Digital Companies Offer Peek Inside NewFront PlansCBS Interactive, Disney Interactive Entertainment, Crackle, others say what's in store, what's at stake for the business 4/22/2013 01:54:07 PM Eastern
What's New: "Our content, our original intellectual property and our
distribution have all grown pretty rapidly," says Matt Diamond, CEO of Alloy
Digital, which plans to launch Clevver Chat, using a talk-show format. Alloy
last week acqiured video distributor Digital Broadcasting Group. In November,
it acquired gaming site The Escapist, and last June it picked up Clevver Media,
operator of entertainment-focused YouTube Channels.
What's in Store: Alloy will be showcasing its Smosh Channel,
which is popular with 12-34 year olds. The company will also be talking about
tentpole programs being produced between this fall and spring 2014. There's a
second season of Chasing, a series in which contestants follow a band on
the road. In its first year, Xbox was an advertising partner and cable channel
Fuse was a distribution and advertising partner. New programs include Thirty
Days to Popular, a scripted comedy show; Dorm Biz, which Diamond
describes as The Apprentice meets Shark Tank; and Espressologist,
based on the YA novel of the same name. There's also a nonscripted project
featuring people redoing their high school musical for their high school
What's at Stake: Diamond says in a successful NewFront, programs would be
sold to advertisers because of the event. "Ideally you start a trend and
advertisers are aware that this is the time frame to take a good look at these
programs and if you're interested, to step up and support them," he says.
What's New: CBS Interactive is new this year at the NewFronts. CBSI has
more than 70 original Web series and generates 280 million global unique
visitors each month. Some series are extensions of CBS shows, such as Live
on Letterman and 60 Minutes Overtime. With CBS airing the Super Bowl
and the Grammys earlier this year, CBS Interactive had tentpoles that
represented two of the largest streaming events ever online. "We're learning
what users want online as it relates to major events," says Jim Lanzone,
president of CBSI.
What's in Store: The company plans to introduce a number of new original
shows. It recently launched ACM Sessions, featuring performances by top
country music acts, and Power of Observation, spinning off from
the CBS series Elementary. The company also recently released the CBS
App for iPhone and iPad and a CBS Sports app for iPhone and Android.
What's at Stake: Lanzone says that while CBS' TV upfront focuses on the
broadcast network, at the NewFront, media buyers' attention will be on the
broad range of properties from CBS Interactive. Aside from the CBS properties,
they include CNet and video games. "It's always good to be able to show people
the full breadth of original video content we have across our brand," Lanzone
What's New: Crackle, a division of Sony Pictures Television, did not
participate in last year's NewFronts. The free, ad-supported network spent the
year launching a number of full-length programs. It created a new dedicated
sales team separate from the Sony Pictures Television sales team, with reps in
New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Crackle also built out its
distribution, creating 20 apps for mobile devices, gaming consoles and smart
What's in Store: "This year we're doubling our efforts on the volume of
original content that we're doing," says Eric Berger, executive VP of Digital
Networks for Sony. Crackle is producing a second season of Chosen, an
action series starring Milo Ventimiglia. Ford is an integrated sponsor of the
show. It will also make 24 new episodes of Jerry Seinfeld's Comedians in
Cars Getting Coffee.
What's at Stake: A theme of Crackle's presentation will be New Network,
New Living Room. "The living room has not only changed inside with connected
TVs and game consoles and streaming boxes, but the living room is everywhere.
It's mobile devices, it's PCs, it's anywhere the consumer want to access
video-on-demand," Berger says. "This is a new network. It's not just an
aggregated site of video. It really fits into the definition that we use with
the 100-plus networks inside of Sony Pictures Television Worldwide, meaning
it's a programmed experience targeted to a demographic."
DISNEY INTERACTIVE ENTERTAINMENT
What's New: Disney Interactive Entertainment will be introducing new
products that build on Walt Disney Co.'s heritage of storytelling and bringing
that to the interactive world, says senior VP Mark Walker, adding, "We have a
great deal in the hopper." Also new at Disney Interactive Entertainment is VP
of national sales Josh Mattison, previously with Federated Media.
What's in Store: A recent success story has been Swampy's Underground
Adventure, a Web series on Disney.com that grew out of the iPhone and iPad game app,
Where's My Water, that has been downloaded 100 million times. Now Swampy appears
in interstitials on Disney Channel. The game was also used by Microsoft as part
of the Windows 8 launch. Swampy is an example of intellectual property
that "wasn't video when it starts, but it became high-quality video and then it
was distributed not just on our dotcom destinations, but across all the
different ways that people are accessing video in their living rooms and on the
go," Mattison says. Other new products include OMD (Oh My
Disney), an editorial site, and the mobile game Mittens.
What's at Stake: Disney Interactive is not expected to be profitable
this year, partly because the introduction of the video game Disney Infinity,
which features a host of Disney characters, was delayed three months until
August. The game is likely to be featured in Disney's New- Fronts presentation.
What's New: At last year's DigiFront, Hulu announced four original series:
The Awesomes, Don't Quit Your Daydream, We Got Next and Flow.
What's in Store: Hulu said it will also be presenting comedic thriller The
Wrong Mans and a docuseries Behind the Mask, about sports
mascots, at the DigiFronts. Earlier this year, Hulu also began airing shows
from France and Israel as "Hulu Exclusive series." "It's a thrill to share what
we have planned in 2013," Andy Forssell, Hulu's acting CEO and senior VP of
content, says in a statement. Hulu declined to make an executive available to
discuss the digital upfronts.
What's at Stake: Hulu's future is up in the air. It was reported that
Chernin Group CEO Peter Chernin, who helped launch Hulu when he was president
of News Corp., has offered to buy the streaming site, which is controlled by
News Corp., Walt Disney Co. and Comcast. News Corp. and Disney have had
disagreements over Hulu's future and have discussed buying each other out or
selling to a third party.
What's New: Yahoo produces and distributes more than 50 original made-for-Web
shows and more than 400 episodes per month for those shows. This includes
programming from the in-house production studio Yahoo Studios. Two of Yahoo's
originals have gone from Web to TV: Burning Love, picked up by E!, and Cybergeddon,
which has been bought in international markets.
What's in Store: "We will demonstrate our users' daily video watching
habits, unveil some new original shows with talent joining us on stage, and we
will be showcasing our advertiser technology," a Yahoo representative says.
Yahoo declined to make an executive available to discuss its DigiFronts
strategy because that strategy was changing at presstime.
What's at Stake: Yahoo brought on Marissa Mayer nine months ago as CEO
to focus the Internet company's business. Yahoo's stock is up, but whatever
changes the former Google exec has made, the word has not filtered down to
Madison Avenue, according to recent reports. Senior executives at big media
agencies recently told Advertising Age that because they don't have a good
sense of the company's strategy, Yahoo is less relevant when people are
thinking about digital marketing.