Jukin Media Hires Former Comcast Executive Craig Parks as GM of Brands

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Jukin Media has tapped former Comcast executive Craig Parks as general manager of brands.

Parks, who previously served as VP of programming for Comcast’s now-defunct video platform Watchable, will lead programming and strategy for Jukin Media’s slate of brands. That includes Fail Army and The Pet Collective, which combined have more than 15 million subscribers on YouTube alone.

Prior to Comcast, Craig served as SVP of live programming at Participant Media where he was in charge of live events and special projects.

Also Read: Jukin Media Taps Former Discovery Exec Jill Goldfarb as VP of Linear (Exclusive)

“Craig is a true pro and the perfect choice to lead our efforts as our brands continue to grow and evolve from social media powerhouses to full-fledged multimedia entertainment brands,” president and COO of Jukin Media Lee Essner said in a statement.

“These are truly modern-day media brands, each with an ecosystem that spans all the major social platforms, connected TV, mobile apps and even traditional TV,” Parks said in the joint statement. “Not only are they built for consumers who increasingly spend time across platforms for their entertainment, they’re ideal for advertisers to be able to reach consumers wherever they view video content.”

Founded in 2009, Jukin Media acquires user-generated videos and licenses the content for third-party use, in addition to featuring the videos in its own productions. Jukin’s owned-and-operated media brands, which also include People Are Awesome, JukinVideo and Poke My Heart, have a combined 160 million followers and nearly 4 billion video views across Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram, according to the company.

Also Read: Verizon Follows Comcast in Dropping Jennifer Lopez’s Fuse Media Network

In addition to being distributed across its social channels, its brands have found a home on more than 20 mobile, web and OTT video services, including Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Samsung’s TV Plus, XUMO, Pluto TV, Plex, Tik Tok and iFlix. Its linear channels for The Pet Collective and Fail Army average 90 million minutes watched per month across both channels.

Craig’s hire comes shortly after the hire of Jill Goldfarb, the former vice president of programming for the Discovery Channel, who joined Jukin Media as its first-ever vice president of linear programming in December.

Related stories from TheWrap:

3 Trends Shaping the OTT Industry

13 TV Winners and Losers of 2018: From Henry Winkler to ‘Heathers’

Imax Tops Q3 Earnings Expectations on Huge China Growth

Amazon Debuts Dozens Of New Fire, Alexa, Echo Devices And Features

Read on: Deadline.

A few days after Apple held its high-profile unveiling of new iPhones and watches, streaming it on Twitter, Amazon responded by … sending out several press releases. Contained in those releases, however, was significant news of more than 70 new d…

Why Scientology TV Doesn’t Have Any Commercials

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

The Church of Scientology may have its own TV channel, so you’d expect shows like “Meet a Scientologist” and “Voices for Humanity” to be interrupted by commercials.

But there are no ads on the station that launched on Monday on DirecTV and other online platforms — and that’s by design.

“There is no outside advertising because, unlike a commercial channel, the goal isn’t to generate revenue,” a Scientology spokesperson told TheWrap. “Our mission is to answer people’s questions.”

Also Read: John Oliver Cannot Believe What He’s Seeing on NRA TV: ‘Holy S–‘ (Video)

The Church of Scientology further explained its streaming presence by the fact that “someone searches online for ‘Scientology’ every six seconds,” per the network’s “About” page.

And Scientology Network insists that it “does not seek to preach, convince or convert, but simply inform.”

Nor does the channel come preloaded on the devices that carry it: A user has to proactively find and download Scientology Network on Apple TV, for example.

Scientology Network is also currently available on Scientology.TV, DirecTV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV, as well as via a mobile app download. Before you go and petition those guys (like many people did over NRA TV), keep in mind that Scientology Channel is subject to the same guidelines as any other content provider.

Also Read: Church of Scientology Announces New TV Network

Like it or not, the programming does not violate any terms of service. Don’t want to watch? Ignore it.

And no, Scientology Channel doesn’t get paid by those outside platforms to carry the network, nor does the chuch pay them (much) for the space. Apple TV, again for example, only charges the Scientology channel its standard $99 annual fee for developers.

The Scientology Network airs 24/7, but it only currently has six original series — yeah, there are a lot of reruns right now, and a lot of it feels like one giant infomercial. (Entertainment and talk shows are coming, the channel teases, as is an investigative series, “Freedom TV.”)

Also Read: Church of Scientology Announces New TV Network

Here are the six shows that were available at launch, with all descriptions in Scientology’s own words:

  • “Inside Scientology”–takes viewers behind the scenes of the religion–its international spiritual headquarters and cutting-edge publishing houses, what happens on a typical day at a Church of Scientology and the meticulous, painstaking efforts to preserve 75 million words of our Founder L. Ron Hubbard’s religious writings and recordings for future generations.
  • “Meet a Scientologist”–an in-depth look into the lives of individual Scientologists from the frontiers of modern art, science, sports, entertainment and more.
  • “I am a Scientologist”–features dozens of Scientologists from every corner of the world and every imaginable occupation, giving personal accounts of how their lives have been enriched.
  • “Voices for Humanity”–short documentaries introducing change-makers from all faiths, cultures and nations as they extend help to their communities through Scientology-sponsored humanitarian programs.
  • “Destination: Scientology”–each episode brings the viewer inside a new Church of Scientology, showcasing the diversity of our Churches and the cooperation that weaves every Church of Scientology into the local community fabric.
  • “L. Ron Hubbard: In His Own Voice”–presents the religion’s Founder to the world. Scientology remains the only major religion with the voice of its Founder intact, recorded in public lectures delivered over the course of a quarter-century. This series chronicles the life of L. Ron Hubbard through autobiographical vignettes in his own words and in his own voice.

The streaming channel/marketing tool also boasts a bunch of themed movies, including those adapted from Hubbard’s written work.

Also Read: Leah Remini and Mike Rinder: Paul Haggis Sexual Misconduct Accusers ‘Are Suspect’

Scientology Network produces all of its content in-house, with credit going to Scientology Media Productions.

“From scripting to shooting, editing, scoring and mixing, all productions are created by Church staff and parishioners at the Church’s multimedia digital production complex,” the Sunset Boulevard-located production company’s part reads. “Even digital media content for print magazine and social media are created at the one-of-a-kind global media center..The digital network is open to partner with independent filmmakers, it said

Related stories from TheWrap:

Leah Remini on Danny Masterson Rape Probe: Scientology ‘Aligned Itself’ With LAPD

Leah Remini Says Scientology Church Urged Her to Convert Kevin James

Elisabeth Moss Defends Scientology in Rare Comment About the Church

Roku Is Doubling Down on Voice, May Be Building Smart Speaker (EXCLUSIVE)

Read on: Variety.

Streaming video device maker Roku has been working on advancing voice control while also ramping up its own audio efforts, according to a number of new job offers posted by the company as well as other public documents reviewed by Variety. Together, these documents suggest that the company may be building an Amazon Echo-like smart… Read more »

Roku Leads U.S. Connected-TV Market, Apple TV Expected to Lag Rivals (Study)

Read on: Variety.

Roku is currently the No. 1 connected-TV device brand in the U.S., topping Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV and Apple TV in terms of total users, according to a new study from research firm eMarketer. In 2017, 38.9 million Americans will use a Roku at least once per month, up 19% over last year, eMarketer… Read more »

CES 2017: Streaming TV Enters the Age of Amazon

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

If 2017 is the year streaming TV comes of age, Amazon looks poised to be its chaperone.

At the opening media event of the annual Consumer Electronics Show on Tuesday, TheWrap came across two booths displaying similar-looking ultra-HD 4K smart TVs. One was from 130-year-old American brand Westinghouse, and the other from a relative startup called Element Electronics.

But under the hood, they were both powered by the same Amazon engine: its Fire TV interface and Alexa smart voice assistant, which also works with pretty much every other smart home product, making it almost too convenient for the many smart TV owners who also have internet-enabled lights and appliances. Other competitors are hardly deferring to Amazon — Dish Network’s Sling TV is unveiling its AirTV Player peripheral this week, which blends a streaming box with an over-the-air receiver. But when streaming TV comes to conquer Hollywood — and content empires from Disney to AT&T are preparing for it — it might be dressed in Amazon’s anthropomorphic smile.

Also Read: CES 2017: Streaming TV Is Ready For a Huge Year, And Tech Can Make or Break It

Easy controls can make or break streaming TV for convenience-minded cord-cutters. Netflix is a prime example of an interface that’s simple and smart, but it won’t give you access to linear television and Amazon will. Sung Choi, the vice president of marketing for Element’s Chinese parent Tongfang Global, told TheWrap that after an exhaustive study of options, no interface proved better than Amazon’s dashboard.

“The user experience that’s the best is Amazon’s Fire TV,” Choi said.

Although Amazon requires the use of a premium subscription Prime account to access its Prime Video and Prime Music libraries, that’s not the case for people who want to use Fire TV as a dashboard to watch Netflix, some other streaming service — or even over-the-air TV, which has been a missing link in many internet-based skinny bundles. But the Westinghouse and Element TVs need only a digital antenna to receive those channels and automatically incorporate them into the Fire TV’s channel guides and discovery dashboard to allow users to channel surf in a civilized manner.

Also Read: CBS News Streaming Service CBSN Explodes 200-Plus Percent Over 2015

“It allows you to browse over-the-air content added to the same interface,” Brett Hunt, a vice president of sales and marketing at Westinghouse, told TheWrap, while scrolling through a tiled display showing what was currently on the Las Vegas NBC and PBS stations.

Choi said Element plans to roll out four screen sizes ranging from 43 inches to 65 inches, all priced under $1,000. Hunt couldn’t share pricing data for Westinghouse’s new smart TV, which launches in May, in the same four sizes.

While Smart TV adopters and developers in these early days of cord-cutting are still figuring out exactly what features are must-haves, Hunt said one has already emerged as indispensable: voice search and control. And again, Amazon’s Alexa has become the voice interface of choice.

Also Read: Soccer Streaming Service FuboTV Expands to Other Sports, Entertainment

Alexa made its splashy debut as the brains behind Amazon’s Echo robot speaker, so it’s designed to interact with content in a more sophisticated and intuitive way than some other voice controls (like understanding what to play when asked for “Frank Sinatra” Christmas music). But as the smart home becomes as de rigeur as residential internet service is today — the best product TheWrap saw at Unveiled may have been a shower that lets you know when it’s hot and can hold that temperature if you need to pause it to answer the phone — an Alexa-equipped TV is the obvious control center for people who don’t necessarily want to buy another peripheral.

Software is eating everything, including TV. And with its Fire TV looking like the industry standard right now, Amazon may have the secret sauce.

Related stories from TheWrap:

CES 2017: Streaming TV Is Ready For a Huge Year, And Tech Can Make or Break It

Leaked Sling TV Box Combines Streaming, Netflix and Over-the-Air TV

CBS News Streaming Service CBSN Explodes 200-Plus Percent Over 2015

Amazon Introduces Revamped Fire TV Stick, Previews Next-Gen User Interface

Read on: Variety.

Amazon officially introduced a new version of its $40 Fire TV stick Thursday, and also previewed a new user interface for the device as well as its Fire TV streaming box siblings that will launch later this year. In addition, Amazon announced that it was cutting the price of the Fire TV set-top by $10…. Read more »