Inside CollegeHumor’s SVOD Strategy and the Future of the Company’s YouTube Channel

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With two new cast members on its team, CollegeHumor is kicking up the investment in its $5.99-per-month streaming service, Dropout. Lily Du (“Broad City,” “The President Show”) and comedian Tao Yang, whose hires were announced T…

Former Yahoo Exec and Lucasfilm Alum Tapped by Crunchyroll to Head Events, Marketing

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Anime-centric streaming service Crunchyroll announced two new hires Wednesday morning, as the streamer looks to expand its events and marketing strategy.

The company instated Lucasfilm alumni Mary Franklin as the platform’s head of events and former Yahoo! executive Julia Renda as head of marketing. Franklin started with the company in February, while Renda started in January.

In the new role, Franklin is tasked with strengthening the company’s events business. Coming from ReedPOP and Lucasfilm, she has helped produce international events and major fan conferences and will use that experience to help grow the company’s annual Crunchyroll Expo.

Meanwhile, Renda will oversee marketing strategy, partnerships, audience development, brand strategy and customer acquisition and retention for Crunchyroll. She is tasked with engaging and growing the Crunchyroll community, which stands at over 30 million followers across the company’s social channels. Prior to her new role, Renda led marketing for Yahoo! View, the company’s VOD service, and served as head of marketing for Polyvore, a social commerce website that was acquired by Yahoo! in 2015.

Also Read: Inside Crunchyroll’s 4-Prong Approach to Driving Revenue

“Joining us from ReedPOP and Lucasfilm, Mary built and ran Comic Cons and ‘Star Wars’ Celebrations globally,” said Crunchyroll GM Joanne Waage in a statement. “Who better to take Crunchyroll Expo to the next level? At Yahoo!, Julia led marketing for Yahoo! View, their streaming video service and built Polyvore into a world class brand. She’ll now put her strength in brand and marketing to work for Crunchyroll and our content partners.”

“Delivering unforgettable experiences for fan communities is something I care deeply about,” Franklin said in a statement. “Crunchyroll delivers exceptional content and events for their fans, and I’m excited to be a part of this creative and passionate team.”

“Crunchyroll is the world’s leader in anime, and the platform has such an incredible, deep connection to their fans,” Renda added. “I’m excited to be a part of the Crunchyroll team as we create new ways to serve our community of fans.”

With more than 1,000 anime titles, Crunchyroll is the largest anime-centric SVOD service currently on the market. Owned by Otter Media, which falls under AT&T’s WarnerMedia umbrella, the service boasts more than 45 million registered users and 2 million paying subscribers. Over the past several years, the company has expanded its offering to include live events, video games, and e-commerce.

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Why Roku Is Doubling Down on Free Content and Linear Channels in an On-Demand World

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

In a world dominated by SVOD services like Netflix and Amazon, Roku’s VP of programming Rob Holmes believes ad-supported content is still a big value play for companies fighting for their share of eyeballs. “Nine out of 10 people are looking for free content on our platform,” Holmes told TheWrap.

With over 5,000 OTT apps available on its service to analyze, Roku is a company with a strong understanding of the OTT ecosystem. The company has evolved from being a hardware company making a majority of its money from the sale of streaming boxes, to growing an advertising business whose revenues now outpace hardware sales.

Part of this achievement comes from the company’s investment in a Roku-branded ad-supported streaming service, The Roku Channel, which the company plans to dedicate more resources to throughout this year. That content expansion has led to hiccups, like Roku’s decision to add conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ InfoWars channel to the site in January — which the company reversed one day after launching, citing objections from “concerned parties.” (Holmes declined to comment further on the InfoWars case.)

Also Read: Latest Sign the Cord-Cutting Revolution Is Over: Roku Users Watch 3 Hours of Content Per Day

We caught up with Holmes to discuss The Roku Channel’s content strategy and emerging trends within the OTT landscape, such as the demand for ad-supported and free linear content.

1. With over 5,000 OTT apps available on the overall Roku platform, are you seeing any trends emerge?

I think ad-supported is one of the big trends for us. AVOD is really a value play where many users are looking to save money in their overall entertainment spend and so they’re cutting the cord. They’re moving to a virtual MVPD and as part of that they’re also looking for great free options, so we’re seeing a ton of growth in the ad-supported segment.

You know, that’s one of the reasons why we actually launched The Roku Channel with a focus on ad-supported content, because we recognized the importance of that content to our users. Nine out of 10 people are looking for free content on our platform and we saw a friction in discovering great free content on the platform — there’s a lot of it, but it’s in a lot of different places — so the primary motivation of The Roku Channel was to make it really easy for users to find great free content. And, if anything, that’s really been driven by that — user desire for and that strong growth in ad supported viewing.

2. How many people are looking for subscriptions?

You know, certainly users are using all sorts of different content on the platform so subscriptions are a part of it as well. One of the ways that we’ve sought to play into that is with the addition of premium subscriptions and recognizing that users want to make choices about the content and they can access.

And so we’re trying to bring that into The Roku Channel and make it easy for them to add on subscription content when they’re looking for it. That’s a part that we’re still in the midst of rolling out and it’s still pretty early days for us, but we’re excited to bring that additional content and that convenient experience to The Roku Channel for users.

Also Read: Roku’s Stock Rockets 25 Percent on Massive Increase in Streaming Hours

3. In addition to offering subscription services on The Roku Channel, the company has also experimented with streaming linear content from its ad-supported platform. Is this an area the company plans to continue to invest in?

Linear is still a valid use case in the OTT world. Some people think about linear as part of the old world — as part of the cable world — and therefore perhaps not something that belongs in OTT. But we think it’s all a mix and linear is definitely something that we’ve continued to expand. In the fall, we launched linear with a couple of digital verticals on The Roku Channel where we included an entertainment vertical and sports vertical as well with folks like Stadium Sports.

I do think there’s a broader statement about linear overall, which is: in a world of infinite choice, which we’re quickly approaching here in terms of all the content that’s available, it’s actually hard for a user to make all those choices. There’s some challenges from a consumer standpoint, it’s sort of “paradox of choice,” as some call it. And one of the things that linear does really well is simplify the decision for a user because they can say, “Look, I just want to watch something funny. No, I want to be informed. I want to be entertained.”

A linear channel is a brand that in success represents something for viewers — “This is a place I go to watch funny things, this is the place I go to watch news” — which are probably less sensitive to the specific thing that they’re watching at any given time on linear so long as that brand is satisfying their needs.

Also Read: 5 Questions: MSG Networks’ Kevin Marotta on How Short-Form Digital Content Has Reshaped Linear Programming

4. The first slate of linear channels launched on The Roku Channel were from news-focused companies like ABC News and Cheddar. Why was news such a heavy focus?

I think news brought a couple of really great things to us. It made it clear where you could find great ad-supported news on the Roku platform. We’ve always had actually a really nice ad-supported news offering, but it was embedded across a number of different channels, some of which are very prominent and well-known brands, but some of which aren’t. We wanted to make that a really easy search for the user, just come to The Roku Channel, we’ve got a couple of them for you.

Also, when users switch from cable to OTT, news is one of the things they want to make sure they have access to. So making it clear to them through our partnership with ABC News and others that there’s always going to be a great source of news for them is also very helpful for users as they think about which platform they want to adopt in the OTT world.

Also Read: Roku Pulls Alex Jones’ InfoWars Channel After Just 1 Day

News also gives us a constant new source of content. If you think about movies and TV in OTT, they largely refresh on a monthly basis. So if you’ve got news content coming in every day — obviously the news is different every day — it gives people a reason to come in and check and see what’s going on and then go on to look at something they might want to watch for the rest of the day or the afternoon.

5. What’s next for Roku in terms of aggregating live content to its platform?

We are always thinking about what great content is out there that we could make available for our users in an easy-to-find fashion. We really are driven by responding to our users and helping to make it easier for them to navigate the OTT world. So as we see appetite for more of that kind of content, you can bet we’re going to be out there trying to find it.

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Apple’s Streaming Service on Track to Have 100 Million Subscribers in 3-5 Years, Analyst Says

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Apple’s long-awaited streaming service is expected to acquire more than 100 million subscribers in the five years after its launch, according to a report released Tuesday morning.
“If Apple executes with minimal speed bumps and aggressively…

Adult Swim Signs New Programming Partnership With Crunchyroll, Expands Distribution Agreement

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Adult Swim has expanded its distribution partnership with Crunchyroll, allowing it to tap the streaming service’s content library to fill its “Toonami” programming block, which consists mostly of anime programming.

Crunchyroll is an anime-centric streaming service owned by AT&T via OtterMedia, a division that was recently placed under the WarnerMedia umbrella following the telco’s acquisition of the company.

Previously, Crunchyroll partnered with Adult Swim to premiere its original series “Mob Psycho 100” on the cable network.

Also Read: Inside Crunchyroll’s 4-Prong Approach to Driving Revenue

Under the new agreement, Crunchyroll will distribute a collection of anime TV series on Adult Swim’s Toonami. However, there are no current plans to make Adult Swim’s programming available on Crunchyroll’s streaming platform, which has over 45 million registered subscribers.

“We’re exploring all options to maximize distribution for our series,” a spokesperson for Crunchyroll told TheWrap.

In addition to the expanded distribution deal, the two companies say they will continue to collaborate on licensed content and co-productions. Previously, the two worked together on “Blade Runner – Black Lotus,” an anime series and co-production with Alcon Television Group based on the Oscar-winning movie “Blade Runner 2049.” The English-dubbed episodes are expected to premiere on “Toonami” while Crunchyroll will handle worldwide streaming.

Also Read: Crunchyroll’s ‘Mob Psycho 100’ to Play in More Than 500 Movie Theaters

“Our partnership with Crunchyroll will open up exciting new possibilities for both of us,” said Jason DeMarco, SVP and creative director for on-air at Adult Swim. “This will expand Toonami’s already great programming to include even more premiere and original anime. It’s a great time to be an anime fan!”

Adult Swim reaches an estimated 94 million households, while Crunchyroll says it has 45 million registered users and two million paying subscribers.  The expanded partnership between the two companies is another product of AT&T’s takeover of Time Warner, which has resulted in WarnerMedia’s assets working more in tandem, and a series of layoffs and resignations as the company looks to eliminate redundancies.

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How Digital Video Publishers Are Racing to Take Advantage of Connected TV’s Growth in Popularity

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Digital brands are learning that while mobile is still a great place to reach a lot of eyeballs, consumers are spending more time and longer periods of that time streaming video content on their connected TVs (CTV).

Conviva estimates that CTVs had a 148 percent growth in plays last year, outpacing mobile, which saw a more modest 94 percent growth. While mobile is still a strong choice for watching content on the go, connected TVs accounted for a 56 percent share in viewing hours for 2018 — an increase of 9 percent from 2017.

The stats aren’t surprising when looking at the number of U.S. households that own a connected TV. At the end of 2017, 210 million devices were installed in consumer homes actively delivering internet connectivity to the TV screen, and by the end of 2021 there are forecast to be 275 million, according to The NPD Group.

For digital brands like Conde Nast-owned Bon Appetit, which launched its own streaming app on Thursday, this growth in CTV use offers an opportunity to create its own viewing destination where it has greater control of content and advertising.

Also Read: 5 Questions With XUMO’s SVP of Product Chris Hall

“In some respects, launching OTT apps is a defensive strategy. Print readership is falling and digital readership isn’t keeping up. At the same time, how-to and niche interest video is booming on sites like YouTube,” co-founder of nScreenMedia Colin Dixon told TheWrap. “Offering video service is an attempt to stop ad revenue leaking away to social and to maintain a subscription relationship with customers.”

Part of the goal for Bon Appetit is to move its social media viewers — and the 1.3 billion views they’ve accumulated across Bon Appetit’s social platforms — to the owned-and-operated TV app where it has a direct relationship with the consumer. CNE has the same plans for its GQ and Wired brands, it announced at last year’s NewFronts.

“Video opens up the opportunity for the company to be able to offer advertisers a better way of engaging with prospective customers,” Dixon added.

Late last year, Refinery29 also launched its own dedicated OTT app, known as Channel 29, with an expanded lineup of original news, entertainment and lifestyle programming perfectly geared for CTVs.

However, not all companies are going the standalone OTT route to have a presence on connected TVs. Building and running a standalone OTT app is a difficult and expensive path to reach an audience, as George Rausch, head of product marketing at Frequency, pointed out in a recent interview.

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“The common thing that people come back saying [after launching a OTT app] is, ‘You know, I launched these apps on very popular app stores — why is my traffic so low and why did I only make 300 bucks?’” he said.  

OTT apps that launch on streaming devices like Apple TV or Amazon’s Fire Stick are competing with hundreds, sometimes thousands, of other apps. Roku alone offers more than 5,000 apps. While the company is constantly trying to make content on its platform easier to find, discoverability is a major challenge given the current glut of competitors.

While CNE can leverage its Bon Appetit magazine to promote the service to help retain existing customers, Dixon noted that “finding new, younger customers will be a challenge. CNE will need to heavily promote through social media and look for distribution partners that can help the potential audience find the service.”

Finding an audience can be just as difficult as keeping one. CleverTap, a mobile app marketing platform with app analytics, estimated last year that OTT apps on average experience a 35 percent uninstall rate three months after being downloaded.

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To increase discoverability, many digital publishers are partnering with emerging and established vMVPD services like Pluto TV and Dish’s OTT service Sling TV. By grouping up with a more popular service, the companies’ content has greater chances of being watched and found.

Jukin, which launched linear channels for its FailArmy and Pet Collective brands across multiple streaming TV platforms, found that being bundled in a lean-back offering boosted its average watch time from 24 minutes to more than 64 minutes per session and overall viewership to 90 million minutes watched per month across both channels.

Launching the channel still required resources and extra personnel, but the venture has so far proved successful, according to Jukin Media founder and CEO Jonathan Skogmo.

“Our overnight success in linear has actually been a couple years in the making. It takes specific skills and experience to do it well, which is why we’ve brought in people like Jill Goldfarb to really take our channels to the next level,” Skogmo said. “We saw strong signals early on — things like 50-plus minute average watch times — and we took that as a proof point to continue investing in the programming and the talent.”

With more eyeballs landing on the biggest screen in the house, the emergence of OTT apps and channels from publishers will be a regular occurence throughout the coming years. Whether the results will mimic Jukin Media’s success will largely depend on if and when the new platforms or channels are discovered. Meanwhile, publishers will continue to expand their offering so that their content is available everywhere a viewer can consume it.

“Simply put, their core audience is changing. Video is becoming a more important part of people’s lives and it carries over into their niche interests,” said Dixon.

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‘The Cyanide & Happiness’ Show Picked Up For a Fourth Season on VRV

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“The Cyanide & Happiness Show,” a short-form series based on a web comic of the same name, is being picked up for a fourth season at VRV.

The 10-episode season will stream exclusively on VRV Select, a streaming service available on the VRV platform, which houses a collection of OTT channels that users can subscribe to individually or in a discounted bundle.

Originally released in 2017 on YouTube, where it has more than 8 million subscribers, the show was acquired in 2015 by NBC’s now defunct Seeso, which produced second and third seasons before selling the series to VRV in 2017.

Also Read: Inside Crunchyroll’s 4-Prong Approach to Driving Revenue

This will be the first full season of the show to air exclusively on VRV. The company, which is owned by Ellation via Otter Media (an AT&T-owned company), says the new season, which is being produced by Explosm Entertainment and Studio71, will premiere on the platform sometime later this year.

“If you’re a fan of the YouTube shorts, you’re really going to like Season 4!” said an Explosm Entertainment spokesperson. “With Season 4, we’re telling more stories with our favorite characters and introducing some new ones. We’re thinking of it as a big anthology of insane stories, some of which we’ve been working on since Season 1, but never had the chance to tell until now.”

“Explosm has cultivated a fanbase around ‘The Cyanide & Happiness Show’  that loves adult dark humor, which makes VRV the perfect home for season four,” said Gabriel VanHuss, head of programming, VRV. “With our expertise in world building and super serving the fandom community, we’re excited to unveil the show to our viewers later this year.”

Launched in 2016, the VRV is a fandom-focused video platform that features a collection of premium SVOD channels including Crunchyroll, NickSplat, Rooster Teeth, and Shudder, alongside its curated house channel, VRV Select.

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How BroadwayHD Overcame Nervous Theater Producers to Stream Hit Stage Shows

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Broadway isn’t just for the theater anymore. For the past several years Bonnie Comley, a three-time Tony winner, and Stewart Lane, a six-time winner, have taken stage shows into the homes of thousands of fans across the U.S. via their BroadwayHD streaming service.

Launched in 2015, the service carries over 250 full-length, live-to-tape stage productions, including full works of Shakespeare, performances from Cirque du Soleil and a growing library of popular Broadway musicals such as Hugh Jackman’s 1999 revival of “Oklahoma!” the 2010 25th anniversary staging of “Les Misérables,” Imelda Stuanton’s acclaimed 2015 London revival of “Gypsy” and the Tony-nominated 2017 Broadway revival of “Falsettos.”

The offerings even include a taping of the recent Tony-winning Broadway revival of “The King and I” — which is still on a nationwide tour throughout the U.S.

The streamer, which charges $8.99 per month, declined to disclose the number of subscribers. But Comley and Lane have bet that BroadwayHD’s niche focus on theater-specific content will allow them to succeed in a market that continues to swell with new streaming platforms.

Also Read: Why the Marvel-Netflix TV Partnership Disintegrated

We sat down with Lane and Comley to discuss how they overcame theater producers’ resistance to “cannibalizing” ticket sales and the possibility of producing original content.

1. Why launch a streaming service for theater, which was created to be seen live and in-person?

Bonnie Comley: We saw an opportunity to bring a luxury brand that’s recognized around the world to an underserved audience. Five years ago, the average ticket price for a Broadway show hit $100 for a ticket, so it’s expensive. And even if you look at all the people that can come, there’s a whole universe that doesn’t get here. What we’re offering is a luxury brand at a fraction of the price — this was our way of bringing Broadway to them. This streaming technology allows the consumption of theater in a different way at any time, anywhere.

And there’s just a huge appetite for it. We see that in our social media. People are reaching out asking for certain shows. They’re constantly asking, “When are you going to get this show? When are you going to have that show?” Sometimes they’re asking for shows that we either have or for things that we don’t have. But no one’s saying this is a bad idea. What they are asking for is, “When are you going to have every single Broadway show online?” because they’re eager for this content.

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2. Was there any push-back in the Broadway Community from those that thought a streaming service would hurt ticket sales?

Comley: Yeah, I mean in our three years in existence the conversations that we’ve had with our colleagues in the Broadway League have flipped 180 degrees. Three years ago, there was a fear of cannibalizing the ticket sales on the live production.

I mean, it’s a $25 million musical that somebody is putting up and we’re saying, “Hey, let us come up with our 14 cameras and put it on the internet.” You know? People were like, “Wait, wait, that’s not how it works!” There was a lot of hesitation, but what we did was focus on the limited runs and the shows that were closing.

And after they saw the work that we did on these shows, they’d say, “You know what? I think that is actually adding to our ticket sales, this is actually adding to our marketing.” They realized that this would be a plus when it came time to license the show later.

We have also made sure to be respectful of what the vision of the stage director is. We’re not trying to come in and change it in any way, we’re just trying to put it out for the rest of the world to see.

3. How do you stand out in a world full of Netflix and Amazon, which are slowly starting to incorporate Broadway shows in their content libraries?

Comley: Well, we’re a brand that just has full-length stage plays and musicals. The other services may have “behind the scenes” or “the making of,” but they really don’t have the full-length show. And we’re so far still the only ones that have full-length shows. If you want stage to screen, we’ve got 270 of these shows all in one place. If you hunt around on one of the bigger streaming services, you might end up with a cooking show or find a new TV series. But theater fans, which are crazy loyal, are just looking to get their theater fix.

Stewart Lane: It’s sort of like if you’re a sports fan. If you’re a Red Sox or Yankees fan, you go to games to watch them, you watch them on TV or you watch it on your phone. We have the same kind of passion for theater goers which there are over 31 million of in the United States alone. And if we can scratch the surface of that, which we’re starting to do now, we can continue to expand.

Also Read: ‘Wicked’ Movie Musical Set for Holiday 2021 Release

4. Any plays to bring original and live content to the platform?

Comley: We actually have done live. We made the Guinness World Record for doing the first livestream of a Broadway show while it was still running in the theater.WHICH SHOW? WHEN? So we have done live and that’s something we may look to in the future, but for now we’re looking at it and we believe that for the increase in costs to do the live piece, it wasn’t really worth it for us because our fans didn’t really care.

They don’t mind watching the show the next day. So the premium added to the cost at this point isn’t worth it. We have to find exactly the right content to work with.

Lane: We have also been experimenting with original content. We already have plans in the works now to actually start from scratch to do a production that would be live on stage and [streamed] at the same time. So there are plans for original programming as we expand, but we’re not doing that as our mandate upfront. Right now, our goal is to just capture the live experience.

Also Read: ‘My Fair Lady’ Broadway Review: Laura Benanti’s Eliza Doolittle Suffers a Midlife Crisis

5. What does the typical BroadwayHD subscriber look like?

Comley: As long as they’ve been keeping statistics, the average Broadway ticket buyer has remained the same person. It is an over-40 white woman with a higher disposable income and a higher education that usually buys the ticket.

But we’re also serving people that can’t afford buying a ticket to Broadway or can’t get to New York City or people that used to be here that don’t have access to it anymore because they moved or they can’t get through Times Square anymore.

Lane: We also have a growing portion of our subscribers that are younger than 40. We have a whole younger crowd that’s expanding every year, which gives us more opportunity to shoot new content.

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How Young Hollywood Has Spiked Revenue by Pivoting Beyond Video

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Young Hollywood, a digital media company that describes itself as “the source for exclusive celebrity video,” is increasing its focus on revenue beyond ad-supported video, according to CEO and founder R.J. Williams.

The company, which launched an OTT service in 2015, says it now reaches 150 million people per month — a significant increase from 2015, when it took the company an entire year to reach 150 million viewers. But for Williams, the path to revenue isn’t through video alone, but through a mix of video, licensing, e- commerce, tours, apparel and live events that he said has helped to double YH’s overall revenue in the last four years. (He declined to provide figures.)

About 20 percent of Young Hollywood’s revenue comes from non-video ventures, Williams told TheWrap. But he anticipates that in the next three years more than half will be generated outside of the medium. One new revenue stream: the company’s recently launched Hollywood bus tour business, which takes passengers across Hollywood in search of stars and restaurant hot spots for the price of a $55 ticket.

We caught up with Williams to discuss his company’s new push beyond video. The CEO also touched on what he’s learned about OTT and the biggest challenge currently facing the digital video landscape.

Also Read: 5 Questions With NowThis Chief Content Officer Tina Exarhos

2. What was the most challenging about launching an OTT service?

Creating the right content. We already had an extensive library of 5,000-plus hours of celebrity and lifestyle content, which allowed us to launch with a very robust offering. That being said, we also realized that we couldn’t only repurpose our existing content, so we created programming specifically for our OTT offering.

We launched with more than a dozen long-form series that were created specifically for these platforms. OTT is considerably different than social, mobile and other digital platforms, and therefore needs to be programmed as such. We developed an economically efficient infrastructure that allows for the creation of content at a fraction of the cost of traditional television programming.

Another big challenge was breaking through the current disruption in a relatable way. You have to really focus and define your audience and know the ins and outs of what they want to see and who they want to engage with.

Traditional media is struggling to adapt to the changes in the industry because they are trying to take what they have already created and just put it online, but they’ve been undermined by digital disruptors.

Digital natives, like Young Hollywood, are already financing, producing and distributing our content directly to consumers, placing us in a prime position to establish the next generation of brands. We’re far more nimble and understand the passions of youth culture better than many of these legacy brands that appeal to an older audience and no longer resonate.

We figured out how to provide a relatable voice that understands and speaks directly to the youth market in a truly authentic way, and one that evolves simultaneously with their ever-changing viewing habits.

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3. You’ve said in the past that over the past three years Young Hollywood’s revenue has grown 150 percent. How did you pull that off?

Our growth is directly related to our ability to successfully create multiple revenue streams. When we first launched, our only revenue stream was traditional media sold against our videos.

About three years ago, we created a robust customized programmatic ad stack to consistently generate revenue, and we created several proprietary workflow and analytics platforms that help manage the process. And then, over the past couple of years, we expanded by creating several new revenue streams including: subscriptions, content licensing, brand licensing and content integrations.

We think there was an opportunity in tourism, so a few months ago we launched a partnership with Starline Tours, and we now have 10 customized Young Hollywood tour buses throughout L.A. on a daily basis. These not only act as traveling billboards for the brand, but generate revenue as well. In 2019, we plan to continue expanding and diversifying the brand further by adding live experiential events, consumer products and e-commerce to create one-of-a-kind entertainment experiences for our audience.

4. How important are social platforms like Facebook and Snapchat to YH’s video strategy?

Social platforms have obviously continued to be a huge marketing vehicle for us when it comes to reaching the masses for content promotion, sharing and viewer engagement, so it’s very beneficial to tap into those audiences to help scale viewership and drive to our owned and operated channels. At the end of the day, though, they play a very specific role for us.

In today’s media landscape, it’s nearly impossible to build a sustainable business solely relying on someone else’s distribution platform. We are big believers in owning both the content and the distribution, so we made sure to build our own pipes in order to stay in control of our destiny and not be at the mercy of the big conglomerates’ algorithms, which as we all know can and do change at any given time.

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5. What do you believe is the biggest challenge facing those trying to compete in the digital video landscape?

Monetization. With the media landscape constantly in flux, it’s particularly important to understand how to maximize the monetization of content in this environment and to constantly evolve your revenue strategies. For years media companies have been focusing on building audience and growing their viewership numbers, likes, followers and so forth, and while that’s of course necessary and vital to scale, monetization remains a challenge for many in the space. Many have also wildly overspent without having a long term sustainable business model to support their expenditures.

We’ve always tried to be very disciplined and efficient with how we’ve operated the company. It’s what we needed to do in order to get this point, and to be able to thrive for over a decade. So my advice is for digital companies to try and diversify their revenue streams as much as possible.

If you are solely advertiser-supported and the ad market hits a downturn, your chances of survival are slim. That’s why my goal from the outset was to build more of a lifestyle brand. Similar to what Branson created with Virgin or what Disney created, that’s what I envision creating with Young Hollywood.

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Stephen Merchant, Timothy Spall to Star in New Series for BBC and ITV’s BritBox

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

BritBox, the British-centric niche streaming service from BBC and ITV, announced a new partnership with writer-producer Jeff Pope on Saturday to produce two new series starring Stephen Merchant (“The Office”) and Harry Potter series alum Ti…

CBS Interactive CEO Jim Lanzone Teases More Digital Spinoffs Like All Those ‘Star Trek’ Series

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Since its founding in 1927, CBS has shifted with the mediums it has used to reach audiences. After finding success in both radio and television, the company is now faced with evolving the way it does business in a digital world. That’s a project overseen by Jim Lanzone, who joined CBS Interactive eight years ago and now serves as president and CEO.

He oversees a portfolio of media brands (CNET, TV Guide and GameSpot) as well as the broadcaster’s direct-to-consumer products, which includes the video subscription services CBS All Access, CBS Sports HQ and CBS News.

Under Lanzone’s leadership, CBS Interactive’s audience has more than doubled, making it a top 10 Internet property. In addition to helping launch CBS’ streaming products, he has been credited for modernizing content creation, distribution and monetization efforts across CBS Interactive’s 25-plus brands.

We caught up with Lanzone to discuss CBS’ recent success in the digital space and how it’s using outside sites such as YouTube to increase its reach.

1. CBS recently ranked No. 7 on Comscore’s December list of top multi-platform companies — right under the likes of Google and Facebook. What has been key to the company’s strength in digital?

We’ve been lucky to have truly premium content at a time when there’s just a glut of content out there on the internet. It also helps to have things that are truly in demand by consumers and differentiated.

We also manage these content properties from a Silicon Valley product perspective rather than a pure media perspective. That’s allowed us to get out ahead of things like the transition to mobile and now the transition to connected TVs, which is a huge source of traffic growth as well.

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2. What separates CBS from others on Comscore’s list?

We’re unique on that list in a couple ways. One is that we got that spot solely on the back of creating and distributing our own premium content, whereas everybody else in that list got there by being a search engine or social network.

The second is that we got there by being a house of premium brands. Some of those are CBS brands, some of them are under the window of CNET, which was a public company that was acquired by CBS in 2008. And under CNET we have brands like GameSpot, which is the No. 1 video games property online.

3. CBS predicts that All Access will have at least 4 million subscribers by the end of 2019, a 40 percent jump from August. What do you think will lead this growth: live programming, sports coverage or original content?

It’s a great question and the answer is all the above, with originals becoming a more and more important part of the balanced breakfast that we serve.

Original is a big and growing reason why people are subscribers to All Access. We just launched season two of “Star Trek: Discovery” a little over a week ago and we’ll have season three of “The Good Fight” coming up soon.

Additionally, being a multiplatform extension of the CBS network, consumers can watch CBS broadcast shows online to catch up. The platform also offers deeper content around those franchises. For example, right now we’re in the middle of “Big Brother” and we offer a 24/7 view of the “Big Brother” household and other additional features online.

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4. CBS has capitalized on the success of “Star Trek” with a growing list of spinoff shows. Will this be similar with strategy with CBS’ other popular IP?

We’re very lucky to have such premium IP that we can leverage. I think these tentpoles are one part of a great original content strategy for us. And yeah, I think you can expect other announcements down that pathway.

It’s one of our advantages in an increasingly crowded marketplace and the right move for us to leverage it. But we’re also doing all kinds of other original shows and you’re going to continue to see CBS invest.

5. How important are social platforms like Facebook and Snapchat to the video strategies of CBS’ CNET, TVGuide and All Access?

We are too broad and diverse, and frankly too large of a company to have any one distribution point be mission critical.

We have experimented with social media companies in the past. We won a award for the James Corden integration at Snapchat, and we [re-distribute] our late-night shows and the news through Facebook Watch. And recently with YouTube, for the first time we are allowing people to see episode one, season two of “Star Trek: Discovery” for free.

But for us, we distribute in so many different places online and offline that social media by itself is not crucial.

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Jeffrey Katzenberg’s Quibi Taps Former Hulu Execs Tim Connolly, Jim O’Gorman

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Tim Connolly and Jim O’Gorman, two former Hulu executives, have found a new home at Jeffrey Katzenberg’s billion-dollar video upstart Quibi.

Connolly, who previously served as the senior vice president of partnership and distribution at Hulu, joins Quibi as its head of partnerships and advertising. In the new role, the former VP will manage business relationships with all the company’s partners, including its subscriber acquisition, advertiser, technology and promotional partners. Connolly had left Hulu this summer as part of a reorganization at the company.

Formerly the senior vice president of talent and organizations at Hulu, O’Gorman will carry the same role at Quibi. During his time at Hulu, O’Gorman led all aspects of talent management, recruitment, organizational development, internal communications, human resource operations and facilities.

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The news follows the hiring of Diane Nelson, former president of DC Entertainment, as the head of operations for content for Quibi. The three join former The Hollywood Reporter co-president Janice Min, who was hired back in September as a content executive.

Founded by Katzenberg and headed by former Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman, Quibi closed a $1-billion round of funding in August from big-name investors such as 21st Century Fox, Disney, NBCUniversal, Viacom and WarnerMedia.

“It is exciting to see Hollywood embracing this new technology distribution platform built for the way we watch today,” Katzenberg said during the funding announcement. “NewTV will access the best talent and intellectual property for this next era in entertainment. We are already seeing tremendous interest from Hollywood’s top talent.”

Also Read: Quibi Taps Former DC Entertainment Exec Diane Nelson as Head of Operations

The service will have a two-tier pricing model: an $8-per-month option that doesn’t include advertising and a $5-per-month tier that has limited ads. Katzenberg is expected to launch the service in either late 2019 or early 2020.

Connolly and O’Gorman declined TheWrap’s request for comment.

This story was first reported by Variety. 

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Content Creators Making Money Steaming on Twitch Has Spiked by 86 Percent Since Last Year

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The number of streamers who can generate revenue on Twitch has grown by more than 86 percent from 2017 to 2018,  the company announced on Friday.
The news follows a string of initiatives taken on by the Amazon-owned company that focused on helping up-a…

Turner’s Kevin Reilly to Lead Content for WarnerMedia’s Upcoming Streaming Service

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

WarnerMedia is expanding Kevin Reilly role, giving the TBS and TNT president creative oversight of the company’s forthcoming streaming service.

Reilly, already creative creative officer at Turner and president of TNT and TBS, has been named chief creative officer of direct-to-consumer for WarnerMedia. His new title is president of TBS, TNT and chief creative officer, Turner and Direct-to-Consumer. Because of his dual role, Reilly will report to both Turner president David Levy and WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey.

“Since joining Turner in 2015, Kevin has revitalized TBS and TNT with branding and content strategies that have helped them maintain their leading position with viewers week upon week. He has a reputation as a forward thinker when it comes to programming formats and cross-platform opportunities,” Stankey said in a memo Friday morning. “In addition to Kevin’s current responsibilities, he and his organization will define the non-HBO original, library and licensed content that will characterize the brands that make up the overall product offer. HBO is an important differentiated and foundational element of our overall offering, and its brand and content will continue to be separate and supported entirely within HBO. A strong HBO is a key element as we work to establish our broader direct-to-consumer platform.”

Also Read: WarnerMedia’s Streaming Service to Launch With Three Levels of Service

Last month, longtime AT&T executive Brad Bentley was named general manager and executive VP of the service. Bentley will take care of the launch and the business side of the service, while Reilly will be tasked with building up the content.

WarnerMedia is expected to debut its streaming service in Q4 2019, offering three levels of subscriptions: An “entry-level movie-focused” package, a “premium service” with original programming and blockbuster movies and a third service that bundles content from the first two, plus a library of WarnerMedia and licensed content. Pricing for the tiers was not specified.

The company says that the upcoming SVOD service is intended to complement WarnerMedia’s existing businesses while providing data and analytics to help with their decision in creating future products. Along with WarnerMedia, Disney and Apple are also launching their own direct-to-consumer offerings in 2019 in what’s becoming the new gold rush for media companies.

Reilly first joined Turner from Fox in 2014 and is credited with turning around the two cable networks and building up their scripted originals slate with dramas like “The Alienist” and “Angie Tribeca.”

Also Read: WarnerMedia Picks Brad Bentley to Run Upcoming Streaming Service

You can read Stankey’s full memo below:

There are three legs of a stool to any successful direct-to-consumer effort.

A winning customer experience made possible by the technology platform that enables form and function; a compelling marketing strategy that highlights the product’s attributes, brand promise and value proposition; and, of course, a content-curation vision that is tightly coordinated with the other two.

Today, I’d like to share our plans for defining and directing the third and final leg of our direct-to-consumer efforts and its executive leadership.

Kevin Reilly, President of TBS and TNT and Turner’s Chief Creative Officer will assume the additional responsibility of architecting the overall creative identity of the WarnerMedia direct-to-consumer offering and has been appointed President TBS, TNT and Chief Creative Officer Turner and Direct-to-Consumer. Kevin will report to David Levy, as well as to me in support of our direct-to-consumer development.

Since joining Turner in 2015, Kevin has revitalized TBS and TNT with branding and content strategies that have helped them maintain their leading position with viewers week upon week. He has a reputation as a forward thinker when it comes to programming formats and cross-platform opportunities. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that The Alienist, which he brought to TNT, is up for two Golden Globes this year.

In addition to Kevin’s current responsibilities, he and his organization will define the non-HBO original, library and licensed content that will characterize the brands that make up the overall product offer. HBO is an important differentiated and foundational element of our overall offering, and its brand and content will continue to be separate and supported entirely within HBO. A strong HBO is a key element as we work to establish our broader direct-to-consumer platform.

As Kevin, Brad Bentley and Jeremy Legg begin to develop the framework for our service, many of you will have the opportunity to engage in the development of this product. Through their efforts and your collaboration, I am confident that we will bring to market a world class direct-to-consumer product that uses all of our assets in new and compelling ways.

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Crunchyroll’s ‘Mob Psycho 100’ to Play in More Than 500 Movie Theaters

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

“Mob Psycho 100,” the anime series from the niche streaming platform Crunchyroll, is coming to theaters for a one night event. The “Movie Night,” as the Crunchyroll is calling it, is the result of a partnership between the streamer and Fathom Events, which broadcasts events in movie theaters throughout the U.S.

The partnership between the companies will include at least four separate screenings throughout 2019. The first will offer fans an exclusive sneak peek of the first episode of “Mob Psycho 100 II”Season 2 on Jan. 5 starting at 12:55 p.m. local time. This event will include a recap of the first season of the series and a cameo from Setsuo Ito, the voice actor behind the main character Shigeo Kageyama (Mob).

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“There are so many great animation titles that deserve a chance to shine on the big screen,” said Fathom Events CEO Ray Nutt. “We’re looking forward to working with Crunchyroll to put more of their films in front of cinema audiences, and give the fanbase an opportunity to experience it together.”

Tickets for the Crunchyroll Movie Night will go on sale starting Friday, Dec. 7, with over 500 cinemas participating nationwide. Crunchyroll subscribers will receive early access to tickets for the event on Wednesday.

This partnership builds on Crunchyroll’s growing offering outside of streaming content via OTT, expanding its revenue stream beyond subscriptions and advertisements. The company, which is owned by AT&T through Ellation, also has an owned and operated convention, Crunchyroll Expo, which wrapped its second year in San Jose in September, and several video games — including “DanMachi: MEMORIA FREESE” and “Bungo Stray Dogs: Tales of the Lost!” — currently out on the market.

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‘Blade Runner 2049’-Inspired Anime Series in the Works From Crunchyroll, Adult Swim

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Crunchyroll and Adult Swim are partnering with Alcon Television Group to produce and distribute “Blade Runner — Black Lotus,” an anime series inspired by “Blade Runner 2049,” the Oscar-winning 2017 sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1982 classic.

Adult Swim will have the worldwide rights — excluding Asia — to distribute the 13-episode series, which will air on the network’s anime programming block Toonami. Crunchyroll, an anime-centric streaming service, will handle worldwide distribution for its community of more than 45 million registered users and 2 million paying subscribers.

Produced by animation studio Sola Digital and directed by Shinji Aramaki (“Appleseed”) and Kenji Kamiyama (“Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex”), each episode will run for 30-minutes.

As of now, Crunchyroll and its partners are keeping the plot line of the series under wraps, but producers have confirmed the story will take place in 2032 and will include a few familiar faces from the dystopian “Blade Runner” universe where humans and bio-engineered replicants uneasily coexist.

Also Read: Crunchyroll, Toonami Team Up to Launch ‘Mob Psycho 100’ on Adult Swim (Exclusive)

“I first saw ‘Blade Runner’ in 1982, at age 11. It has remained one of the defining films of my life,” said Jason DeMarco, SVP/creative director of Adult Swim on-air. “To be able to explore more of this universe, with the incredible talent we have on board, is a dream come true.”

Alcon’s Andrew Kosove, Broderick Johnson, Laura Lancaster, Al-Francis Cuenca, and Sola Digital Art’s Joseph Chou will executive produce the project, with Alcon’s Ben Roberts serving as co-executive producer. Production IG’s Mitsuhisa Ishikawa is participating as production advisor.

“Blade Runner — Black Lotus” is one of the several upcoming collaborations between Adult Swim and Crunchyroll, which are both divisions of Warnermedia.

In October, the two companies also debuted the anime “Mob Psycho 100” on Toonami. For Crunchyroll, these two partnerships are its latest foray into broadcast television, which complements its recent TV block in Brazil with RBTV where the platform brought two series dubbed in Portuguese to the Brazilian anime community.

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YouTube Plans to Make All Its Original Content Available for Free

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

YouTube is shifting from subscription-based original content to an ad-supported strategy and will make all of its original productions available for free in the coming years, TheWrap has confirmed.

Since 2015, YouTube’s original content was only available to consumers willing to subscribe to the company’s streaming service, YouTube Premium. However, those originals, including its most popular series, “Karate Kid”-spinoff “Cobra Kai,” will soon be available to view for free.

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“By any measure, 2018 was a breakout year for YouTube Premium and YouTube Originals. We expanded YouTube Premium to 29 countries, launched over 50 scripted and unscripted shows, and collected eight Emmy nominations and over 30 industry awards. As we look to 2019, we will continue to invest in scripted programming and shift to make our YouTube Originals ad-supported to meet the growing demand of a more global fanbase,” a YouTube Spokesperson told TheWrap. “This next phase of our Originals strategy will expand the audience of our YouTube Original creators and provide advertisers with incredible content that reaches the YouTube Generation. “

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YouTube first began experimenting with ad-supported content in 2017 with shows like “Ellen’s Show Me More Show,” and continued in 2018 with “Kevin Hart: What The Fit?” and “I AM: Demi Lovato.”  The company has also recently expanded its ad-supported programming to India where it recently launched the singing competition show “ARRived,” which is hosted by award-winning Indian composer A.R. Rahman.

By making all of its original programming available for no charge, the site is providing its more than 2 billion users a better opportunity to experience and engage with its original content. YouTube Premium, which includes access to thousands of songs, will now be reserved for those who want to binge watch content without ads.

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