Good morning. It’s Wednesday, January 4, 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.
Sparked by pressure from a group of shareholders, Research In Motion is considering a corporate restructure that would see Co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie lose their titles of Co-Chairmen of the Board, reports the Financial Post. Under this plan, independent director and fellow board member, Barbara Stymiest would become their replacement. This shakeup is one of the potential results of a governance review RIM agreed to this past July in order to quell shareholder criticisms over how the executive team was managing the BlackBerry-maker. The beleaguered company saw its market share and stock value dwindle in 2011 due to product delays, poor product performance, corporate setbacks, public relations miscues and the most expansive layoffs in the company’s history. The committee will deliver its findings and recommendations by January 31, after which the board will have 30 days to respond.
Netflix‘s strategy to enter the field of original programming will officially begin on February 6 when it premieres Lilyhammer, a new series starring The Sopranos’ star and E Street Band guitarist Steven Van Zandt. The plot revolves around a New York gangster who enters the witness protection program and is consequently relocated to a Norwegian town called Lillehammer. The first season of the show will include eight episodes and will be available to Netflix subscribers in the U.S., Canada and Latin America. While all episodes will be available for streaming on all of Netflix’s multiplatform channels, it will not be offered via DVD-by-mail. Other Netflix-exclusive original series on the docket are House of Cards, starring Kevin Spacey, arriving in late 2012, and Arrested Development, which will premiere in 2013.
The European Commission has approved a joint venture between Ziggo, Holland’s largest cable operator, and HBO, reports Broadband TV News. The partnership will include six premium channels delivered through the HBO Nederlands brand and could also include the pay-TV channel’s HBO Go service for Dutch audiences. Ziggo’s apps for the iPhone and iPad are already configured to be compatible with live video streaming. No indications have been given on the timeframe for when the service will be made available.
In an interview with Ad Age, NASCAR chief marketing officer Steve Phelps announced that after 2014, NASCAR will end its existing relationship with Turner in an effort to gain full control of its messaging and content. The process has already begun in a way as Turner has relinquished control of NASCAR’s Twitter feeds to the league’s internal team. Furthermore, Phelps’ revealed that NASCAR is currently in talks with a “Spanish-language outlet” to create digital content for Hispanic audiences.
Klout has raised a Series C round of funding led by Kleiner Perkins, with additional investment from Institutional Venture Partners, Venrock and Greycroft Partners. As part of the investment deal, Kleiner partner Chi-Hua Chien will become a full board member at Klout, joining another KP partner and existing Klout board member, Bing Gordon. While Klout’s CEO Joe Fernandez did not disclose the exact price of the investment, a Business Insider report indicates that it was around $30 million at a valuation of about $200 million.
PepsiCo is taking advantage of the upcoming release of Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace in 3D with a cross-promotional ad campaign that ties its Brisk brand to a Star Wars mobile game app featuring Yoda and Darth Maul, according to The New York Times. Limited-edition packages of the bottled drink brand will come with codes underneath the caps. Users can use those codes to unlock new game characters, vehicles and weapons on the new Brisksaber app, which is available for the iOS and Android operating system as of today. As an additional part of the promotional initiative, starting on January 9, the app will be advertised on Facebook, Hulu and via Tapjoy, an app ad network.
In Nielsen’s year-end review of the top online destinations, social media sites and smartphone devices of 2011, Google came out on top as the most-visited U.S. web brand, while Facebook led the way among social networks and blogs. YouTube was the top online destination for watching videos, and it led by a wide margin over second-place VEVO; YouTube averaged 111.2 million unique monthly video viewers versus 34.6 million for VEVO. Smartphones accounted for a majority of new phone purchases in 2011 with Apple holding the largest market share (at 29%) among smartphone manufacturers according to Nielsen.
A+E Networks Digital Media reports that 2011 was its best year ever on record across all key metrics. It averaged 16 million unique visitors per month (up 25% over 2010), and totaled 311 million visits (up 15%) and 1.8 billion page views (up 7%). AETV.com, History.com, Bio.com and the Lifetime Moms Network also set records across all metrics, while myLifetime.com reached new heights in terms of unique visitors and page views.
Nokia’s Symbian operating system may not be dead just yet, according to the latest data from StatCounter. Symbian’s global market share in mobile web browsing went up from 30.3% in January 2011 to 33.6% in December 2011. It was followed by Apple’s iOS, which saw its global market share drop from 25% to 22.6% over the same time frame. Even though Nokia’s operating system has been suffering declining sales in 2011, GigaOm attributes Symbian’s strong showing to the availability of cheap Nokia devices in emerging markets and the fact that Symbian offers a smaller selection of native apps, which prompts users to employ the platform’s mobile web browser more than users of competing operating systems.
Nintendo’s upcoming Wii U gaming console may include a full app store offering a wide variety of apps, according to a report from The Daily. The new app store would be much more expansive than the ones available through Nintendo’s Wii and portable gaming systems, which currently offer nothing beyond games and utilities. In addition, some apps will be available for use on the console itself, while others will be fashioned for the console’s touchscreen controller.
Holiday data from app analytics and research firm Flurry finds that 1.2 billion apps were downloaded globally between December 25 and December 31, 2011, which is a 60% increase over the regular December average (of 750,000). In fact, it is the first time app downloads broke the one billion mark in a single week. The U.S. accounted for almost half of all downloads (at 509 million), followed by China (99 million), the U.K. (81 million), Canada (41 million) and France and Germany (40 million each).
Spanish Broadcasting System (SBS) has announced the appointment of Andrew Polsky as Vice President of Digital Sales for SBS Interactive. At his new post, Polsky will be in charge of driving the overall growth of SBS’s digital media businesses, including lamusica.com, mega.tv and the 21 SBS radio station websites. He will be based out of Miami and will report to SBS’ vice president of consolidated sales, Donny Hudson.
Marc Montagner has been named the new Chief Financial Officer at LightSquared. In his new role, Montagner will report to chairman and CEO Sanjiv Ahuja, and will be responsible for the wholesale carrier’s daily financial operations, as well as investor and stakeholder relations. This isn’t the first instance of Montagner working for LightSquared as he used to be executive vice president of sales, marketing and strategy for SkyTerra, LightSquared’s predecessor company. LightSquared is currently in the process of building a national 4G wireless broadband network.
A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE FROM NATPE
Featuring 250 Influential Speakers from Across the Globe
Russ Axelrod, Microsoft * Rob Barnett, My Damn Channel
Barrett Garese, Blip.tv * Jeff Gipson, Facebook
Kristin Jones, Vuguru LLC * Robert Kyncl, Google Inc.
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Path calls itself a “smart journal that helps you share life with the ones you love.” Essentially, the app is a mobile social network, launched in November 2010 and based out of San Francisco, that gives you access to all of the modern conveniences and sharing capabilities of a social network. However, it provides the added wrinkle of being very serious about privacy. How? Well, for one, you can only add up to 150 friends. And you only see posts shared by friends who have accepted your friend request, and vice versa. On top of that, it notifies you when someone views anything you have published to your “path” (a timeline of your updates and activity) and who that person is. Combine these elements together and Path offers a safe environment in which you are sharing personal moments only with the intended audience. Available for both iOS and Android, it’s free.
A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE FROM CABLEFAX
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Sahil Patel, Associate Reporter for Cynopsis Digital
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JOB OPENING: DIG PROD/BBC AMERICA/NYC: Work with dig team and reps of other depts to collaborate on creation of dig content. 2-4 yrs exp creating websites. Knwldg of U.S. & U.K. ent pref’d. Resume: http://www.bbcamerica.com/jobs/ (1/10)
JOB OPENING: MGR, ACQUISITIONS/Lifetime/NY: Manage acq, co-prods & prgm inventory for Lifetime brands. 2+ yrs exp in prgmg/prod/mktg/dev in a tv/cable environment. To apply: www.aenetworks.com/careers.html (1/10)
JOB OPENING: INTERACTIVE ART DIR/New York: Freelance opportunity to lead visual designs & interactive experiences for A+E Networks corporate website
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JOB OPENING: OPS MGR, VOD/LA: Responsible for managing internal & external vendors & overseeing ops of video delivery to MVPDs for NBCU TV content. 5+ yrs exp. To apply, visit http://www.nbcunicareers.com/search_nbc/ Job# 3691BR (1/7)
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SITUATION WANTED: Jeanne Intile Burns, VOICE-OVER ARTIST/VOICE COACH, Cell: 845-721-9681, E-Mail: [email protected], Web Links: www.castingnetworks.com/jburns, http://jburns.voices.com, www.allegro-music.com (“American Biographies”) (1/10)
SITUATION WANTED: I’M ALL YOURS N.Y. Seeking to Assist, Currently an E.A. to Chief of Dept. 5 Yrs. work exp. B.A. Mass Comm. Contact, [email protected] (1/7)
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