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The Frenemy Report: Publishers Pivot, “Watch”ing FANGs and Vs

Happy 2018 folks, welcome to the future. Plenty of resolution talk so let’s get down to the stars and relationships that will be driving digital media into 2019 and beyond.

Public frenemy number one, Facebook, is having “the talk” with publishers: If I were you, I would probably not rely on Facebook as much as you are,” — an anonymous source tells Digiday that FB is going to completely deprioritize publishers.  Fast Co asks,Will Facebook Watch Be Must-See TV In 2018?And ad buyers wonder when they’ll be able to buy spots for individual shows or publishers on Watch— basically, the relationship status is complicated.

What about the V card? Verizon is making moves in 2018, promising 1,400 hours of original content– kicking off their go90 production slate with ‘Life of a Fitness Pop Star’, featuring The Fitness Marshall (the Richard Simmons of Gen Z) and partnering with A+E Networks on exclusive digital originals.

The other big V– Vice– is saying goodbye to president Andrew Creighton and chief digital officer Mike Germano, thanks to its boy club atmosphere revealed in a kickass New York Times investigation.

Despite Spotify’s relationship woes — AKA copyright infringement lawsuits — the music streaming service files to go public.

Follow the ad money… as we head into 2018’s streaming wars, iSpot.tv reveals that Bezos is packing heat. Amazon is spending $55 million on TV ads, up 74% from 2016. Meanwhile, rival Netflix spent just over $42 million, up 33% from 2016, per iSpot.tv. 

And if you were wondering, our resolution is to replace binge eating with binge viewing (Alan’s favorite shows). Cheers.

Spotify files to go public as it faces a $1.6-billion copyright infringement suit [LA Times]

As digital downloads and streaming have increased and album sales have plummeted, services such as Spotify have found themselves at the heart of a debate about how musical artists should be compensated.

Facebook will ‘completely deprioritize publishers’: Confessions of a publisher audience development head [Digiday]

They are going to completely deprioritize publishers. They very candidly said to me, “If I were you, I would probably not rely on Facebook as much as you are.” So a big strategy for publishers needs to be diversification. The people at Facebook I’ve spoken to have confirmed this. Their efforts are going to be elsewhere.

Will Facebook Watch Be Must-See TV In 2018? [Fast Company]

When Facebook announced its plan to launch a TV-centric platform called Watch last summer. Reports surfaced that the social giant would shell out as much as $1 billion to develop new shows, putting it in the company of Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu that are spending $6 billion, $4.5 billion, and $2.5 billion, respectively, on content. Given Facebook’s 1.37 billion daily active users, it should have been able to scale its Watch programs quickly. The trouble is that the News Feed–which has become prime real estate for short-form video viewing–defeats the purpose of Watch.

2018 will be a pivotal year for Facebook’s video ambitions [Digiday]

All signs point to Facebook favoring a video business that allows Facebook to make money from video advertising. So far, Facebook has not allowed media companies to sell advertising against their shows. According to an ad buyer at a major agency, Facebook didn’t give him the ability to buy individual shows or publishers within Watch but instead wanted the agency to increase overall spend, some of which would be allocated toward Watch.

‘Life Of A Fitness Pop Star’ Series To Premiere On Verizon’s go90 App [Deadline]

A new series chronicling the rise of modern-day dance fitness guru Caleb Marshall, known to his fans as The Fitness Marshall, debuts January 9 on Verizon’s go90 video app. Verizon and series producer DanceOn released a trailer today to promote the series, Life of a Fitness Pop Star, which follows Marshall’s journey from the Midwest to Los Angeles in his quest to build a “cardio empire.”

A+E Networks, Verizon Expanded Deal Includes Exclusive Window on Digital Originals [Variety]

Programmer’s 45th & Dean studio to produce first-run content for Verizon’s Oath brands. 45th & Dean has produced short- and medium-form content including relationship-crisis show “Second Chance” for Snapchat.

Over-the-top platforms are increasing their TV ad spend [Business Insider]

Over-the-top (OTT) platforms are increasing their spend on national TV commercials, according to iSpot.tv. Amazon Prime Video edges over Netflix. The e-commerce giant spent $55 million on TV ads, up 74% from 2016. Meanwhile, rival Netflix spent just over $42 million, up 33% from 2016, per iSpot.tv.  While Amazon spent more on national TV commercials, Netflix is investing more aggressively in content, spending $6 billion in content this year versus Amazon’s $4.5 billion.

We are not going to be a video-first company’: Bustle sees video as a complement [Digiday]

Bustle executives see video as an enhancement to the text-based editorial content, which also means the video team does not sit in a silo by itself, but works with editors and writers, whether to create social videos for platforms such as Facebook and Instagram or to develop shows for distribution on Bustle and external platforms, said Erica Tremblay, director of video for Bustle Digital Group.

Fast-growing Chinese media startup ByteDance enters 2018 with some uncertainty [TechCrunch]

ByteDance, the new media firm behind news app Toutiao and the owner of Musical.ly courtesy of a $1 billion deal, had a standout 2018. Its valuation jumped to more than $20 billion, it picked a number of international services — including Musical.ly and News Republic for $86 million — and began to execute on an ambitious plan to expand beyond China, where Toutiao alone claims 120 million users.

Hotstar seals content deal with Awesomeness [Rapid TV News]

Star TV’s digital streaming platform Hotstar is adding content for its Gen Z audience, following a tie-up with media company Awesomeness.

Facebook Watch, independent media, referral traffic: What’s doomed in media in 2018  [Digiday]

Facebook Watch: “Facebook will abandon the Watch strategy and reinvent a digital product yet again. They’ve literally abandoned every single video strategy in the past three years.

Facebook Replaces Twitter As Exclusive Streaming Partner For Golden Globes Pre-Show [Tubefilter]

Facebook will stream a two-hour red carpet pre-show titled The HFPA Presents: Globes Red Carpet Live beginning at 6 pm ET, according to Variety.

Netflix’s ‘Bright’ reached 11M viewers in its first three days, according to Nielsen [TechCrunch]

As for Bright, Nielsen says 7 million viewers were between 18 and 49 years old, while 56 percent were male and 44 percent female.

Vice Media Puts President And Chief Digital Officer On Leave After Sexual Misconduct Claims [Deadline]

Vice Media has placed president Andrew Creighton and chief digital officer Mike Germano on leave after numerous sexual harassment allegations against them were reported by the New York Times.