Curated by David Bloom
My latest column for Tubefilter looks at Brian Robbins, AwesomenessTV and the crazy ride upward they’ve taken since he co-founded the company four years ago. Part or all of it has now been sold, for ever-rising valuations, four times since it was founded. The secret? Focus on building the media brand, not on trying to construct a company atop a problematic business model like being a multi-channel network. It’s an interesting company doing interesting things at the boundaries between digital media and traditional TV and film. -DB
Insights: Four Sales Later, Is the ‘For Sale’ Sign Down At AwesomenessTV?
By David Bloom
In the four years and about four weeks since AwesomenessTV was founded, part or all of the company has been sold four times, each time at increasing valuations, to some of the world’s biggest media companies. Has another digital media company ever had that kind of run?
Building a brand with that kind of fan connection meant a very different path than the MCN approach. It meant creating original, company-owned programming (Awesomeness now owns 800 hours of shows). It meant launching a consumer-products division and creating exclusive programming for on-demand and subscription services (for the likes of YouTube Red and Verizon’s Go90) as well as traditional media. It’s meant creating a new film-business model to finance and market a string of extremely low-budget films featuring social-media stars.
Digital Media, Traditional Media, Statistics
M&E Journal: U.S. Video Consumption & Viewership Trends
By Greg Boyer of PwC
According to a survey conducted by PwC in Q3 2015, 79 percent of U.S. consumers subscribe to some form of traditional pay-TV service and 79 percent of those customers reported that they could see themselves subscribing to cable in the following year. However, of those customers who subscribe to a traditional pay-TV service, nearly one in four—23 per-cent— had recently scaled back the cost of their pay-TV package.
The good news for pay-TV providers is that cutting back does not always result in the complete cancellation of service, or cord-cutting. Customers may trim their cords by “slicing and dicing the 500-channel package into customizable and smaller pieces.” Cord-trimming is an emerging practice increasingly offered by traditional pay-TV providers as a “skinnying” solution for price sensitive and value conscious consumers.
Social Media, Streaming
Instagram Partners With Toronto International Film Festival For Digital Shorts Competition
By Geoff Weiss
Called the TIFFxInstagram Shorts Festival, the competition will invite both nascent and established filmmakers the world over to submit original films that are up to 60 seconds in length. Beginning today, applicants can enter by uploading their films to Instagram using the hashtag #TIFFxInstagram and filling out a submission form here. Applications close on July 20.
The festival will choose 30 finalists to be showcased on TIFF’s website as well as via a dedicated Instagram account from August 8 to 17.
Narrative, Data Mining
Data Mining Reveals the Six Basic Emotional Arcs of Storytelling
By Emerging Technology for MIT Tech Review
These guys have used sentiment analysis to map the emotional arcs of over 1,700 stories and then used data-mining techniques to reveal the most common arcs. “We find a set of six core trajectories which form the building blocks of complex narratives,” they say.
Their method is straightforward. The idea behind sentiment analysis is that words have a positive or negative emotional impact. So words can be a measure of the emotional valence of the text and how it changes from moment to moment. So measuring the shape of the story arc is simply a question of assessing the emotional polarity of a story at each instant and how it changes.
Digital Media, Mobile, ECommerce
Meet MikMak, the Mobile Shopping Network That Sells Via Video
By Elizabeth Holmes
MikMak, a Brooklyn, N.Y., startup, wants to be a television shopping network for phone-obsessed millennials. It hopes to entertain them through a steady stream of 30-second advertising spots it calls “minimercials” on its iPhone app. Users can then click and buy what they see.
Digital Media, ECommerce
HGTV and Food Network’s New Amazon TV Apps Let You Shop With Your Remote
By Christopher Heine
The apps let viewers browse products in a small window on their TV screens without interrupting the videos. Amazon Fire viewers can tap the “view all products” icon on the screen to see product details, select their shipping preference and buy the items they want. Amazon Prime members can log in to their Fire TV accounts and get gratis shipping.
Digital Media, Publishing
Mode Media Does Layoffs at Lifestyles Content Network
By Deborah Gage and Tomio Geron
Billion dollar-valued Mode Media, a content network for lifestyles and brands, is in the midst of layoffs that come as venture firms place greater scrutiny on startup fundamentals. The company has cut about 30 people in the U.S. and is expected to lay off more people internationally, according to people familiar with the matter.
Digital Media, Publishing
BitTorrent News becomes official with hiring of former CNN producer as news director
By Kristofer Wouk
On Thursday, BitTorrent announced that it has hired Harrison Bohrman to run the network, which will be called BitTorrent News. Bohrman will build the rest of the news team and lead the production and planning of the new network.
Bohrman holds three Peabody Awards and an Emmy Award for his previous work at CNN, where he worked as a writer and producer. Following his time at CNN, he worked as a senior development producer at Viceland, the television network that Vice launched last year. Bohrman has also previously helped with the relaunch of In Session — formerly Court TV — and co-created “What the Week with Pete Dominick.”
STARCRAFT: GHOST: WHAT WENT WRONG
By Patrick Stafford
The story of StarCraft: Ghost is a complicated one that spans two development studios, a buyout by Blizzard and declarations that, even though no work was being done on the game, it was never technically canceled. Polygon recently spoke with nine developers involved to look back at the project.
Two Weeks after Launch, Live.Ly Hits 2 Million Downloads
By Saba Hamedy
The app — which was created by the founders of musical.ly — allows users to broadcast their actions in real time on their phones. Just days after launching, live.ly rose to the No.1 slot in the App Store, surpassing Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, Google Maps and Instagram.
Social Media, Advertising
Twitter Moments fails to gain traction with advertisers
By Garrett Sloane
Twitter’s Moments moment seems to have passed, as advertisers have lost whatever enthusiasm they once had for the feature. Advertisers say that Twitter has asked too much money for ads in the curated section of the site dedicated to trending tweets.
“A lot of the media spend Twitter used to be getting is going to Snapchat,” said one digital ad executive.
Brands, Influencers, Advertising
Mountain Dew Partners With YouTubers, Launches Its Own Multichannel Network
By Abigail Abesamis
The company looks to partner with “culturally relevant influencers” to create YouTube content in categories important to the brand, such as action sports, basketball, art, music, and gaming. Dancer Dominic “D-Trix” Sandoval, basketball influencer Grayson “The Professor” Boucher, and skateboarders Josh Katz and Nigel Alexander are already signed on
MCNs, Advertising, Personnel
Studio71 Names Advertising Veteran Matt Seiler President Of Marketing Solutions
By Geoff Weiss
Seiler most recently served as chairman of IPG Media Brands, a global media marketing agency, and, before that, president and CEO of communications agency PHD.
Studio71, formerly known as Collective Digital Studio, features a roster of bold-faced creators including Lilly Singh, Rhett And Link, Logan Paul, Shay Mitchell, Matthew Santoro, Flula Borg, Epic Meal Time, and Roman Atwood. Most recently, the company announced it would launch a YouTube channel with semi-retired professional wrestler Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson on July 18. Studio71 says its 1,200 total channels drive roughly 5 billion monthly views.
UX, Consumer Experiences
Expectations Vs. Experience: The Good, The Bad, The Opportunity
By Accenture and Forrester
The bad. Companies are complacent with incremental improvements in their customer experiences, while customer expectations are growing at a lightning pace. Customers’ expectations are driven by their best experiences — not their averages ones — yet brands think that they’re succeeding by being in the middle of the pack. Enterprises lack many components of a CX strategy that will wow their customers. Some of the biggest deltas lie in their executive sponsorship, agility, analytics, and partnerships.
The opportunity. Our study indicates that there are still areas that no one has mastered. Everyone, including the CX high performers, recognize a wealth of opportunities to advance their experience transformation efforts, especially in the areas of people and skills, engaging customers, and optimizing metrics.
Messaging, Digital Tsunamis
Mossberg: The tyranny of messaging and notifications
By Walt Mossberg
These days, messages come at me from so many directions that it’s incredibly distracting and even harder to deal with. Friends, co-workers, business acquaintances and strangers contact me on multiple siloed services, which can signal subtle shades of immediacy or weight. And when I have to reach someone with something important and time-sensitive, I often wind up resorting to two or more similar but independent pathways, because I’m never sure which one will be likelier to work, since he or she is under a similar assault.
Advertising, Traditional Media, Digital Media
Make the TV Commercials Stop
20th Century Advertising in the 21st Century
By M.G. Siegler
But the real issue is something Thompson brings up that I hadn’t really considered before. We all know that advertising is undergoing a major shift as more and more dollars and eyeballs move online (both the web in general, of course, but increasingly mobile, mobile, mobile, in particular). But there’s a flip-side that is also true, and arguably more transformative: the advertisers themselves aren’t really changing. They’re all 20th century brands. And each of those brands is under assault by some “internet business” in some way.
Fintech, Investing, Bitcoin
The Fintech Bubble
By Joi Ito
…the industry is out over its skis. Over a billion dollars have been invested in Bitcoin and Fintech startups, tracking and exceeding investment in Internet investments in 1996. Looking at many of the businesses, they look like startups during that period, but instead of pets.com, we have blockchain for X. I don’t think today’s blockchain is the Internet in 1996 – it’s probably more like the Internet in 1990 or the late 80’s – we haven’t agreed on the IP protocol and there is no Cisco or PSINet.
Amazon Wants People to Pay for Podcasts
By Joshua Brustein
Starting today, you can have access to a far smaller slate of podcasts for a few bucks a month over at Audible, the audio books service owned by Amazon. Audible is betting that avid podcast fans will pay $4.95 per month for Channels, an exclusive selection of ad-free original podcasts, comedy performances, and audio renditions of written articles. The subscription is free for current Audible members.
Podcast of Note
Online Publishers Must Diversify Traffic Sources, Says About.com CEO
By Jack Marshall
“If you’re a publisher, now the first thing you have to recognize is that you have no friends; you have frenemies,” Mr. Vogel said on this week’s WSJ Media Mix podcast “Google is your friend until it’s not. Facebook is your friend until it’s not.”
Conferences of Note
New York Media Festival, Sept. 26 to Sept. 29, New York, http://mefest.com