Lots of wheelin’ and dealin’ — The Obamas teamed up with Netflix, BuzzFeed Studios Signed With WME, Katzenberg’s NewTV video startup raised $800 million (yet another publisher getting into short-form content), and TheSkimm closed a $12 million round with Shonda Rhimes and Tyra Banks (and ICYMI, TheSkimm is known for being Millennial women’s exclusive source of news. Their newsletters rock but they’re expanding into Podcasts, Watch Shows, etc.)
Further sinking its teeth into Snap, Fox will be handling Snapchat ad sales for vertical networks, which produces Snap shows like Phone Swap, Yes Theory and Solve.
Twitch is a big deal (as anyone paying attention to esports already knows) — and NBC is taking SNL to Twitch for a special 48-hour marathon. BuzzFeed is also turning to Twitch, underwhelmed by Facebook Live viewership.
Closing out this frenemy report, we’d like to note two things: FAANGS are advertising on TV because TV works: Videology notes that in any given minute, 76% of adults are engaged with TV versus 13% for YouTube and 7% for Facebook. And second, check out this piece in the New Yorker, How the Math Men Overthrew the Mad Men, adapted from Ken Auletta’s upcoming book: “Frenemies: The Epic Disruption of the Ad Business (and Everything Else).” #BestFrenemyForever
TheSkimm has since expanded to include TheSkimm app (which carries a subscription price of $2.99 per month) and other products. Skimm Studios, its production arm, develops and produces content including podcast “Skimm’d From the Couch” and video series including two for Facebook Watch — “Skimm’d With…” and “Get Off the Couch” — and political interview series “Sip ‘n Skimm” on YouTube and TheSkimm app.
The company announced Monday that the former first couple have signed a multiyear agreement to produce films and series for Netflix. The deal can include scripted and unscripted series, as well as documentaries and features. The content will be produced by Higher Ground Productions.
The digital publisher has sold docuseries ‘Unspeakable Crime: The Killing of Jessica Chambers’ to Oxygen and short-form series ‘Follow This’ to Netflix.
The streaming service was also expected to roll out channels from Tastemade and The Young Turks soon, reports said — something YouTube TV hoped would differentiate its service from the now numerous live TV streaming rivals, while leveraging the power of big-name online brands to attract new subscribers.
‘The programming stunt on Twitch will include a total of 16 hours of popular “SNL” sketches dating from the show’s inception to current episodes. Those will be streamed back-to-back-to-back for free on the service for 48 hours, beginning Thursday, May 17, at 6 p.m. ET on twitch.tv/twitchpresents.
A constellation of large media companies, including 21st Century Fox Inc.and Warner Bros., is supplying NewTV with about $200 million, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private. NewTV has secured the rest of its financing from institutional investors, according to the people, and it plans to announce the fundraising in the coming weeks.NewTV will use the money to finance shows that are roughly the duration of a typical YouTube clip, but at a cost more on a par with a Netflix Inc. series. Each NewTV series will cost about $5 million to $6 million per hour, the people said, but individual episodes won’t run much longer than 15 minutes. The company isn’t raising enough money to take on Netflix or YouTube with its own subscription service.
Armed with a six-figured ad budget and an online petition, the “Freedom from Facebook” campaign is urging the FCC to force Facebook to divest from Instagram, Whatsapp and Messenger. “The five members of the Federal Trade Commission, which is the part of our government tasked with overseeing Facebook, can make Facebook safe for our democracy by breaking it up, giving us the freedom to communicate across networks, and protecting our privacy,” the campaign wrote on its website. “Together, we will make sure that they do.” The campaign is backed by Demand Progress, Jewish Voices for Peace, MoveOn and the Content Creators Coalition, among others. Some of the ads that the campaign is going to run will include slogans like “Mark Zuckerberg has a scary amount of power. We need to take it back,” according to a report from Axios.
How NowThis is looking beyond Facebook [Digiday]
Today, NowThis gets 2.6 billion video views per month across platforms, the company said. Facebook still accounts for a significant majority of those views: For instance, NowThis’ main Facebook page alone did 366 million video views on Facebook in March, down from 421 million video views in January, according to Tubular Labs.
NewFronts Takeaways: Why Digital Put the Spotlight Back on TV, What’s After Pivot to Video [The Hollywood Reporter]
They also were treated to lengthy opining about the future of the paper’s brand on TV, including a Showtime docuseries following Times journalists during the first year of Trump’s presidency, a show based on the New York Times Magazine’s Diagnosis column that is coming to Netflix in 2019 and maybe one day a game show based on the crossword puzzle. A week later, FX ordered 30 episodes of docuseries The Weekly about the most important NYT stories each week. Given the past year has seen heightened concerns from ad buyers about the brand safety of Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, it’s no coincidence that digital companies focused their pitches on more controlled environments like TV or their own sites. At the Refinery29 presentation, the female-focused digital publisher talked up its Channel29 OTT app and newly redesigned website, where it is more prominently featuring its video offerings. Chief operating officer Sarah Personette, who joined the company from Facebook, notes, “We are owning our own destination and our own destiny.”
As one example, ShortsTV, the U.S. and European pay-TV channel that specializes in short films, is coming off a good run recently. The company announced a new channel partnership in India, launched a linear-viewing app in the Netherlands and set a best-ever box office gross for its annual theatrical release of the 15 Oscar-nominated short films.
An array of digital and traditional news outlets, including BuzzFeed, CNN and Vox Media, have been pitching news shows for the section. The idea is to launch about a half-dozen shows, which will be paired with a breaking news section and a daily Facebook newscast that would feature news videos from multiple news publishers, according to the Times.
Facebook instituted its biggest executive shakeup in its 15-year history this week, appointing new leaders for WhatsApp, Messenger and Facebook’s core app while giving other longtime Facebook executives new responsibilities, including a new effort to tackle blockchain technology.
Guest post by CEO of Video Ad Bureau – What’s more, they can’t match TV’s attention. FAANG knows their customers are watching TV much more than doing anything on their platforms. In any given minute, 76 percent of adults are engaged with TV versus 13 percent for YouTube and 7 percent for Facebook.
Twitch is very much a playground of experimentation for publishers, just as Facebook Live was, although Facebook was paying publishers to experiment with Live before the social network cut funding at the end of last year. Facebook Live views had been plateauing for some time, and without financial incentive, publishers are naturally looking elsewhere. “The online audience is very different to the TV audience,” he said. “These platforms give us the opportunity to speak directly to these viewers.”
Before Instagram Stories, the platform was limited to driving traffic back to publisher sites. Increasingly, media companies like the BBC and National Geographic are using links in their Instagram Stories to funnel audiences to their properties, mostly newsletter sign-ups, where they have a more direct connection and can monetize audiences more effectively.
Business Insider notes that YouTube’s $160 million valuation marks seven times its estimated 2019 revenues of $22.9 billion. Google, including YouTube, is estimated to have a market capitalization of $742 billion, according to Business Insider, while Disney’s market capitalization is $155 billion, Comcast’s is $150 billion, and Netflix’s is $141 billion.
The series will consist of eight hour-long episodes, which are expected to premiere in 2019. The will be hosted behind the paywall of YouTube Red, which costs $9.99 per month.
The changes are designed to keep the overall quality bar high at YouTube — critical as the company strives to attract, and keep, top-tier advertisers. In turn, YouTube says that by attracting more advertisers, creators can make more money.
Nearly 50 creators will participate in YouTube’s “Creators for Change” program this year, the company announced today. 47 creators, 31 of whom are new members of the program, will use $5 million pledged by YouTube earlier this year to share positive videos about serious global issues. These creators come from around the world to shed more light on problems close to their heart or specific to their region. These include hate speech, extremism and xenophobia as it appears in different countries.