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It was refreshing to hear Michael Kassan echo the sentiments in our Newfronts openers — buyers want premium, buyers want hits, and television / digital are closer than ever to being on the same field, in the same ball game. He led a moderated session with Vox Media topper Jim Bankoff, who talked about the future of media and video. Advertisers are migrating dollars, programmatic is set to stay, and video is crucial towards grabbing mass audience appeal. We had a front and center stage view.
New York Times Sticks to What It Does Best
New York Times, on the heels of complete team rebuild, stuck to what they know best — journalistic, high quality storytelling, now in the form of regular video programming. The team also made point to show how the legacy media brand is cultivating their editorial talent as on air talent. The event, held at the Times Center, was overflowing with attendees. A good stable presentation. Given the big changes there over the last year, it will be no surprise if video is retooled a few more times before a cohesive strategy is formed.
Buzzfeed Lacks Buzz, and Finally Talks Like the Content Marketing Agency They Are
Can we just shout out that Buzzfeed was supposed to be doing premium long form video by now under Buzzfeed Studios and Motion Pictures? At the presentation on Monday, which packed the gusto of any good Newfronts presentation, the brand felt like it was on repeat. They reiterated how their data is the main informant for their content, how “viral” is accidental but repeatable for Buzzfeed; they showcased Tasty, and seemed desperate for brand action. If anyone is activating a built if sold model, it’s these guys. Our live stream of the show can be found here, just scroll down. Watch our live stream!
Maker Studios is Stuck in the Past, Boosting Talent
Maker Studios continues to downgrade its presentations and focus on programming. Remember two years ago when Maker had first been acquired? Dreams of video programming for Star Wars and other Disney/Lucas Film projects peaked. It’s been a decline ever since. Last year showed promise of integration. This year, Maker went uber “intimate” with a closed door event/ Maker greenlit four originals from the SPARK program, a sort of pilot program for talent. They announced three additional series, and pumped up Revelmode, the gaming brand launched with PewDiePie.
Defy Media Talks Scale and Showcases New Titles
Defy showed off the scale of their brands AweMe, Break, Clevver, Made Man, SMOSH, and Screen Junkies, touting their 100 million social followers and 800 million monthly video views. They announced new projects coming later this year including Smosh Summer Games 2, “These 5 People,” a new sketch series from the Smosh guys. Docu-reality series “Beauty Trippin” and music comedy show “Diss Track,” both under the Clevver brand, were also announced. “Man At Arms: Reforged with Danny Trejo” and “PawsPlays,” a nerd and cat video show, were announced as part of AweMe’s slate. 30 shows were announced in total. More on Defy here.
Conde Nast Entertainment Strains to Keep Up
As the digital video content arm of a 107-year-old print publishing behemoth, Condé Nast Entertainment (CNÉ) sometimes has to strain to keep up with its younger, more spry competitors, in part because it’s so determined to give people so much of what it has. At its NewFront presentation, held at the 95-year-old Italian neo-renaissance building Cipriani on Tuesday, it announced a distribution partnership with Comcast to expand its distribution across more than 50 platforms, a measurement tool for branded content video performance, and the second iteration of its premium digital platform, The Scene , as a mobile-first video network with social capabilities and a new mobile app going that went live today. It also boasted that it has renewed 62% of its digital series franchises for the 2016–17 season.
AOL Upgrades “Build” to New Studio, Stacked with VR
AOL’s Newfront flipped the playbook this year. In grandiose style similar to what we saw at the last Ran Harnevo-led Newfront in Brooklyn, they took over Seaport village to showcase the brands — TechCrunch, Autoblog, Huffington Post, and Engadget. One thing’s for sure, if you don’t want anyone to know what they are experiencing, host a block party of stages with rotating content and no program. Apparently New Form Digital and Adaptive Studios had content on the stages — fooled us! For the business side, announcements were light, and kept to a private press reception. New hires for RatedRed / Seriously.TV were announced by VideoInk exclusively and AOL announced an upgrade to their Build studio and continued focus on live programming. Tim Armstrong, Jimmy Maymann and Brian Angiolet presented noting culture, code and data are at the core of the company.
Newfronts in Rearview Tell Us, Don’t Believe the Hype
Pick a programming slate unveiled at last year’s NewFronts and google some of the titles. Often, you’ll find that the only mentions of the programs are articles relating to the original announcement.