Bloom in Tech
By David Bloom
Bloom in TechJan 16, 2020
Building A Better Streaming Service For Latin American Markets
I moderated a panel this past week for streaming-video trade organization OTT.X as part of a free mini-conference designed to provide nascent streaming services in Latin America with tips, best practices, lessons learned and more from a range of streaming services, OEMs, platform operators with their own AVOD/FAST offering, and other corners of the ecosystem.
Among the lessons: be a good partner with your distribution platforms; experiment a lot; leverage your data smartly think of it as audiences rather than specific programs or channels; and keep your ad loads low so ad prices can remain high premium. And don’t forget the immortal line, “Make me a vegetable,” the cry of frustrated steaming viewers wanting a simpler, easier experience than the industry is giving them now. Sometimes, even 50-year-old shows such as Bob Ross’ old PBS painting series have found loyal and long-lived audiences in the FAST world.
It's An Ad's World: Apple TV+, Friday Night Baseball, Advertising, and Adweek's New Podcast Network
I sat down to talk with Adweek CEO Juliette Morris and Sr. Producer Al Mannarino about their new podcast network and what it means for the trade publication going forward, the state of podcasting and advertising, and more. And I have some thoughts about the future of Apple as it ventures in live sports streaming with Friday Night Baseball on Apple TV Plus, alongside a bunch of big new advertising partners. Will this change Apple's approach to streaming, privacy, advertising and other not-so-little subjects? Stay tuned.
Taking The Oscars Online, And Talking With Topico CEO Andy Walraven
There's been a whole lot of talk about That Slap, but I'm more interested in what happens to the Oscar broadcast now that the Motion Picture Academy has embraced streaming enough to hand out awards for Best Picture, Animated Feature, Documentary Feature and other major categories for projects that were mostly or solely online. How long will Oscar remain a broadcast event, rather than one that is mostly streamed online? And what more can you do once the event is online? I have a few ideas. I also talk with Andrew Walraven, CEO and founder of a very interesting free mobile app called Topico, that allows you to create a very different kind of newsfeed than the one on social media that's been so problematic. Topico focuses on, yes, topics rather than the people or outlets posting the story, and relies on only vetted real news sources, with no user-generated content, memes, videos, etc. It's an intriguing approach to one of journalism's worst problems, and I quite like it. Give a listen.
Streaming Services Head For A Big Oscar Night
Netflix alone has 10 films with at least one Oscar nomination, part of a phalanx of top contenders for the movie business's most glamorous awards. Which streaming-first or streaming-mostly projects are lining up for a big night in Sunday's Oscars? Will Netflix flex The Power of the Dog? Has Apple TV Plus cracked the CODA for success? Can Disney Plus exclusive Encanto enchant Oscar voters as much as viewers? Bloom in Tech looks at the chances for the many streaming-connected films filling this year's Oscar brackets.
Which Streaming Services Are Set For Big Oscar Night Wins?
The 2022 Oscars are fast approaching, and films that mostly or solely appeared on streaming services are set for a big night. Bloom in Tech looks at which streaming-first films are likely to take home a Little Gold Man or six as the Oscar broadcast unfolds. Netflix has 10 films with nominations, and several other services have at least one or two. It's going to be quite a night.
Writer-Director Neill Blomkamp On 'Demonic,' Volumetric Capture, Videogames and His Next Projects
South African-born writer-director Neill Blomkamp has been using tech in smart ways to create thoughtful, groundbreaking movies ever since his first feature, District 9, a smart sci-fi take on apartheid, arrived in 2009, and grabbed an Oscar nomination for its visual effects. Since then, he's directed two more science-fiction features, with far bigger budgets: Elysium, with Matt Damon and Jodie Foster, and Chappie. Blomkamp's newest project, Demonic, arrives this week in theaters this week from IFC Films. It's a smart, small horror/sci-fi film about possible demonic possession, and uses the relatively new production technique of volumetric capture to create a purposely glitchy digital dream world within the movie. Blomkamp talks about what he was trying to achieve with the technology, what prompted him to make a low-budget horror film during the pandemic, and what his next projects will be. Along the way, Blomkamp has continued to make short films, often in a science-fiction realm, including for video games Anthem and Halo, as well as his own projects such as Rakka, which featured Sigourney Weaver. Blomkamp also is working with Gunzilla Games to design a multiplayer shooter, an outgrowth of his sporadic involvements as a gamer. We covered a lot of ground. Give a listen.
The Logan Paul-Floyd Mayweather 'Fight' And The Celebrity-Sports-Live Event Mashup
Logan Paul and Floyd Mayweather had a boxing exhibition this week, and yes, someone punched Logan Paul in the face. Also, both participants made a huge amount of money. They won't be the last to try this either, as influencers lace up the gloves for a similar chance to build their fan base, generate new sponsors and make business deals far beyond whatever thing first made them Online Famous.
I talked with Robert Ellin, the CEO of LiveXLive Media, which has another big-dollar event coming this weekend, involving 14 more online influencer/fighters, interwoven with performances by big music names such as DJ Khaled, Migos and Lil Baby. Given the money and fan attention in these pay-per-view events, expect plenty more events like these to come.
The World After Covid With Deloitte Chief Futurist Mike Bechtel
What's likely to change in business, entertainment, media and tech in the years after the Covid-19 pandemic finally eases? What's NOT likely to change? I talked with Mike Bechtel, managing director and the chief futurist at Deloitte and a professor at the University of Notre Dame business school, about what comes next, how technology and expectations are changing, and much, much else. Bechtel led Deloitte's work with the World Economic Forum, who put on the Davos summit each year in Switzerland, to put together a comprehensive look at where the world is headed, and what businesses, governments and non-governmental agencies should do to prepare for this different world. In particular regarding media and entertainment, what does it mean to be a creative talent in a world of "spoke-to-spoke" connections with fans, rather than going through hubs controlled by gatekeepers? The report, in what likely was a first for both Deloitte and the World Economic Forum, even includes four short science-fiction stories that illuminate some of the changes the organizations see coming just ahead. Give a listen.
Maestro Media's Javon Frazier on Marvel, the Binding of Isaac, Umbrella Academy, and Creating Spinoffs Fans Love
I talked with Javon Frazier about his work creating games, board games, subscription boxes, toys and more for fans while at Marvel for nearly a decade, and then at online-video company Studio71, before launching his own company, Maestro Media, over the past year. A self-described "black nerd" as a kid in South Los Angeles, he grew up reading comic books voraciously before picking up an MBA at NYU Stern School of Business, where he was the first African-American head of the Stern student body. After a stint at Atlantic Records, Frazier ended up at a dream job, creating merchandise, video games and other spinoffs of Marvel comic books. After the company's sale to Disney, he went on to Studio71, and worked with notables such as influencer Guava Juice, the creator of cult hit video game "The Binding of Isaac;" Dark Horse Comics' Umbrella Academy, Jeopardy king Ken Jennings and Magic: The Gathering creator Richard Garfield on projects, He's built a sophisticated process that leverages Kickstarter to market test and improve projects, and generate both startup capital and buzz We also talked about the responsibilities he feels as a Black entrepreneur and father of two young girls to build a more inclusive world of games, toys and other fan favorites.
Tastemade CEO Larry Fitzgibbon On Streaming Video's Watershed Year And What's Next
Tastemade creates video about "food, travel, home and design" for social-media sites from YouTube to TikTok, skinny bundles such as Hulu Plus Live, ad-supported services such as Tubi, and more. Co-founder and CEO Larry Fitzgibbon has been there from the start, and tells what its like to create video for every new distribution platform as it comes along, for wildly different audiences across most of the planet; why 2020 was a "watershed" year not just for audiences but advertisers; and how Tastemade is getting slice of the $60 billion TV advertising pie, among much else.
Streaming Video Year-End Grades And 2021 Trends To Watch
The big streaming-video services were more important than ever in 2020 as the pandemic sent viewership and subscription levels soaring even as several big new services launched, and struggled to get their feet under them. So how did they do, and where are they headed in 2021? I go through my end-of-year grades for Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Disney+, Apple TV+, HBO Max, and Peacock, and look at some of the major trends likely to transform the streaming-video industry in 2021, well beyond just the Big Seven. Let me know what service and shows you watched most in 2020, and which you're looking forward to most in 2021. And don't forget to rate, review, share and subscribe. Happy new year! I hope it's a safe and sane one for you and all you care about.
HBO Maxes Out Movie Gambit As WarnerMedia Faces An Expensive, Transformative 2021
WarnerMedia stunned Hollywood this past week when it announced that its entire 17-film slate will debut on streaming service HBO Max the same day the films arrive in theaters, blowing up decades of lucrative "windowing" in the movie business. Those day-and-date releases include some hotly anticipated projects, like the latest version of sci-fi classic Dune, another Matrix sequel, Wonder Woman 1984 (technically announced earlier, and for Christmas Day this year), Godzilla vs. Kong, Lin-Manuel Miranda's In the Heights, Clint Eastwood and Denzel Washington projects, and much else. I explain why WarnerMedia and owner AT&T likely had little choice, and why other studios likely will follow suit. It should make for a very good time for streaming subscribers, but a much less good time for movie theaters, and for many who make those movies.
The Role of Social Media In Our Elections Still Needs A Lot Of Work
We've finally come to the end, more or less of the 2020 election season, helped along in part by significant changes by the big social media platforms in some of their most problematic "engagement" tools. Let's keep those tools on ice, and consider some other changes in the role that YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other platforms played in our civic (if sometimes uncivil) discourse on the way to Election Day. Let me know what you think about changes that might be needed and where we might go next, now that the voting's finally done.
Lessons From Quibi's Fall, And Curio's Govind Balakrishnan On Subscription Audio
I'd been expecting the Quibi collapse for a year before the mobile video site even launched,, but that doesn't mean there aren't lessons to learn from its just-announced and still-unfortunate fall. I talk about those lessons in this episode, plus share my recent conversation with Govind Balakrishnan, the CEO and co-founder of subscription audio app Curio, which takes meaningful stories from such top journalism sites as The Economist, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Wired, and Bloomberg, and turns them into professionally produced, highly targeted audio for subscribers. Govind delves into the huge opportunity for "screen-less media;" why they are only part of a potentially huge sector subscription sound of all kinds that includes Audible, Spotify, Calm, Headspace, and podcasts; "the experience side of content;" and the international opportunity for more audio that can traverse the globe.
Tubi Chief Content Officer Adam Lewinson On AVOD Streaming's Big Years
Tubi is the biggest ad-supported video service in streaming, and was bought by Fox earlier this yea for a hefty $440 millionr. I sat down with Adam Lewinson, the company's chief content officer, this week as part of the virtual NATPE Streaming Plus conference. We covered a lot of ground, talking about all the company's news about big jumps in viewership, new territories and sections, whether they'll ever make original shows, and why ad-supported video is going to be the way most people watch TV in the streaming future.
How Hollywood's Most Important Labor Day Weekend Ever Sets Up Film's Future
Labor Day Weekend is normally a dumping ground for the movie business, but not in 2020. Two blockbusters, "Mulan" and "Tenet," are using very different platforms to reach audiences this weekend. One is a pricey premium addition to streaming service Disney+, the other is available in whatever theaters across the country are open amid the pandemic. How each of these $200 million blockbusters does on its respective distribution platform will help shape Hollywood's next steps with its highest-profile products for months or even years to come.
Oscar Winner Walter Murch On 'Coup 53' And The British Secret Agent Who Overthrew Iran's Government
Walter Murch is a pioneer in using digital non-linear editing software to create films, and helped create the notion of "sound design" as well. He's won three Oscars in sound and film editing (for The English Patient and Apocalypse Now) and been nominated for six more. He talks with me about his latest project, the documentary Coup 53 (available through virtual cinema at coup53.com), the extremely secret British agent at the heart of the coup to oust a democratically elected prime minister in Iran in 1953, and the unfortunate lessons it taught the CIA about covert ops and regime change. MI6 agent Norman Darbyshire was a real-life James Bond, someone "who got things done," yet " almost completely disappeared from history," Murch says. "The coup was his masterpiece." We also talk about how editing a film is like churning butter; why he used Adobe Premiere Pro for the first time after decades with Avid and Apple Final Cut Pro; and the future of movie theaters, both the big chains and indie arthouses.
Disney, NBCU and ViacomCBS Make It A Red Letter Week in Streaming History
Three of entertainment's biggest media companies - Disney, NBCU and ViacomCBS – helped make it a red letter week in the history of Hollywood's grudging embrace of streaming video, as all three took actions that will pivot them ever more sharply toward online distribution platforms for their shows. Add in significant actions by Cinemark, Regal, the U.S. Department of Justice, Microsoft and TikTok, and the week was one for the ages. I share my thoughts on where this is all heading (fast), but would love to hear from you too. You can follow me on Twitter (@DavidBloom) and LinkedIn (/davidlbloom), and leave a voice message on Anchor.fm. What's your prediction for where Hollywood is heading over the next 18 months? Let me know.
Universal and AMC Turn The Movie Business, And Maybe Streaming, Upside Down
Universal, the big movie studio, cut a landmark deal this week with AMC, the nation's biggest theater chain. The business of showing movies may never be the same, though not just for what it means for those two big companies. This episode of Bloom in Tech looks the direct impacts of the deal for Universal and AMC, how likely other studios and theater chains are to copy it, and what might come hereafter with the big subscription video services as big tech and media companies start to integrate the possibilities here with so much else. Amazon Theaters/Shopping/Whole Foods/Esports Arenas? Apple Store/Movie Palaces? Think Very Big Deal.
Grading the Big Video Streaming Services in Quarter 2, 2020
My quarterly grades for the big subscription-video services is out. I talk about which "students" did well, and which need a lot of work among Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Apple TV+, HBO Max, Peacock, Quibi, and CBS All Access. I suspect there's little surprise about who's at the head of the class, but it's also clear the pandemic has both been the biggest opportunity and biggest challenge for all the new competitors launching in the middle of widespread lockdowns. You can also read more about the grades I and my colleague Alan Wolk are handing out here on TVRev.
Also, as mentioned in this episode, I'm part of three recent online conversations you may also be interested in:
- San Diego Comic-Con@Home "World Builders: The Evolution of Immersive Entertainment," featuring Paramount Studios Futurist Ted Schilowitz and Unity Innovation Labs chief Isabel Riva, among others. Named one of the top "under the radar" panels by Comic Book Review. You can watch/listen beginning July 26, when it debuts here: https://comiccon2020.sched.com/event/d5zk/world-builders-the-evolution-of-immersive-entertainment
- Let's DEW Lunch: Dane Smith of The Third Floor with David Bloom, discussing how visualization technologies are changing film and TV production. Among his recent projects - the THIRD season of The Mandalorian, the sequels to Jim Cameron's Avatar, and Amazon Prime's spinoff series from Lord of the Rings. So, lots to talk about. Listen/watch here: https://youtu.be/ub0f5kf35SI
- Influencer Marketing Virtual Conference and Expo. "State of Influencer Marketing" The conference was free to watch, but for access to all the recorded sessions (and material from some previous influencer marketing events), you'd need to pony up $100. You can find it all here: http://influencermarketingexpo.com It was a pretty tremendous conversation, and I was a panelist rather than moderator, but some interesting trends happening. I'll try to get into some of these things in future Bloom in Tech episodes.
Paket Media's Raffi Bagdasarian On Solving Subscription Video's Sign-In Chaos
Raffi Bagdasarian is founder and CEO of Paket Media, which is building a product designed to simplify what’s emerging as a significant headache for millions of streaming-video consumers, and for the streaming services they buy into.
The headache: dealing with managing multiple subscriptions from numerous media companies, especially as we shift away from traditional pay TV bundles. The complications of managing all those subscriptions are made worse because none of the big new services want to rely on a competitor such as Roku or Amazon to do it for them. Just look at what happened when HBO Max debuted without being part of either of those giant streaming platforms.
I talked with Raffi as part of this episode, and more generally discuss some of the challenges emerging as more of us turn to streaming video, especially subscription services, to get more and more of entertainment. The shift brings lots of benefits, but its own set of headaches.
Building and Buying Into the Metaverse with Peter Levin Of Griffin Gaming Partners
Peter Y. Levin is a partner in Griffin Gaming Partners, which invests in the game business, and chairman of Immortals, the big esports team with backers such as AEG, Meg Whitman and Michael Milken. Before all that, Levin was a founder of Nerdist, and former head of interactive for Lionsgate and Legendary, among much else. I talked with Peter about building the Metaverse, and how games such as Fortnite and Minecraft are helping us get there. We also talk opportunities in esports, mobile, marketing and educational content in games and much else. The real opportunity may be in building the Metaverse, which we're thinking about more and more as the pandemic forces us to spend more and more of our lives online in virtual environments.
Ken Jennings, Richard Garfield, Half Truth The Game, and Studio71 CEO Dan Weinstein
I talked with Dan Weinstein, the head of Studio71, the big online-video distributor, about "blocking and tackling" during the pandemic, new opportunities in streaming, why the OTT industry is loving what's on Studio71's shelf, and what's up with Quibi. We also talked about just-launched trivia board game "Half Truth," created by Jeopardy star Ken Jennings and Magic the Gathering creator Richard Garfield, and the challenges the company is finding launching a game meant for groups of grownups at a time when the pandemic has turned our social lives upside down. .
Duncan Trussell on Netflix's Animated Mind Trip "The Midnight Gospel"
I talked recently with comedian and long-time podcaster Duncan Trussell about his newest project, The Midnight Gospel, now available on Netflix. It's an extremely unlikely mashup of Trussell's deeply philosophical podcast conversations with some of the most interesting thinkers out there and the DayGlo animation of Pendleton Ward, creator of Adventure Time, in collaboration with animation house Titmouse. Together, they've wrought a fascinating piece of work. As part of our conversation, Duncan and I talked about such relevant cultural touchstones as John McPhee's Annals of the Former World, N.K, Jemisin's Hugo-winning science fiction, Nick Park's Oscar-winning Creature Comforts, Ram Dass, Trudy Goodman, Roshi Joan Halifax, Anne Lamott, and, well, quite a few other things. The Midnight Gospel is a unique animated show, unlike anything else out there, and that's a good thing. Give a listen.
Facebook's Phil Ranta on The Booming Opportunities for Video Game Influencers
Facebook is seeing a flood of celebrities interested in creating video game content for their fans during the coronavirus lockdown, Phil Ranta, the company's head of gaming creators, told me last week. Our conversation also got into the new tournaments capabilities at Facebook, the potential for virtual reality, and how former UFC/WWE fighter Ronda Rousey and Kingslayer are bringing new approaches to a sector ready for innovation in viewing experiences. Because of that opportunity and the huge interest in esports and live-streaming amid the pandemic, it's a great time to jump into the sector, he told me.
This podcast is an excerpt from my conversation with Phil last week as part of Let's DEW Lunch, a new daily video webinar from tech-conference organizers Digital Entertainment World Expo. This week, I'll be doing a similar conversation with Dan Weinstein of Studio 71, the big online-video production and talent-management company. You can register for that at https://www.dewexpo.com.
Talking With UTA Chief Innovation Officer Brent Weinstein on Hollywood And The Pandemic
Brent Weinstein is a partner and Chief Innovation Officer at one of Hollywood's biggest talent agencies, UTA. I interviewed Brent this week as part of the just-launched live-stream series Lets DEW Lunch, from the folks behind the Digital Entertainment World conference series. Brent has been closely involved in UTA's significant presence in technology and digital entertainment. Our conversation ranged widely, from esports to the new streaming services to celebrities launching their own social-media feeds to the long-term prospects for all those music live-streams, among much else. It's an extraordinary time in Hollywood, which already was undergoing wrenching changes even before the pandemic turned the business upside down. Check out our conversation, and if you get the chance, check out the Let's DEW Lunch conversations, which happen at mid-day (PST), and involve some high-profile executives from across the industry.
How Social Media Creators Can Thrive, And Help The Rest of Us Survive, The Pandemic
As big parts of the economy get hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, social-media influencers and creators have an opportunity to do well, reaching audiences stuck with little to do. But it's not the time for hype and huckstering. We need strategies to inform, entertain and most of all comfort each other during this extraordinary time. In this episode, I suggest a few areas that are set to do well, and some approaches to creating content that can make a difference for everyone. I also would love to hear from you about what you're doing to entertain, inform and comfort yourself. What shows are you watching/streaming? What other media are you using? What else are you doing? Send me an audio comment through Anchor, or contact me on Twitter @DavidBloom or on LinkedIn /davidlbloom. I'd love to hear from you, especially now, when normal human connection is so fraught and complicated. Be careful out there.
Influencer Marketing Takes Center Stage, with Former Nike Exec Drieke Leenknegt and CreatorIQ CEO Igor Vaks
Influencer marketing is becoming a hot commodity these days, fueled in part by new data-privacy laws and Google's resulting decision to stop using cookies in its browser. That leaves social -media influencers and brand collaborations as a key way that companies can still extend their online presence while getting access to good audience data. That's just one of the lessons from my recent conversations with former long-time Nike marketing executive Drieke Leenknegt and CreatorIQ CEO and founder Igor Vaks.
Leenknegt and I did a fireside chat during the Influencer Marketing Conference and Expo in Los Angeles, and grabbed the separate conversation you'll hear on this episode. After 20 years with Nike in both marketing and operational roles in China, Europe and the United States, Leenknegt is now a Portland-based consultant helping brands do a better job telling their stories, both on their own and with influencers and other collaborators and creators.
And Vaks' Los Angeles-area company helps big brands such as Disney and Unilever run campaigns that may involve 30,000 influencers or more. He's seen influencer marketing evolve from something that was paid for out of the experimental part of a company's budget to becoming a central part of big, integrated marketing campaigns.
My Meta-Podcast About Podcasting, iHeart CEO Bob Pittman , And My Essay On Sticks, Boxes and Gratitude
Bob Pittman ran MTV and AOL when it was cool to run them, and has since done a lot of other big media jobs. These days, he runs iHeart Media, the nation's biggest radio group, and its biggest podcast group. At this week's Podcast Movement Evolutions conference in Los Angeles, Pittman sat down with Conal Byrne, his top podcasting executive, to talk about the business. I have a little bit of material from Pittman's talk, and my own observations from the show and elsewhere in a deal-filled week for what's become a burgeoning business. Call it my meta-podcast, the podcast about podcasting.
Along the way this holiday weekend, I take a little detour to smell the roses, with my essay called The Stick and the Box, inspired by some conversations today that got me thinking about the ways dogs and kids have managed to find joy, and how the rest of us could benefit by spending more time finding our own gratitude.
Check it out, and let me know what you think on Twitter (@Davidbloom), LinkedIn (/davidlbloom), and through Anchor.fm's audio comment function. I'd love to hear what you think about the essay, about the future of podcasting, or about your own plans on the frontiers of audio content creation. Is it a fad, or will podcasting's fan base stick around and grow? Let me know your thoughts.
By the way, if you want to hear Pittman's own podcast Math & Magic; Stories from the Frontiers of Marketing, you can listen here.
Check out Supercast's approach to creating premium podcast options here.
Bill Curtis' CurtCo Media can be reached here.
And if you want to hear Debra Chen's just-launched podcast, The Great Fail, listen here.
Quibi's Oscar Coming-Out Party Was Big But Can Its Ad Blitz Buy Success?
Quibi used the Oscars and a Super Bowl ad to kick off what it promises will be a massive marketing blitz ahead of the April 6 launch of the mobile streaming-video service. But with the Olympics, elections, and oh so much streaming-video competition (not least from all the Disney-owned networks advertising Oscar night on corporate cousin ABC ), will it be enough to help Quibi break through to success? I take a look at what Quibi's last few weeks, and its prospects ahead.
Why Awards Season Will Never End For Netflix And Other Streaming Services
Hollywood's studios and TV networks used to exist in their own separate universes, with little crossover in on-screen talent, business models, or awards seasons. In the new era of Netflix and other subscription video services, such old-school differentiation no longer exists. For the same reason, those old-school awards seasons don't really exist anymore either. Here a few days before the big Oscar telecast, where Netflix has 24 nominations including two for Best Picture, I talk about why a streamer's work is never done.
Deepfake Videos And A Divisive Election Are Both Upon Us. What Could Go Wrong?
We're about to see a flood of "deepfake" videos, which superimpose one person's face on another's body. Most of them will be fun and innocuous, thanks to new tools from social-media sites such as Snapchat and TikTok as well as stand-alone apps such as Zao, Doublicat and Morphin. Facebook and Instagram, meanwhile, are trying to crack down on the most abusive "manipulated media" images and video as part of a newly announced policy. But with a looming election, and an incumbent who has repeatedly shown willingness to spotlight fake material that attacks his opponents, this could be a long election season filled with dubious video. More importantly, are we sophisticated enough as video consumers to know when we're seeing deepfakes, especially ones that reinforce our own negative feelings toward a candidate? Buckle your seatbelts, dream babies. It's going to be a bumpy ride. Listen to my latest Bloom in Tech episode for more.
Disney+, Apple TV+ Enter Dangerous New Territory: The Churn Zone
After high-profile launches in November, and early success with shows such as The Morning Show and The Mandalorian, new subscription streaming services Disney+ and Apple TV+ are now moving into new and uncertain territory. Subscribers may have seen the shows they wanted to see, and may be considering moving on. In this episode of Bloom in Tech, we talk about the Churn Zone, and what it means for Disney, Apple and other subscription video services launching this spring.
The Coming Deluge Of College Athlete Influencers, and My Panel On The Influencer Lifestyle With YiZhou, Brendan Kane, Bruna Nessif And Others
The NCAA's recent decision to allow college athletes to profit from their "name, image and likeness" is likely to unleash a deluge of athlete/influencers, with a long list of unanswered questions about what it's all going to mean for influencers, influencer marketing, advertisers and college sports. I get into some of the issues in the first part of this episode.
In part two, listen to the panel I moderated at the sprawling Digital Hollywood conference earlier this month on influencers and the influencer lifestyle. The discussion featured Shaine Griffin, Associate Commercials Strategist for SAG-AFTRA, organizing influencers; Bruna Nessif, Influencer and Author, “Let That Shit Go: A Journey to Forgiveness, Healing & Understanding Love” & founder, “The Problem With Dating;" Gregg Martin, Actor and content creator; Brendan Kane, Author of “One Million Followers;” and YiZhou, Influencer, actor, director & founder of Global Intuition. It's a great conversation for anyone interested in the future of influencers and influencer marketing, and some of the tools influencers are using to become a success. Give it a lesson.
The Lessons Claire Wineland Taught Us And Why Nick Reed Had To Make Her Documentary
Claire Wineland became a popular YouTube influencer talking about the thing that ultimately killed her, cystic fibrosis. But she also became popular because she talked about so much more than just CF, living a remarkable life and teaching us repeatedly that we need to pursue something bigger than ourselves, no matter the challenges life dumps in our lap. I talked with Nicholas Reed about Claire Wineland and "Claire," the YouTube Original documentary he co-directed (You can read my Tubefilter column about "Claire" here, and watch the doc for free on YouTube here). "Claire" has already received nearly 1.4 million views since its Sept. 2 release, and it's worth the watch. In the meantime, Nick and I talk about the lessons we all need to learn from Claire's example. Give a listen.
Power's Changing Face, And How OTT Video Services Can Attract More Subscribers
My East Coast trip last week included a stop at the Future of TV conference, where I sat down with Viacom SVP Christian Kurz to talk about their new report, Power in Progress, and to moderate a panel of marketing and biz-dev executives on how to get and keep subscribers.
The Power in Progress report looks at the ways traditional power structures are changing and having to adapt to newly powerful movements such as the March for Our Live, #MeToo, the Hong Kong protests, France's Gillets Jaune, and more. Just as importantly, it talks about ways that brands, and Viacom itself, can find new roles in working with and speaking to the young generations who are driving so many of these new power centers. The report details a series of are lots of ways brands can find a way to connect with and
The panel, meanwhile, talks about strategies for smaller VOD services to make themselves invaluable to their fans, and to find ways to succeed despite competition from more than 300 other services, including big new competitors from Apple, Disney, Comcast, AT&T, and others. Even if you're in marketing for other kinds of entertainment, or just about any other product (think niche consumer packaged goods), there are tips and approaches of value for you. Give a listen.
How Apple's TV+ Could Get 100 Million Users, Plus Philo's COO On Making A Skinny Bundle Make Sense
With one simple word, Apple may have unleashed a path to a huge user base for TV+, the streaming service it plans to launch Nov. 1. That word: free. The impact, possibly 100 million or more subscribers. During the first part of this episode of Bloom in Tech, I'll give you my reasoning for this possibly game-changing deal here near the start of the Streaming Wars.
For the show's second half, I sat down recently with Mike Keyserling, chief operating officer for Philo, which offers 58 channels of TV networks you probably like a lot, at a price you'll almost certainly like even more. Philo is one of several so-called skinny bundles jostling for the subscription dollars of cord cutters looking to get off traditional cable, while still getting most of the channels they like watching there. Mike and I talked about what makes Philo different, building your own pay-TV bundle in the streaming age, and why college campuses have been an ideal testing ground for the service's development the past several years. Give a listen.
Making Online Video Pay, Whether You're Apple Or Niche Providers
Apple's big week of announcements included some bargain prices on its new TV+ and Arcade video- and game-streaming services. In turn, I suggest that may be a source of headaches for competitors such as HBO Max and Quibi.. As well, last week I moderated a panel of executives from several smaller online video services (Condé Nast Entertainment, Whistle, Ellation, and College Humor's Dropout). We talked about what companies such as theirs need to do to thrive amid all the new big-name competitors. One big hint: be everywhere. And I talk about how. The next few months will see the business of online video move to a very different new level.
The Worldz Conference and Helping Brands and People Tell Their Stories Better
The Worldz conference starts this week, or at least the biggest expression of what's a year-round experience called Worldz, and a related professional network called PTTOW! (it's their exclamation point, not mine). The mothership launches Tuesday, Sept. 10 and Sept. 11 at the Long Beach Performing Arts Center, an unusual mix of marketing conference, self improvement, conscious capitalism, world-changing tech prognostication and more. It packs a ton of highly intimate conversations between about 2,500 attendees and maybe 250 "masters" and "titans," top-dog talkers from companies such as Mastercard, Hyundai, Estee Lauder, IHeartMedia, Vans, Marvel, T-Mobile, and Facebook. To learn more about Worldz, I connected with founder Roman Tsunder and Samantha "Sammie" Rabstein, the conference's senior director of programming. It's a conference, and really a year-round experience, I strongly endorse that you take advantage of, if you can. In the meantime, listen to my conversation with Sammie and Roman here. Some good stuff.
Netflix Triples Down On Theatrical Runs For its Biggest Oscar Hopefuls, And It Should
After winning four Oscars last year, Netflix is betting even bigger this year with special theatrical runs and awards handling for a whopping 10 films. Martin Scorsese's pricey mob picture, The Irishman, might be the most expensive bet, but there are plenty of other contenders in the Netflix portfolio, including films from Steven Soderbergh, David Michod, Fernando Meirelles, and Noah Baumbach, featuring a large truckload of Oscar-winning actors. Netflix is giving all these prominent films a longer exclusive run in theaters (usually, films just appear on Netflix, like everything else). But this year, with more competition coming and stalled-out subscriber numbers, the stakes are bigger than ever for Netflix this Oscar season. We'll have plenty to watch for beyond just a batch of extremely promising movies.
Jeopardy King Ken Jennings and Magic The Gathering Creator Richard Garfield On Their New Game "Half Truth"
Ken Jennings made a name as the No. 2-winningest player on Jeopardy, while Richard Garfield was the creator of Magic the Gathering, one of the most successful card games ever. Now they've teamed up for a new trivia game called Half Truth, designed to be a lot more accessible to an audience far beyond the usual trivia traffickers. I talked with Jennings and Garfield before their game's Kickstarter launch this week to talk about how you make a game for non-trivia players, the history of trivia, why use Kickstarter, and more. Give a listen.
ViacomCBS, Tumblr and Houseparty: The Companies We Keep, And Those We Can't
A flurry of deals and deal-related news this week, led by the Viacom-CBS merger's long-anticipated merger and Verizon's dumping of former social-media giant Tumblr got me thinking about what it all means for the tech-centric entertainment world we're entering. I also have lots to say about a deal that didn't happen, Facebook's acquisition of Houseparty., among other hijinks at the social-media giant. Can ViacomCBS survive even as a combined standalone unit? Is Tumblr really only worth $3 million? And could the fear of antitrust keep Facebook on some sort of straight and narrow path away from jerkdom? Give a listen, then share your thoughts through Anchor.fm's audio comment function, or send me a Tweet and LinkedIn message.
Ninja Remixes The Gamer Live-Streaming Business With His Stunning Leap To Microsoft
Ninja (Tyler Blevins) has been the best-known star in the booming business of live-streaming online about games. Until the first week of August, he did that for Amazon-owned Twitch. Then he turned the business of live-streaming upside down when he announced he would jump to Microsoft's Mixer service, which has been in fourth place among game streaming services. The move has lots of implications, and I talk about them on this episode of Bloom in Tech. Give a listen.
Netflix's Stumble And How Tubi Can Thrive Amid The Streaming Wars
Netflix had a bad couple of weeks, for several reasons. In this episode of Bloom in Tech, I talk about the implications of Netflix's stumbles, and what it means for the looming streaming-video wars. And as all that was going on, I sat down onstage at the OTT_X Conference in Los Angeles to talk with Adam Lewinson, the Chief Content Officer for Tubi, the biggest of the ad-supported video-on-demand services out there. AVOD services such as Tubi have a very different set of challenges and user expectations than do the subscription services such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ and CBS All Access. We talk about why, and where Tubi is headed. Give a listen.
World of Wonder Co-Founders On RuPaul, DragCon, Retail and Subscription Video
Randy Barbato and Fenton Bailey have been running World of Wonder, their Hollywood-based TV production company, for nearly three decades. For the past 10 years, World of Wonder has produced RuPaul's Drag Race, featuring perhaps the best-known drag queen ever. The show's format has now been copied into local versions in several additional countries, just one of the ways Barbato and Bailey have diversified, survived and thrived in an era increasingly hostile to independents. In my conversation onstage with Barbato and Bailey at the recent VidCon in Anaheim, they talk about opening a retail store on Hollywood Boulevard, launching DragCon events in New York and Los Angeles, creating a social-media powerhouse, nurturing outsider creative talents, getting into long-form documentaries, and turning those docs into scripted programming. It is indeed a wondrous world for World of Wonder. Give a listen.
Joey Graceffa Really Doesn't Want To Direct
Joey Graceffa has spent a decade as one of the most influential of online influencers, with more than 1.9 billion views of his YouTube videos by more than 9 million subscribers, along with a big footprint on Instagram and Twitter. I sat down with Joey at VidCon, the big influencer convention that just concluded in Anaheim, to talk about his long-running YouTube Premium show, Escape the Night, his fixation on escape rooms, and his desire to turn his trio of dystopian YA novels into a movie, but without him as director. How refreshing. Give a listen.
Gamers Outreach Founder Zach Wigal On Helping Sick Kids
During the recent E3 game conference, I sat down onstage with Zach Wigal, the founder of Gamers Outreach, which provides games and video game equipment for kids stuck in hospitals facing long-term care for serious and life-threatening conditions. It was one of four panels I did as part of the E3 Esports Zone, run by Subnation, and a series of partners and sponsors. We were on the Content Stage and also had our conversations streamed live across the web. Just in case you missed all of that, here's my conversation with Zach about helping kids facing serious illness with the therapeutic escape of video games. They do good work. Maybe you can find a way to support them as well. In the meantime, many thanks to Subnation, E3, and their partners for the opportunity to take part in this and several other great conversations.
Going Digital Means We Lose A Way To Share Culture Together
I've been gone for a little while, undergoing a huge move that's left me without virtually any of the traditional physical media that I've gathered over many years. That's all great. But as I and millions of others go full KonMari, are we giving up some crucial ways to signal to others around us the culture, books, music, film, TV that matter to us? This is a quick episode, just some thinking stimulated by days and days of getting rid of much of my physical belongings, and tipping into a headlong embrace of the digitally based life I already have been in and around years. Give it a listen, and let me know what you think. You can leave an audio message through Anchor.fm's tools around this podcast. Please rate, review and share the episode if you like what you hear. And if you really like what you hear, you can become a supporter of it through Anchor.fm, throwing a few bucks in the kitty.
EDM Duo Vicetone On Dance Music In Nashville, Videogames And Their Big Asia Tour
At the recent E3 video game conference, I sat down with Victor Pool and Ruben den Boer, the Dutch duo behind the electronic dance music act Vicetone. They grew up in small Dutch towns, spent time in Amsterdam, New York and Los Angeles, but even as they started creating more EDM hits, they yearned for a quieter place to live. The answer: two years ago, they moved to Nashville, found a house and set up a production studio. And it seems to be working out.
When we talked, their single “Something Strange” was doing something strange.: Six months after its November release, the single finally hit No. 1 on Sirius-XM’s BPM channel, while their latest single, ‘Waiting,” had just been released. They were about to fly to Tokyo to start a six-country, three-week tour across Asia.
The duo are big gamers, and took in all the new video games on display at E3. But they were at E3 because they were performing at the opening-night party sponsored by Subnation, which created three days of esports-related events in partnership with the E3 conference. As part of all that, I moderated several panels at the E3 Esports Zone. When I get the chance, I’ll share some of those conversations here on Bloom in Tech in subsequent episodes.
In this episode, Victor and Ruben talk about their love of video games, being a Dutch dance-music duo in the country music capital, finding collaborators on Spotify, and maybe doing a K-Pop crossover song, Give a listen.
Danny DeVito and Michael Douglas On Producing TV And Film Together For 50 Years
Long-time pals Danny DeVito and Michael Douglas sat down together at the recent Produced By conference on the Warner Bros. studio lot to talk about, well, a lot. They met when Douglas was still in college in Santa Barbara, and have worked together as actors, producers, directors and friends for half a century since. In this conversation, they talked about making the Oscar-winning One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Taxi, Streets of San Francisco, The Kominsky Method, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Romancing the Stone and so much else. Along the way, they have some great advice for producers and would-be producers of film and TV, and some thoughts on the challenges and opportunities of the streaming-video era, and what Quibi means. It's funny, fond, occasionally Falstaff-ian and a downright entertaining conversation. Give a listen.