Companies such as EscapeX, Whalerock Industries and Beachfront have standalone apps that help big influencers generate more money from their most devoted fans. What are the opportunities here? I talked with the CEOs of EscapeX and Beachfront, and CreatorIQ COO Tim Sovay about the possibilities and challenges in helping influencers move beyond their dependence on social-media platforms when connecting with their super fans. Give it a listen.
I talked recently with two top NBCUniversal executives about Blueprint, their revamped hobbyist learning site, which combines lessons in nearly dozen categories with lean-back content, community, e-commerce operations and a healthy dose of celebrities and influencers. The site, now a subscription video-on-demand operation, is busy cross-pollinating with other parts of NBCU, and will be the basis for extending e-commerce functions throughout many parts of the media giant, the executives told me. It's a smart and provocative vision of the future of SVOD video sites and one I expect Amazon and others will be copying soon enough. You heard it here first. Give it a listen, won't you?
Over the holidays, Netflix debuted its biggest ever hit and an intriguing interactive experiment, picked up multiple Golden Globes, saved hundreds of millions of dollars and hired a CFO. It faces more competition than ever in 2019, but I talk about how these various initiatives are helping the company evolve and succeed in the face of all those deep-pocketed challengers. Give it a listen.
Influencer marketing was bigger than ever in 2018, despite a string of scandals hitting some of the major platforms. I talked with several top influencer-marketing agencies, data companies and consultants – including CreatorIQ, Tubular Labs, Pex, WhoSay and Michelle Merino – about what trends are shaping the industry as we move into 2019. Give it a listen.
In this episode, I look at a string of virtual-reality projects, technologies and venues that have arrived in Los Angeles recently, as the bad mojo of 2017 has evolved into a promising industry again in 2018. I also talk with Bruce Vaughn, the former Disney Imagineer and current CEO of Dreamscape Immersive, the Steven Spielberg-backed company creating story-driven VR experiences such as "Alien Zoo." Dreamscape just opened its first permanent venue in an upscale Los Angeles mall. This episode is not quite a year-end retrospective, despite the timing, so much as a rundown of cool stuff I've seen the last several months, in an industry that's finally starting to look sustainable, and fascinating. Give a listen.
Two media companies went away, and most of another is buying bought for parts. #MeToo and tech giants continued to reshape the physical, fiscal and emotional landscape of Hollywood, with much more to come in 2019. I take a look back at the notable changes and shifts. What's your pick for biggest changes of 2018? What's coming next year? Give a listen.
To keep showing the 25-year-old TV series 'Friends' for another year, Netflix agreed to pay WarnerMedia $100 million for one year. Crazy as it sounds, that could be a good deal for the streaming giant. I explain why in this episode. Give it a listen, won't you?
Nov. 27 is Giving Tuesday, when hundreds of non-profits in 55 countries get a chance to double the value of donations with matching funds. It's also the day that NewsMatch holds what it now calls Giving Newsday, with $3 million in matching foundation funds to augment donations to 155 non-profit news organizations (donations made through the end of the year will be matched). The non-profits – generally doing in-depth investigative work that for-profits no longer can afford – range from the Pulitzer Prize-winning Pro Publica to magazines such as Mother Jones and Washington Monthly, to Public Radio International and tiny operations in Wyoming, Hawaii and North Dakota. I talked with Pro Publica's president and a top exec at Giving Tuesday's founding organization, 92Y, about giving instead of just buying. 'Tis the season. Give a listen, won't you?
Esports are growing fast, for a lot of reasons. This weekend's DreamHack Atlanta festival shows some of those reasons why, partnering with Subnation and big brands such as Red Hat and Twitch to bring music, art, experiential activations, street culture and more to the gamer championships. It turns a tournament into an experience. I also talk about (and share a recording of) this week's esports panel at the VRTL Summit held at the Paramount Pictures lot in Hollywood, featuring top esports executives such as the commissioner of Activision-Blizzard's Overwatch League. There's lots happening here. Give a listen.
The race for primacy the streaming video business is getting more and more crowded, and the basis for deciding who has "won" is ripe for a rewrite. Can CBS All Access outrun HBO, which needs to compete against numerous corporate siblings for viewers, all while Disney, Apple, Walmart and others join the fray? What matters most? Subscribers? Revenues? Profits? It's the bear chasing the business.
Amid all his complaints, criticism and even craziness, Donald Trump's attacks on the media have hardly hurt the beast. Instead, many major media companies are reporting rising profits, revenues, subscribers and viewers. Is Trump's constant three-ring circus actually raising the value of the media companies he professes to hate, and making engaged audiences more willing to pay for authoritative news sources they can trust? My Election Eve pondering suggests it just may be so. What do you think? Let me know.
The head of the nation's largest group of local TV stations, CEO Chris Ripley of Sinclair Broadcast Group, took the stage at the recent NAB NY conference to talk about how ATSC 3.0 will supercharge local broadcasting; the "antiquated" TV viewing experience; what the company might try to buy next; how Sinclair hopes to STIRR the streaming video pot; why the Tennis Channel is perfectly positioned for a sports gambling future; and why Sinclair won't compete directly in the "sea of blood" with Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and other tech giants. His interviewer, Rick Howe, dodged some juicy subjects, but there's plenty here from one of the most influential people in the broadcasting business. Give a listen.
Last night's Streamy Awards say the smart video series "73 Questions" recognized for its cinematography (it's one long take where 73 questions are lobbed at a celebrity). In accepting the award, both series creator Joe Sabian and producer Marina Cukeric gave a shoutout to their director of photography Vincent Peone. I interviewed Peone exactly 11 months ago about "73 Questions" and his work as a director, both in commercials for Big Block, and for other projects of many kinds. When I posted the episode originally, it was only one service, SoundCloud, and now is on 10, thanks to Anchor's syndication. Give a listen. He's an interesting guy and now "73 Questions" is a Streamy winner, which is pretty cool.
The International Olympics Committee and top esports organizations are discussing bringing esports to the Olympic Games. It would legitimize esports for some previously reluctant decision makers at major sports sponsors, while bringing the Games an influx of ardent young fans at a time when TV audiences for many established sports are aging.
But lots of challenges remain (Which titles? Who picks the competitors from each country? What role for publishers?) before you'll see Overwatch or NBA2K or League of Legends at the Olympic level. I talked with Warsaw-based Michal Blicharz, VP of professional gaming for ESL, about what must happen before we see esports at the Paris Games in 2024 or Los Angeles in 2028.
What do you think? Do you want to see Olympic esports? Let me know.
Snap's been in the news a lot lately, not all of it for good, but for plenty of good reasons. Some are saying the Snapchat parent is ripe for buyout, perhaps by Amazon, which just did a partnership for in-app product information with Snap. But there are some positives for the struggling company too. One of those is a still huge and loyal audience of Millennials and Gen Z fans, who keep attracting the interest of media companies. I also talk in this podcast with Ocean MacAdams, President of Thrillist, which just launched a travel channel on Snapchat. He still sees lots of positives about Snapchat. Let me know what you think. Should Snap stay independent, or look for a buyer as its stock price keeps falling?
On the day Apple rolls out its next generation of cellphones, I offer some thoughts on where mobile is heading, fast. Apple's new smartphones are bigger than ever, and highly capable. It's a major signpost of where we're heading, with phones that can do pretty much anything a low-end computer can do, and then some. But it's not just Apple driving this direction, and it's not just big screens. At last week's Mobile World Congress Americas, the super-fast next-generation network technologies being rolled out in the United States and elsewhere around the world. Who are the companies that will take advantage of these new technologies to create transformative new experiences in games, augmented reality and many other areas? Let me know your thoughts.
In this episode, I talk with Julia Maes, executive producer of VIdCon, the huge annual gathering of online influencers. The Viacom-owned company just moved dates for its Anaheim show, avoiding conflicts with the huge Cannes Lions advertiser gathering, and also announced a new London spinoff show for European creators. VidCon has become an essential gathering for creators, their hordes of enthusiastic fans, and the brands and platforms behind the resulting huge social-media influencer-marketing ecosystem. Give it a listen and then get thee to Anaheim next July.
Influencer marketing is big these days, but so too is follower fraud, as people try to game the system to make more money from brands. It's a fast-changing business and now we're starting to see some tools to fight the fraud.
This past week, I wrote about a white paper from CreatorIQ and Fullscreen about how they're spotting possible fakes (Read it here - http://ht.ly/Y50V30lJVnw).
I also sat down with James Creech, CEO of Paladin Software. Like CreatorIQ, though with a somewhat different customer focus, Paladin works with brands on influencer deals, and helps them get what they've paid for in sponsorship deals. Give a listen.
Fortnite is the world's most popular videogame, raking in $300 million a month selling digital goods. At the same time, Fortnite is transforming the industry with cross-platform play, a stiff-arm to Google Play and a big push in support of hardcore mobile gaming. The big question now is how do brands take advantage? I chatted with Seven Volpone, an esports industry veteran and founder of Subnation, which connects brands with gamer lifestyle and culture. With Fortnite about to begin regular esports tournaments, Volpone says now's the time for brands to hop aboard the Battle Bus headed to Anarchy Acres.
I talked with "Jackass" alum/survivor Steve-O, who headlines the first two episodes of a new virtual-reality show produced by pal Sam Macaroni's production company, focused on some of the best VR experiences out there, and some of Steve-O's legendarily self-destructive attempts to recreate some of the VR bits highlighted in the show.
After time on the London stage with the Royal Shakespeare Company, Alexis Denisof made his name in the United States initially as Wesley Wyndham-Pryce in both "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and its spinoff "Angel." Since then, he's been in "How I Met Your Mother," other Joss Whedon projects such as "Dollhouse," and Marvel hits "The Avengers" and "Guardians of the Galaxy." But his first Emmy nomination came this summer, for his role in the Stage13.com episodic short series "I Love Bekka & Lucy." Denisof plays Glenn, the wheelchair-bound and somewhat annoying neighbor turned love interest of one of the stars of the show, which is written/directed/produced by Rachael Holder. I had a great conversation with Alexis about working for Whedon, "Angel," Shakespeare, short-form video, and playing a complicated role in a sympathetic and real way. Give it a listen.
In a quick little episode I talk about a company I wrote about this week for Forbes (link: https://www.forbes.com/sites/dbloom/2018/08/07/amazon-downstream-saas-marketing-platform-investment/#6777d8324469 ) called Downstream. They just raised a little money, are cash-flow positive and are helping big brands navigate the crazy world of Amazon, where the data about what got bought (and by whom) may be more valuable than the product itself, given the brutal margins on the site. It's an intriguing idea and turns on its head a lot of what we think about Amazon and the sale of physical stuff. Give it a listen and let me know what you think.
TBS and Tracy Morgan's new show "The Last O.G." undertook a series of social-good initiatives in the Brooklyn area that "did good and did good business." I talked TBS (and TNT) Chief Marketing Officer Michael Engleman about the initiatives, how they built on the show's core themes and allowed the show to both help the neighborhood where it was shot and boost its own visibility with audiences. It's an unusual effort for a network show, but one worth doing again. Give it a listen.
I'm at San Diego Comic-Con, reconnoitering the epic craziness for stories and moderating panels for Tech Future Live!, a sort of show within the show. This panel on Friday evening featured a NASA scientist (Cassini-Saturn pics anyone?), a top Microsoft game exec, a musician behind the soundtrack of "Stranger Things," director of a cool new Oculus-Intel VR project and co-creator of a science-inspired musical-theatrical event coming later this year. Heck of a lineup, talking about how science and art have helped us envision the future. We talked about what inspired them to get where they are, and what inspires them to take us into the future. It was a great conversation. Give a listen.
This is a material from a conversation I had with the electronic music star deadmau5 around E3, the big game conference. He was in town to check out the conference, but also to perform as part of Subnation Live, a first-ever afterparty for the conference, and part of efforts to bring together music, games, lifestyle and gamer culture .This is a quickie, and I don't have any good audio of my conversation with deadmau5 and his droll and savvy manager, Dean Wilson. But maybe you'll enjoy the story anyway. Check it out.
A few days hanging around a writer's retreat in the mountains east of Los Angeles got me thinking about what the memoirs of our future look like in an era where lives are transcribed on social media in near-real time. The medium is the message and the onslaught of new platforms is changing how we tell our stories, and who we tell them to.
The giant gamer convention E3 opens today, and host David Bloom talks with Seven Volpone, CEO of Big Block Capital Group, about esports, brands, and gamer/lifestyle culture. At E3, Big Block is launching Subnation (link: http://thesubnation.com), which has created a fan-focused series of events, brand experiences and concerts at E3 (and at an afterparty Thursday) celebrating gamers and esports lifestyle and culture.
Brands are jumping in on the game business as it becomes more mainstream, (PwC estimates games and esports generated $23.4 billion in the U.S. last year). Subnation hopes to take advantage of that growing mainstream presence to connect gamers and esports fans with brands that can't reach younger audiences through traditional media.
A wave of mergers and acquisitions has hit Hollywood, as companies try to scale up to compete with the tech giants. But they're taking on debt and new regulatory, legal and organizational headaches. Host David Bloom suggests that to compete, Hollywood should be investing all that money and time in getting better, not bigger, and creating better content and experiences for its customers if it wants to compete against Apple, Netflix, Amazon and other challengers.
I moderated a great panel at the Los Angeles Games Conference, featuring top executives from Blizzard, Skydance, Studio 71, Jam City and Seismic Games. We talked about the new Harry Potter and Marvel mobile games, Guava Juice's latest venture, and the opportunities in China's giant market for game and entertainment intellectual property.
Host David Bloom talks with authors Mike Hais and Morley Winograd about their latest book, "Healing American Democracy: Going Local." It proposes that young Americans (Millennials and their successor generation, the "Plurals") can bypass the partisan gridlock afflicting national politics by putting "Think Globally, Act Locally" to work in a big way. They propose harnessing the civic-minded younger generations to empower local solutions while protecting Constitutional rights. Big Data and sharing technologies can be used to power the local solutions, while making it easier for other jurisdictions to discover and replicate successful approaches. Give a listen and let me know what you think.
Bloom in Tech host David Bloom talks with Vipe Desai about the Rising Tide Summit, which brings brands, businesses, researchers, non-profits and entrepreneurs together to discuss solutions to challenges facing our oceans, and all those who depend on the oceans. The conference is March 28-29 in San Pedro, Calif.
I sit down with Allison Stern, CMO and co-founder of Tubular Labs, which tracks 4 billion videos across social media. Their latest State of Online Video report just came out, detailing the hottest trends and influencers online. We get into pancake art, pancake auteur and influencer Collins Key, how brands should be tracking video trends in their messaging and more.