Following are highlights from last week’s NewFronts presentations:
The specialist in lists, quizzes and viral videos is sticking to its content-crafted-by-data strategy — which appears to be working, as the company now has 7 billion monthly views, up 2.5 times from a year ago. That’s been driven mainly by the 8-month-old Tasty network, which most recently topped 2 billion monthly video views, mostly on Facebook. BuzzFeed also said it is working with new investor NBCUniversal to jointly pitch brands on projects with talent from both organizations. At the event, comedy quartet The Try Guys (500 million-plus views) unveiled a spinoff series, “The Try Kids,” featuring adorable tots attempting things for the first time.
Kristen Stewart, Gabourey Sidibe and America Ferrera signed on to produce original programming for the femme-focused digital media company. It also launched a virtual-reality production studio, and unveiled two new YouTube channels (Riot, for comedy, and Brawlers, covering women in sports) as well as programming for Facebook Live and Instagram.
The youth-skewing video producer unleashed 30 new series, including sketch show “These 5 People” from the Smosh team (led by YouTube stars Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla) and celebrity parody series “Diss Track” on Defy’s Clevver pop-culture channel.
Condé Nast Entertainment
The publisher’s video production arm is backing three incubators to discover emerging young filmmakers, two in partnership with Indigenous Media. Condé Nast also announced a distribution deal with Comcast, bringing its footprint to 50-plus digital platforms, and relaunched The Scene as a mobile-first video net with partners the NBA and CNN offshoot Great Big Story.
The Verizon-owned Internet company offered up 20 new and upcoming series via interactive booths at its outdoor South Street Seaport fiesta (featuring performances by Demi Lovato and Snoop Dogg). AOL also revealed plans to open a 13,412-square-foot studio space in downtown Manhattan — with a street-facing main stage — as the home for its live-interview-and-event series AOL Build. Slated to open in the fall, the studio will be equipped with cameras that shoot 360-degree video for live VR experiences.
A crowd of 2,700 packed into the theater at Madison Square Garden, where Hulu revealed renewals of its drama “The Path” and sitcom “The Mindy Project,” as well as the pickup of Ron Howard’s Beatles documentary — marking the company’s first foray into the genre. But even more tantalizing was Hulu’s announcement that it’s targeting 2017 for the launch of a cable-like skinny bundle of TV channels, which CEO Mike Hopkins said will “fuse the best of linear TV and on-demand.”
The Web giant, currently on the sales block, held a no-frills session at its New York office highlighting content in its core areas of news, sports, business and lifestyle. Katie Couric wasn’t present, but Yahoo touted the news anchor’s interviews as pulling in nearly 400 million views to date, and said her traffic doubled in the past year. Execs also spotlighted plans to webcast 400 live sporting events in 2016 via its MLB, NHL and PGA deals.
To snag TV ad dollars, it helps to have something that looks like TV. That’s the bet behind the People/Entertainment Weekly Network, featuring longform shows on celebrities and pop culture, set to launch this fall on connected TVs and other devices. The free, ad-supported network will feature a linear, TV-like stream with an initial lineup of about 100 hours of original programming. Time Inc. is also developing a video-only mobile network dedicated to covering digital stars on YouTube, Vine, Snapchat and other social platforms.
Google’s video heavyweight took some (fully expected) swings at TV: CEO Susan Wojcicki boasted that YouTube delivers more viewers 18-49 in primetime than the top 10 TV shows combined. This year, in addition to homegrown creators, YouTube spotlighted TV players exploiting the platform, including James Corden of CBS’ “The Late Late Show” and his viral “Carpool Karaoke” series. Big Bird waddled onstage to introduce Sesame Studios, a new YouTube channel with shorts created specifically for digital, while NBA commissioner Adam Silver gushed over YouTube’s global billion-viewer reach in announcing the league’s pact to make all its digital video content available to buyers of the Google Preferred premium ad network.