Archive for April, 2012

E! Hits Upfront With Rebranding

April 30, 2012  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

How excited is E!? It’s so amped, it’s actually merging with the exclamation mark. The cable network is set to unveil a full-blown rebrand today (April 30) at its first-ever New York upfront party, where it’s celebrating a new-ish identity as a part of Bonnie Hammer’s NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment group by unveiling an upgraded brand identity and several new series. First and foremost, there’s the Nigel Lythgoe-produced Opening Act , a sort of anti-competition series in which Lythgoe (of American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance fame) and his network of recording industry pals seek out promising amateur performers on the Web and surprise them with a chance to open for names like Nicki Minaj (and some even bigger acts are rumored). “[In other competition shows] the nerves are usually on the performers,” said E! president Suzanne Kolb. “Now the nerves are all on us because we’re hoping these people are really good. We’re hoping it’ll be closer to reality.” There are other high-profile names on the slate, too. Married to Jonas follows Jonas brother Kevin and his new wife Dani as the pair deals with celeb/Muggle intermarriage. And there’s Love You, Mean It With Whitney Cummings , a show that adds the omnipresent Cummings to E!’s lineup of comedians—her 2 Broke Girls on CBS was picked up for a second season in March. Despite a preponderance of celebrity-centric content , though (the Kardashians are still going strong on the network), Kolb said firmly that E! is “not a lifestyle network,” at least not in the same way that term is defined at the other half of the NBCU cable group, Entertainment & Digital Networks (E&D). The two divisions are totally separate, and while E&D’s Style and Bravo may have similar investments, E!’s new branding declares it a “pop culture” network, with a heavier emphasis on the moment’s trends. “Oftentimes when you say ‘lifestyle’ it can feel synonymous with ‘female,’ and we really do target and reach men and women,” Kolb said. Statistics are less emphatic—E!’s Nielsen stats were about 74 percent female in Q1 (and Kolb said there probably won’t be many male-only series on E!)—but the network wants to position shows across the gender gap. It’s a good time for a rebrand for the network, which saw some slowdown in Q1 of 2012. (E! still ranks 19 and 17 in 18-34-year-old viewers in prime time and total day respectively.) With distribution reaching nearly 100 million households, raised awareness from a new marketing push could bring some ratings gains. The goal, clearly, is to bring E! into line with some of Hammer’s other properties, namely USA and Syfy—which recently had an unusually successful rebrand under Hammer and network president Dave Howe

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Gap, H&M, Sephora and Others Unwrap New Social Gifting Service in the U.S.

April 30, 2012  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

More than 25 major retailers, including the Gap, H&M, Sephora and Brooklyn Industries, are working with a Swedish company named Wrapp to roll-out a social gifting service starting today. The intention of the service is to drive consumers into stores, much like Groupon, but rather than enticing them with coupons, the bait is even richer: Free gift cards. Wrapp, which was founded by a mix of former executives from Spotify and Groupon and received financial backing from Reid Hoffman of Greylock Partners , is now available in the U.S. It works like this: Using Facebook and a mobile application, people can give their Facebook friends free gift cards, commonly valued at $5 to $15. A notification saying that they’ve received a gift card is posted to that friend’s wall, where anyone can see it and contribute more money if they wish. The person, who received the gift card, can then redeem it using a mobile application in the store. Lexy Funk, the CEO of Brooklyn Industries , a New York retailer that sells handbags and apparel online and at a dozen-or-so stores, said she was drawn to the concept because of its ability to target customers based on their Facebook information, including age. “Wrapp has the potential to be more sophisticated for us and the consumer,” she said, adding that she experimented with Groupon, but felt it attracted a lot of low-end users.

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Playing Nice at the Upfront

April 30, 2012  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

If past upfronts have been characterized by a good deal of prefatory chest thumping, with sellers crowing about the prices they deserve and buyers countering with curt dismissals, the early talk around this year’s marketplace is practically genteel. For those who’ve had a front seat to some of the more contentious bazaars, it’s as if a bar brawl has given way to a quilting bee. As tends to be the case in advance of a “normalized” market, network ad sales execs and TV buyers seem to agree on many of the fundamentals. The consensus view has overall dollar volume ranging from flat-to-up 5 percent. If that projection holds true, the broadcast and cable nets will book between $18.5 billion and $19.4 billion in advance commitments. According to Pivotal Research Group senior research analyst Brian Wieser, the networks will push for CPM increases between 8 percent and 10 percent. “CBS should command rates at the high end of that range, while everyone else will come in a few points lower,” Wieser said. “Buyers will complain that broadcast’s price increases are too high, but there’s no getting around how network TV is the most efficient way for marketers to secure reach, frequency and GRPs.” While buyers say they paid too much in the supercharged 2011-12 upfront market, the costs were all but inevitable, given the dizzying premiums the networks were nailing down in scatter. “Last year, there was no question that the upfront was going to be a blockbuster,” said one ad sales boss. “Scatter was up 30, 35, 40 percent in the first and second quarter and so you could name your price. Now, with scatter up just a few points [versus last year’s upfront rates], we’re not going to have the benefit of those tailwinds.” To some extent, the ongoing NewFronts circus may have tempered some of the usual pre-upfront rhetoric.

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Peacock keeping T.J.’s Dream alive

April 30, 2012  |  Variety  |  No Comments

TV News: Fundraisers aid brain cancer research

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E! pushes scripted slate

April 29, 2012  |  Variety  |  No Comments

TV News: Cabler puts nine shows into development

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E! orders Whitney Cummings talker

April 29, 2012  |  Variety  |  No Comments

Top News: 'Love You, Mean It' to bow later this year

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Apple Grabs Yahoo Exec in Charge of Shine, Women’s Lifestyles and Health Content

April 29, 2012  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Jessica Jensen, the Yahoo exec in charge of its flagship Shine women’s site, as well as its lifestyles and health content businesses, has left the Silicon Valley Internet giant, the company confirmed. Sources said Jensen is taking a job at Apple, working for former Yahoo and Adobe advertising exec Todd Teresi, who was recently tapped to head the mobile iAd division . At Yahoo, Jensen was the point person on its critical women’s initiatives, including Shine, which is among the top such sites in the U.S., so her departure is a blow to new CEO Scott Thompson’s efforts to push forward its media businesses. Previously, Jensen worked on strategy for Yahoo’s Americas unit, arriving there three years ago from LowImpactLiving.com, a green-housing-sector site that she founded and led. Here she is in a Yahoo “Expert Q&A” video on its advertising solutions site:

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Pilsen film fest fetes ‘House’

April 29, 2012  |  Variety  |  No Comments

Film News: Liova's movie nabs Golden Kingfisher for best pic

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Viral Video: A Pit Bull Is Delicious!

April 29, 2012  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Here’s the full video of President Barack Obama from the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner. It includes the terrific joke he told — riffing on the one Sarah Palin used in the last presidential campaign, about the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull, and referring to the recent spate of stories of him once eating dog. Worth the watch:

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Noted Social Network Researcher Duncan Watts Leaves Yahoo

April 29, 2012  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Duncan Watts, the social science researcher who has been at Yahoo since 2007, has left the company. Yahoo confirmed the departure. Watts has reportedly joined Microsoft’s research organization, but the software company declined to comment. Watts, who is an Australian with degrees in physics and applied mechanics, researches social networks and collective dynamics. He lives in New York and played a role in the creation of The Huffington Post , after writing the influential book, “Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age.” Watts’s departure is one of many within Yahoo’s once-vaunted search business, including Yahoo Labs head Prabhakar Raghavan, who went to Google . Watts’s recent research has tended toward disproving common assumptions about how people and groups behave, as demonstrated on social networks online. For instance, he looked at influence on Twitter (hint: he’s not a fan of Malcolm Gladwell’s concept of influencers, as described in “The Tipping Point”), the likeliness of cooperation on the Web (apparently, it’s not as dependent on others’ behavior as previously assumed), and diversity of opinions about politics among friends (a Facebook study showed friends disagree more than they think they do). In fact, Watts wrote a whole book about how people’s attempts to make sense of the world and how we relate to each other are often wrong — and because our online interactions can be recorded and studied, those assumptions can increasingly be disproved. It’s called “ Everything is Obvious, Once You Know the Answer .” Here’s a video of me interviewing him about it from last year : [ See post to watch video ]

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