Digital Content Newfronts blog: Final update
AwesomenessTV: We create more than 800 hours of content a year
May 16, 2016
By the editors of Media Life
Throughout the Digital Content Newfronts, Media Life will be providing updates from the day’s latest presentations. We’re compiling them all here, including daily breakdowns from each presenter.
Here’s a look at the day 10 presenters, the last of the two-week event in this final update.
Mashable wrapped up the two-week long Digital Content Newfronts, which by many buyers’ accounts had started to feel too long when they reached day six.
Mashable outlined plans for at least 35 hours per month of Facebook Live video, including one called “El Pulso Live,” a weekly program that will be produced with Telemundo.
It also has four series coming to Bravo, which, like Telemundo, is owned by NBCUniversal. Sense the pattern? NBCU recently made a big investment in Mashable.
Mashable also introduced two video series—one a follow-up to a popular YouTube video “DARE” about a gay teen and another on outer space—and renewed “Scamalot.”
Playboy, having abandoned naked women first on its website and later in its magazine, is trying to use content instead to draw in the Millennial men it’s focused on reaching online.
At its first-ever Digital Content Newfronts presentation on Friday, the magazine brand outlined an aggressive slate of 14 new series to debut in the coming year.
It includes three scripted comedies as well as programming focused on gaming, food and spirits, lifestyle and documentaries.
It’s also launching Playboy Studios to develop future content.
Trusted Media Brands
Better known as the parent company of Reader’s Digest, TMB introduced new two series apiece for its major magazine brands—Reader’s Digest, Taste of Home and Family Handyman.
Unlike a lot of companies, it’s not exclusively targeting Millennials, but it did say its programming will try to appeal to adults 28-36, who are starting to settle down and become interested in the home-focused topics those magazines cover.
Here’s a look at the day nine presenters.
The gaming company will begin offering live shows.
It has partnered with Facebook to air live programming every day, focused on its core area of e-sports.
Shows will include live views of gaming championships. Though Activision Blizzard has posted video on Facebook before, the real emphasis here is on the live viewing, which makes the program unique.
WebMD is developing a new weekly two-and-a-half-minute series for broadcast affiliates to air during their local news, called “Wellness Wednesday” with “Good Morning America’s” Robin Roberts.
The health site is also creating a new studio to produce video as well as advertising for CPG marketers.
The newspaper website touted its huge reach – it’s generating more than 383 million views per month, it claims, and that includes 80 million from the United States. Elite Daily, which is the Daily Mail arm aimed at Millennials, is starting a content studio.
The aim, as with WebMD’s new studio, is to produce content that’s easy to find sponsors for since it’s being developed with advertisers in mind.
Here’s a look at the day eight presenters.
AwesomenessTV is very proud of the many hours of content it produces, which came across in Wednesday’s presentation. The company claims to make more than 800 hours per year, when you include all its channels, from YouTube to mobile to its cable program on Nickelodeon.
The ATV presentation emphasized that this is more than some cable networks. Clearly ATV is aiming for their ad dollars too, announcing projects with exclusive sponsors such as Meg DeAngelis’ “Royal Crush” (sponsored by Royal Caribbean) and a scripted series on which it’s partnering with Major League Baseball.
And CEO Brian Robbins knew how to make the crowd laugh – he deadpanned that ATV is not announcing a new virtual reality show, which drew cheers from the media buyers in attendance, who have seen VR programs introduced at many previous presentations.
The home of Dude Perfect touted its huge growth since its launch two years ago, claiming to generate 750 million monthly views and more than 1 billion minutes watched each month.
It also introduced several new shows, including “Hall of Gamers,” “Legends of Dunk,” “Crushing History” and “50 Large.” It’s also partnering with Sky Sports in America.
Here’s a look at the day seven presenters.
The MCN had some big news at the Newfronts—the launch of a new Seven Bucks Digital Studio channel with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, the hugely popular ex-wrestler and current movie star.
Alas, The Rock kinda spoiled the surprise, tweeting and Instagramming about the new channel hours before Studio 71 began its presentation. In his words: “Here comes the best, biggest, badass, baldest YouTube channel ever! Ok, maybe not bald ’cause a bald YouTube channel is weird, but our Seven Bucks Digital Studios is shaping up to be awesome.”
Other new projects for Studio 71 include Matthew Espinosa’s “Text Committee” and the behind-the-scenes show “Good Mythical Crew,” which focuses on Rhett and Link’s popular “Good Mythical Morning.”
The magazine brand, which bowed short-form videos for The Economist Films last year, is branching into long-form content for the channel.
The fashion and beauty network hopped on the virtual reality bandwagon, becoming the latest in a slew of digital video companies to promise a new VR offering. It will turn “Free to Fall,” a young adults novel, into a series with virtual reality elements.
Another new program is a docuseries on Pia Mia, the creative director at Madonna’s fashion line. And it’s launching a new vertical aimed at Millennial moms.
Here’s a look at the day six presenters.
The MCN rebranded with a new name – Fullscreen Media – that reflects a more focused mission, with three branches of the company: Fullscreen Creator Network, Fullscreen Entertainment and Fullscreen Brandworks.
Former Razorfish CEO Pete Stein will run the latter, which will focus on helping advertisers use the social media culture to sell their products. Brandworks plans to employ Nielsen-certified numbers.
Fullscreen’s also partnering with Mattel to promote Hot Wheels and launching two new channels to appeal to men and women – HerScreen and HisScreen.
In its first Newfronts presentation, SheKnows touted its feminist credibility and made a case for the general importance of feminism, which seemed a bit reach-y for the Newfronts even if it carried an interesting message.
The company then went on to showcase a series of sponsored videos on women entrepreneurs called #Fail, a new reality series called School Lunch Warriors and new online classes from recent acquisition HelloFlo.
National Geographic remains extremely proud of its Instagram feed and its 49 million followers, and to further leverage them, it’s launching its first video series on the platform, MoviNG Pictures, which will feature videos from photographers on assignment.
It’s also launching 10 other digital series, all short-form video that’s focused on science, adventure and travel. One of the series, Wild_Life with Bertie Gregory, will mark NatGeo Wild’s first foray into digital video.
Newsy is hopping into original series, a natural next step for the news-focused digital video arm of E.W. Scripps. At its Newfronts presentation, the site said it will introduce three new shows in the coming months:
* “Asking for a Friend”
* “Americanize Me”
* “The Blind Spot”
Advertisers can sponsor each of the 3.5-minute shows exclusively, a change from Newsy’s current model.
Here’s a look at the day five presenters.
Vice loves to show how edgy and different it is, and its Friday presentation certainly furthered that reputation.
Founder Shane Smith, who had admittedly enjoyed “a few ales” before the presentation, delivered part of his pitch while lying on the floor and at one point said, “I am the Russian bear that shits on the floor for wooden nickels.”
As for actual programming plans, before Smith ended his presentation in just 10 minutes, he said Vice is adding six new digital channels: gaming, travel, health, money, sustainability and LGBTQ. Smith also confirmed a deal made earlier in the week between Vice and ESPN to share online and cable content.
The gaming-focused network is launching a new agency, MACH-1, focused on advertising in gaming and e-sports. The company claimed more than 188 million people will watch a competitive gaming event or program in 2016.
Machinima’s entire presentation was about e-sports, perhaps after learning a lesson at last year’s Newfronts, where it introduced a slew of new shows, many of which (“RoboCop” reboot comes to mind) have not yet bowed.
Time Warner Cable
TWC went against the general grain of the Newfronts, which are about digital video, in insisting that television, its main product, remains the dominant medium.
It disputed claims made by many new media companies, most recently YouTube during its Newfronts presentation, that TV is a dinosaur and online companies can have a greater reach.
Old media companies such as Hearst, Time Inc. and National Geographic have been participating in the Newfronts the past few years as though to prove they’re still relevant.
Forbes didn’t participate, but it did strike a deal with Woven to launch a new series called “Forbes Founders,” profiling young entrepreneurs. It will bow in the fall on Uproxx.com and the Forbes site.
Here’s a look at the day four presenters.
Perhaps they should rename the Digital Content Newfronts the Over the Topfronts, because that’s been the big trend thus far.
YouTube and Time Inc. both announced new over the top networks they plan to launch in the coming months, a day after Hulu confirmed plans for OTT distribution of both cable and broadcast.
YouTube’s premium service would be called Unplugged and debut next year. It’s reportedly in talks with Viacom, NBCUniversal, 21st Century Fox and CBS to secure rights for such an offering, but no deals have been made yet.
It would offer a skinny bundle, which allows customers to pick and choose what channels they watch and costs less than a cable package.
YouTube also made its now-annual pitch to advertisers to start considering it alongside TV, not as an afterthought. It claimed to have a bigger 18-49 audience than every top-10 show combined during any given hour of primetime.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a YouTube upfront without surprise celebritites. Silentó came to perform hit “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae).”
And YouTube said it’s expanding premium service Google Preferred, which sells ads guaranteed to run in the top 5 percent of the network’s content.
Time Inc. is also launching an OTT network, People/Entertainment Weekly Network, which will bow this fall. Programming will include reality shows as well as event coverage, such as a presence on red carpets during big awards shows.
Time Inc. says it will program at least 100 hours of original content.
It’s also launching a virtual reality app trading on the name recognition of the Life brand.
Hopefully anyone who attended the CNN newfront wanted to hear about Great Big Story, as that’s what the network focused on during its presentation.
CNN explained the target audience it’s aiming at (think urban Millennials attached to their phones), and insisted the service is totally not like BuzzFeed.
GBS will produce an eight-part series for The Weather Channel, and CNN is launching its own “The Great Big Show” to focus on GBS stories.
Here’s a look at the day three presenters.
Hulu kicked off the third day of presentations with a whole slew of announcements. In fact, it was a little hard to digest all the information.
In addition to confirming that it’s eyeing a skinny bundle that would deliver broadcast and cable content to over-the-top subscribers, Hulu also said it has a new ad product, an interactive advertisement designed to engage people in their living rooms.
The subscription video-on-demand service said it has almost 12 million subscribers, up from 9 million last year. And it announced new measurement deals with Nielsen and Millward Brown.
The Nielsen Digital Ad Ratings will measure OTT viewership on living room devices such as game consoles and Rokus for the first time. As is the trend in advertising right now, Hulu is partnering with Millward Brown for more in-depth insights into who is watching in order to better target its ads.
Finally, Hulu renewed two of its original shows, “The Mindy Project” and “The Path,” plus it scheduled an election special starring Triumph the Insult Dog.
The women’s lifestyle site is showing its serious side. It promised advertisers at its presentation shows about politics and news, including a new documentary series that bowed last month. PopDocs features longer-form filmmaking, with 32 episodes slated to air. The first focuses on ballet dancer Misty Copeland.
It’s also partnering with LeanIn.org, the Sheryl Sandberg nonprofit, on a series of short videos.
And it’s launching a politically focused series, Know Your Vote, that hopes to register 1 million people to vote before November’s election.
Finally, it has several more scripted comedies coming, including one that should appeal to Hispanics, from Broadway Video’s Mas Mejor.
Yahoo didn’t invite press to this year’s event, only media buyers, in contrast to last year’s big, splashy event.
The company kept things low-key in part because its digital video strategy is in flux after shuttering Yahoo Screen at the beginning of the year—but the company itself is also in flux, on the block after several troubled years.
Its plans for the coming year include more focus on live streaming, which means sporting events or news, rather than pre-filmed entertainment.
It will keep the video focus on news, lifestyle, sports and finance.
Here’s a look at the day two presenters.
In a much smaller event than it hosted last year, when more than 800 people attended, Maker presented to clients only.
And Maker’s pitch was smaller, too. A year after touting partnerships gained through new owner Disney, such as Marvel and ESPN, Maker pledged to focus on the areas that have made it one of the biggest multichannel networks, such as kids and family, entertainment and gaming.
It introduced four new series from the new Spark studio: “Spin for Ink,” “Worthy,” “Can I Crush It?” and “The Remember Hour.”
Defy touted its comparability to television, unveiling a schedule of 72 shows laid out in the same sort of grid as a TV schedule.
That includes 30 new shows, with several on top networks Smosh and Clevver. It also introduced a new ad product, Z Blocks, that lets advertisers become the only sponsor of shows in categories such as gaming, comedy, entertainment and lifestyle.
Condé Nast Entertainment
The newfronts have developed a reputation for hyping new content that never actually appears (remember Simon Cowell’s much-hyped, eventually aborted DJ competition show for YouTube?).
Well, Condé Nast wants buyers to know that it has follow through and stability. It said during its presentation it has renewed nearly two-thirds of its new shows for this year.
It also introduced a distribution deal with Comcast, making CNE available on-demand. And it updated its content aggregator The Scene with a new mobile app while also broadening its incubator programs, which seek out talent online.
Just call AOL’s “Build” the “Total Request Live” of its era. The online giant said it’s moving its popular talk show to a gigantic new studio on the ground floor that faces out on the street in Manhattan, reminiscent of the one-time MTV hit’s street presence two decades ago.
The company says it’s aiming to increase video production threefold this year. The new studio will have 360-degree video capability, clearly of great interest to AOL since it bought RYOT Corp., a company that specializes in that type of video, last month.
Here’s a look at the day one presenters
The New York Times
Chief executive officer Mark Thompson says the future of media is “great content,” which was always the driving principle behind great papers. Apparently this will guide Times video, too.
The company said it’s rolling out six new digital shows, and it’s hoping to land a big sponsor for each. And apparently it’s serious about virtual reality journalism. It’s making a bigger push into that largely uncharted realm, after incorporating it into a package late last year and another last month.
The viral site touted its huge video viewership growth, up to 7 billion views per month, or 2.5 times what it was drawing during last year’s Newfronts presentation.
The company said it’s focusing on Facebook Live, noting that Facebook accounts for about a quarter of its video views. It will also be working with recent investor NBCUniversal to secure advertising, promising to work with its big names on pitches to advertisers and video concepts.
The media company will bow four new shows, including interview series “Big Problems, Big Thinkers,” which will feature guests as diverse as the Dalai Lama and Warren Buffett.
New ad product VidPlus will allow advertisers to sponsor in-video polls and other content, better integrating it with the editorial.
And its branded content studio has been renamed Kinection.
The woman-focused site will produce 12 short films as part of Shatterbox Productions, and one of them will be directed by actress Kristen Stewart. Another actress, Oscar nominee Gabourey Sidibe, will also make her directorial debut with the series.
Other new shows include two series from actress America Ferrara, a scripted comedy, and a reality series from Morgan Spurlock about girls’ education around the world.
The site is, like The Times, drinking the Kool-Aid on virtual reality, launching its own VR studio.
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