Mashable Staffers Laid Off as Site Pushes Further Into Video

April 7, 2016  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

A week after finding a TV partner in its hastened push into video, Mashable.com is laying off several editorial staffers. "We are certain this is the right direction for Mashable. But that doesn't make it any less difficult to say goodbye to our friends and teammates," writes Mashable CEO Pete Cashmore in a memo posted on LinkedIn. Chief content officer Jim Roberts and CRO Seth Rogin are among those leaving the company. Both joined Mashable from The New York Times in 2013. "Jim has been instrumental in building Mashable into a truly global media brand," wrote Cashmore. "He has built an editorial team that stands for trust, credibility and accuracy, allowing us to compete with some of the world's most established media companies." Rogin, meanwhile, will move to a "new venture," Cashmore writes. I've worked with some amazing digital journalists in my 2 1/2 years at Mashable. You know who you are. Thanks for making it such a gas. — Jim Roberts (@nycjim) April 7, 2016 The site will scrap coverage of world news and politics, laying off the entire politics team, and will instead focus on technology, web culture, science, social media, entertainment, business and lifestyle

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FX CEO Says ‘Human Curation’ Is Still More Important Than Data

April 5, 2016  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Just a month into upfront season, and the buzz around data has already become deafening. But at least one company, FX Networks, is making the case to advertisers that their upfront buys should be based on more than just audience targeting. "I think something's really getting missed in the focus on data, which is the quality of attention," FX Networks CEO John Landgraf told Adweek. "It doesn't really matter how well you can target people. You need to give them something valuable enough to really command their attention, and not only the attention to engage with your content but the advertising associated with that content." Landgraf said FX's slate—which includes shows like American Horror Story, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story and Fargo—has value to advertisers that is "vast orders of magnitude greater than anything you can get from somebody watching 30 seconds or a minute of amateur content [online]." The CEO argued that getting a consumer to engage with a show for 30 minutes, the average time spent viewing FX's digital programming, "is way more valuable than associating a commercial with a short, disposable clip which the viewer will not remember five minutes after she sees it [on Facebook or YouTube]." "Year after year, we work really, really hard to try to make things of extraordinary value to the audience on the theory—and I think it's a valid theory—that it creates extraordinary value for advertisers," Landgraf said. "So you can have all the sophisticated data and targeting in the world, and you can put an ad in front of a specific viewer. But if you don't provide them with a piece of content they love, you can't get them to watch the commercial." It was a point the network drove home last week when it kicked off its annual upfront bowling party (now in its seventh year) at New York's Lucky Strike Manhattan by screening the riveting finale of The People v. O.J. Simpson, which airs tonight

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Ratings Plummet for NCAA Championship After Its Move to Cable

April 5, 2016  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

At the beginning of the 2016 NCAA Tournament, Turner Broadcasting president David Levy claimed the difference between broadcast and cable "is almost non existent anymore." However, despite a National Championship game that will go down as a classic—Villanova defeated North Carolina on Kris Jenkins' three-pointer as the clock expired—the NCAA title game averaged 10 million fewer viewers than last year. This was also the first year the title game aired on cable TV. Monday night's game averaged 17.8 million across TBS, TNT and truTV, down 37 percent from the 28.3 million that watched Duke beat Wisconsin last April on CBS. In terms of household rating—the metric by which sports ad sales are sold— Monday's game notched a 13.2, down 38 percent. It was the lowest-rated National Championship game ever. From now until the end of the rights deal—through 2024—CBS and TBS will alternate airing the Championships and Final Four. But attributing the steep drop to moving the game from broadcast to cable only tells part of the story. Cable networks, even those with wide carriage like TBS, still have a far smaller reach compared to their broadcast counterparts. But they can still draw a crowd.

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Ratings Plummet for NCAA Championship After Its Move to Cable

April 5, 2016  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

At the beginning of the 2016 NCAA Tournament, Turner Broadcasting president David Levy claimed the difference between broadcast and cable "is almost non existent anymore." However, despite a National Championship game that will go down as a classic—Villanova defeated North Carolina on Kris Jenkins' three-pointer as the clock expired—the NCAA title game averaged 10 million fewer viewers than last year. This was also the first year the title game aired on cable TV. Monday night's game averaged 17.8 million across TBS, TNT and truTV, down 37 percent from the 28.3 million that watched Duke beat Wisconsin last April on CBS. In terms of household rating—the metric by which sports ad sales are sold— Monday's game notched a 13.2, down 38 percent. It was the lowest-rated National Championship game ever. From now until the end of the rights deal—through 2024—CBS and TBS will alternate airing the Championships and Final Four. But attributing the steep drop to moving the game from broadcast to cable only tells part of the story

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How It Feels to Go Viral, Then Watch Your Content Get Stolen All Over the Internet

April 4, 2016  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

On a Tuesday morning in December, I uploaded my late-night talk show's 449th video to YouTube, then went about my day. By the afternoon, I was thinking this one—a mockumentary called "Instagram Husband" created for our Springfield, Missouri-based show, The Mystery Hour —might be different. The next day, when it hit 1 million views, I knew it was different. And by the time the next week rolled around, I didn't know which way was up anymore. When I came up with the idea for "Instagram Husband," I had a vague sense it had the chance to go viral, because when I shared the idea with people they enthusiastically related. I thought people I know would share it, the team that helped create it would share it, fans of my show would share it, and it would be a nice little feather in the cap. I never would have guessed just how big it would become. It's hard to accurately describe the feeling of going viral for the first time. The best I can come up with is that it's like you're dropped into the ocean with stray planks of wood, nails and a hammer. As you're frantically treading water, you're also trying to figure out how to build your boat at the same time. I'm proud that we built The Mystery Hour slowly from underground hit, to television, to syndication with good, live crowds—all in Springfield. The operative word here is "slowly." We slowly built things in a nice stair-step fashion. Then, with one video, I was getting calls and emails from press around the world and from people in the entertainment industry in New York and Los Angeles

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NBCUniversal and Vox Team Up to Sell Cross-Platform, Premium Digital Advertising

April 4, 2016  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

NBCUniversal is finally ready to start seeing some big returns on its $200 million investment in Vox Media. The two companies are teaming up to sell premium advertising across all of their combined digital properties with a new inventory tool called Concert. The partnership will offer "premium, safe environments" for advertisers, according to Linda Yaccarino, NBCUniversal's chairman of advertising sales and client partnerships, across Vox Media's eight properties and NBCUniversal's digital properties. The companies said that represents a combined audience of more than 150 million people, according to ComScore data. It's the first sales partnership between the two companies since NBCUniversal invested $200 million in Vox Media last August . Concert "was at the top of the list" as the companies began to discuss how they could work together, said Jim Bankoff, chairman and CEO of Vox Media. "[The digital space] hasn't always been the best medium for advertisers that had brand-building objectives," said Bankoff. While direct-response and targeting have been successful, the digital space has struggled with "awareness creation, identity creation, brand building—the kind of things that television and magazines have been good at, creating that experience and telling marketers' stories." The partnership—which covers digital advertising including branded content, native ads, video, text and photo elements—will help address advertisers' concerns about viewability and fraud in digital advertising. "That might be OK if you're just trying to sell something, but if you're trying to create an image or build a brand, context does matter, as does the creative strategy," Bankoff said.

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Will Scandal’s Sixth Season Be Its Last?

April 4, 2016  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Kerry Washington's hit series Scandal anchors ABC's vaunted TGIT lineup—and is the network's third most popular series in the 18-49 demo. But the drama could be nearing its conclusion. The network last month renewed the series for a sixth season, but creator Shonda Rhimes affirmed with Adweek last summer that "Scandal is a limited story," unlike her series Grey's Anatomy , which she suggested could continue for years to come (and which was just picked up for Season 13). "I am not watching [Washington's character] Olivia Pope grow up," explained Rhimes. "I am watching a specific moment in time, and I feel like in order to tell the story correctly, you have to end it." Rhimes has remained silent about when she plans to wrap up the series, however. For her part, Washington says she hasn't talked with Rhimes about when Scandal will close shop, adding that she is happy to leave that decision solely in her boss' hands. "I trust her," she says. "We are where we are because of her decision-making." Washington's co-star Tony Goldwyn, who plays President Fitzgerald Grant, is also in the dark. "I know my boss too well to do that," he says of asking Rhimes her plans for the show. But he suggests that next season could be the series' logical end point

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Discovery Communications Is Thinking Globally (and Digitally) With Advertising Bouncing Back

March 31, 2016  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Discovery Communications will be interacting with U.S. buyers and advertisers during this year's upfront presentations as always, but the company has shifted to a global focus on its content. "The basic elements of our business have turned significantly more positive," said David Zaslav, president and CEO of Discovery Communications, at an upfront press breakfast today. "We're spending more money on content and our brands. Our primary focus is growing audience around the world." (The company spends more than $2 billion annually on content.) For a second year, the company is eschewing its traditional upfront gala in favor of holding 14 agency presentations around the country. As part of his upfront message, Zaslav pointed to "deceleration" of Discovery's recent U.S.

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Turner Hopes Investment in Mashable Makes Them Ideal Partners for the Future of TV

March 31, 2016  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

For years, the relationship between old and new media resembled that of awkward 13-year-olds at a middle school dance, standing on opposite sides of the gymnasium. But the past few years have seemed more like a glittery high school prom, as legacy media companies like NBCUniversal, Disney and A+E Networks have found their dates, investing in digitally native companies like Vice , Maker Studios , BuzzFeed and Vox . And this morning, Turner found its match in Mashable, the 11-year-old digital media outlet. The Time Warner media company led the latest round of funding for Mashable, which received a total of $15 million. Prior investors Time Warner Investments, Updata Partners, David Jones, Mike Lazerow, and R&R Venture Partners are included that in total. But Turner's investment includes more than cold hard cash. Turner's TBS and TNT networks will work with Mashable to co-develop and distribute video content and team up on cross-platform ad sales packages. Turner Entertainment also gains access to Mashable's Velocity platform, which distributes branded content; Mashable will also push out Turner programming. Kevin Reilly, chief creative officer for Turner Entertainment and president of TBS and TNT, joins Mashable's board. "Just as we are redefining these networks and continue to innovate beyond the traditional television universe, Mashable is redefining digital storytelling, making us ideal partners in today's rapidly evolving media ecosystem," said Reilly in a statement. "We're confident our partnership will increase the cultural relevance of Turner and Mashable content across all of our platforms." Mashable, which will for the first time present at the Digital Content NewFronts in May, said it will use the new funding to further expand its video offerings and enhance its proprietary technology and data platforms, as well as beef up its premium advertising offerings. Last June, the company launched Mashable Studios, which creates serialized video programming and branded entertainment. "The most exciting thing right now is the future of TV. Turner, home to the top rated cable networks, is the perfect partner to bring the best of tech and digital culture to TV in fresh ways," said Pete Cashmore, CEO and founder of Mashable. "Kevin Reilly is a creative visionary that will be a huge asset as we continue to grow as a global entertainment brand."

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NBCUniversal Will Combine Its Cable, NBC and Telemundo Upfront Presentations

March 30, 2016  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

The broadcast upfront week just got a lot more interesting—and a little bit shorter. NBCUniversal has decided to merge its NBC, Telemundo and NBCU cable entertainment upfronts into a single NBCU presentation, which will be held on Monday, May 16 at New York's Radio City Music Hall. The news was first reported by The Hollywood Reporter . Traditionally, NBC has had the Monday Radio City upfront to itself, with Telemundo following on Tuesday evening, and NBCU cable wrapping upfront week with a Thursday afternoon event at the Javits Center. Now, Linda Yaccarino, chairman, advertising sales and client partnerships for NBCUniversal, will make just one upfront pitch to advertisers and buyers that week instead of three separate ones. "As a media company, we have an unparalleled array of networks and digital platforms that reach the most audiences across all dayparts. Our event will reflect the way we go to market as a unified portfolio which makes it easier for our clients to do business with us all together," said Yaccarino said in a statement. "There isn't going to be an upfront event as big and bold as this one. Through our content, we have an unrivaled ability to create an emotional connection like no one else. There's only one place to go for scale and meaningful consumer engagement." In many ways, it's a move that makes sense for NBCU, which has been transacting all of its advertising under a single, companywide portfolio since 2013. Last year's upfront brought in $6 billion across the portfolio. Last November, Yaccarino continued streamlining NBCU ad sales by merging her linear and digital ad sales teams . "Because of the scale of our company, we needed to be more accessible in a bigger, faster way to our clients," who had been requesting a more streamlined method of working with the company, she told Adweek at the time. This will also mark the end of NBCU's combined cable upfront, which the network had added to broadcast upfront week in 2014. Previously, it held individual upfronts for its cable networks like Bravo, USA and Oxygen. Advertisers and buyers will certainly appreciate having two fewer upfronts to attend during that overstuffed week, especially because so many of them have run out of steam by the time they arrive at NBCU's cable presentation on Thursday afternoon. But that Monday upfront—which will now cover Bravo, CNBC, E!, Esquire Network, Golf Channel, MSNBC, NBC Entertainment, NBC News, NBC Sports Network, NBC Universo, Oxygen, Sprout, Syfy, Telemundo and USA—could easily turn into a marathon, as each of those broadcast and cable networks will get their due. Plus, Yaccarino will also need to highlight her team's new initiatives, including selling TV advertising programmatically for the first time this fall . The new format also puts NBC at a disadvantage compared to its fellow broadcast networks, which won't need to share the spotlight as much, if at all, during their respective upfronts later that week. It's also unlikely that the combined upfront will allow for spectacles like NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt's duet with Dolly Parton , which was a memorable, surreal highlight of last year's NBC presentation.

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