Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

Cynopsis: DIGITAL

Good morning. It’s Thursday, May 3, 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.

On the last night of the 2012 Digital Content NewFronts, Google and YouTube hosted “Brandcast,” a large-scale event at The Beacon Theatre in New York to showcase a selection of new original channels on the leading video site, provide some color on its content/video strategy as it pertains to this original programming initiative, and relevant data uncovered by YouTube via a study on consumer video trends. The most telling thing, as described by Google Chairman Eric Schmidt during a media conference call in advance of the event, was YouTube’s stated value proposition. Unlike the other companies involved in the DCNF, YouTube doesn’t aim to be a digital network. It wants to be a digital MSO, where it wants to get out of the way and provide a platform for brands and content creators to develop original channels, targeted to specific audiences. Among the highlights from the event itself:

New Original Channels

  • WIGS: Focusing on scripted dramatic series and short films about the lives of women. The channel is the brainchild of filmmakers Jon Avnet (Black Swan, Risky Business) and Rodrigo Garcia (In Treatment). The content on the channel will features the likes of Virginia Madsen, Stephen Moyer, Jennifer Garner, Alfred Molina, Julia Stiles, Dakota Fanning, Alison Janney, and more. The content will also feature documentaries, behind-the-scenes videos, and other unscripted content, all starring female leads. The channel will launch in May.
  • TeamUSA: Also looking to get into the Summer Olympic programming game, this channel from the United States Olympic Committee will include original content featuring 2012 U.S. Olympians, hopefuls, and legends from previous years, as well as instruction from Olympic sport coaches, and historical Olympic Games footage. AT&T will sponsor the channel.
  • The Picture Show: The channel comes from Tribeca Enterprises, parent company of the Tribeca Film Festival, and YouTube partner Maker Studios. It will arrive on the video site later this year.
  • Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn, a new live-action series that serves as a precursor to the events of Halo 4. The show will appear on both Machinima’s and Halo Waypoint’s YouTube channels. It is slated to premiere in the fall.

New Data

  • Men 18-34 are now spending more time streaming video than watching live TV.
  • One-third of men 18-34 visit YouTube multiple times a day; half subscribe to a YouTube channel; and two-thirds shared YouTube videos in the past week.
  • 40% of women 25-49 have subscribed to a YouTube channel; half have shared a video in this past week; and one-third regularly share online video content with their kids or parents.



My Damn Channel has announced its 2012 programming lineup, comprised of over 30 new original comedy series, as well as the return of the critically acclaimed You Suck At Photoshop. My Damn Channel says that every series will have its own destination on My Damn Channel and on YouTube, with all new episodes premiering inside My Damn Channel LIVE, a daily comedy show (4pm ET) that recently launched as part of YouTube’s original programming initiative. It is also available on-demand at both destinations. The studio reports that My Damn Channel LIVE has witnessed strong viewership and engagement in its first month, with a 25% increase in video views on the company’s own site and on its YouTube Channel. Weekly new subscribers, shares, favorites, and time spent viewing have all reportedly doubled since the LIVE show premiered in late March. The company’s original programming lineup for the first-half of 2012 includes:

  • Celebrity Sleepovers: Comedian Mark Malkoff saves money on a long trip to L.A. by convincing stars to let him crash at their place. Will feature guests such as Rob Corddry, Dave Coulier, Paul Feig, Lisa Loeb, Kristen Schaal, Kate Walsh, Steven Weber, and more.
  • Daddy Knows Best: Steve Rannazzisi (The League on FX) stars as a terrible father who can’t stop lying to his wife.
  • Gilbert Gets It: The My Damn Channel LIVE audience tasks Gilbert Gottfried to skewer odd and offbeat topics and internet trends.
  • The Tweekly News: Hosted by comedians Randy and Jason Sklar, the weekly series takes a look at pop culture through the lens of Twitter.
  • The rest of the programming slate: Co-Op of the Damned; The Jon Friedman Internet Program; Kicking Dan Out; Linked Out; McMayhem; Murderfist; Product Displacement; Sing-A-Gram; Save the Super Force (working title); Status Kill – Season 2; and Workless.

Hilton Worldwide and USA TODAY have inked a multiyear deal that will give guests at Hilton brands in the U.S. 24-hour access to customized content from Gannett publications on multiple devices. Types of content will include regional, national, and international news, local guides, restaurant reviews, and tips, as well as personalized access to the user’s hometown news. Additionally, members of the Hilton HHonors loyalty program will have access to online entertainment through the Hilton HHonors Guest Portal, which will be powered by USA TODAY. The program’s tier status will determine the extent and variety of media available to each member, which, upon full launch, will include books, magazines, games, and other entertainment content. Changes to the digital offerings will begin to appear this summer, with a full rollout schedule for the fall.

To celebrate its 30th anniversary, The Weather Channel has launched a new, redesigned website that incorporates social elements to make the user experience more personalized. Among the new features include a background that reflects the weather in a user’s area, the ability to publish how he or she feels about the weather (“love”; “ugh”) on Facebook, as well as the ability to gauge social sentiment about the weather across the user’s local area/community. As is the case with these things, as the website learns of the users personal interests, it will change to deliver more relevant content and information that fit those interests. And last but not least, the website incorporates a new technology that will be able to predict when rain will start or stop.

Tr3s: MTV, Musica y Mas has launched a new blog, dubbed Insight Tr3s, designed to serve as a resource for Hispanic marketers and advertisers to better understand and reach the Hispanic population in the U.S.


Facebook’s highly anticipated initial public offering is set for May 18, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal. In advance of the IPO, which many predict will break all sorts of records for how much money is raised and a company is valued within the tech industry, Facebook is planning to begin its roadshow to pitch its stock to investors on Monday, May 7.

DataSift, a social data platform provider, has secured a $7.2 milllion in a follow-on Series A round of financing from existing investors GRP Partners and IA Ventures. The start-up says it will use the funding to accelerate company growth “in response to the overwhelming demand received for its real-time and historics social data platform.” The start-up offers a big data platform for social data, aggregating social interactions from a wide array of public social data sources, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogs, forums, and online message boards. A recent integration with NewsCred has brought with it the ability to monitor news articles and content, in an effort to understand how news spreads through the social web. DataSift is also announcing its move into a new office in San Francisco.

Vungle, a start-up that helps mobile developers promote their apps by creating video “trailers,” has raised $2 million from Google Ventures, AOL Ventures, Crosslink Capital, and several angel investors. The company aims to address an issue in mobile app marketing: showing consumers how an app works and functions before they download it. The video trailers will show up in mobile apps and are tied to the start-ups in-app video ad platform. Vungle says it will direct the funds toward expanding its staff and building out its product platform. A beta program for developers is slated to roll out early this summer. Its technology currently runs on iOS.


Cox Digital Solutions has launched CDS Mobile, a new division that will sell mobile ad inventory across local media sites and national vertical content sites. Cox says CDS Mobile has partnered with numerous leading newspaper, TV, and radio sites owned by publishing partners, and will provide advertisers with access to vertical content sites spanning more than 20 content categories. The technology behind CDS Mobile will enable clients to deliver targeted ad campaigns using geo-fencing, latitude/longitude, radius, device, carrier, and time of day.




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eMarketer estimates that almost 116 million Americans will use a smartphone at least monthly by the end of 2012. In comparison, that number stood at 93.1 million in 2011. This rise in smartphone usage has brought with it a new type of consumer: the “smartphone class.” eMarketer describes this group as one that defines itself by its connectedness and sense of empowerment through unfettered access to real-time info. “Their phone is their workplace, entertainment center, and their marketplace,” said Catherine Boyle, eMarketer Senior Analyst and author of a new report on this group of consumers. “Their behaviors are rerouting the traditional path to purchase and they are proving to the rest of America that spare moments can be productive ones, too.” One such behavior is that the smartphone class is always “snacking” on digital content, according to the report. Not willing to suffer through boredom, they are always looking for fresh content. For marketers, eMarketer says this rising content consumption means an increasing number of touchpoints through which they can reach consumers.


Microsoft may launch a new Xbox console/subscription package as early as next week, according to The Verge. Through this new product offering, consumers will be able to purchase an Xbox 360 (4GB with Kinect) for $99, followed by a subscription plan priced at $15/month for two years. It would also provide access to the Xbox LIVE Gold service (necessary to access all of that content that seems to be arriving on the console every week), as well as potentially other streaming content from cable companies and/or sports package providers. The Verge says that Microsoft will aim to establish this new offering as a competitor to Apple TV, Roku, and the PlayStation 3.

Google is expanding the direct billing service for Google Play to include all types of digital content. In the U.S., T-Mobile joins AT&T in allowing its customers to purchase apps, music, movies, and books on Google Play by charging them directly to their monthly bill. In Japan, this expansion is available to customers of DoCoMo, KDDI, and Softbank. Sprint will “soon” offer expanded direct billing options.


Brad Elders has rejoined the AOL Sales team as SVP/East Coast Sales. He will oversee sales, account management, and marketing on the East Coast, and will be responsible for building advertising solutions for major advertisers in New York, Boston, Atlanta, and other locations across the Eastern Coast. Elders will be based in AOL’s New York office and will report to Jim Norton, Head of AOL Advertising Sales. The move is effective May 14, 2012.

DirecTV has created a new Digital Entertainment Products division to focus on the satellite provider’s digital strategy going forward. The unit’s responsibilities will include strategy, ideation, and product definition for entertainment initiatives across all mobile, tablet, web, native apps, third-party devices, and VOD platforms. Tony Goncalves will lead the unit and assume the new title of SVP/Digital Entertainment Products. He will report to Mike White, Chairman, President, and CEO of DirecTV.

Encompass Digital Media has promoted Peter Riordan to SVP/Media Workflows and Operations for North America. In his new role, Riordan will be responsible for media workflow systems, process development and implementation across the U.S. coordinating Encompass clients’ media requirements for incoming file delivery, encoding/transcoding formats, asset management, quality control, and archiving services. He will report to Bart Spriester, CTO at Encompass, and under the direction of Bill Tillson, President and COO, Riordan will enhance and refine existing workflows and procedures. Encompass is a provider of digital media services and owns broadcast facilities in the U.S., the U.K., and Asia.


Amazon Studios has announced that it is looking to develop original comedy and children’s programs for Amazon Instant Video. Starting today, series creators are invited to upload their proposals for comedy and children’s programming to Amazon Studios, the best of which will be distributed through the company’s digital video streaming service. Each month, the division plans to option one new project and add it to the development state, where it will be tested for viability with an audience. If Amazon Studios chooses to give it a full budget/run, the creator will receive $55K, and up to 5% of Amazon’s net receipts from merchandise, and other royalties and bonuses. To submit, a project requires a five-page description, along with a 22-minute pilot script for comedies (11-minute script for a children’s show). Within 45 days of submission, Amazon Studios will either extend an option for $10K, or invite the creator to add the project to the Amazon Studios site.

Later – Sahil
Sahil Patel, Associate Reporter for Cynopsis Digital

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