Vice Has Many Media Giants Salivating, but Its Terms Will Be Rich


A black S.U.V. recently rolled through the streets of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and stopped in front of the converted warehouse that is the global headquarters of Vice Media. Out of the vehicle stepped the media mogul Rupert Murdoch.

Mr. Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox owns a small stake in Vice, and he was visiting Brooklyn to meet with Vice’s chief executive, Shane Smith. Among the topics at hand was a rumor that Vice was negotiating to collaborate with, and perhaps sell a large stake to, one of Fox’s competitors, Time Warner.

Fox is discussing a deal with Vice, too. So is Disney. Any agreement is likely to value Vice, which started as a free magazine in Montreal in 1994, at $1.5 billion to $2.5 billion. A partnership could take many shapes. But Vice, which has produced limited programming expressly for television, is seeking its own TV network, a movie deal and a lot of money for its founders and investors.

The digital disruption that is transforming the news and entertainment businesses has led to many odd alliances, but few seem more incongruous than one that would join Vice with a corporate media conglomerate. Though financing itself mostly by making videos in partnership with large corporations, Vice has assiduously cultivated an insurgent image, with its tattooed news correspondents, hand-held

cameras and journalistic stunts like sending the former basketball player Dennis Rodman to North Korea.

Along the way, Mr. Smith, 44, has routinely criticized the mainstream media and traditional television. If he can reach a deal with one of these companies, he will be joining the club he has professed to disdain.

And yet here he is, in negotiations involving the likes of James Murdoch, Rupert’s son and Fox’s heir apparent; Robert A. Iger, chief executive of Disney; and Jeffrey L. Bewkes, chief executive of Time Warner. All of them are desperately scrambling to reach a generation of consumers who are more attached to their mobile phones than to traditional television.

The executives covet Vice’s unruly, D.I.Y. sensibility — “News from the edge” is the tagline for its 30-minute weekly program on HBO — and, above all, the connection it has established with its core audience of young men.

Now that he is in conversations that could net his company hundreds of millions of dollars, Mr. Smith, normally brash and outspoken, is trying to be discreet. Though he would not speak about the various deals Vice is discussing, he talked about his vision for the company’s future and television’s role in it recently at his office.

“It’s the next step in our evolution,” he said. “Our mobile and online stuff is going to grow exponentially, but we want a three-legged stool, and the third leg is TV.”

Bearded and bearish, Mr. Smith looks as if he belongs at a Viking feast, drinking mead from his helmet. Instead, he was sipping chilled premier cru Chablis poured by an assistant.

Fox, Disney and Time Warner all declined to comment.

Deals that join heavily hyped digital companies with large media conglomerates do not always end well. News Corporation bought the website Myspace for $580 million in 2005, and sold it six years later for $35 million. Time Warner’s 2000 merger with AOL is now taught to aspiring M.B.A.s as the worst business transaction in history.


Mr. Smith contends Vice is different. The company’s finances are private, but a person familiar with its business said it expected to generate about $500 million in revenue in 2014. A vast majority comes not from online news content but from videos created to resemble news content, paid for by companies like Intel and AT&T.

Vice would also arrive with a devoted following, though the size of its audience is hard to verify independently. The hope is that it will not become another Myspace, but a modern, multiplatform MTV. Tom Freston, a founder and former chief executive of MTV who went on to run Viacom, is one of Vice’s investors and closest advisers.

MTV was built on an original concept: the pop-music video. Vice’s appeal is that it has branded a certain kind of cool, but coolness is an ephemeral concept. And there is exponentially more content to compete with now than when MTV began in 1981, making it harder than ever to stand out.

Vice got its first taste for television when it started producing its weekly newsmagazine show for HBO last year. It recently broadcast the final episode of its second season, featuring reports from crime-ridden Camden, N.J., and refugee camps in Chad and Darfur. (In last year’s infamous finale, Mr. Rodman and three members of the Harlem Globetrotters played before Kim Jong-un in North Korea.)

In its first year, Vice’s HBO show averaged 821,000 viewers a week, including the original broadcast and viewings in the next seven days, according to Brad Adgate, the director of research for Horizon Media. Weekly viewership fell to 760,000 in its second season. HBO says the number is 2.8 million weekly viewers when repeat broadcasts, online and on-demand viewings are included.

People familiar with the negotiations say the talks with Time Warner have made the most progress. It could buy a large, minority stake in Vice, and give Vice control of the cable channel HLN, or they could operate the network as a joint venture. The deal would give Vice a 24-hour news network that reaches more than 100 million households. Time Warner

would get a potential solution to a channel that has struggled to find an audience.

But the companies remain at odds over how much influence Time Warner would have over Vice and HLN, said the people familiar with the talks, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they are continuing and delicate. The two also disagree about the total value of Vice. Time Warner contends it is worth about $1.5 billion; Vice says it is worth at least $2.5 billion.

These people also cited another matter. In March, Mr. Smith delivered a profanity-laced assessment of CNN — also owned by Time Warner — to The Daily News in New York, calling the network “a disaster.” The president of CNN, Jeff Zucker, was furious, a Time Warner official said. If Vice were to take over HLN, Mr. Zucker and Mr. Smith would be colleagues.

Among its other suitors, Vice has the strongest relationship with Fox, which last year bought a 5 percent stake in the company for $70 million. James Murdoch is on Vice’s board.

But a Fox deal faces hurdles, too. The company does not have a logical single channel to give Vice, which is what Mr. Smith most wants. “You can’t be MTV without a TV network,” he said.

An agreement might instead call for Vice to program blocks of time on a few Fox networks. And, of course, Fox’s defining news brand, Fox News, is not popular among Vice’s core audience.

The talks with Disney were initiated more recently — it is not clear at whose prompting — after news of the Time Warner discussions broke. It is also unclear how a deal might be structured.

Disney has recently pursued digital media assets that cater to a younger audience. In March, it acquired the YouTube video production network Maker Studios.

Mr. Smith said Vice was in a powerful bargaining position. “It’s not like we’re beggars coming cap in hand saying please give me a network,” he said. “We’re bringing Gen Y, we’re bringing mobile, we’re bringing

social, we’re bringing all of these things that they don’t have.”
Vice has focused most of its energy and resources on the web. But

while its six YouTube channels and various websites attract plenty of digital advertising, those rates pale in comparison to what Vice’s shows could potentially command on television.

More to the point, the move into television might also allow Vice to become less financially dependent on advertising agency work and corporate partnerships. In other words, it could try to evolve into a pure content-only operation.

Even if Vice can make a deal, there is no guarantee that its fans will follow the company to television in an era when young people are getting their news, increasingly, on other types of screens. “News on TV skews very old,” said Tom Rogers, the chief executive of TiVo, who helped start CNBC and MSNBC among other cable channels. “Most news channels have average audiences of 60 or older.”

The average age of Vice’s HBO viewers is 46 to 50, Mr. Adgate said. Its online audience is a good deal younger, but on television anyway, it has not reached the elusive millennial demographic.

Developing a television show is also very different from developing a web series; Vice has produced about 76 hours of domestic and international programming. Michael Lombardo, the president of programming at HBO, said the network had worked very closely with Vice to shape the newsmagazine show into something it felt could build an audience on television. The conversations were not always easy, he said.

“When you’re in the digital space and you’re looking for clicks the idea is to just be noisy,” he said. “That impacts not only the subjects of your story but the way you tell a story. It’s different when you have someone sit down to a half-hour or hour show.”

Last week, the talks over Vice’s future moved from Brooklyn to Cannes, the site of an annual international media conference that attracts many of the world’s biggest companies. Vice rented three villas for the occasion, and, hosted a couple of big parties. One had been scheduled for

a French strip club, but the guest list grew so long that it had to be moved to a more conventional location, the Palais des Festivals.

Correction: June 24, 2014

An article on Monday about discussions between Vice Media and big media companies like Time Warner and 21st Century Fox misstated the number of hours of television content Vice had produced. Vice has produced about 76 hours of domestic and international programming, not 11 hours, which was the amount Vice had produced for its HBO show.

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YouTube screen shots of, clockwise from top left,  viral videos of strangers kissing, a woman quitting her job, a Home Depot marriage proposal, and a baby. CreditYouTube

There it was, virtual gold: a video of a firefighter resuscitating a kitten trapped in a smoky home.

Neetzan Zimmerman, then an editor at Gawker, a news and gossip site, knew it was destined for viral magic. But before he could publish a post about it, his editor made a request. Mr. Zimmerman was to include the epilogue omitted by most every other outlet: The kitten died of smoke inhalation soon after being saved.

For telling the whole story, Mr. Zimmerman paid a price.

“That video did tremendously well for practically everyone who posted it,” he recalled, “except Gawker.”

Continue reading the main story
Fireman resuscitates kitten. Video by GoPro

Why should one sad detail mean the difference between an online megahit and a dud? What makes content go viral?

Social sharing is powerful enough to topple dictatorships and profitable enough to merit multibillion-dollar investments. But scientists are only beginning to explore the psychological motivations that turn a link into “click bait” and propel a piece of content to Internet fame.

Their research may have significant implications for the media and advertising businesses, whose profits hinge on winning the cutthroat race for the attention of Internet users worldwide. Already, some notions of the ingredients in this modern alchemy are beginning to emerge.

If you want to melt the Internet, best to traffic in emotion, researchers have found. The emotional response can be happy or sad, but the more intense it is, the more likely the story is to be passed along.

In a study led by Rosanna Guadagno, a social psychologist at the University of Texas at Dallas, 256 participants much preferred to forward a funny video than one of a man treating his own spider bite. But they were likely to share any video that evoked an intense emotional response, Dr. Guadagno found.

Similarly, Jonah Berger and Katherine Milkman, professors at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, have found that uplifting articles are more likely than disheartening ones to land on the most-emailed list at The New York Times. But even stories evoking rage or other negative, strong emotions are emailed by readers more often than ones that are simply depressing.

“People share things they have strong emotional reactions to, especially strong positive reactions,” Dr. Guadagno said.

Sharing is not just how information ripples across communities; it’s also how emotions are disseminated. Recently, analysts at Facebook, Yale and the University of California, San Diego, reviewed more than a billion posts by Facebook users, and found that when users vented on a rainy day, their friends in other cities posted bleak status updates more frequently than normal.

But positive status updates were even more contagious, prompting upbeat updates from friends at even greater rates. The conclusion: Online, as in real life, feelings can be caught like the flu.

The most shared post at Upworthy, a site for shareable content, is a video about a boy who died of cancer, but not before producing a hit song and performing sold-out shows. The post has racked up nearly 20 million views, thanks in part to the type of methodically calculated headline that has become the site’s trademark: “This Amazing Kid Got to Enjoy 19 Awesome Years on This Planet. What He Left Behind Is Wondtacular.”

My Last Days: Meet Zach Sobiech Video by SoulPancake

“Even though it was a really sad story, it was a story that gave you something to do with that sadness,” said Upworthy’s analytics czar, Daniel Mintz.

For many people, sharing seems to be a way to process the highs and lows they feel while consuming content online. Mr. Berger, who studied the Times articles, conducted a follow-up study in which he instructed one group of students to jog in place for 60 seconds before going online, while a comparison group rested before logging on.

The runners were more than twice as likely as the sedentary group to email the same article, he found. Why? Because they were already physiologically aroused, Mr. Berger theorizes, and forwarding or liking something serves as a form of release.

“Arousal is an aversive state, so people want to get out of it by sharing,” Mr. Berger said. Misery loves company, and so does any sort of deeply affecting feeling.

But pressing the share button can also be driven by ego. Constructing and refining an online persona has become a daily task for many, experts say; posting a link that evokes laughter or gasps can confer status on the sharer.

No surprise, then, that data recently compiled by Chartbeat, a company that measures online traffic, suggests that people often post articles on Twitter that they haven’t actually read.

“What we found is that there is no relationship whatsoever with the amount that the article is shared and the amount of engaged time and attention given to that article,” said Tony Haile, Chartbeat’s chief executive.

Like a bookshelf stocked with classic tomes that have never been opened, the links that adorn Facebook walls and Twitter accounts are markers of the people we aspire to be. And online media companies are increasingly aware that their role is to package content that will make each member of the masses who disseminates it burnish an online reputation while feeling, oddly, unique.

Mr. Zimmerman, formerly of Gawker, saw it as his job to help the reader feel like “that guy who is always plugged in and tapped into what’s going on.”

“People build their online identities by sharing,” he said. “They want people to think of them a certain way.” Advertisers Want Internet Stars, And Niche Wants To Connect Them

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Now he has a new gig: Starring in Instagrams and Vines, with TV networks likeShowtime (that’s an ad for its “Californication” show, above) and apps like Magic Pianofooting the bill.

Next week you should be able to see Cutshall’s latest effort, when he’ll appear on Instagram wearing clothes from the Gap, which is using him as part of its styld.bycampaign.

Cutshall will likely make a few thousand dollars for the gig, which he figures will take him about three hours of work. This kind of stuff will make him something like $75,000 this year, he figures.

“I love it,” he said. “I get a lot of free time. I make my own schedule.”

Cutshall’s work is also a good business for Niche, the New York-based startup that matches advertisers with a new breed of Internet star. Niche, which launched last year, is effectively a lightweight production house — it takes money from marketers and uses it to hire some of the 2,500 creators it works with, who claim a collective reach of more than 500 million people.

By doing so, it represents one of the first efforts I’ve seen to actually scale “real” native ads, instead of repurposing videos, photos or old magazine stories. Once Niche’s stars make the ads, advertisers can pay to promote them on different social networks — or they can just let them generate their own attention, for free.

This Niche-made ad, paid for by Warner Bros. to promote “Godzilla” but distributed on Instagram free of charge, is one of my favorites. It’s got more than 28,000 likes.

It seems to be going well. The 15-person company says it is turning a profit on the $1.5 million in revenue it has made since last fall.

The Gap campaign Cutshall and other Niche talent are working on should generate something in the “high five-figure” range, says Niche co-founder Darren Lachtman, whose background is in digital marketing. His partner Rob Fishman used to run social media at the Huffington Post, then started Kingfish Labs, a startup built on Facebook data, which he sold to BuzzFeed.

Now the two men have raised a $2.5 million seed round led by SoftTech, along with other investors including Lerer Ventures, SV Angel, Advancit Capital and William Morris Endeavor. Gary Vaynerchuk, whose VaynerMedia also connects brands and social media stars, has put in money, too.

Niche doesn’t have exclusive deals with any of the talent it works with, but helps recruit them by offering free analytics, so they can see how their social media campaigns are working. Those stats are valuable to advertisers, too, who often pay them based on the audiences they’ve accumulated.

Cutshall says a typical Vine advertiser pays its talent $3 for every thousand followers they’ve collected on the video network, but he says he’s able to charge $4 for every thousand. He’s currently at 323,000.

Maybe that number will increase, because Cutshall says his Vine work is getting more than ad dollars. He recently got an audition for a movie where he could play opposite Anna Kendrick; he says Comedy Central wants to talk to him, too. Out, Television: Pinterest Wants To Pin Down Your Ad Dollars

Pinterest is making the leap from the computer screen to the small screen—and television networks may not know what’s coming for them.

The image-sharing site, which people use to search and discover objects of interest they can’t name or didn’t know they wanted, is revving up its advertising products at the same time it has struck its first notable placement in a TV show.

It’s not the first social network to explore partnerships with television shows. But where Twitter and Facebook have sought a role in news and live events to cement their centrality in information sharing, Pinterest may be able to make serious bank on its TV placements. In the long run, if it’s successful, it may steal business from the TV networks it’s partnering with.

Pinterest And TV—A Not-So-Odd Couple

FYI, a channel owned by A&E Networks—which you may recognize as the home ofStorage Wars and Duck Dynasty—is creating a Pinterest TV series, “We’re Moving In.” While Pinterest is the inspiration for the project, it isn’t a formal partnership as much as a use of Pinterest to which the social network has given its blessing. (Say Media, which owns ReadWrite, operates and LifetimeMoms in partnership with A&E.)

On “We’re Moving In,” blended families, married couples, and roommates turn to Pinterest to plan and design new spaces together. They’ll take virtual inspiration to hardware and home-decor stores, and turn a collaborative Pinterest board into reality.

“Pinterest is a visual discovery tool people use to find the things they love and go do those things in real life,” said Everett Katigbak, a brand manager at Pinterest, in FYI’s announcement. “‘We’re Moving In’ is a creative look at people taking that mission offline.”

Let’s Take It Offline (And Go Shopping)

That statement suggests that online activity on Pinterest—pinning images of objects to boards and sharing them—somehow stands apart from offline activities. Of course it doesn’t—if anything, Katigbak is being strategically modest.

Pinterest just launched a new phase of its business, with a paid test of Promoted Pins. Gap, Lululemon, Kraft and other prominent brands are participating, paying Pinterest to expose relevant pins to a broader set of users.

Big brands have traditionally advertised on television, a proven way of driving consumers into stores to buy things. But as Google showed, it’s far easier to establish a connection between someone searching for an object, seeing an ad online, and clicking to purchase it. That accountability is a big part of what has driven billions and billions of dollars of advertising Google’s way.

Pinterest can now do something Google can’t: Connecting consumers who have some notion of what they’re looking for but can’t name it in a set of keywords with an advertiser’s product.

Television executives have long dreamed of a click-to-buy button: See something on a popular TV show, click a button on your remote, and get it shipped to your home. Aside from home-shopping channels, that’s never really worked out.

Imagine, though, if every show about home improvement, gardening, crafting and fashion had a corresponding pinboard on Pinterest. (This is not a stretch: Manyalready do.) Pinterest could be the place where consumers go to find all the items they see online—and it could take the lion’s share of advertising dollars associated with driving those purchases.

Twitter and Facebook have stumbled trying to establish a similar link. Most social commerce efforts don’t work because people want to connect with friends or celebrities, not buy things. But as a leader in the Visual Web, Pinterest is a very different beast from most social networks.

The Trojan Horse

It’s no surprise that people aren’t talking up this scenario. Pinterest has never stopped surprising the technology industry. It was the network nobody “got.” In 2012, it became the fastest-growing social network ever, simply because it appealed to an extremely underserved audience in social media: middle-aged, middle-American moms. Maybe app inventors don’t consider them to be early adopters, but they have a lot of purchasing power.

The community has expanded significantly from that original audience, but Pinterest’s heartland remains the Midwest. Eighty percent of users are still women. Pinterest’s most popular topics are crafts and recipes. And those just happen to be the kind of people who A&E and other networks target for advertiser-friendly shopping shows.

Pinterest’s TV Edge

There’s been lots of talk about partnerships between social media and TV, but not much in terms of concrete business results.

In a time when the Internet allows for instant interactivity, TV producers have been looking to social media to add a sense of community to TV. But so far, with Facebook and Twitter, it’s all about joining a conversation. When TV shows share Twitter hashtags or Facebook fan pages, they’re not adding to the conversation—they’re simply moving it somewhere else.

Unlike most social networks, though, Pinterest is about actual things, not nebulous socializing, which gives the producers physical objects to show on TV. This is an edge unique to the Visual Web. “We’re Moving In” has the potential to let viewers visit the show’s actual pinboards and follow along in a meaningful way.

TV has never had a “click to buy” option as effortless and seamless as the Internet’s. Pinterest could be that missing link.

Imagine this: viewers watch an episode of “We’re Moving In,” and follow the episode’s pinboard. From there they have a direct line to respond to it—or click to instantly acquire anything they just saw. Pinterest could be the missing link between TV advertisements and viewer purchases. And like Google, it could capture a large part of the advertising business connected with this commerce.

The fact that Pinterest is about objects to begin with has made it attractive to brands, which drive an estimated 30 percent of the network’s total traffic is driven by brands, who generally consider the site to be the Internet’s gift to Web commerce.

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Pinterest has just begun offering Promoted Pins, opening up paid advertising for a very small set of approved advertisers. And it has just recently started hiring salespeople—whom it delicately calls “partner managers.”

Still, Pinterest has an intriguing opportunity ahead of it with television. It may need to come up with a clever way to split TV-driven revenues with the networks, or show that it can drive large audiences back to television. “We’re Moving In” is an experiment for a reason.

And if TV-driven pins take off? It wouldn’t be the first time the social network has surprised us.

TNW: Twitter’s new Facebook-like profile pages are now available to all users

Twitter launched a new and very Facebook-like look for profile pages earlier this month. Initially the design was rolled out to a limited number of users, but today Twitter has announced that it is now available for all users on the Web version.

The design includes a lot of new features — including highlighting popular tweets, pinned tweets, a larger background image, and a more prominent media gallery — but Twitter is letting you try them out before you commit to the change.

If like what you see after your preview the new look, then you can choose to switch it today. Alternatively you can leave your profile as it already is, but Twitter will make you change to the new version at a later date. There’s no word on whether similar changes will come to Twitter’s mobile apps, though it has run some tests.

To recap. Here’s what the old design looks like:

tw1 730x419 Twitters new Facebook like profile pages are now available to all users

And this is the new one:

tw2 730x419 Twitters new Facebook like profile pages are now available to all users

Thumbnail image via Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Deadline: Top Actors in Social Media And What It Means For TV & Movie Marketing

By  | Monday April 21, 2014 @ 12:12pm PDT

BuschColumnColumn: Social media has had a tremendous impact on movie and television marketing, increasing awareness and visibility for a TV show or movie across the globe in a click — a lot clicks — of a button. Some of the best social jimmy-fallon-ftrmedia teams right now on TV are the two Jimmys — late-night talk hosts Jimmy Fallonand Jimmy Kimmel. These two are in a constant battle for viewers and they really go at each other on social media. Their social engagement across platforms and their understanding of social heralds a new generation of savvy Hollywood stars backed by sophisticated jimmykimmelonline marketing teams that understand how to push past traditional media to build a tremendous fan base. Increasingly, stars, celebrities and their teams are using social media to extend awareness of their brands — because that is what they have become — online and off, driving ratings and box office as well as bigger fan bases.

Vin-DieselThese days, a performer’s social media footprint is strongly considered when marketers start strategizing a film’s campaign. Vin Diesel is the current king of social, almost entirely because of the monster presence he’s built onFacebook. In the months since his emotional tribute on FB for his good friend and Fast & Furious co-star Paul Walker who died in a car crash, Diesel has seen his Facebook presence vault from an already whopping 54M likes to 72.3M, according to RelishMix, which tracks social-media engagement by TV shows, films and performers. And in six months, his following has jumped 46%.RelishMIX-FBactors1


Unlike Kimmel and Fallon, Diesel has no team to manage his social profile. He does it entirely on his own. “Vin is a very unique case in that he curates that himself and the voice is authentic and all the posts seem real because they are real,” says Michael Moses, co-president of marketing at Universal Pictures. “He doesn’t have a social-media team. He maintains that. He has an authentic relationship with his fans.” Moses calls it “a higher level of commitment and engagement.”

Although marketers still rely on traditional media to launch feature films, they no longer can overlook the worldwide boost they can get when a performer with a big social media base, no matter who’s managing that brand. Emma Watson has a social media team but is one of the most engaging actresses on social media, utilizing both Facebook (21.2 million fans) and Twitter (12.8 million followers).

Emma WatsonThere is no doubt her engagement with fans helped build awareness for Noah. “Emma Watson has a robust social media following. She is ahead of the game. Throughout her career she has always garnered a broad fanship online,” said Paramount Pictures chief marketing officer Josh Greenstein. Watson, of course, burst onto the scene with theHarry Potter movies but also chose to do the quirkyPerks Of A Wallflower, an interesting choice that opened up her fan base to a new audience. “When she speaks to her fans, it’s authentic,” said Greenstein. “She is incredibly tuned in to them with honest dialogue and conversation. She has a team but really drives all of it and is incredibly involved. We also used her on the MTV social feed for a day … a day ‘s worth of her posts reached 70 million people … across all MTV platforms.” MTV and Paramount are both Viacom-owned. Noah‘s star Russell Crowe also documented his entire publicity tour on Twitter.

selena gomez WMEAlso active is Selena Gomez, who is on tour promoting her new album. Her Facebook page, under the name Selena, has 58.1M followers and 19.5M Twitter followers. She just recently changed representationfrom CAA to WME and Brillstein. “She’s posting photos and getting half a million likes just on images alone,” said RelishMix CEO Marc Karzen. “She is constantly engaging her fans and they love it. It is very personal and she gives them tons of behind the scenes stuff. She is totally engaging people. The share counts, the comment counts and likes are enormous. She is doing it right.”

DwayneJohnson“As a movie marketer, I see tremendous value in this kind of direct dialogue with fans in how it fits into our overall marketing strategy,” said Greenstein, who added Paramount had a lot of help building pre-awareness and awareness on GI Joe and Hercules because of Dwayne Johnson’s social-media base. He has 31.1M Facebook followers. Social media campaigns work best when they are “weaved into the overall campaign,” Greenstein said. Moses agreed.

Social media helped drive the surprise success of Ride Along thanks to star Kevin Hart, who Moses said is “at the cutting edge” in using social media “in an authentic way. We definitely benefited with (Hart’s social engagement) on the opening of Ride Along. It just extended and amplified those (traditional) activities in a seismic way. You can think of him as a marketing engine because he uses his own social platforms in such a dynamic way.” Hart’s Facebook page is now up to 13.2 million likes, up 59% in six months. On his biggest day, Hart’s Facebook page added 110k likes. kevinhart1So what happened on that day, October 13? RelishMix found he made three different cell phone videos and posted them all to his page. On Twitter, Hart is now has 10.3 million followers, up 16.6% in six months. His biggest day, Valentine’s Day, coincided with the debut of Sony’s remake of About Last Night, in which he stars. That day, Hart added 19,000 followers on Twitter, and Sony socked away a $25.6M opening weekend.

markwahlbergMark Wahlberg has become another social-media powerhouse. He was star of another surprise hit, Ted, whose foul-mouthed Teddy bear character “became the biggest movie character on Twitter by having a very outrageous, very tweet-able voice.” The studio built out a brand for Ted from scratch, and Moses gave a lot of credit to both the writers and Wahlberg. The interesting point about Wahlberg is that he is a crossover social-media force, helping drive audiences to programs on both TV and film. “We tracked both of the Wahlbergs leading up to their reality show The Wahlburgers, and what we found is the brothers cross over from film to cable broadcast which is unique,” Karzen said of Mark and his brother Donnie. “They are working social across both mediums in a very powerful way.”

11-xwahl_p037_alma_donnieRasha Drachkovitch, executive producer of A&E’s Wahlburgers, said the Wahlbergs’ social media activity “keeps the show alive past the airing of the show. Both of them have outreach in the millions and if they comment during the show, Donnie keeps a very active dialogue throughout the show, and it reflects in the ratings.” The show debuted to a strong 3.3 million viewers and 2.7 million total viewers through the first season. That included 1.6 million adults in the 25-54 and 18-49 demo.

Related: Study: Viewers Love Their Stars on Twitter, Too

“It’s fantastic as a producer because the promotion just comes naturally and it’s such an added benefit to have such socially active media partners, because they bring so many more eyes to the show,” said Drachkovitch. All that social activity does bring some new problems, however. Drachkovitch feels the pressure more than ever to deliver a quality product. And now social media will become a storyline within the show itself. The Wahlbergs’ mother, Alma, will go high-tech, asking her son Donnie for advice on how to get on social media. “So we’re going to film that in real time as she ventures onto Twitter, and we’ll be able to measure real-time popularity,” Drachkovitch said.

One of Universal’s biggest franchises — Fast & Furious — has a following of 44 million likes on Facebook. And here’s one of the most interesting aspects of that: Instead of going to a press outlet to announce news, Universal says it can control the information by announcing what they need to directly to fans on FB — 44 million of them. “It’s a very powerful thing,” said Moses. That tactic was used most recently when the studio used the platform to announce Paul Walker’s brothers would help finish his action scenes for Fast & Furious 7.

robert-downey-jr-tallIs it any wonder that Robert Downey, Jr.opened his own Twitter account? In about 48 hours, the Iron Man racked up more than 1 million followers. As of today, #RDJ (as he’s called in social-media shorthand) has 1.35 million followers after only eight tweets. He is clearly learning as he goes (we all start in the same chair).

Some actors get the marketing benefit of being on social platforms, others don’t. Some enjoy it, as Diesel obviously does, and others shy away from opening up their lives to the world even more than otherwise. Also, depending on what they use it for — such as standing up for potentially controversial social issues — having a big social-media following can backfire. ”It’s great that you have many fans, but it’s definitely in how you use the platform,” noted Moses.

To that point, one TV series using social platforms well is ABC’s Scandal, which has been engaging the all-important 18-49 demo thanks in part to creatorShonda Rhimes’ production company’s savvy use of social media and the show’s principals taking to Twitter to engage fans both before, during and after episodes air.

Another great example is when Universal launched Fast & Furious 6 with traditional, and expensive, Super Bowl TV ads, then coordinated with all the film’s talent to leverage their social followings and push out the spot online at the same time. “We monitored the conversation after that and what we found was we had more volume of social media conversation than the other five films combined that placed ads on the Super Bowl so that’s when you really see the results of the social platform being used as a marketing engine,” Moses said. “In terms of scale, you are operating at a level that is equal to or bigger than existing portals.”


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Deadline: The ABCs Of Aereo: What Is Aereo And Why Are Broadcasters Taking It To The Supreme Court?

By  and  | Wednesday April 16, 2014 @ 1:01pm EDT

U.S. Supreme Court justices are so mistrustful of technology that they bar TV cameras from their proceedings and require visitors to check their smartphones at the door.What Is Aereo But on April 22 they will take an hour to hear arguments in a case that could re-shape television and the Internet. All of the major broadcast companies are challenging the legality of an upstart streaming service: Aereo, a company backed by IAC chief Barry Diller that began to sign up subscribers in New York City in February 2012. The issues both sides will raise are complicated. But the controversy boils down to an important question: What rights do broadcasters and citizens have to content on the publicly owned airwaves?

Related: It’s On! – Supreme Court Agrees To Hear Aereo Case

Q: How does Aereo work?
A: Subscribers in the cities Aereo serves pay a minimum of $8 a month. That gives them exclusive access to one of its thousands of dime-sized antennas that pick up free, local, over-the-air broadcasts. The company then streams the live programming in the same local market to subscribers’ Web-connected TVs, computers, or mobile devices.

Aereo info graphic

Q: Does it just stream live TV?
A: Aereo also offers a remote storage DVR. Just like with a home DVR, each customer can choose programs to record, and then watch later with the same fast-forward and rewind capabilities. The difference is that the digital files are kept on Aereo’s servers, not on a hard drive in the home. Those who pay $8 per month get 20 hours of DVR storage each month and access to one antenna, while those paying $12 get 60 hours and access to two antennas.

Aereo mapQ: Where can people subscribe?
A: Aereo began in New York, and now also is available in Boston, Atlanta, Detroit, Cincinnati, Baltimore, Dallas, Austin, Houston, Miami, and San Antonio. It plans to launch in cities including Washington, DC, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Chicago, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, and Kansas City.

Q: Why does that bother broadcasters?
A: Aereo doesn’t pay local TV stations when it streams their programming. Broadcasters say that infringes on their copyrights.

Q: So it’s just about legal theory?
A: Broadcasters also fear that they could lose a fortune. If Aereo can air popular shows from ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and others, the thinking goes, then cable and satellite companies might try to do the same thing. If they did, then it potentially could ruin broadcasters’ efforts to collect retransmission consent fees from them. That should represent $7.1B in revenues for the broadcast industry in 2018, up from $3.3B last year, RBC Capital Markets analyst David Bank estimates.

Related: Would The Supreme Court Upend The TV Business If It Sides With Aereo?

Chet Kanojia Aereo antennaQ: What does Aereo say?
A: Broadcasters already distribute their signals for free to anyone who has an antenna. Aereo says it simply leases the technology that consumers need to take advantage of their right to access free, over-the-air TV.

Q: What issues will shape the eventual ruling?
A: There are several. But fundamentally Aereo wants to demonstrate that it’s a neutral part of a consumer-controlled TV reception process. Broadcasters argue that Aereo’s technology influences what goes to subscribers. In other words, it isn’t simply a remote antenna — it’s more akin to a cable or satellite service that packages channels for subscribers.

Q: Well, Aereo has that remote DVR function.
A: Yes, but the U.S. District Court ruled in 2008, in a case involving Cablevision, that the remote DVR doesn’t violate broadcasters’ copyrights.

LeslieMoonvesQ: Is Aereo a serious threat to broadcasters?
A: Depends on who’s talking, and to whom they’re speaking. In February, CBS chief Les Moonves told investors that he has plenty of options and if Aereo wins “we’re not going to be financially handicapped at all.” He predicts that his company will collect $2B in restransmission consent revenues in 2020 and “we will hit that number regardless of what happens with Aereo.” But in a legal brief to the Supreme Court, the broadcasters say that if Aereo prevails then it “would launch a race by cable and satellite companies to develop competing methods to capture copyrighted content and re-sell it without paying for the right to do so.” If that happens, then broadcasters would have little choice but to “reconsider the quality and quantity of the programs they broadcast for free over the air.”

Q: What does that mean?
A: Broadcast execs say that they might take their most popular primetime shows off of free TV, and just make them available to the 85% of households that subscribe to pay TV.

Related: Are DirecTV, Time Warner Cable And Charter Planning To Mimic Aereo?

Q: Who supports the broadcasters?
A: A lot of people were surprised when the Obama administration, through the U.S. Solicitor General, filed a friend of the court brief supporting their case. Others siding with them include ASCAP, the Copyright Alliance, International Center for Law and Economics, Major League Baseball, National Association of Broadcasters, the NFL, SAG, Time Warner, Viacom, and the Washington Legal Foundation.

barry_diller1.jpgbarry_diller1.jpgBarry DillerQ: What happens if Aereo loses the case?
A: Then “Aereo is finished” says Diller. What’s more, the company says it would create a legal precedent that could endanger the ability of consumers to store and access music or videos from cloud storage destinations such as Google Drive.

Q: Who supports Aereo?
A: The American Cable Association, Computer and Communications Industry Association, Consumer Electronics Association, Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, Dish Network, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Engine Advocacy, Mozilla, Public Knowledge, and some small broadcasters all filed briefs backing Aereo.

Related: Sundance: Aereo CEO Cheered For Being Sued By Broadcasters

Q: What have lower courts said?
A: The core case against Aereo hasn’t gone to trial yet. But many of the issues were raised after broadcasters asked courts to issue an injunction that would bar Aereo from doing business while the main case is litigated. The streaming service prevailed in two U.S. District Court jurisdictions: New York and Boston. In February a District Court judge in Utah sided with the broadcasters, and last month the Appeals Court there refused to overturn the injunction.

Q: What’s the case that’s going to the Supreme Court?
A: Broadcasters want it to overturn a New York Appeals Court ruling from April 2013 that rejected the plaintiffs’ plea to shut Aereo while the case about its legality proceeds.

Network logosQ: Who exactly is suing Aereo?
A: Disney (ABC and Disney Enterprises), CBS (CBS Broadcasting and CBS Studios), Comcast (NBCUniversal Media, NBC Studios, Universal Network Television, and Telemundo Network Group), WNJU, WNET and Thirteen Productions, Fox (Fox Television Stations, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp), WPIX, Univision (Univision Television Group and the Univision Network Limited Partnership), and the Public Broadcasting Service.

Q: Who’s likely to prevail at the Supreme Court?
A: Who knows? But Aereo could benefit from the fact that Justice Samuel Alito recused himself — likely because he has owned, and perhaps still does own, stock in Disney, one of the plaintiffs. If the remaining eight justices split evenly, then the Appeals Court decision favoring Aereo would stand. Put another way, broadcasters need five of the eight judges to win. Whatever the outcome, it is expected the SCOTUS will reveal its decision by early summer.

Q: Would a Supreme Court decision end the debate?
A: Probably not. The world is filled with clever lawyers, lobbyists, and entrepreneurs. If broadcasters lose, then don’t be surprised if they ask Congress to change the law to make services like Aereo illegal. And if Aereo loses, either it — or someone else — could look at the rationale behind the Court’s decision and then engineer a service that would still stream free TV in a way that complies with the new guidelines.

Q: How much cash does Aereo have?
A:  Investors have kicked in $97M. In addition to IAC, backers include FirstMark Capital, First Round Capital, Highland Capital Partners, High Line Venture Partners, Lauder Partners, SV Angel, Gordon Crawford, and Himalaya Capital Management.


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Deadline: How Social Media Helps Drive ABC’s ‘Scandal’

By  | Thursday April 17, 2014 @ 4:12pm PDT

ABP-8201 Scandal KeyArt.inddABC‘s D.C. fixer drama Scandal has built big ratings in three seasons with a potent mix of often ridiculous plot twists and creator Shonda Rhimes’ savvy use of social media, which has bound fans closely to the show and its stars. That combo has paid off: Ahead of tonight’s season finale, which is certain to feature another signature shocker,Scandal has added 3 million viewers (for 11.5 million total). It’s up even more in the key adults 18-49 demo, +43% compared with last season, according to Nielsen. That demographic also represents most of the heaviest social-media users and is fervently sought by marketers.

Related: ‘Scandal’: Shonda Rhimes Does It Again With Season Finale

Scandal table with red borderScandal‘s OMG moments, and the chance to feverishly chat about them online as they happen, have glued fans to the show’s actual broadcasts, instead of waiting to watch an episode later on DVR, VOD or Hulu. To further stick fans to their TV-side seats, Rhimes and other show principals including star Kerry Washington also take part, tweeting and posting with fans before, during and after airings. That close connection has been a crucial part of the show’s growth. According to RelishMIX, the social-media analytics firm, followings for those show-connected accounts have exploded — led by Washington’s Facebook account, which jumped an eye-popping 466% in Season 3. That comes after an offseason filled with awards appearances that really fueled the show’s social-media growth. In fact, says RelishMIX CEO Marc Karzen, the biggest growth in Washington’s Facebook account happened in and around her (very pregnant) appearances at the Golden Globes and SAG Awards. Those red carpet photos set fans abuzz for days.

Related: ‘Scandal’ Among Peabody Award Winners


The growth hasn’t just been in the official accounts either. RelishMIX tracks what it calls the Social Media Universe for TV shows and films on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. It looks not only at the official accounts connected to an entertainment property and its principals but also at those superfans who post regularly and often create show-themed online content such as fan fiction, GIFs and detailed plot postmortems. In Scandal‘s case, that often can include video breakdowns of every lingering kiss and KERRY WASHINGTONcaress between Washington’s character and her secret lover/former boss (Tony Goldwyn), who also happens to be the U.S. president. As the RelishMIX graphic shows, Scandalhas really taken off on Facebook and (especially lately) Twitter. The show also has attracted an ardent (and sometimes quite critical) fan base on Tumblr.

Related: ‘SNL’: Lena Dunham Joins In Parody Of ABC’s ‘Scandal’ (Video)

Karzen said Rhimes’ production company Shondaland has been effective in using social media to support both Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy, Rhimes’ other, older Thursday night drama on ABC. Scandal is now fourth among ABC dramas in social-media engagement, and 12th among all networks’ dramas. “How do you drive social engagement for a show?” Karzen asks. “Go to ‘Shondaland Social Media University’ and find out. Scandal was a midseason replacement that found an audience by force feeding these fans who eat it up.”

Related: Spanish-Language ‘Scandal’ Spoof On ‘Jimmy Kimmel’ To Become Series

ABC also is hoping the Scandal finale boosts Jimmy Kimmel’s late-night talker tonight. Rhimes will hold court on Jimmy Kimmel Live!which has built its Thursday nights around the D.C. fixer series as Kimmel battle Jimmy Fallon et al. for late-night supremacy online and off. Throughout the season, the network has cross-promoted “Scandal Thursdays” there. Kimmel is coming back into the studio during a week of reruns to sit down with Rhimes — in what they’re entertainingly calling Behind The Scandalabra.


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MAC OBSERVER: Apple Rolls Out 6.1.1 Update for 2nd, 3rd Gen Apple TV

Apple Rolls Out 6.1.1 Update for 2nd, 3rd Gen Apple TV

Apr 22nd, 2014 1:09 PM EDT | Product News

Apple released Apple TV Update 6.1.1 for the second and third generation Apple TV on Tuesday along side iOS 7.1.1 for the iPhone and iPad. So far, there aren’t any details available about what’s included in the update, but it seems likely that it’s intended to keep the Apple TV software in step with the new iOS 7.1.1 update.

Apple TV 6.1.1 update now available

Apple TV auto-checks for updates on a weekly schedule, so you don’t have to do anything other than wait for it to show up. If you want to install the update right away, however, here’s what to do:

  • Choose Settings on your Apple TV
  • Select General
  • Scroll down to Software Updates
  • Choose Update Software

Be sure to leave your Apple TV plugged in and on during the update process to avoid any problems.

Apple TV Update 6.1.1 is free for all second and third generation Apple TV owners.



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ERIC TUNG: Google Reveals New AdWords Features: App Ads, ‘Enterprise’ Tools & More

During a live stream event today, Google announced three key AdWords updates that will be launched over the next few months – new app ads, more insightful reporting, and tools for efficiency and scale.

Jerry Dischler, VP of Product Management for AdWords, explained the motivation behind the updates, saying “It’s no longer about devices its about connecting people to the content they care about whether online, mobile sites, or on apps.”

New App Ads

Hotels San Francisco Installed App Search Ad

New mobile app promotion features will be launched across AdWords in search ads, Google display network, and YouTube.

Consumers are typically looking to solve problems with apps. Google will look at information from Google Play that results in most installations and suggest keywords to advertisers to gain most app installations. This allows targeting customers based on their behavior such as the apps they use, frequency of use, and in-app purchases.

Google notes that more than 80 percent of downloaded apps are used only once and then deleted. Now ads will also begin to include capability to “app deep linking” to drive searchers directly to pages in an app encouraging further engagement.

Conversion measurement for app ads will provide insights such as installation, re-engagement, and in-app purchases.

More Insightful Reporting

Measuring conversions with the constantly connected consumer is challenging and complicated. Conversions can occur through multiple touch points, starting on one device then being completed on another. As a result, Google last year launched estimated total conversions to measure conversions across multiple devices.

Now Google is starting to develop a solution to measure in-store transactions that track off-line conversions. Using this expanded data, advertisers can optimize and deliver more targeted ads when considering in-store transactions.

Tools for Efficiency and Scale

Finally, Google will offer enterprise-class workflow, reporting, and optimization tools for AdWords. It will support bulk actions directly in AdWords. For example, a promotion to update thousands of ads can be done with a few clicks in the interface across a number of campaigns.

Improvement to conversions optimizers and automated bidding will include an enterprise like solution to advertisers where advertisers can set efficiency targets in to maximize conversions based on a number of business goals.

Paul Feng, Director of Product Management AdWords Platform, introduced reporting improvements for advertisers to help visualize and test real world data.

Enhanced reporting tools will allow analysis directly in AdWords in a multi-dimensional analysis tool. Reports can be customized and changed easily by dragging and dropping metrics into a table to avoid the importing, exporting, and formatting of data in spreadsheets extracted from AdWords. This new reporting tool includes graphing capabilities with bar, lines, and pie charts.

New campaign testing capabilities allow creation of draft campaigns to stage and test ideas without fully committing to them. The drafts can be either automatically applied to the campaign or used in an experiment.

Experiments can include several different campaign component such as bid changes, new keywords, campaign settings, special bids for times and locations, ad formats, and more. An experiment will be applied to a portion of the traffic to make more data driven decisions based on the test results.


  • Google’s announcements today demonstrate a committed focus to continue to promote growth in mobile advertising in AdWords.
  • Enhanced capabilities in app advertising will lead the way advertisers think about developing and promoting their apps to increase installations and engagement.
  • The launch of Enterprise level tools in AdWords will offer more convenience for advertisers, but will likely compete with some third party management solutions advertisers have used as they were previously the only option for bulk actions, bid management, and reporting.

The presented announcement is available on the AdWords Blog.




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