Digital and Streaming News 2/2/17

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Digital and Streaming News 1/31/18

Famous Birthdays is creating live content, has hold on Gen Z

Famous Birthdays is a website that is a record of celebrity and influencer facts. Due to its high traffic (500K searches in its internal search bar per day), and the fact that Gen Z uses it as a near-authoritative source of information of their favorite influencers, it is a kingmaker for Gen Z digerati. Ranking influencers by searches (much like IMDB), the site’s leaderboard is a solid indicator of genuine interest in the influencer by fans. It can also predict new influencers by capturing searches that don’t have an entry, with new creators added as they gain popularity. Famous Birthdays has recently moved into creating content, including streaming 10 shows from Jacob Sartorius’ (the #1 star on their search leaderboard) upcoming tour.

Why You Care: Given Famous Birthdays newfound importance in the Gen Z influencer space, and the fact that they are starting to create content, they could be ripe for pitching content. Furthermore, using the site could also become a tool for vetting influencer talent in the future. creating copycat of HQ Trivia, the music livestreaming app, is creating its own copycat of HQ Trivia. Although it copies most features beat-by-beat, it could include team-based play, a more forgiving difficulty level, and gaining prize money even if the player lost. Skewing casual could help engage its younger audience (who hasn’t had decades to soak up random trivia) as well as attract a broader audience than the rather difficult HQ. Overall, this is an attempt to shore up’s weaknesses in daily active users, attractiveness to advertisers, and demographic siloing in rather young users. Given the strength of the app’s userbase could cut HQ off from hitting teenagers.

Why You Care:  Overall, HQ has a sizeable moat against competition thus far, but if a Facebook or Snapchat were to step in it would damage the upstart app. The upshot of all this competition is that there are many other targets to pitch to (including’s and the Q apps) with similar goals and similar funding as HQ.

Quick Hits

  • Otter Media (the AT&T and Chernin Group joint venture) has bought up the remaining shares in Fullscreen and Ellation (ie Crunchyroll), which it already majority-owned. This rollup may be ahead of a buyout of Otter by AT&T.
  • LinkedIn is having a gathering of its fledgling video creator scene at Vidcon this year. LinkedIn could be an interesting place to pitch practical, biz focused projects.
  • Netflix added 8.3 million subs last quarter, with a 33% increase in revenue over the previous year. Notably, Reed Hastings only mentioned Amazon and Apple as growing more serious, not including Facebook Watch.
  • Users can share Snapchat stories outside the app, similar to how Tweets can be shared across websites.
  • Netflix lost $39 million from stopped Kevin Spacey projects.
  • Softbank and Sequoia China are putting $50 million into the app Snow, which enhances selfies for export to social networks and chat groups.
  • CNBC estimates that Hulu’s skinny bundle has 450K subs, and YouTube with 300K. Sling TV, the most successful such bundle, had over 2 million.
  • Twitter’s COO, Anthony Noto, has left to join finance app SoFi as CEO. Big loss for Twitter, as Noto was broadly respected by financiers and the tech world.
  • Verizon claims to not have M&A plans, but don’t count them out yet.
  • Co-Founder of AltSpaceVR, the social VR platform, is now Product Director of Facebook’s social VR offering. Said offering, Facebook Spaces,  has not been released yet.
  • Meg Whitman will be CEO of NewTV, a company bent on bringing “Hollywood-quality values and storytelling to mobile devices”. It is backed by Jeffrey Katzenberg’s Wndrco fund. Still a bit fuzzy on the details, but Whitman is a significant hire.
  • Windows VR (from everyone from Samsung) has been discounted by as much as 52% to remain competitive against Oculus’ new offerings.
  • Disney Digital Network (née Maker) has a deal with Twitch for exclusive influencer content.
  • Facebook moves in on Twitch with a deal with ESL for exclusive streaming rights.
  • Amazon creates a new payout structure for its Amazon Video Direct creators that damages creator revenues significantly, reducing them by 60%. Needless to say, the creators are not enthused by this.
  • Neither Netflix nor Amazon snagged any movies at Sundance, an interesting strategic move for both of them. Amazon is under mandate to go for massive projects rather than indies, while Netflix’s goals aren’t clear.
  • Songwriters to get nearly 50% more royalties on sites like YouTube (going from , a long-term goal of music groups, via a Copyright Royalty Board decision. Other goals of the recording industry, like the Safe Harbor provision of the DMCA, are out of reach for the time being.
  • Kobe Bryant and Go90 got an Oscar nod for their animated short Dear Basketball, adapted from Bryant’s poem about him retiring from the game. In a year when top streaming services weren’t nominated at all this is a significant coup for Go90.
  • Facebook daily active userbase has declined from 185 million to 184 million in the US and Canada. This is the first decline in the history of the service.