Condé Nast Forms New Entertainment Studios Around Key Titles Amid Push Into Film, TV, Podcasts

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Condé Nast Entertainment (CNE), the division of the publisher that’s responsible for its video efforts, has launched new studios for several of its titles — including The New Yorker, Vogue, Vanity Fair, Wired, and GQ — to push further into mediums like film, TV, and podcasts.

The network of studios will expand to other titles in the future, the company said. In forming the network, CNE was advised by app-maker Whalerock and the illustrious talent agency WME.

“Condé Nast has already proven itself to be a true powerhouse in the digital video space, and the secret behind that has always been our world-class creators and brands,” CNE president Oren Katzeff said in a statement. “The studios will provide a crucial strategic framework — allowing us to bring our brands’ unparalleled storytelling and reporting to new mediums.”

Several projects at the aforementioned titles are already in the works. At The New Yorker, a film titled City Of A Million Soldiers — inspired by a 2017 article about an elite police squad of Iraqi soldiers fighting ISIS — will have its theatrical premiere on June 12. And Spiderhead is a forthcoming Netflix film based on a futuristic short story by George Saunders. Meanwhile, Vogue is readying an untitled series of documentaries about iconic fashion designers.

Vanity Fair will enter production this year on a Jake Gyllenhaal-produced film about a 2015 article chronicling the murder of a Manhattan hedge fund magnate. Furthermore, a film titled The Chairman, about an antique dealer who’s manufacturing fake furniture, is being optioned and is currently in development. Wired, for its part, is working on films about how a Fitbit helped solve a murder as well as tech magnate John McAfee (starring Zac Efron). And finally, GQ is readying two projects based on articles titled The Great High School Impostor and The Unsolved Mystery of the Malibu Creek Murder.

All told, CNE’s digital video offerings nabbed 13.3 billion views across all platforms last year. The company says it’s currently readying 65 film and TV projects, 175 digital pilots, and two brand new OTT channels.

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FBE Launches First New YouTube Channel In Six Years, A Challenge-Centric Hub Dubbed ‘Try Not To’

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Fine Brothers Entertainment (FBE), the multiplatform digital empire founded by brothers Benny and Rafi Fine, has added yet another YouTube channel to its growing portfolio.

The channel, dubbed Try Not To, is FBE’s first new YouTube channel in six years, and was spun off from a series on its React channel (12.5 million subscribers), on which participants of varying demographics react to noteworthy YouTube videos and other viral trends.

On the React channel, FBE has long posted ‘Try Not To’-themed clips, including YouTube Couples Try Not To Touch Challenge (ft. a Chinchilla) and Try To Watch This Without Laughing Or Grinning #134. And while these types of videos will continue to be featured on React, the Try Not To hub will feature even more challenge-style content in this same vein. On the new hub, for instance, FBE personalities, real-life friends, and couples will be pitted against one another to try to avoid doing things in exchange for prizes and cash rewards.

In the first episode of a new Try Not To series dubbed Ultimate Duel, for instance, four challengers are faced with clowns, hissing cockroaches, and boa constrictors — with whomever is able to keep their cool being crowned winner.

All told, FBE counts a total of 20 serialized shows that are viewed 300 million times per month. And the company has 45 million followers across all of its social platforms. Its latest outing is already picking up enormous speed, amassing roughly 350,000 subscribers since the first Try Not To video dropped three days ago. Additional episodes will drop every Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday.

“At FBE, we’re always looking for new ways to learn from and engage our audience,” Kyle Segal, Try Not To’s executive producer, tells Tubefilter. “On React, the format was performing so well, and fan demand was already so high,that spinning off a totally new channel was an obvious choice. We’re thrilled with our early progress and can’t wait to realize the format’s full potential.”

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Semaphore Launches Licensing Business, Signs 3 Popular YouTube Channels For Toy Deals

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Semaphore, which offers a suite of business services for digital creators including accounting, tax prep, payroll, insurance, and brand deals, launched a new tier to its business in December dubbed Semaphore Licensing Solutions. The company, which works with 500 top YouTube stars, created the unit to help new-media creators nab extensive retail distribution for their consumer products licensing ventures.

And now, Semaphore Licensing Solutions has signed deals three YouTube stalwarts, with whom it is readying toy lines. The signings — of Braille Skateboarding, Trinity and Beyond, and SuperHero Kids — arrive ahead of Toy Fair 2020, a toy trade show that was founded in 1903 and is currently hosted at New York City’s Javits Center, where industry players convene to sell product, pitch and exchange ideas, and meet with their partners. All three of Semaphore’s just-signed channels will be making appearances at the event.

First up, Braille Skateboarding star Aaron Kyro (pictured above) — who counts 4.5 million subscribers and clocks roughly 22 million monthly views, thanks to videos that teach various skateboarding moves and tricks — will unveil his first-ever toy line. The range will comprise fingerboard blind bags (a fingerboard is a mini skateboard that users maneuver with their fingers, while a ‘blind bag’ refers to toys that remain a mystery until purchased). Braille Skateboarding will also launch skate ramps, playsets, and other mystery surprise sets. Semaphore is pacting with licensor Bonkers Toys on the products.

Bonkers, which has also worked with YouTube children’s luminary Ryan Kaji, has also been awarded the master license for Semaphore’s other two recent signees as well, who are developing toy lines of their own. This includes SuperHero Kids — a family channel with 4.4 million subscribers and 70 million monthly views that produces action and comedy content, and Trinity and Beyond (4.1 million subscribers and roughly 90 million monthly views) starring Trinity (who is six years old) and four-year-old sister Madison, who appear in scavenger hunts, slime pranks, and other kid-friendly skits and games.

“We’ve helped over five hundred top YouTube stars,” Semaphore founder and CEO Michael Bienstock said in a statement, “and with that experience, we’re able to create elevated opportunities for our ever-growing talent portfolio of new media creators as they scale their brands across a variety of verticals.”

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YouTube’s New Monetization Tool Lets Viewers Tip Creators On Livestreams And Uploads

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Viewers who followed CouRage or Overwatch League from Twitch to YouTube may soon see a familiar monetization tool.

YouTube is testing Viewer Applause, a new feature that’s similar to Twitch’s Cheer (with a few notable differences). At their core, both functions let viewers pay to applaud–and tip–creators to help them bring in revenue on top of ad dollars.

On Twitch, viewers must Cheer using onsite currency Bits, which can be bought in packages starting at 100 for $1.40. A viewer can choose how many Bits to tip a creator, and when they Cheer, an emoticon will pop up in that creator’s chat showing how much the viewer gave. Creators who are Cheered can cash out Bits received at a rate of $1 per 100–meaning Twitch makes $0.40 on the sale of 100 Bits.

YouTube will likewise take a cut of Viewer Applause earnings; however, it won’t make users buy onsite currency, and won’t let them choose the amount they donate with each clap. Instead, those enrolled in the test–viewers of select creators who live in the U.S., Australia, Brazil, India, Japan, Korea, Mexico, or New Zealand–are all paying the same flat fee in real-world currency per clap. When a viewer uses Audience Applause, they’ll see a clapping emoji pop up over the livestream or video they applauded. That emoji is shown only to the viewer, not publicly.

Claps currently cost $2 U.S. each, The Verge reports. YouTube told the outlet it is taking 30% of the fee, the same cut it takes from Super Chats and Super Stickers.

That doesn’t mean viewers can only send creators $2, though. Users can send many claps to the same creator if they want to tip more, but there is an ultimate limit: YouTube’s official Help page for Viewer Applause says users can spend up to $500 U.S. per day or $2,000 per week total on Viewer Applause, Super Chats, and Super Stickers combined.

You can see Viewer Applause do its thing in this YouTube video from analytics firm vidIQ:

There’s one more important difference between Twitch’s feature and YouTube’s: Twitch’s Cheer can only be used on livestreams, but Viewer Applause can be used on livestreams and uploaded videos. That makes it YouTube’s first video-specific monetization tool that isn’t AdSense-related.

It’s not clear how many creators currently have access to the test. YouTube did tell The Verge this is a “very early test,” so it’s possible Viewer Applause won’t roll out for some time.

YouTube’s livestream-focused monetization features are those mentioned above–Super Chats and Super Stickers (which is similar to Twitch’s Emotes). Both features let viewers send messages to be displayed prominently in a creator’s livestream. When it released Super Stickers, YouTube said channels with Super Chats enabled have been clocked making as much as $400 per minute.

As for non-livestream monetization, YouTube offers Channel Memberships (a Patreon-esque feature where subscribers pay a certain amount per month for access to extra material) and merch partnerships with companies like Teespring.

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Creators Going Pro: Coconut Brah’s Videos Help His Viewers Level Up

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Welcome to Creators Going Pro, where in partnership with Semaphore — a creator-focused family of companies providing business and financial services to social media professionals — we profile professional YouTube stars who have hit it big by doing what they love. Each week, we’ll chat with a creator about the business side of their channel, including identifying their Semaphore Moment — the moment they truly went pro.

If you’ve ever played a video game, you’ve screwed something up. Maybe you missed an obvious combo in Fruit Ninja, whiffed a winning shot in Apex Legends, or were just a hair too slow to snag a good bit of loot. Everyone makes mistakes–and when they happen in the heat of the moment, costing a win or a kill or a prize, it’s tough to blame yourself. Maybe you think: That dude had aimbot! Or: My controller’s lagging! And sure, sometimes those things do happen. But a lot of the time, we caused those mistakes.

And Coconut Brah wants to help us learn from them.

Coconut Brah (aka Jon) has built a YouTube career out of helping others git gud at games–particularly Rainbow Six Siege, his favorite first-person shooter. Released in 2015, the game has more than 55 million registered players, and throws them together in multiple modes that require speed, skill, and strategy.

Jon (who has 863K subscribers and nets around 7M views per month) loves the game itself, but he’s also passionate about the community that’s sprung up around it, full of people who are still finding new tactics and map nooks after five years of playing. Once a week, he puts out a video that’ll help others buff their skills or just plain learn more about the world of Siege. He explores little-known places in the game’s maps, tests potential new tricks for leveling up, and adds to his ever-expanding roster of pro-level tips, like how to best angle your gun for that quick, clean kill. He also pays coaches to join him in matches and judge his skills, giving viewers free doses of truly expert advice.

Ultimately, he hopes to give his audience the knowhow they need to improve at least a little bit. If he can give them a tidbit, tip, or trick that helps them hit a goal or learn from a mistake they made in-game, that’s a day’s work well done.

As for goals of his own, Jon’s aiming to hit one million subscribers by his birthday in August. He knows he can do it, he says, “if I continue to keep the same path I am on and focus on great content.”

Check out our chat with him below.

Tubefilter: Tell us a little about you! Where are you from? What did you do in the days before YouTube?

Jon: Hey! My name is Jon and I own the gaming YouTube channel Coconut Brah that’s currently at 850,000 subscribers! I was born in Portland where I did competitive gymnastics until I was 14. I always loved gaming growing up. In 1925, my great grandmother opened the general store Low Store (Low being her maiden name) on the Big Island of Hawaii, and when I was 16, my family moved to the Big Island to help out my grandma, who was now running the store. I was the fourth generation in this family business, and I was confident I would continue to help run it for many years.

Tubefilter: What made you decide to launch a YouTube channel? What do you think YouTube offers you, as a content creator, to help you grow your platform and build your career?

Jon: Up until the point I moved to Hawaii, I played Xbox. I never had Xbox Live and would always look forward to going to my best friend Chris’s house to play games such as Call of Duty, Super Smash Bros Melee, and many others. After moving to Hawaii, I finally purchased Xbox Live. I met friends online, and our main game shifted to Halo 3, where we had nonstop fun in custom games looking for secret spots and cool strats.

After Halo 3 slowed down, we started playing Destiny 1. My friends and I stumbled upon a very clever strategy to defeat a boss and get a lot of loot! I searched everywhere for tips about the strategy and couldn’t find it posted anywhere, so we decided we should post it up on YouTube! The video was awful. I had no idea how to edit. But luckily my friend Kyle taught me some basics, and along with YouTube tutorials, I was able to create some basic videos and get them online.

Tubefilter: One of the key focuses of your channel and content is helping other people get better at gaming. Why is this so important to you?

Jon: My mentality in video games has never been to complain about things, even when I get completely dominated in a game. I have always taken those experiences and thought about what I could have done differently to have the outcome I wanted and ultimately be a better gamer.

I believe a huge reason so many people don’t improve in a game or even life in general is because they always have an excuse for failing. Do things out of your control happen, like a bad connection, cheaters, or someone just getting lucky? Of course they do! But it’s become all too common in gaming to immediately blame those things instead of realizing what you did was a bad play.

Tubefilter: What draws you to Rainbow Siege Six, and to its community on YouTube? Have you ever been tempted to switch to games like Fortnite or Minecraft that may have bigger viewer pools?

Jon: Like I said earlier, my first videos were about Destiny 1. I had a lot of fun with it, but I ultimately realized that the game didn’t challenge me in the way I really wanted. I found myself making videos for it because that’s what was expected from the small amount of followers the channel had accumulated, even though the game was getting very repetitive. Making videos for Destiny 1 had slowly turned into another “grind” that wasn’t fun to do anymore. Having fun was why we started in the first place, and I knew something had to change.

When I first saw the trailer for Rainbow Six Siege, it looked like a hardcore search-and-destroy game mixed with Counter-Strike, and I knew that I had to try it. As soon as I played it, I saw the potential for it. There were so many ways to play, angles to find, and clever spots to surprise the enemy that it was like discovering a new hobby with endless possibilities to learn.

Siege is now starting year five, which is so rare in games these days. The devs have done such an amazing job, and you can see how dedicated they are. We all share that same love for this unique game, and I can’t see any other game challenging me the same way. Even going into year five, I still find or have people send me tips that no one has ever found or done before. This game is truly unlike anything else I have ever played, and even if it may not have the following of a game like Fortnite, it has something much more valuable to me.

Tubefilter: When did you get your first check for online video revenue? How much was it for?

Jon: Unfortunately, I don’t know the exact date of my first paycheck for playing games. I know that it was after a VERY long time of making videos for free and doing it purely out of passion. Making those videos was something I would’ve kept doing for free, so getting that first check was just a plus. I believe my first one was less than $50–but that only inspired me more.

Tubefilter: What was that Semaphore Moment for you—the first time you realized you were a professional creator?

Jon: Honestly, I still don’t feel like I am on the level I want to be in those terms. The first time I felt truly recognized as a professional creator was when Ubisoft invited to me their studio to play the new season. It was a small group of creators, I believe 10 or less, and to be surrounded by other creators in the same studio that I had been watching and were role models to me was a very special moment.

Tubefilter: What engages and excites you about being a YouTube creator? How are you using your passion to build out your audience?

Jon: The most exciting part for me is when I see people comment or message me clips of them using tricks I show. When someone says something like, “I only got this far because of you,” or, “I finally reached the ranked goal I had because of you,” that really means a lot. I am so thankful I can have that impact on people, and I am so thankful for all all of them.

Tubefilter: At what point did you know you could go all-in? Was there a sudden moment where you were like, “This is it, I’m going full-time,” or did it happen gradually?

Jon: YouTube definitely happened gradually. YouTube is what I am doing full-time, but I still am doing some behind-the-scenes things to help my parents with their store, such as scheduling, etc.

The first feeling of “maybe I can actually pull this off and make a living from it” was somewhere after receiving my 100K plaque from YouTube. I still was not making anywhere near enough to live off and quit other jobs, but I definitely saw the potential in it. I still had that drive and passion, so even if I wasn’t getting paid, it wasn’t something I was going to stop doing.

It got to the point where I was able to build up momentum on my channel while working at other places–but then YouTube momentum would die out due to other obligations. I ended up cutting back other obligations to test it out and see how long I could keep a momentum train going, and I kept seeing potential.

Tubefilter: What’s your production schedule like? Walk us through an average day. What do you get up to aside from video-making?

Jon: I definitely have goals on what I want my morning routine to be like, but until then, my morning routine goes something like…

Waking up around 7 a.m. (I am married and have a two-year-old boy). My wife and I basically rotate schedules, so on the days she has off, I tend to spend most of the day working on projects. When she works, my son and I spend time together and play most of the day. He isn’t really into Siege yet, but maybe one day it’ll happen, lol! I am so thankful for all of these days, because since I have been able to do YouTube as my primary job, we are able to be pretty flexible. This does lead to some very late nights most of the time, though, because when my wife gets home from work (sometimes after 10 p.m.) I’ll “go to work” till very late, lol.

Sometimes it’s hard because when you are a content creator, there’s not really ever an “end time.” There’s always something to do, and you stop when you choose to stop, not because you’re done. You’re never “done,” but it’s awesome.

Tubefilter: Have you had any brand partnerships or sponsorships? Have you released or are you developing merch?

Jon: I do sponsorships from time to time, but only if I really enjoy or am already using the product/service.

The most exciting thing I have been working on lately was the launch of my very own energy powder called Coastline Colada by Collector Cup. Coastline Colada is a piña colada-inspired flavor, but with more of a tropical pineapple hint to it. I am really blessed to have that opportunity, because Collector Cup works closely with Ubisoft and their products are officially licensed through them.

Tubefilter: Can you let us know about the rest of the people working with you behind the scenes? Do you have an editor for your channel? What about a manager or network?

Jon: While I don’t have a video editor, I have had endless help from friends and family. From my best friend Chris coming up with the name Coconut Brah (because of the funny Hawaiian stereotype behind it) to online friends like Dan and Sonnel who are always down to help me record the latest trick or help me get footage.

My amazing wife, Mimi, is very supportive and understands when I play games all day. She continues to help me chase this dream I have, which I am very blessed to have. My parents and sisters always come help watch our son when I have deadlines or have projects that need extra time, and that is also such a huge help.

My managers Cody and Cole from Up North Management Group are also really great to work with. They are very helpful with many things, from keeping me up to date with the latest news I need to be aware of to partnership negotiations!

Tubefilter: What do you think is the most vital skill you possess as a creator?

Jon: The most vital thing you can possess as a creator is the passion and will to not give up. You don’t need to be a good editor, professional player, or even be a top player to get started. I literally carried my computer to my friend Kyle’s house to ask him to teach me how to cut clips for my first video. That was done via passion and not by any skill in a video game that I had.

The will to not give up is also huge because people will always have their ups and downs. A quote I love is “99% of people are employed by the 1% that didn’t give up.” I know that probably isn’t 100% accurate, but the meaning behind it is great.

Tubefilter: What’s next for you? What are you building toward?

Jon: My main focus right now is hitting one million subscribers by my birthday in August. I know I can if I continue to keep the same path I am on and focus on great content. There might also be a epic merch store being opened for that, if I can get everything lined up in time.

Another focus I have for this year is working on my second channel. I am very picky about what goes live on my main channel, but would love to be able to create videos that other people request, like full games or special tips for console players and maybe even the casual maps in Rainbow Six Siege.

My long-term goals are to just keep creating content that helps others enjoy and improve in gaming. I still love creating content and am so blessed to be able to do what I love. Ultimately, the happiness of my family is what I care about the most, and as long as I can continue to do this to help support my family and their happiness, then I will do it for as long as possible. 🙂

Jon is a client of Up North Management.

Semaphore Business Solutions provides customized services for clients across the country, taking an all-encompassing approach to meet all your financial needs. Whether you’re a veteran YouTube entertainer or just starting out, managing your business correctly is crucial to avoiding major headaches down the road. The sooner you call us, the sooner we can help you put a plan into motion to grow, as well as to keep more money in your pocket, with advanced tax strategies. Semaphore Brand Solutions has established itself as a leading influencer marketing agency representing our exclusive talent relationships and services to the most recognized brands and agencies.

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Gersh Agent Michael Senzer Joins New Digital Management Company TalentX

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Agent Michael Senzer is the latest onboard at TalentX, a newly launched 360-degree talent development company focused on digital creators.

Senzer spent the past five years working as a digital and branded content agent for the lauded Gersh Agency, which represents major Hollywood stars like Mark Hamill and Dave Chappelle as well as digital powerhouses like Colleen Ballinger (8.62M subscribers on YouTube). Senzer’s client list included YouTubers Baby Ariel (3.03 million subscribers), Cherdleys (1.15M), Kalani Hilliker (781K), and Nick Uhas (587K). TalentX tells Tubefilter it’s still figuring out which of those clients, if any, will make the move with Senzer.

At TalentX, Senzer will serve as VP of business development. He’ll spearhead TalentX’s brand partnerships, merchandising, live events, television and film development, and product and IP deals, the company says.

“TalentX has an impressive growth rate, talent roster, and innovative vision for the future,” Senzer said in a statement. “I’m looking forward to collaborating with the leadership team and creators at TalentX to drive additional sustainable growth and expanded offerings for our partners and creators.”

Launched in December, TalentX has already built a roster of nearly 50 mainly Gen Z creators on platforms like YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram. Its executive team includes: co-CEO Jason Wilhelm, a longtime talent manager; co-CEO and chief revenue officer Warren Lentz, a former Fullscreen manager; top YouTuber Tal Fishman (president); TikTok star Josh Richards (VP of talent); and former NBA manager Michael Gruen (senior advisor).

Longtime talent manager Larry Rudolph–whose clients include Britney Spears, Miley Cyrus, Kim Petras, and Avril Lavigne–sits on the company’s advisory board.

“TalentX is the future of talent management and is the company that will bridge the gap between the digital world and the traditional world,” Rudolph said in a statement. “The new age of talent is here, and their voice is stronger and better than ever before.”

Senzer will report to Lentz, and will operate out of the Sway house, a Los Angeles-based mansion that’s home to the TikTok creator collective TalentX put together in January. Members include Richards (12.2M followers), Jadon Hossler (5.6M), Anthony Reeves (5.4M), Kio Cyr (4.3M), Bryce Hall (3M), and Griffin Johnson (2.9M).

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YouTube Wants To Hook Its Users Up With Third-Party Video Subscriptions (Report)

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After ducking out of the streaming wars by making all its originals free to watch, YouTube is considering letting its users, through their YouTube accounts, sign up for third-party subscription services.

According to a new report from The Information, YouTube has approached “several entertainment companies” in the last few months to discuss partnering. It’s not clear whether the platform is looking to hook all its users up with digital-based streaming services like Netflix and Disney+, or if it’s expanding its add-ons for YouTube TV subscribers–or both.

Folks who pay $49.99 per month for YouTube TV already have access to around 10 add-on services they sign up for through YouTube, including STARZ ($9), Showtime ($7), horror streaming service Shudder ($6), and Sundance Now ($7).

As The Information mentions, both Amazon and Apple have made businesses of acting as a one-stop portal where consumers can sign up for and watch content from services like HBO, major sports leagues, streamer BritBox, and millennial-focused foodie outlet Tastemade. Each takes a 30% to 50% cut of monthly subscription fees–a strategy that’ll see Amazon Channels, with its network of more than 200 third-party offerings, earn a projected $3.6 billion this year.

But while some have been successful, others have moved away from being middlemen. Facebook began offering Tastemade, along with subscriptions to services like the now-independently-owned CollegeHumor, to Facebook Watch users last year. It was a test period, a company spokesperson told The Information, and “after evaluation, we decided to end the test.” It’s instead doing the opposite of YouTube: allocating more and more resources into its own original programming. (To be clear, YouTube is still producing originals–and bringing big views/ad dollars with some of them–but they aren’t its main source of revenue.)

If YouTube is focusing on expanding its pool of add-ons for YouTube TV viewers, doing so might close the subscriber gap between it and biggest competitor Hulu with Live TV. YouTube TV recently hit 2 million subscribers, a milestone that still leaves it lagging behind Hulu, which launched its skinny bundle around the same time and has 3.2 million subscribers. Hulu with Live TV also offers a range of add-ons, mostly in themed packages.

It’s currently not clear which subscription services YouTube has reportedly approached. A YouTube spokesperson declined to comment on the possible ongoing talks.

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Drake Signs Multiyear Content Pact With Livestreaming Platform Caffeine

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Caffeine, a streaming platform that predominantly operates in the sports and gaming spheres — and thus serves as a competitor to the likes of Twitch and Mixer — has inked a partnership with rapper Drake.

Drake, for his part, has made known his love of gaming — in a record-breaking stream with Fortnite ace Tyler ‘Ninja’ Blevins, as well as an investment in esports org 100 Thieves.

Caffeine and Drake’s multiyear partnership will first see the streamer co-produce a series alongside Ultimate Rap League (URL) — a battle rap league based out of New York and overseen by hip hop promoter Troy ‘Smack’ Mitchell. Additionally, the deal will bring more Drake-curated live content to Caffeine, the company said, and he will launch a personal channel on the platform, under the moniker ‘The Boy’. The URL series will be available to Caffeine viewers for free on Drake’s channel today.

“I’ve always loved URL and admired what Smack and his team have been able to create. It just wasn’t easily accessible,” Drake said in a statement. “It’s exciting to be in a position where I’m able to bring Caffeine to the table and help provide URL with the tools they need to elevate the viewing experience and make it more accessible to fans.“

Caffeine’s major point of differentiation is low-latency viewing, which it says makes streams between 15 seconds and 1 minute faster than competitors. It also upholds a no-tolerance policy for bullying, hate speech, and racism — courtesy of human moderators and community members. Its business model is built around in-app purchases that fans can buy to reward their favorite creators. Other stars that stream on Caffeine include Offset, Doja Cat, footballer JuJu Smith-Schuster, NBA stars Collin Sexton and Kyle Kuzma, and gamers Cartoonz, Ohmwrecker, and Crainer.

Caffeine, which was founded in 2016 by entrepreneurs Ben Keighran and Sam Roberts, has raised a staggering $146 million in venture funding to date from the likes of Greylock Partners, Andreessen Horowitz, and 21st Century Fox.

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Quibi’s Oscar Ad Blitz A Decent Start Amid Disney Networks’ Promotional Blizzard

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Quibi, that scrappy little $1.4 billion startup, came out publicly in a big way on Oscar night, sprinkling a string of mildly amusing clock-is-ticking ads throughout the annual awards show that somehow remains one of the most watched programs on what’s left of traditional TV.

A week before, Quibi had run a single ad somewhere in the middle of the commercialpalooza that is the Super Bowl. To its credit, the ad was Game Day’s eighth-most-watched on YouTube, according to YouTube, which is probably Quibi’s single biggest competitor.

And the week before that, Quibi kingpins Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman did a different sort of audience outreach, flying into Utah for the Sundance Film Festival. There, they showed off a corner of their stable of storytellers (Lena Waithe! Veena Sud!) and the service’s still unfinished “turnstile” software (It’s vertical! It’s horizontal! It’s not done two months before launch!).

Oh, and Whitman apologized to another crucial audience, journalists, for using a staff meeting to liken reporters’ process of cultivating sources to the way sexual predators build relationships with young girls. Yes, I’ve often thought that the way young and inexperienced reporters interact with rich, powerful, older CEOs of major public companies such as HP and eBay (to mention two totally not-random organizations) is a great deal like predators and prey.

I’ll leave it at that, other than to note that one of the reasons they hired Whitman was because she allegedly was a practiced and smooth corporate hand who always knew the right thing to say. She definitely wasn’t hired for her famously awesome skills and vision creating video for mobile devices. But I digress.

Beating The Drum Louder

The bigger matter at hand is that Quibi has officially begun banging on its drum, loudly, trying to attract potential subscribers–or at least teach them how to correctly pronounce the company’s name.

Some of those subscribers will pony up $5 a month–others $8 a month, for an ad-free version–to access 175 episodic shows, part of a promised 8,500 pieces of content to be delivered in Quibi’s first year.

Katzenberg and Whitman raised $1 billion last year, then decided that wasn’t enough money, because they realized they needed what the experts like to call a honkin’ big marketing campaign, which they estimated at the Produced By Conference last summer would run a whopping $470 million.

Even if Quibi shaved a few tens of millions of dollars off that bill, it’s still bigger than what even Netflix managed to spend this past Oscar season (The New York Times and Wall Street Journal put that campaign at between $70 million and $100 million, which Netflix disputed).

When I ran that number past Fred Chasse, a senior VP for marketing measurement company Analytic Partners, he practically whistled in awe.

“That’s big,” he said.

And it may be only barely enough for Quibi to make a dent in the public consciousness, given all the other streaming services, established and new, trying to grab customers. The Academy Awards telecast was illustrative, if not a totally fair comparison, given Disney‘s advantage on the night.

Disney’s Home Court Advantage

Broadcast on Disney-owned ABC, the Oscars telecast featured the usual array of high-end advertisers, including multiple ads from show sponsors such as Cadillac and Rolex (and the not-so-upscale M&Ms). Amid the five (!) Quibi ads, Disney rolled out promotions for seemingly every corner of its burgeoning video empire.

There were ads for a new show on National Geographic, and more shows on Hulu, both recent Disney acquisitions. There were ads for cable channel (and Hulu provider) FX. There were ads for ABC and Freeform programming, even ads for ABC’s local Los Angeles affiliate. And of course, there were ads for Disney+, already the Mouse House’s biggest streaming service just four months into its existence.

Even show sponsor Verizon, which ran multiple ads on the night, had a connection, because its ads noted that it gives away Disney+ to its high-end mobile subscribers.

The New York Times, Google, and Microsoft all had ads, as did one of the companies that helps these streaming services make those new shows, Adobe. It contributed a trippy, Peter Max-worthy brand-building commercial late in the show that trumpeted all its creative software, but especially the video stuff such as Premiere Pro. All told, it was a good thing Quibi ran five different ads, or its message might have been completely drowned out.

That run of ads didn’t come cheap. For the Super Bowl the previous Sunday, Fox charged $5.6 million per 30-second spot to reach around 100 million viewers. According to Ad Age, ABC charged a bit less than half that price, to reach an audience a bit less than a third as big.

“The return on investment doesn’t make sense for some companies, unless they’re doing [an Oscars ad] for other strategic purposes,” Chasse told me.

Quibi definitely had some other strategic purposes. I agree with Chasse that the Oscars, the so-called “Super Bowl for women,” were a good place for Quibi to begin its ad blitz in earnest.

An Audience Worth Keeping

The Academy Awards audience is more female (possibly more likely to be stuck in lines with time to watch a short video episode), more upscale (probably more likely to pay for good content), and older (remembers that people should pay for good content). Not incidentally, Oscar viewers tend to like movies.

“I think it’s cool for them to do short ads,” Chasse said, given the match with Quibi’s content plans. “I’d never heard of them before this. The number of spots they had made them more relevant. It really reinforced them, and put Quibi on the map.”
Katzenberg and Whitman better hope the service is now on the map for a lot of Oscar viewers. As it is, the map of streaming competitors is a lot more crowded now than it was last summer. And if Whitman thinks journalists are predators, wait until she gets a better look at Bob Iger and Jeff Bezos. Those guys are ferocious. 

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The Young Turks Launches Google-Funded Video Course For Aspiring Local Journalists

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The Young Turks (TYT), a progressive digital news outlet that rose to renown on YouTube, is looking to pass on journalistic tips and tricks to the next generation of digital reporters.

To this end, the company — co-founded by flagship host and aspiring politician Cenk Uygur — is launching TYT Academy, an online course that will seek to help burgeoning creators report on their local communities. The two-track video series — with eight videos per track — will teach the basics of news-gathering and reporting, as well how to produce and publish reports to various platforms. The first track is titled ‘Journalism & Ethics’, while the second is dubbed ‘Video Platforms’. In order to earn a TYT Academy certificate, participants must pass a final exam.

“Just as Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian are passionate about news at the national level, there are many people out there who are passionate about news at the local level,” TYT’s chief business officer Steven Oh said in a statement. “We want to empower them to report on their local communities, from what’s happening at city hall to the local restaurant scene to their traffic issues and more.”

TYT Academy will initially be tested by 10 to 15 hand-picked candidates — with applications available here. This initial group will receive personal mentoring from TYT managing editor Jonathan Larsen and director of platform distribution Aaron Wysocki. In June, the program will open up to the public at large — though obviously TYT staffers won’t furnish guidance for every viewer of the series.

The project is being funded in part by the Google News Initiative, which YouTube‘s parent company unveiled in 2018, committing $300 million over three years to: ensure quality news content on its platforms, provide cutting-edge tools to partners, preserve an open digital ecosystem, and experiment with new formats. Axios pegs Google‘s investment in the TYT Academy in the “mid-six figures range.”

While some onlookers will inevitably find it objectionable that Google is putting its money behind an outlet with such a firm political leaning, Oh tells Tubefilter, “I’m not worried about any perceived bias because our program is completely nonpartisan. We are simply teaching digital journalists how best to report on their local communities.”

You can check out an intro video for the Academy featuring Uygur below, and a playlist of the first track in its entirety right here.

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Continue Reading The Young Turks Launches Google-Funded Video Course For Aspiring Local Journalists