency that has worked with HBO, MSG and BET, among others; and Brad Reisner, partner at Igicom, an “interactive services” company that has worked with Time Warner, AIG, Nike and others.

Later – Sahil
Sahil Patel, Associate Reporter for Cynopsis Digital

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