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Digital Forest Fire: Finding Hope

Digital media is not alright. It’s been an extremely rough week for Mashable, BuzzFeed, Oath, and Vice … everyone except Axios, which just raised another cool $20 million.

Rather than pixels, brands are turning their attention to personalities– CMOs discuss influence-driven, non-interruptive advertising with WHOSAY. Facebook debuts a new app for influencers. And Musical.ly creators are having a billion-dollar dance party.

Let’s not forget the streams of glory. Philo debuted this week. Rumor has it that Amazon will debut an ad-supported free video service as well. An increasingly crowded space, but at least they won’t have to compete with Fullscreen. Whatever, apparently Disney has already “won streaming.” With the happiest place on earth (for the media biz) jumping from digital to TV to OTT to Watch to Snap, the final score is still up in the air.

 

Digital media meltdown: Troubling outlooks for BuzzFeed, Mashable, Oath, and Vice [Fast Co]

Oath is cutting over 500 positions as it strains to fit underneath its new Verizon overlord. Ziff Davis, which owns media brands like PC Magazine, is reportedly buying Mashable for $50 million. BuzzFeed, the media company everyone else looks toward to as a beacon of hope, is likely going to significantly miss its revenue targets this year. Vice too is expected to miss its revenue targets.

 

Fullscreen Shutting Down Subscription VOD Service, Will Lay Off 25 Employees [Variety]

Fullscreen SVOD, a Netflix-style service aimed at younger audiences weaned on YouTube and social media, will be shuttered in January 2018. From all appearances, the $6-per-month service never got any serious traction with its mix of talk shows, unscripted series, scripted dramas, and licensed TV shows and movies.

 

Axios Raises $20 Million to Fund Newsroom Expansion [WSJ]

The 10-month-old media startup plans to increase staffing to 150 by the end of 2018, develop new coverage areas, and expand its data analysis and product offerings.

 

ESPN’s new streaming service will launch in the spring and be called “ESPN Plus” [TechCruch]

From this limited information it isn’t clear if the paid direct-to-consumer offering will be offered to anyone willing to pay, or only people who are already authenticated to watch ESPN via their existing cable subscription.

 

AT&T near deal to buy Otter Media, its under-the-radar streaming video play [Digiday]

Three years ago, AT&T formed a joint venture with The Chernin Group called Otter Media, which would focus on acquiring, investing in and launching streaming video services. The two partners said they committed $500 million to fund Otter Media, which has since served as a digital holding company for a variety of video businesses, including Crunchyroll, Fullscreen, Gunpowder & Sky and Hello Sunshine.

 

Beyond Interruptive: Leading CMOs Look At The Future Of Advertising, And It’s Not What You’d Think [Forbes]

Clorox CMO Eric Reynolds spoke to the benefit he sees from influencer marketing, another tactic that marketers are being asked to look at in place of traditional :30 TV spots. “Influencers can be a major lever,” Reynolds notes, adding that it needs to be the right influencer, someone with great stories to tell about the brand.

 

FACEBOOK’S NEW APP CONNECTS CREATORS WITH VIDEO, FANS AND WATCH SHOWS [Advertising Age]

Cameron Moody, an influencer manager and director of talent at DanceOn, a Gen Z digital media network, says, “It’s important that they’re jumping into the space and updating what it looks like for influencers, especially around live videos.” In addition to the live video controls, Moody says, the Facebook app messaging tool to reach fans from both Facebook and Instagram are an improvement. Now, he says, the creators don’t have to keep switching apps to talk to fans.

People watch Netflix unabashedly at work (and in public toilets, too) [Quartz]

About 67% of people now watch movies and TV shows in public, according to an online survey it commissioned of 37,000 adults around the world.

 

How Linda Yaccarino became the media’s evangelist on fixing digital advertising [Digiday]

Hammering the digital platforms at the upfronts in May, she said, “We don’t get to grade our own homework. I mean, what the hell is a ‘view’ anyway? Has a ‘view’ ever bought any of your products? Has a ‘like’ ever walked into a store?” In September, she took a direct swipe at Facebook after it claimed more 18- to 24-year-old users than actually exist.

 

TV Time, App Startup Formerly Known as Whipclip, Hires Media Vet Carol Hanley to Head Sales [Variety]

Now the company has pivoted: Redubbed as TV Time, it offers a social app that lets users track their favorite television programs across multiple services and connect with other fans. Subscription VOD services like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu don’t release their viewership data, and “we are in a unique position to fill those gaps in viewership data for our partners,” Hanley said. Individual platforms “have information on their own but they don’t have information on competitors. We’ll help them understand that dimensional relationship.”

 

A Facebook co-founder launches a $16-a-month TV service [NBC]

Philo advertises itself as unique in that it carries 35 channels from the likes of A&E Networks, AMC, Discovery, Scripps and Viacom, which are not broadly available in other online packages. The companies will also become equity investors in the service. Other partners include the youth-focused business news channel Cheddar.

 

Disney’s streaming service has won, and it hasn’t even launched yet [The Verge]

Iger announced that Disney is developing a series of original television shows for its upcoming video streaming service. They include a live-action Star Wars television series, a new Marvel show, and programs based on High School Musical and Pixar’s Monsters, Inc. franchise.

 

How Crunchyroll is helping build a bundle for niche streaming channels [Digiday]

Crunchyroll is the key channel available inside Vrv, a mobile and TV app comprised of 10 streaming channels that focuses on niche but passionate fan communities. Other channels available in the bundle include Rooster Teeth’s First, cable network AMC’s horror channel Shudder and movie studio Legendary’s two digital publishers Nerdist and Geek & Sundry. Soon, Vrv will add an 11th channel to the mix, CuriosityStream, a science-focused streaming startup from Discovery Channel founder John Hendricks.

 

Conan O’Brien Launches Comedy Show on Snapchat [B&C]

New shows will premiere and be featured on Snapchat from 6 a.m. ET through Tuesdays at 6 a.m. Old episodes will be available using Snapchat’s Search feature.

 

ESPN launches a short-form version of SportsCenter on Snapchat [TechCrunch]

SportsCenter’s viewer demographic, however, has traditionally been more extensive – popular with those in their 30’s, 40’s and 50’s, too.

 

Scoop: Bloomberg expects eight figures for new Twitter network [Axios]

Bloomberg is hiring around 50 people to staff the new project, which will exist as the first 24-hour social news network on Twitter.

 

Facebook joins effort to improve online video [CNET]

On Monday, Facebook joined the Alliance for Open Media, a consortium building new video compression technology that doesn’t require any patent licensing payments. The effort unified next-gen video compression work already under way at Google, Mozilla and Cisco, and includes major online video partners Netflix and Amazon.

 

In ‘Watershed Moment,’ YouTube Blocks Extremist Cleric’s Message [NY Times]

Using video fingerprinting technology, YouTube now flags his videos automatically and human reviewers block most of them before anyone sees them, company officials say.